Sample activities from the eBook TEACHING ENGLISH WITH ART: PICASSO


Image 2: Acrobat on a Ball. 1905

Acrobat on a ball, Picasso

Acrobat on a ball, Picasso

Activity 4: speaking. Level A1/A2

  1. Describe the picture. What’s the predominant color?
  2. This is a painting from Picasso’s Rose Period (1904-1906). Everything is kind of pinkish. How was Picasso feeling during this period? Why do you think so?
  3. What does the color pink remind you of?
  4. Who are those people? What’s their relationship? Where do they work?
  5. The girl can stand on a ball. This is difficult to do. What else do you think she can do? Can you do anything difficult? What?

 

Activity 5: speaking. Level A2

  1. What’s this girl like? Tell us about her personality. What about the man?
  2. Describe the girl physically. Now describe the man.
  3. What do you think she likes doing in her free time? What do you like doing in your free time?
  4. Do you like the circus? What do you usually see in the circus?
  5. Pair work: students are divided into A and B. Student A lists the positive points of a circus. Student B disagrees and says why.
  6. Make a poster of a circus (a drawing or a collage or both) and present it to the class.

Activity 6: writing. Level B1/B2

  1. Write a composition imagining what your life would be like if you worked for a circus. Tell us about your job. What you usually do. The different kinds of people you work with. Do your relatives work there too? Who? (Do some research on the Internet to find out what kind of life circus people live. Use your own words in the composition. 400 – 700 words).
  2. Read your partner’s composition. Help her correct some mistakes and ask questions to help her write a more complete and better composition. Then ask her to help you with yours.

For more info about the series TEACHING ENGLISH WITH ART: Click on the link below to go to AMAZON.COM and get your ebooks: http://wp.me/p4gEKJ-1lS

Click on the image above to access the KINDLE STORE: Teaching English with Art: Matisse, Picasso, Caravaggio, Monet, Norman Rockwell

Click on the image above to access the KINDLE STORE. Teaching English with Art: Matisse, Picasso, Caravaggio, Monet, Norman Rockwell

Au revoir Jorge Sette

Matisse and Picasso: a competitive and productive conversation


“Art is a lie that makes us realize truth, at least the truth that is given us to understand. The artist must know the manner whereby to convince others of the truthfulness of his lies.”  Pablo Picasso

Matisse and Picasso, two of the greatest masters of the 20th century visual arts, were introduced to each other by Gertrude Stein, an American intellectual and writer whose family moved to Paris. Her family became also one of the main patrons of both artists, although, as time went by, Gertrude seemed to favor Picasso’s work over Matisse’s.

From the beginning, both men always had a competitive relationship with each other. This competitiveness, however, proved very productive, as their work, at each stage, was often a response to the other’s more recent painting or change in style. The exposure to the competitor’s latest work usually goaded each of them not only to incorporate some new and intriguing element just discovered by his opponent but to surpass it or give it a more personal angle.

Harmony in Red by Matisse, Henri

Harmony in Red by Matisse, Henri

In a grossly simplified way, we can say that Matisse’s paintings were more cerebral, carefully planned, based on a representation of living models, despite all the distortions and changes to which this model may be subjected on the canvas, whereas Picasso’s work was more visceral, entirely produced from his imagination alone, without the need of a reference in the real world. Matisse painted in daytime, he had a family and was a quiet and sensible man. Picasso, on the other hand, was the stereotypical passionate bohemian artist, living in poor and disheveled quarters with his mistress of the moment. He painted at night. Matisse was French; Picasso, Spanish.

Matisse was the master of vibrant colors, ornament and light. His lifeline was the arabesque. His art style was part of Fauvism (from the word fauve, which means wild beast in French), a movement considered the natural continuation of Impressionism, with a direct influence from the painter Cezanne. Picasso was the master of fragmentation, radical abstraction and the use of varied and intersecting geometric planes slicing the image on the canvas. His paintings were a lot darker and more aggressive than his colleague’s. These features were the essence of Cubism, a movement that consisted of deconstructing the human form in the painting by replacing it with geometric ones, mainly cubes, assembled together in a way that barely resembled the original idea when finalized. Cubism also had no problem incorporating in the same painting the vocabulary and technique of other styles, composing a complex and mesmerizing whole. This was probably a reflex of Picasso’s personal life, a foreign in France, who could never express himself fluently in the language of his adopted country, therefore becoming very aware of the arbitrariness of the different codes of representation, language and painting included.

