CPE :: Lesson 21



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Reading and writing

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ACTIVITY 99: You are going to read a magazine article about a female painter. After reading answer very briefly questions 1-5 according to the opinions given in the passage. Then check the alternative answers we provide you with.


My mother used to go to the South of France in order to paint. Her style had deepened into something altogether richer than before, a sternly unaffected impressionism. The strength of her pictures was also, to my mind, their limitation, which is another way of saying she had personality. Everything she painted had behind it a very acute temperament, both serene and warm. More heart and instinct than thought had gone into her work. To paint what she saw was enough for her. What she felt would inevitably follow.

She strode across the paintable landscape, an old straw hat on her head, sniffing out the best angles and compositions, while Frieda and I followed like native porters in a movie, carrying canvases and easels and boxes of paints. It was a curious way of spending vacations, since there was nothing I could do but paint as well, although for me to paint what I saw was never satisfying. I could not bring myself to aim for a mere faithful reproduction, nor did any work without comment, without an edge, interest me for long. Once I remember the astonishment of both my mother and Frieda when, at the end of a smouldering day in the hills behind the village, I showed them my painting, the subject of which was a post-Christmas sale at a large department store in London.
This event became the pretext for a family joke, which was brought out on every and any occasion, and I hope I laughed with as good a grace every time I heard it. The fact was that I did not consider it much of a pastime for a boy away from school to be sitting before a landscape nature had put together with great competence, and to seek to reproduce it on a small piece of paper. In case it be thought that a note of self-pity has crept into this account of my apparent boredom, I must say that the intention was never to complain about my fate, but merely to explain the form of my protest. A Christmas sale in a department store should have been enough to convince anybody that I had no ambitions to be a landscape painter, but, no, it was taken, told and retold as evidence of youthful spirits in someone who would no doubt settle later on, and I, social animal that I was, laughed with the others and gave credence to the myth.



Why did the author like his mother's painting?


A.     He thought it showed her strength of character.
B.     He realised she took painting seriously.
C.     She did not think about what she was painting.
   She had a stronger personality than he had.


When she was choosing a place to paint, the author's mother...


A.     tried to find a shady spot.
B.     considered the possibilities carefully.
C.     found it difficult to make up her mind.
   had to consider all her equipment.


Why did the author's painting surprise his mother and Frieda?


A.     It seemed out of keeping with the environment.
B.     They didn't know he'd been to a Christmas sale.
C.     It was a strange subject for a boy.
   He didn't usually paint in that style.


Why did the author paint a picture of a post-Christmas sale?


A.     He only had a small sheet of paper.
B.     He was too young for landscape painting.
C.     He was determined to show off his skill.
   He wanted to make his opinion clear.


When his parents told the story of the strange painting, the author laughed because...


A.     he wanted to join in with everyone else.
B.     he thought it was a funny story.
C.     he alone knew the truth.
   the story improved with retelling.


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