3.en.46 Van Gogh’s biography, latest discoveries and old posts

you have probably forgotten, but on the 16th of September, just at the beginning of the school year, I published a post on this blog about Vincent Van Gogh. Go back in time and refresh your memory:

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

In September, we focused on differences between American and British pronunciation. We also used Van Gogh’s paintings to learn how to use a new Google application that gave us the chance to zoom in and out famous museums and enjoy  detailed views of masterpieces. In September,  you also saw a trailer of a cartoon about Van Gogh’s life.

This term, as you are working with your art teacher on this figure,  we revisited the post. We shared with you the whole story and you had to choose a page you particularly liked and describe what was happening in Van Gogh’s life in the page of your choice.

You have also been working with Nùria, your art teacher on a project.  For Easter, you have an art assignment . ( a PDF with Van Gogh’s paintings and an activity card have been uploaded to the Art section of the blog)

Just a few weeks ago, a painting by Van Gogh revealed a hidden painting underneath. Do you remember? Click here to find out more

Now, I would like you to look at the lyrics of a song “Vincent” written  by Don McLean as a tribute to Vincent van Gogh. It is also known by its opening line, “Starry Starry Night“, a reference to Van Gogh’s painting The Starry Night. The song also describes different paintings done by the artist. McLean wrote the lyrics in 1971 after reading a book about the life of the artist.

As you can read in Wikepedia, the song clearly demonstrates an admiration for not only the work of Van Gogh, but also for the man himself. The song includes references to his landscape works, in lines such as “sketch the trees and the daffodils” and “morning fields of amber grain” – which describe the amber wheat that features in several paintings. There are also several lines that may allude to Van Gogh’s self-portraits: perhaps in “weathered faces lined in pain / are soothed beneath the artist’s loving hand”, McLean is suggesting that Van Gogh may have found some sort of consolation in creating portraits of himself. There is, too, a single line describing Van Gogh’s most famous set of works, Sunflowers. “Flaming flowers that brightly blaze”

McLean pays tribute to Van Gogh by reflecting on his lack of recognition: “They would not listen / they did not know how / perhaps they’ll listen now.” There are also references to Van Gogh’s sanity and his suicide. Throughout his life, Van Gogh was plagued with mental disorders, particularly depression. He “suffered for [his] sanity” and eventually “took his life as lovers often do.”

Enjoy the music!

Are there any words you do not understand?

which ones?


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.