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Love of Winter, by George Bellows

Love of Winter by George Bellows, courtesy Art Institute of Chicago

George Bellows was born in Columbus, Ohio. He received his art education and spent much of his adult life in New York City. During, his career he created a rich collection of paintings that mirror the first quarter-century of urban American life. He painted everything he encountered in the city: ethnic neighborhoods, circus acts, young children playing in the street, and everyday scenes of city life in New York. In 1914 he painted the Love of Winter which depicts the excitement of speed skating outdoors in the middle of winter. Though the background suggests a rural setting; he actually used a pond in Central Park. His use of bright colors and strong brush strokes convey the mood of and action of the scene. Bellows captures a moment of time on his canvas, freezing the skaters and spectators as they enjoy a crisp winter day.

This painting is in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago®.

Questions to Ask

What is the first thing that you see? This is the focal point. The focal point is what first draws your eye, something that stands out. Note the contrast between the deep blue tones of the hills and trees in the background and the vibrant array of colors used for the skates in the foreground.

Which figures stand out the most? Where are the children playing in the painting? Which people are the most active and inactive? The artist had two daughters; do you think any of the people in the painting could be them? Hint — the two figures in the center of the foreground are his daughters.

Which colors are used? How do they make you feel? Cold colors recede on the painting and warm colors come forward. Bellows uses warm colors to grab the viewer's attention to the two central figures.

What types of winter clothing are the people in the painting wearing? Is this what you would wear to play int he snow? People dressed differently in 1914 than today. Talk about clothes then and today.

When George Bellows taught at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, he told his students "You don't know what you are able to do until you try it. Try everything that can be done." What do you think this means?

Activities for the Classroom

Additional Kid Friendly Resources at the AHML are "Winter Trees" by Carole Gerber and "Winter is the Warmest Season" by Lauren Stringer.

Ask the students to draw a picture of their favorite season and what they like to do in that season.

Ask the student to draw a picture of themselves and their families doing an activity on a snowy day.

Make a list of themes or subjects associated with cool colors and warm colors. Divide the class in half. Have half the students choose one theme and make a drawing in warm colors and the other half make a drawing in cool colors.

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