Reading ESL stories and readings in English for ESL learners

'Scorned as Timber, Beloved of the Sky' by Emily Carr

 

 

Emily Carr, Artist

Emily Carr was a Canadian artist. She was born in Victoria British Columbia in 1871. She studied art in San Francisco California, in London England and in Paris France. Most of her more famous paintings were from her travels in British Columbia. She visited a large number of west coast aboriginal communities from Vancouver Island in the south to Alaska in the north. She wrote about their culture and traditions. She drew and painted pictures of their communities. She painted pictures of totem poles and villages. She documented the culture of the Haida of the Queen Charlotte Islands as well as the Gitxsan & Tsimshian who lived in the area surrounding the Skeena River in northwestern British Columbia. Emily Carr also painted landscapes. She liked to paint trees, forests and skies. By the time she died in 1945, she was well known across Canada as well as in the United States and in Europe.

Vocabulary help:

More vocabulary?  Click on the icon that looks like a book, to the left

Comprehension Check:

Did you understand the story? Are these sentences true?

1. Emily Carr was born in Victoria, British Columbia. Yes or no?

2. Emily Carr never left Canada. Yes or no?

3. Many of her paintings are of trees and forests. Yes or no?


Fill in the Blanks:

4. Emily Carr painted pictures of Haida people and villages in the ____________________ Islands.

5. She studied art in many places including San _________________, California and ____________ England.

6. The Skeena River is in ____________________ British Columbia.

7. Emily Carr died in _________________.

8. She painted many pictures of _____________ poles that she saw in Haida & Gitxsan villages.

9. When Emily Carr died she was ______________________ in Canada and other places.

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Henry Moore, sculptor

Outside the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) in Toronto there is a large bronze sculpture by the English sculptor Henry Moore. The name of the sculpture is Two Large Forms and it has been at the AGO since 1969. You can see more of Henry Moore’s sculptures inside the AGO.

Bronze is a mixture, called an alloy, of copper and tin. When an artist wants to make a bronze sculpture he has to make a hollow mould first. The mould is in the shape of the sculpture. Making the mould is a long and complicated process. When the mould is ready, very hot liquid bronze is poured into the mould. As the liquid cools down it hardens. Artists have been using this method for many centuries.

Many of Henry Moore’s large sculptures can be found in other cities around the world. A second famous sculpture by Henry Moore, The Archer, is in front of Toronto City Hall.

Vocabulary help:

More vocabulary?  Click on the icon that looks like a book, to the left

Comprehension Check:

Did you understand the story? Are these sentences true?

1. The Archer by Henry Moore is in front of the Art Gallery of Ontario. Yes or no?

2. Bronze is an alloy made of copper and tin. Yes or no?

3. Henry Moore was born in Canada. Yes or no?

4. Making a mould for a bronze sculpture is easy. Yes or no?


Fill in the Blanks:

5. Hot ______________ bronze is poured into moulds when an artist is making a bronze sculpture.

6. A Henry Moore sculpture can be seen in front of Toronto _______________ Hall.

7. Artists have been making bronze sculptures for many ___________________.

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 riopelle painting

untitled, by Jean-Paul Riopelle, 1949

 

Jean-Paul Riopelle

Large paintings with lots of bright colours and bold shapes are typical of many of Jean-Paul Riopelle’s paintings. Often the painting was done with a palette knife and not with a paintbrush. The style of painting is called abstract expressionism. An abstract painting is about colour and shape, not real images of things. Expressionism means that there is lots of feeling or emotion in the painting. This painting style was popular in the 1950s and 1960s.

Jean-Paul Riopelle was not only a painter but also a sculptor. One of his sculptures is a fountain that used to be in Montreal’s Olympic stadium. In 2003 it was moved to Place Jean-Paul-Riopelle, a public square in Montreal. It is called La Joute ("The Match" or "The Joust").

Jean-Paul Riopelle was born in Montreal Quebec in 1923 but he spent a lot of time living in France. He returned to Canada later in his life. He died in 2002

Vocabulary help:

More vocabulary?  Click on the icon that looks like a book, to the left

Comprehension Check:

Did you understand the story? Are these sentences true?

1. Jean-Paul Riopelle was born in France. Yes or no?

2. Jean-Paul Riopelle died in 2002. Yes or no?

3. He was a painter and a sculptor. Yes or no?

Fill in the Blanks:

4. An ________________ painting is about colours and shapes.

5. La Joute is a __________________ that you can see if you visit __________________ .

6. Abstract Expressionism was popular in the ________________________ .

7. Place Jean-Paul Riopelle is a __________________ square in Montreal.

8. Jean-Paul Riopelle used _______________ colours in many of his paintings.

>> Answers
 painting of an Indian man by Canadian artist paul kane



Mah-Min, by Paul Kane, around 1848.  Montreal Museum of Fine Art

Paul Kane, painter

Paul Kane was one of the first Canadian painters who was able to earn a living from his artwork. He was born in Ireland in 1810 but grew up in Toronto. He learned painting in school. After graduating from school he began work as a sign painter and a furniture painter. He did not last long at these jobs. He painted in the United States and in Europe for a few years before he decided to travel west.

He took two trips through the Canadian northwest. In 1845 he traveled from Toronto to Sault Ste. Marie. Sault Ste. Marie was a settlement on the Great Lakes, between Lake Superior and Lake Huron. It is on the border between Ontario and the American state of Michigan.  [see map]

The next year he went further west. He crossed the Rocky Mountains and visited Fort Vancouver and Fort Victoria. He visited many different aboriginal groups in many different parts of the west. During his travels he drew sketches of the aboriginal people and their lives. When he returned to Toronto he painted more than 100 paintings from these sketches. He also wrote a book about his travels. He died in Toronto in 1871.

