Art Appreciation for 2nd Graders: Interiors

Art Appreciation for elementary-aged kids •

We’ve made it to second grade! It’s my Art Appreciation for Kids series, and today we are talking about Interiors. One of my favorite paintings, At the Moulin Rouge, is included, and I remember being fascinated as a kid that Toulouse-Lautrec gave himself a cameo appearance in the painting. (Read on!)



Questions to ask the Kids:

  • What is most important in this painting?
  • What are the people doing in this painting?
  • Have you ever seen a place like this?
  • What sort of place is it?
  • Have you seen people dressed like this?
  • Do you think they have a lot of money or a little money? Why?
  • How would this picture sound? Is it noisy or quiet? How can you tell?
  • Who is playing the music?
  • How old are the people in this painting?
  • Can you tell what the weather is outside? How?
  • Would you like to go to a place like this?
  • Are the people in this painting having fun? How can you tell?

Background Information (for the presenter):

In the 17th century, Dutch artists painted many scenes of everyday life. Three hundred years ago an inn was a place where peasant people could go to have something to eat and drink and enjoy themselves. There was no television, video games, radio, or telephone.

This painting by Adriaen von Ostade is filled with lots of details of everyday life.


Questions to ask the Kids:

  • Are we inside or outside? How do you know?
  • Where has the artist, Toulouse Lautrec, taken us?
  • What brings us into this painting?
  • What is on the table?
  • How are these people dressed? Casual or fancy?
  • What do you think the weather is outside? How can you tell?
  • Is it night or day? How can you tell?
  • Do we see people dressed like this today?
  • Why do you think the men are wearing hats inside?
  • Is this a big room?
  • How would this place sound?
  • What sort of light might make someone’s face green?
  • Do you like or dislike the colors in this painting? Why? Do you feel like you are a part of this painting?
  • Has the artist pt us in the room or are we looking in from the outside? Why do you feel that way?


Background information (for the presenter):

The restaurants and nightclubs of Paris were often depicted in paintings by the French artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Here he shows one of the most famous of these nightclubs, The Moulin Rouge. The name means “red mill”. The original building had been a mill.

In his painting we see a group of Parisians out to enjoy the evening. The tall man in the background is Toulouse-Lautrec’s cousin, the short man next to him is the artist himself.

The artist used a lot of blue/green and red/orange. These colors are called coplimentary colors. When used together like this, each makes the other seem more intense or strong. The lines of the railing, the floorboards, and the mirrors form a triangle that contains the seated people. The diagonal lines are strong in this painting; the railing goes in one direction, the floorboards in another.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901) broke both legs while in his teens. The bones did not set properly and his growth stopped. He reached adulthood with the legs of a boy and the body of a man. But his handicap did not keep him from becoming a famous painter of the people and places in Paris.


Bedroom at Arles
Vincent Van Gogh, 1888, AIC

Questions to Ask the Kids:

  • This is Van Gogh’s own bedroom at his much loved yellow house in Arles, France.
  • What was most important to Van Gogh?
  • Would you like these colors in your room? Why?
  • Would you feel comfortable in Van Gogh’s bedroom?
  • What time of day is it? Can we see outside?
  • Where is the light coming from? How can you tell?
  • Would you like to walk barefoot in this room?
  • What does this painting tell us about Van Gogh?
  • Was he a good housekeeper?
  • What do you think of his decorating?
  • What is on the table?
  • If you were to paint your own room, what would you include?

Background Information (for the presenter):

Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) was a Dutch-born artist who moved to France at the age of 33. Van Gogh lived I Arles, France, when he did this painting in 1888. Arles is a town in sunny, southern France. Van Gogh moved there from Paris to paint and enjoy the warm climate. He loved the bright sunshine in Arles and did some of his most famous works there. He loved his house, which he described in a letter to his brother as “painted yellow outside, whitewashed inside and full of sunshine.”

Some people have called this painting of his own bedroom a “self-portrait”. We can learn a lot about the artist by looking at it. This painting is at the Art Institute of Chicago.


1Time Transfixed
Rene Magritte, 1939, AIC

Rene Magritte liked to paint ordinary objects; however he wanted to put them together in strange ways. What are the ordinary things in this painting that are arranged in a different way than we are used to?

  • Are we inside or outside? How can you tell?
  • Do you think people live in this room?
  • What is reflected in the mirror?
  • Where is the train smoke going? Does that make sense?
  • Did the artist use a lot of color? How do the colors make you feel?
  • Why do you think there are no candles in the candlestick holders?
  • Where do you think the light is coming from? (Look for the shadows)
  • Does it look like sunlight or electric lights?
  • Do you think the floorboards look like train tracks?
  • Would you like to live in a house with a room like this?

Background Information (for the presenter):

Rene Magritte (1898-1967) was born in Belgium. He began to draw and paint at the age of twelve, and demonstrated an early taste for the unusual and bizarre.

Magritte developed an individual and eccentric style of painting that evokes the world of the supernatural. Magritte is considered a ‘Surrealist’. This particular movement in art made efforts to tap into the undercurrents of the subconscious mind.

Magritte’s personal brand of surrealism was fashioned from commonplace objects whose altered sizes and surprising juxtapositions create an atmosphere of mystery and wonder.

Here is the Powerpoint version of Interiors for your presenting pleasure. If you missed last week’s Art Appreciation for Kids post, it was the first grade Mother and Child presentation.

And…. why not become super immersed in Van Gogh’s bedroom with this jigsaw puzzle!

Van Gogh's Bedroom at Arles jigsaw puzzle. HeeeBedroom at Arles jigsaw puzzle

I’d love to hear your kids’ reactions to these posts- leave ’em in the comments!

Here are the rest of the K-5Art History for Kids presentations. I will update them weekly, so check back every Friday!

What do you think?

Written by Joanne Gonzales

Joanne Gonzales has a passion for getting creative. Whether she is making personalized DIY gifts or taking part in larger arts and crafts projects, she puts her all into making new and beautiful things.

She lives with a group of close friends and believes in the natural way of life. Joanne has built an outdoor arts and crafts gallery that overlooks the countryside in her hometown, which is where all of her creations come to life.

Art started off as a hobby, but over time Joanne has mastered her skills and sold some of her favorite pieces. She works full time as a florist and has done for many years. It helps keep her creative juices flowing and she hopes to one day open her own florist shop with a twist.


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  1. My son says that his favorite painting is the first one which he thinks takes place in a bar a long time ago. He says, “The bedroom is very sad. Don’t know why.”

  2. Great series Jeanette! Love the questions, they really made me think and get a feel for each piece. Planning to share with my second grader.

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