Three Women by Picasso, Pablo

Three Women by Picasso, Pablo

Neither Matisse or Picasso thought that the aim of art was to represent a naturalistic view of the external world. Photograph could do that. The important thing was to apply the “Instagram” filter of emotion and personal experience to it. Hence the progressive abstraction of their works.

Matisse was 12 years older than Picasso, but, as their parallel artistic lives developed, they became the closest friends. Each understood the richness and breakthrough quality of the other’s new paintings and variations in style long before anyone else. Their respect and influence was mutual: their conversation lasted a lifetime.

After Matisse’s death, Picasso missed his friend’s feedback and, sometimes provocative reaction to his own paintings, so deeply that he incorporated obvious references to Matisse’s art into his own work, so the dialogue could carry on intrinsically, within the painting itself.

For me the works of these two artists can only be described as breathtaking. Matisse’s paintings have a soothing and relaxing effect on my life. I revert to Picasso’s whenever I feel the need to nurture my darker side and infuse my days with a boost of passion.

NOTE: You might want to check out our eBooks series TEACHING ENGLISH WITH ART, available  from AMAZON.COM. Clique here for more info:   http://wp.me/p4gEKJ-1lS

Teaching English with Art

Teaching English with Art

 

Au revoir/Saludos

Jorge Sette

Five Most Common Misconceptions About Writing


Writing is today more fashionable than it has been in a long time. Perhaps it’s at the peak of its importance ever, with all the blogs, messages, emails and tweets swamping our computer, tablet and smart phone screens every second of the day. Of course, most of the time it’s bad or unclear writing. But everyone is doing it one way or another, and job opportunities are opening up for those who do it well.

Content is the key word in the workplace today. Especially if you are in sales & marketing. The buyer has all the power today and they control when, how and where they will make their next purchase. In this context, writing can be a great asset in educating and persuading prospects, making them see you as the expert, or thought leader in your field. Writing great content and making it available will help you develop a relationship with your potential customers, who will definitely lean towards your offer when the time is right.

Saint Jerome Writing (detail) by Caravaggio

Saint Jerome Writing (detail) by Caravaggio

As a consequence of its importance, the Internet is full of advice about effective writing, how to put blogs together, the dos and don’ts and best practices of publishing anything. By all means, read all you can, as there is a lot of useful information online. Beware, however, of some of the most common misconceptions about writing: in general most of them were acquired or developed at school and academic settings rather than on the Internet. Here are five of the most common:

1. Writing is about inspiration and waiting for the muse to come down and sit on your keyboard. Well, I’m afraid there’s not enough room for the muse to relax and spread out on such a small space. Also, deadlines have a weird way of not accommodating the muse’s busy schedule, so do not wait to get started. Writing is not necessarily what Hemingway warned us against in his famous quote: “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Make it more active: brainstorm ideas, do some research, check out what is trending online, use automatic topic generators on the Internet, and do not delay. Start the process as soon as you can,

 2. Writing comes out as the masterpiece you usually read in the printed copy of good magazines, newspapers and books. Well, the final draft is not easy to get to. That’s what you see published. But anyone can get the process started and refine it until you achieve a satisfactory result. The saying writing is rewriting, or writing is more about transpiration than inspiration are indeed true. Once you spill out your first ideas and get them more or less outlined on the page, you will start the process of polishing them. And that is the hard part. This will take time, effort and immense patience.

3You cannot self-edit. If we are not talking about your PhD thesis or your fiction masterpiece, do not believe you need a team of copyeditors, researchers and proofreaders ready to work for you. They are expensive and hardly available in enough numbers even for big publishing companies nowadays. So, unless you can count on close friends to help you out with it (remember you can always return the favor), you must learn tactics for self-editing. Do not hesitate to count on every piece of technology available to help you with the task: spell checkers, grammar checkers, dropdown thesaurus, online dictionaries, you name it. There are a lot of very useful tools out there. Read your drafts as many times as you can and carry on refining them. There will be a moment when you’ll get so fed up with reading your piece you will want to throw up. That’s when you take a serious break. I’m not talking about the proverbial coffee time (you have probably been drinking coffee nonstop throughout the whole process anyway). Just abandon your text for a couple of days (I hope you can afford to do that. Factor in those necessary breaks when you plan your timetable to meet the deadline). Next time you get back to the text, you will see it with fresh eyes, and give it the final touches as a Steven Pinker would.

