1.en.6 Colors/colours: Google art project and Van Gogh

Last week we talked about language varieties and about different ways of speaking English: accent, pronunciation, vocabulary.  In American English and in British English  some things are called differently:


sometimes the  word is the same but the spelling is not:

 color (Am)/ colour(Br)

  •  go to this link, it is fun. It works as a converter. You choose a word in American or in British and you get its equivalent. 
Homework: Friday 30th October.Choose one and post it to the blog together with the Spanish/Catalan translation. The only thing to bear in mind is that you can not repeat a word that has already been chosen by a classmate. 
Well, this post is not only to show you some differences between American and British English. It is to teach you more about colours and about Google art project, an application developed by Google that is really fun. Using Google earth streetview technology, you can now visit the most important museums in the world and watch some of their most valuable artworks.
As you are doing Art in English with Nuria, I thought you would need some extra work to be able to talk about colours and not feel short of words.  Also, Google art project gives us the chance to visit museums, watch famous artpieces and learn more about the artists and their lives.
To begin with, I have chosen a very famous painting, by an extraordinary artist, The bedroom, by Van Gogh.
  1. How much do you know about Van Gogh?

  1. When was this artwork painted?
  2. What is the technique?
  3. How big is the painting?
  4. Where is this painting exhibited?
  5. When was it painted?
Homework: Friday 30th October.  Answer the questions in the blog. Do not repeat the answer if a classmate did it before. Just copy the results in your notebook. 
You do not need to look for answers to the first question. We shall read a comic about Van Gogh’s life later this year and you will find out more. What I would like now, is that you investigate a bit this Google application. It gives you lots of options: to zoom in and out, a description of the painting…
Also in the menu that displays on the right, you can listen to some audio files or see a short video that gives you interesting information about the circumstances the artist painted this canvas.  Click here
If you listen to the video that appears on the right hand side, you will discover that the colours you see in the painting, were not the original ones.
7. Why?
8. What can make colours change?
9. What happens when you leave something in the sun?
10. What is the meaning of fade?
11. Did you understand some of the colours the expert mentions? peachy, pinkish?
12. What kind of sample do they take?
13. How big is the sample?
Van Gogh, wrote a letter to his brother Theo. He explained to him what the original colours of the painting were like.
Read part of its letter and make a list with the colours he mentions.

My dear Theo —

At last I’m sending you a little croquis to give you at least an idea of the direction the work is taking. Because today I’ve gone back to it. My eyes are still tired, but anyway I had a new idea in mind, and here’s the croquis of it. No. 30 canvas once again. This time it’s simply my bedroom, but the colour has to do the job here, and through its being simplified by giving a grander style to things, to be suggestive here of rest or of sleep in general. In short, looking at the painting should rest the mind, or rather, the imagination.

The walls are of a pale violet. The floor — is of red tiles.

The bedstead and the chairs are fresh butter yellow.

The sheet and the pillows very bright lemon green.

The bedspread scarlet red.

The window green.

The dressing table orange, the basin blue.

The doors lilac.

And that’s all — nothing in this bedroom, with its shutters closed.

The solidity of the furniture should also now express unshakeable repose.

Portraits on the wall, and a mirror and a hand-towel and some clothes.

The frame — as there’s no white in the painting — will be white.

This to take my revenge for the enforced rest that I was obliged to take.

Homework: Monday 2nd October.  Now is your turn to produce a little piece of writing. Use your bedroom, or a pic of a room you like  or maybe a painting you find searching museums on line and describe it. The most important will be to be as precise as you can describing colours. Write about 40 or 50 words.

In Google art project you can find things like this letter . Those of you who take French can also read it in French, the language in which it was originally written.