Vocabulary help:

More vocabulary?  Click on the icon that looks like a book, to the left

Comprehension Check:

Did you understand the story? Are these sentences true?

1. Paul Kane was born in Ireland. Yes or no?

2. Paul Kane died in 1848. Yes or no?

3. He painted many pictures of aboriginal people in the Canadian west.

4. Paul Kane once worked painting furniture.

Fill in the Blanks:

5. In 1846 Paul Kane crossed the _________________ Mountains.

6. Paul Kane learned to paint in _____________________.

7. He died in ________________ in 1871.

8. Paul Kane drew many ______________________ that he then used to paint pictures from.

9. He painted pictures of aboriginals and their _______________________.

10. Sault Ste. Marie was a ________________ on the ______________ between Ontario and Michigan.

>> Answers
 picture of graffiti on a wall

 

 

Graffiti

Graffiti has existed since people learned how to scratch symbols in rocks. Graffiti is any image, symbol or letters made on public property. While some people still make scratches in rocks, concrete or buildings, most graffiti is now made with spray paint or markers.

Is graffiti vandalism? Some graffiti is ugly. Some graffiti, called tagging, is just the name or initials of a person. It is often unreadable. The only purpose of tagging seems to be to quickly spray your initials on as many different surfaces as possible. Nobody likes tags except the taggers.

Is graffiti art? Some graffiti is artistic and takes time, skill and talent to create. It can be nice to look at. The purpose of some graffiti is to spread social messages or political messages. Some cities have places where walls or other surfaces can be used by people to create pieces of graffiti art.

Vocabulary help:

More vocabulary?  Click on the icon that looks like a book, to the left

Comprehension Check:

Did you understand the story? Are these sentences true?

1. Graffiti is new. Yes or no?

2. Graffiti can look nice. Yes or no?

3. Tagging is done quickly. Yes or no?

Fill in the Blanks:

4. Graffiti has existed since people learned how to ______________ symbols in rock.

5. Sometimes graffiti has social or political ______________________.

6. Some graffiti is _____________ and has taken some skill and talent to create.

7. ___________ paint is often used to create graffiti.

8. Some graffiti looks nice but other graffiti is __________________.

9. Taggers like making __________ but most people don't like them.

10. If you tag something, you probably paint or write your _____________ on it.

>> Answers
 painting of a shaman by Norval Morrisseau

 

 

Norval Morrisseau

Norval Morrisseau was a Canadian artist who created many colorful paintings and prints. His paintings were often about First Nations culture, traditions and legends. He painted the ancient myths and legends of the eastern woodlands of Canada. Norval Morrisseau’s grandfather was an Ojibway, or Ashishaabe, shaman. He taught Norval many of the stories that Norval would later paint pictures of.

The picture on this page shows one of the paintings that Morrisseau did in 1989. It has a long title. The title is: The Artist Morrisseau Painted Norval in Shaman Regalia and He is Holding the Circle of Life Represented by a Snake Biting Its Tail and the Sacred Frog Which is Earth Itself. The Figure Inside the Frog is the Environment.

A shaman is a person who acts as a link between the visible world and an invisible spirit world. Shamans are healers. They heal people and they heal the land.  They are important in First Nations culture and traditions.  Regalia are the special clothes that they wear.

The circle of life is the fact that everything on Earth is part of a great cyle of birth, life and death. We are born, we live and then we die. Death is not the end. Instead it is the start of something new. All plants and animals are part of this circle and they are all important.

Norval Morrisseau grew up near the town of Thunder Bay, Ontario. He also used the name Copper Thunderbird.

Vocabulary help:

More vocabulary?  Click on the icon that looks like a book, to the left

Comprehension Check:

Did you understand the story? Are these sentences true?

1. Norval Morrisseau's grandmother taught him the shaman legends and myths. Yes or no?

2. Copper Thunderbird was another name for Norval Morrisseau. Yes or no?

3. Morriseau painted many colourful paintings. Yes or no?

4. Only people are part of the circle of life.

5. A shaman is a healer.

Fill in the Blanks:

4. The snake is _________ its tail in the painting.

5. The environment is ___________ by the figure inside the Sacred Frog in the painting.

6. Shaman regalia are the ______________ clothes that they wear.

7. Norval Morrisseau's _____________ were usually about First Nations myths and legends.

8. The circle of life includes birth, life and ____________.

9. We are _____________, we live and then we die.

10. We live in the visible world but some people believe that there is an ____________ spirit world.

11. Thunder Bay is a ______________ in Ontario.

>> Answers

Answers:


Emily Carr, Artist

1. yes, 2. no, 3. yes

4. Queen Charlotte, 5. Franxisco/London, 6. northwestern, 7. 1945. , 8. totem , 9. well known

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Henry Moore, sculptor

1. no, 2. yes, 3. no, 4. no,

5. liquid, 6. City, 7. centuries

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Jean-Paul Riopelle

1. no, 2. yes, 3. yes

4. abstract, 5. fountain/Montreal, 6. 1950s and 1960s 7. public 8. bold

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Paul Kane, painter

1. yes, 2. no, 3. yes, 4. yes

5. Rocky, 6. school, 7. Toronto, 8. sketches, 9. lives, 10. settlement/border

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Graffiti

1. no, 2. yes, 3. yes,

4. scratch, 5. messages, 6. artistic, 7. spray, 8. ugly (or vandalism), 9. tags, 10. initials

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Norval Morrisseau

1. no, 2. yes, 3. yes, 4. no, 5. yes

6. biting, 5. represented, 6. special, 7. paintings, 8. death, 9. born, 10. invisible, 11. town

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