van Gogh

van Gogh                      the name of a famous painter

chaotic                         very messy, very untidy

canvas                          the flat surface the painter paints on

Brittany                       an area in the country of France

foreground                 at the front

billards                       a game played on a billard table with many coloured balls

haunted                     in this story it means worried by, always in her mind

shocked                    surprised

well mannered      in this story it means well behaved, tidy, neat

contained              in this story means to be controlled

stacked                 in a pile, several leaning against the wall


The studio, filled with half squeezed tubes of paint, canvases, piles of paper, looks chaotic.

It is my place of safety.  Here the voices in my head leave me when I pick up my paint brushes and spread the paint.  Bright vivid colours, huge splashes and streaks, and when I step back a little I see that I am making something beautiful.

I may live on bread, dry and a day old from the village bakery, but I feel rich.  I finally have silence and can be alone to do my work, for this is work, this putting down of colours and shapes.

I take a long drink of water and walk around a bit.  Tomorrow I will take my board and pencils and go out into the countryside of Brittany and I’ll start on drawings for the yellow cornfield, with the blue hills, and blobs of dark green trees, which will be my next painting.  They are good colours together, yellow, blue and green.  And if there aren’t any other flowers, I’ll put some red poppies and little blue wild flowers in the foreground.

That should be a beautiful painting.  But I suppose that when it’s done I’ll just put it against the wall with all the others.  I have paintings of pine trees, and billiard tables, and stars, and chairs, lots of chairs.  No one will ever buy them I know, but unless I paint them, put them down them on canvas, I am haunted by them.  It’s not good to be haunted.

My brother Theo wants me to rest, not to think, to just sit quietly, but I can’t do that.  I need to make these things.  I show them to people sometimes and they’re shocked.  Too bright, too wild, they say.  A painting should be a nice well mannered thing, pale and contained.  Perhaps if my brain was pale and contained that’s what I’d paint.  But no one will want to buy my bright paintings.  They’ll just stay here forever I guess, stacked against the wall.


Questions for review.


  1. Who was Van gogh?
  2. What is the writer doing?
  3. Why is the writer doing this?
  4. What is a studio?
  5. What colours does the writer like?
  6. Does the painter sell many pictures? Why or why not?
  7. Where will the paintings stay?
  8. Does the writer love to paint?
  9. Look up the website and describe some of the paintings there.
  10. Do you like to paint or draw?



©  Nelma Ward, Clifton, Queensland, Australia.  


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