4. Sophisticated writing is good writing. Write as you speak. Content that will help you sell is content that’s simple enough for the majority of readers to understand. So drop the long words and complex sentences. The golden rule of elegance is less is more. Apply this to your writing: precision and simplicity of vocabulary, clarity of ideas, avoidance of overuse of the passive voice, and keeping to what is essential are the tactics that will make you win the reader over. As you read and reread your text, try to leave out everything that is superfluous or redundant. Cut, cut, cut.

5. Not everyone can write. You are write (sorry: right) to think so, if you are using Oscar Wilde or Hemingway as your standard. Artistic and creative writing are not for everyone. It does not need to be for you. But most people can learn to develop and communicate clear, authoritative and persuasive ideas in writing. It takes practice, though. All the content marketing gurus agree on this single point: you need to write everyday if you are in the business. The blog post you will write as soon as you finish reading this text will sound a hundred times better than the one you wrote around the same time last year. They will be both there on the Internet: just read and compare them. You will have improved. So keep working at it and surprise yourself month after month at how much better you are becoming. Good luck!

Would you like to share with us any advice on writing? Please do not hesitate to do so on the comments section of this blog. You might as well rate us so we can improve.

Au revoir

Jorge Sette

5 Myths About Sales & Marketing


All of us who work in sales & marketing have seen the radical changes the field has undergone in the past few years. Many, however, are still living in the past and somehow do not believe the changes apply to their particular kind of industry. B2B companies especially are resistant to the new forms of promotion the Internet and the social media channels have brought about and insist on doing things the old way. Of course they are not succeeding as before, and more and more senior management are missing their sales targets and losing their jobs. If you are in sales and marketing, make sure you rethink your ideas if you still believe in the following myths:

1. Marketing is about hype. If you think that by promoting the features and benefits of your products as loud as you can, the customers will believe they need you, you will be in for a nasty surprise. Customers are a lot more skeptical today. They’ve been yelled at for far too long. They will just shut you off as soon as you start blabbering about your product, skip your ads, block your emails, and close your pop-up banners in a rage. Hype won’t bring you sales. Educate and inform your public, produce useful content (blog posts, video clips, white papers, infographics, e-books) and let them find out about you. Make yourself available on search engines and wait. The customers will indicate when they are ready to buy from you.

2. Salespeople need to talk the customers into buying. You still need to be very proactive in sales, but not as the typical pushy car salesman of yesteryear. Do not try to take advantage of your customers. You need to work more closely than ever to the marketing team in the process of passing as much information and useful content as possible to your prospects before you close. You need to be more of a consultant. The customer probably already knows a lot about the product when he is ready to buy, and he didn’t get the info necessarily from you. There are hundreds of sources of information available online, so make sure you are prepared to pass on very sophisticated and updated info to your customers when and if they finally get to you, as they will very likely already know the basics.

3. Marketing and Sales are very different departments. The former’s job is to pass on qualified leads to the latter. Not anymore! The basic difference now between the two departments in the number of people they address and communicate with. Marketing will still have to segment the market into very specific buying personas (a refined stereotype of the typical customer for a certain product), but they will be talking to a number of people in that segment at a time. Sales, on the other hand, will carry on the marketing process (which is mainly giving the customer as much useful content as possible) when he identifies a specific customer that needs a more personal approach, a one-to-one kind of conversation with a real human being to ask the final questions or understand the finer points of your offer. Many customers will totally skip salespeople and go straight to purchasing through the self-service websites. You need to be better than ever as a salesperson to be needed and relevant in today’s marketplace.

Sales & Marketing working together.

Sales & Marketing working together.

4. Promotion is the heart of success. Embellish the communication about your product and you can get away with anything. Wrong. The product itself is the most important part of marketing today. You should be offering purple cows (as the marketing guru Seth Godin calls them): products and services that are so exciting and awesome that  can self-promote and inspire the buyers to purchase them. Think Apple and design. Think Amazon and its obsession with customer service. That’s the new marketing.

5You sell to customers. Another common mistake companies make today. They still think they are selling their products to customers. It’s the other way around: customers buy products from you. The difference is less subtle than you may think. It means that the customers are in total control of the purchasing process. They will somehow identify their needs (through friends and contacts in social media, through blogs, through well-designed and content packed websites) and get as much info as possible about solutions before getting ready to buy. Your job is to be available on every step of the way (we tend to call the stages towards a purchase the sales funnel; we should be calling it the purchase funnel, though). Therefore, you need to provide content to match the stage the customer is at: from more general and comprehensive to more specific and product-based.

