Learn English – a look at the painting ‘American Gothic’

Another source of English input for your learners or for you! – Find out about the American artist Grant Wood and what inspired his painting.  Maria also describes what the two people look like and what they might be doing or thinking.


1 – Art – American Gothic – Part A – 9 June 2019

Hey there. This is Maria from English without Fear. Today I’m going to talk to you about some American art. I’m going to talk to you about a painting. The painting is by an artist named Grant Wood, and it is entitled ‘American Gothic’. Grant Wood painted it in 1930 and entered it into an art contest, an art competition, and won a prize. So listen, watch, and learn with me about this ‘American Gothic’ painting and Grant Wood.

(Intro – English without Fear where you can learn to speak English naturally, listening to stories)

Grant Wood the American painter, the artist, was driving around one day in Iowa. Iowa is a state in the United States, kind of in the middle of the United States.  And he was driving around looking for something to paint. And all of a sudden he saw a small, ordinary, plain white house. But this ordinary, normal white house had a very special window and he thought that window is strange, but it would make an interesting painting. “I want to paint something with that house in it.”

So next, he looked for some people to paint with the house, with the ordinary white house. He thought of his dentist, the doctor who worked on his teeth. So he asked his dentist, a man aged 62, 62 years old, “May I paint you?” And so he did. 

And next he needed a woman, to go with the man, to stand next to the man. So he asked his sister. Grant asked his own sister, “Can I paint you in next painting please?” 

And she said, yes! So he painted his dentist and his sister together in front of this ordinary white house. 

Well, what are they wearing? What kind of clothes and what do they look like? The man is an older man. He doesn’t have very much hair. You can see a little bit on the sides. What color do you think his hair used to be when he was younger? Yes, look at his eyebrows. His eyebrows are dark brown.  I think, I think his hair used to be dark brown.

What else about the man? He’s wearing glasses, like me.  I’m wearing glasses. Is he smiling, like me? Nope. He’s not smiling at all. Well, what about his eyes? What color are his eyes? You can tell from the picture that his eyes are brown. So, he has…. not much hair, dark brown eyebrows, brown eyes. He’s wearing glasses and he’s not smiling.

What about his clothes? What is he wearing for clothes? He’s got a white shirt on and you can see a little bit of blue overalls. Overalls are what farmers wear sometimes or they used to wear overalls. And on top of his overalls, on top of his white shirt, he is wearing a dark jacket, maybe black, maybe brown. He looks dressed up. He looks fancier than just an ordinary working farmer.

What’s he holding in his hand? He’s holding a farm tool. It is called a pitchfork, the farm tool. The pitchfork is used to grab hay and give it to farm animals like horses, I think. I’m not a farm girl. 

Well, what about the woman standing next to him? The woman is supposed to be his adult daughter. The two people are supposed to be a farmer, an older farmer, and his grown-up, his grown-up daughter. The woman has blonde hair and she has blue eyes.

Does she have long hair or short hair? I think she has long hair, but it’s tied in the back. It’s tied in the back and you can’t see it. What is the woman wearing? She’s wearing a dress with a little white collar. And over her dress, on top of her dress, she is wearing a full apron. An apron protects her clothes. The apron protects her dress and her shirt. 

What color is her dress? What color is her apron? Let me look. Okay. Her apron is brown and her dress looks black, black to match the farmer’s jacket and she has something here keeping her white blouse closed. It’s a piece of jewelry. It’s decoration and it is called a broche. It’s old fashioned. 

Women back in the 19th century wore broches. Now that is something interesting. When was this painting made? When did Grant Wood, the artist, paint it?  In 1930. But the people in the painting are dressed to look like a farmer and a woman from the 1900s, excuse me, from the 1800s, the 19th century. So that’s different.

Well, we know what they look like. What are they doing? Are they working? Is the woman cooking? She has an apron on. Is the farmer working on his farm? Are they happy? The farmer is not smiling and the woman is not smiling. Are they talking to each other? Are they listening? 

Are they watching something? What are they doing? 

They are not talking. They are not singing, “ la, la, la, la”. They are not working. She’s not cooking. What do you think? Maybe they’re thinking. If so, what are they thinking about? Are they thinking about work? Are they thinking about money? If they are going to have enough money? Are they thinking about the weather and the farm crops, what they are growing.  

And why are they dressed up? Are they going to visit some friends? Are they going to town to buy something? Are they ‘gonna’ go to church? Are they going to a meeting?

I don’t know. Well, what about you? What do you think they’re thinking about? Where do you think they might be going? Leave me a comment below, under the video. Tell me your ideas. And while you’re there, be sure to subscribe to my Youtube channel, English without Fear, so you won’t miss another video.

And if you are a teacher or language coach, of some English language learners, send me an email at maria@englishwithoutfear.com and I’ll be sure to add you to my email list for the next newsletter. Well, this is Maria from English without Fear. Talk to you next time. 

Thanks for watching. For questions or comments, here’s my email.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *