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Art Lesson for Children: What is the Story?

American Gothic by Grant Wood


You can see the original American Gothic at the Art Institute of Chicago. The painting is named after the window with the pointed arch. Gothic architecture developed in Europe back when kings and queens ruled the world. The pointed arches used in Gothic architecture held up the huge weight of these stone buildings. The window in the painting is shaped like the pointed arches common in Gothic architecture.

Grant Wood, the artist, often passed this cottage. He wondered about the lives of the people who would live in this kind of house. He painted the house, the model for the farmer, and the model for the daughter at three separate times.

If you look carefully at the original painting, you can see how Grant Wood repeated basic shapes. The man's face repeats the shapes in the Gothic window. His pitchfork repeats the shape of his overall pocket. The curve of the daughter's neckline repeats the bottom curve of the pitchfork and the curves of her face. Can you find any other repeating shapes?

Is there any building that grabs you attention when you walk through your city? Draw the building, even if it's from your memory. Grant Wood didn't need to show the complete building in his painting, and neither do you. Now imagine who lives in the building. Is it a big family, or someone on their own? How do they spend their time? What is important to them?

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