Wednesday, July 31, 2013

We are learning about Vincent van Gogh

Term 3 Week 1 school newsletter.

As part of our art theme for the second half of the year, we are learning about the life and work of Vincent van Gogh. It just so happens that the 123rd anniversary of his death (29 July) was the first day back at school for Term 3  - so we took that as a good enough reason to choose him as an artist to study.  We started by researching some vocabulary which would appear in a reading comprehension task:
influential, pioneer, post- impressionism, sombre, pointillism, technique, self-portrait, intensity, psychiatric, committed, vibrant, 
canvas, obsessed, quarrel, remorse
Then we looked at this video of some of his paintings and listened to the song Starry Starry Night by Don McLean. 
It helped us understand the reading comprehension story by seeing the video first. We learnt that Vincent sold only one of his paintings in his entire life - even though he painted over 900. We wondered where he stored all the unsold ones.  After reading the story, we watched the video again and were able to work out which ones were his earlier paintings (darker and sombre) and which were his later paintings (brighter and with more  swirls). We understood the words of the song a lot more once we understood that van Gogh suffered from mental illness. We were also able to work out which painting was The Potato Eaters, Starry Night, and the portrait of his doctor, Doctor Gachet. Here are the lyrics of the song Starry, Starry Night, and a summary of what they mean, from 
Expressing Van Gogh's inspiration for the painting. One line says :
"Look out on a summer's day."
This is giving Van Gogh's vantage point looking out from the asylum at Saint-Remy. When he first entered the asylum, he painted mainly from his room or the courtyard garden, but later went further afield to paint.

Starry, starry night.
Paint your palette blue and grey,
Look out on a summer's day,
With eyes that know the darkness in my soul.
Shadows on the hills,
Sketch the trees and the daffodils,
Catch the breeze and the winter chills,
In colors on the snowy linen land.

Now I understand what you tried to say to me

how you suffered for your sanity
how you tried to set them free.
They would not listen
they did not know how

perhaps they'll listen now.

These are references to other Van Gogh paintings.

Starry, starry night.
Flaming flowers that brightly blaze, Swirling clouds in violet haze,
Reflect in Vincent's eyes of china blue.
Colors changing hue, morning field of amber grain,
Weathered faces lined in pain,
Are soothed beneath the artist's loving hand.

This is Van Gogh's tragic Death. Even though he loved painting, his paintings could never love him back.

Van Gogh attempted suicide by shooting himself in the chest, which ultimately led to his death two days later.

For they could not love you,
But still your love was true.
And when no hope was left in sight
On that starry, starry night,
You took your life, as lovers often do.
But I could have told you, Vincent,
This world was never meant for one
As beautiful as you.

Van Gogh's artistic legacy is contained within his paintings, drawings and writings. They are everlasting and will never "forget" the style that created them. They are Van Gogh's eyes that watch the world. This is all metaphorically speaking though.
Starry, starry night.
Portraits hung in empty halls,
Frameless head on nameless walls,
With eyes that watch the world and can't forget.
Like the strangers that you've met,
The ragged men in the ragged clothes,
The silver thorn of bloody rose,
Lie crushed and broken on the virgin snow.

Finally we come to the conclusion of realizing Van Gogh's eternal struggle.
Now I think I know what you tried to say to me,
How you suffered for your sanity,
How you tried to set them free.
They would not listen, they're not listening still.
Perhaps they never will...
Here's a video with more of Vincent van Gogh's paintings, and some of his quotes which help explain his outlook on his life and his art.
We had fun with this interactive jigsaw puzzle  of the self-portrait of van Gogh after he cut off his ear lobe. We know that he cut off his left earlobe, but in his paintings, it looks as if it's his right ear lobe. That's because he painted his self-portrait from what he saw in the mirror.
Here's a short video showing the change in Van Gogh's self-portraits over the years.
Here's a link to some printable outlines of some of Van Gogh's work to colour in.
Here's an amazing animation of some of Vincent van Gogh's artworks.

Here's a video which changes from a self-portrait of van Gogh to a modern-looking colour photo of him.

Some of our thoughts and questions about what we have learnt so far:
  •  I would like to know how much he sold his first painting for, who bought it and where he sold it.  I would also like to know what sort of gun he shot himself with. (Dominic)
  • I understand how and why Vincent drew - or rather painted -his pictures, and if you look deeply at each picture, there is always a meaning in why he painted it. (Alisha)
  • I think he had a gift, and maybe because no one could see the world through his eyes he felt alone, so he took his life. 
  • I like the swirl technique,  the way he paints the poor, and his painting Starry Night . I wonder why his other paintings didn't sell. (Vanshika)
  • I would like to learn more about Vincent van Gogh because he is an interesting guy, and he has amazing paintings. I like his Starry Night painting. (Jupman)
  • I understand that he had a mental illness. My favourite painting is the potato family. I like how he has his very unique way. (Mason)
  • I can't believe a poor man with 2000 paintings became famous. I'm really obsessed with Vincent van Gogh paintings because they are just so beautiful and creative, and he had amazing skills. I love the song; it's just so beautiful. I'm shicked that he could paint the stars which are in the exact place. How could Vincent tell where the exact stars were? (Amber)
  • Why did he use swirls all the time? When did he have mental illness? Why di he shoot himself? (Tara)
  • Where did he sell his painting. (Jason)
  • I understand that he didn't know how he fitted into the world. I don't know why he shot himself. My favourite painting is the sunflower one, and Starry Night. In the painting of his bedroom, I feel sorry for him because he is so closed in. (Syvannah).

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Lost Property Left Over From Camp

Here's a link to The Gardens Give a Little fundraising page.  We are fundraising for a sculpture to reflect the many cultures within our school.

Here's a link to the latest school newsletter.

Here are some items of clothing still left over from our Year 8 camp. They've all been washed, so they may be more recognisable than they were straight after camp - although some of the white socks have experienced a bit of permanent colour change ...
Let me know if any of these are yours.

One pair of never-will-be-white-again socks; two mis-matched (but look like a pair) of white socks with green soles - one says "Bonds"; one pair of grey "Bonds" socks; two odd white socks; two odd white socks with blue heels.
One pair of Blues (rugby team logo) socks - look a bit more purple than blue; one pair of black boot socks with grey band; one pair of small new-looking grey socks.

One pair of black boot socks with dark-grey band; one pair of white socks; one hair brush; one black long-sleeved polyprop singlet - size small; one black t-shirt - size medium.

One Reggae Nation Jamaica t-shirt; one odd one-was-white sock with grey band and heel; one black sock with holeproof written in yellow;

One single black fitted sheet.

One blue rain jacket "Franhold" brand, with plastic triangle badge with 'Hason' written on it. 

One pair of black shorts - Adidas brand. Also, one pair of long track-type pants - Hallensteins brand, size 12.
One pair of  long weatherproof pants to match rain jacket above.