Shaving Cream Marbled Starry Nights

These awesome scenes were created by my second grade students after studying the art of Vincent VanGogh and, in particular, his painting "Starry Night."

(I have linked resources for your convenience.)


VanGogh resources (videos, prints, books, etc.), white paper 10" X 16" (I like to mount them to 12" X 18" paper when finished), shaving cream, liquid watercolor in warm & cool colors, scraper, large tray, pencil, stamps (swirls & stars), metallic tempera for stamping, black paper 6" X 16" for silhouettes, scissors, silver Sharpie, glue, colored paper for mounting


Step 1:

Discuss Vincent VanGogh and his art work, especially Starry Night. (I have linked several resources above.)

Step 2: Discuss warm and cool colors. I have my students play a sorting game where they separate colored rectangles in to warm (like fire) and cool (like water) piles. They will choose either a warm or cool color scheme for their skies, as seen below.

Step 3: Marbling

Squirt the shaving cream in to the tray, making sure it is large enough to cover the white paper.

Step 4:

Spread out the shaving cream using the large scraper. It's like frosting a cake!

Step 5:

Students will choose either warm or cool liquid watercolors for their skies.

Step 6:

Students drip the watercolor on to the shaving cream, making sure not to puddle the colors. I have found that the bottle don't generally need to be squeezed, but merely held over the tray and slightly shaken.

Step 7:

I have students use a hair pick to marble their colors. I have tried several tools, including actual marbling combs, and the picks work the best. Have the students hold the pick between their fingers very lightly- almost to the point of having it fall out of their hand.

Step 8:

Making sure to "float" the pick on top of the shaving cream, students comb the colors back and forth. I remind the students that they are NOT plowing a field!

Step 9:

Making sure to "float" the pick on top of the shaving cream, students comb the colors up and down.

Step 10:

Making sure to "float" the pick on top of the shaving cream, students make swirls.

At this point, the saving cream should look something like this.

Step 11:

Have the students write their names on the back of their white papers BEFORE doing this step. Place the white paper face down on to the shaving cream and rub until the paper is coated.

Step 12:

Peel the paper back slowly. If any spots were missed, lay the paper back down and rub again.

At this point, it will look like a big blob of nothing.

The magic happens during the next step!

Step 13:

Use the large scraper to remove the excess shaving cream. We scoop it right back in to the tray to be used again. The kids love the reveal!

Step 14:

Spread the shaving cream back out for the next student to use. You can reuse the cream until it gets too runny.

Step 15: Stamping

Use star and swirl rubber stamps dipped in metallic paint to add to the starry night feel of the painting. Sorry, no pics!

Step 16: Making the Silhouette

Hand out a black paper to each student and have them place it in front of them horizontally. Then, they draw a horizon line about half way up. All of their landscape items will sit on this line.

Step 17:

Have students draw houses, trees, mountains, or any land form they choose. Details aren't needed, but may help students in their drawing. They will not show in the final design.

Step 18:

Either the student or the teacher can do this step. Using a silver Sharpie, outline only the TOP EDGE of the landscape. This will give the students a clear line to follow when cutting.

Step 19:

Students cut out their landscape silhouettes, following the silver line.

Step 20:

The silhouettes are glued on, lining up the bottom edges. Make sure that students put glue on the side with the silver lines so that the silhouette will be perfectly black in the final design.

Optional: glue finished projects to colored construction paper to mount.

More Awesome Starry Nights

My lesson plan on the Discount School Supply website. I received $100 in supplies for this lesson!


  1. I remember doing this a few years ago... my students loved it! And my room smelled like men's shaving cream like crazy!!

    I've passed the Versatile Blogger Award to you... check it out!

  2. I've never tried marbling with shaving cream. I'm doing Van Gogh in the fall and this looks like fun. Do you have trouble with the kids waiting their turn to marble? (What do they do while waiting?) How many trays do you have going at once? (I'm picturing at least one for warm colors, and one for cool colors.) Any other adult "helpers" in the room to monitor the marbling trays? Sorry about all the questions - it sounds so fun and the results look so cool, but I'm sure that it could be a real disaster if not handled properly!

  3. Great idea! Love the idea of using another medium other than paint!

  4. These turned out great! Thanks a lot for this tutorial. I always wanted to try it, but didn't know the right steps.

  5. These are great! Can't wait to try this technique with the students! thanks for sharing!

  6. To answer a few questions, I usually set up four stations for marbling. Kids who are not marbling work on a VanGogh worksheet and a coloring page of Starry Night or read some books about Van Gogh.
    Luckily, the marbling process is quick and we are done in two class periods.
    I hope that answers some of your questions!

  7. A great technique, we really like this one! Thanks for sharing! :)

  8. Love this idea and what a great effect. Congratulations! You have just been awarded The Versatile Blogger Award from me. I have followed your blog for a while and thoroughly enjoyed it. Check out the rules here: Anna:)

  9. This lesson made the Weekly Top Twenty best art lessons over at The Art Fairy.
    Come by and pick up your button if you get a chance. Great lesson!

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