Because this puzzle has such large pieces, you can see a considerable amount of the painting on each one. I asked students to look at their puzzle pieces and make observations about the artist's painting style. They observed that the artist was not trying to capture detail (more like Degas than Audubon), that he layered colors on top of each other, and that he used a lot of texture. They also observed that he seemed to use large sweeping motions. I then asked what they thought the picture would be when all the pieces were assembled. After discussing this, we put the puzzle together and I gave them some background information about Vincent Van Gogh. I didn't mention his mental illness, I simply said that he was often sick and that he had painted this from the bedroom window of his hospital. I talked about the Expressionist movement and asked them what feelings they sensed from the picture. My students talked about feelings of loneliness and yearning, wanting to be youthful again, and wanting to be with the angels in heaven. It was a fabulous discussion. We followed with activities from Using Art to Create Artby Wendy Libby (Activity 1 & 3).
The puzzle pieces were such a great spur-of-the-moment idea that I'd like to try finding puzzles for some of our other artists!