These are some of the most common sales & marketing  myths still held by many professionals today. They need to change fast if they want to keep their jobs.

Au revoir

Jorge Sette.

4 Elements to Consider to Strengthen your Brand


In a scene of MAD MEN (6th season), Don Draper (the protagonist) and his business partners are sitting around a dinner table socializing with clients from General Motors. Libations and jokes are going around, drunken laughter and merry faces are all we see. Then, Don, unexpectedly, brings up the story of the son of one of his friends (whose wife he has been sleeping with, in typical Draper fashion) who has been drafted to Vietnam. Don is hoping GM will volunteer to help get the boy off the hook, through one of the many contacts the huge corporation must have in Washington. The mood at the table changes immediately to gloom and doom. Don’s partners look at him in disbelief: how dare he introduce a note of sadness and discomfort, when the only goal of this meeting is to entertain the clients and keep them happy? Is he trying to jeopardize the future of the account?

foto

Don Draper, Mad Men

This is how business was done in the late 1960s. And today.  In a previous post, I mentioned that the campaigns conducted by Madison Avenue marketers as shown in this brilliant TV series would not have much change of succeeding in today’s digital environment. However, one thing remains the same and is not likely to change any time soon: clients are emotional beings and their choices rely much more on feeling and intuition than on reason. Of course, after the choice is made, they will work hard to rationalize it and will possibly come up with a lot of “objective” reasons to justify their decisions. So, the lesson is let’s keep the customer happy.

With this in mind, clever marketers will never stray away from the emotional channel to reach and start a conversation with their prospects, or keep a solid relationship with their loyal base going smoothly. And what are the main tools available to aid marketers reach clients on an emotional level?

1. Storytelling: this is the biggest umbrella word that encompasses the whole tool kit to engage the client, as it resonates strongly with humans on different emotional levels. Your brand needs to describe itself to the customer in a very simple and yet effective way. By using the typical elements of storytelling (which we have discussed in previous posts: http://wp.me/p4gEKJ-F2, and http://wp.me/p4gEKJ-UK), make sure it’s easy for the customers to understand where you are coming from, your journey and quest. If they eventually become advocates of your brand (which is ultimately every marketer’s dream) make it easy for them be able to share your story with everyone in their network.

2. Coherence: this is fundamental to the success of your marketing strategy. The story needs to be coherent in every touch-point with the client. Every contact of the client with your brand should add or reinforce a piece to the bigger picture. Your story should make a solid promise, set up a strong positioning and create a relatable personality that needs to permeate all your communication with customers. This story is supposed to make the customers associate your brand with positive feelings and traits: family values (Disney), coolness (Apple), sophistication (Tiffany), efficiency and innovation (Amazon), usefulness and reliability (Google), high self-esteem and style (Rolex), vigor and energy (Nike), etc. Pick the emotion you want to emphasize through the use of your product/service and stick with it.

3. Colors: these are very important in communicating and generating the right emotion. There are many articles on the Internet that make suggestions and describe how different colors create and stress different moods. Based on the kind of story you choose to tell your customers, be careful matching the colors of your logo, for example, to the positive emotion you are willing to generate. Blue, for example, stands for depth and stability; red for excitement and passion; yellow for happiness and warmth; green for environment-friendly brands, peacefulness and health; black communicates tradition and sophistication.

4. Design: most products are becoming commodities in terms of their functionality and performance. Today it does not really matter, for example, what kind of TV set you buy, they are basically all the same, and equally reliable. That’s where look and feel play an essential part. Your brand needs to integrate the design that fitfully tells your story. This involves your logo, the format of your communication, the choice of your business card and the product itself. Of course, Apple is everyone’s benchmark in this department.  Also, keep consistency throughout your collateral, display banners, the layout of your office, your blog and website appearance.

I hope the reader understands that we are not endorsing ways of cheaply manipulating the customers by pressing their buttons. As long as your brand delivers on the promise made, marketers don’t need to feel guilty about trying to entice the client. That’s obviously their job. Besides, just like in a good movie or book – and in storytelling in general – the more subtly emotions are played out, the more effective they are in satisfying today’s increasingly sophisticated audience. Tell a powerful and genuine story, and deliver on your contract: that’s all.

Au revoir

Jorge Sette.