A Very Resource Full Week: Rescued Paintings, Graphs, and Expensive Cats


At the beginning of the week, I said, “What shall we do today, Gemma-Rose?”

My youngest daughter replied, “How about some maths?”

Maths? I nearly fell off my seat. Gemma-Rose is not a maths fan. “Are you sure? Yes? Well, perhaps we can find something interesting.”

Art Documentaries

As I opened up my computer, I had an idea. Could we find some art related maths? Gemma-Rose loves watching art documentaries. So do I. At the moment, we’re working our way through a documentary series called Private Life of a Masterpiece. Well, maybe ‘working our way through’ is the wrong way to describe what we’re doing. We’re actually picking and choosing the episodes we want to watch. I read out the descriptions and Gemma-Rose chooses. She’s not too keen on the nude paintings so we tend to pass over those ones.


The other day we watched Episode 18 – Johannes Vermeer: The Art of Painting. The artist George Deem was part of this documentary. Deem studied Vermeer’s paintings closely and then reworked them. He’d paint the same scene as Vermeer, taking out elements or replacing them with something else. Gemma-Rose and I enjoyed looking at some of his paintings including Artist in His Studio, (diptych), his take on Vermeer’s The Art of Painting.

Art and Hitler

Did you know The Art of Painting fell into the hands of Hitler? During the Second World War, he stored it away in the tunnels of the salt mine Altaussee with many other invaluable works of art.

A bit of googling later and we found a movie about the rescue of these artworks – The Monuments Men:

“During World War II, the Nazis steal countless pieces of art and hide them away. Some over-the-hill art scholars, historians, architects and other experts form a unit to retrieve as many of the stolen masterpieces as possible. The mission becomes even more urgent when the team learns about Hitler’s “Nero Decree,” which orders destruction of the artworks if the Third Reich falls. Caught in a race against time, the men risk their lives to protect some of mankind’s greatest achievements.”

I have the movie bookmarked on Google Play. We’re going to watch it one evening very soon.

But back to maths…

 Graphing Art Stats

“How about we look up some stats about famous paintings?” I said. “I wonder what are the most expensive paintings in the world.”

More googling and we arrived at an article called  The Ten Most Expensive Paintings in History.

“It’s a pity there isn’t a graph showing all the info,” I said.

And Gemma-Rose said (to my surprise), “Let’s make one of our own.”

So we went to a site called Online Charts. We experimented with the settings and produced a graph which I downloaded and then inserted into an Evernote note. (I think we could have made it more colourful. Maybe next time…)





Next, I wondered if we could find an infographic comparing the value of famous paintings. We did find one. And we thought about making our own infographic on the website infogr.am, but the free account has a very small limit. Maybe we’ll go to Canva another day because we can make as many free infographics on that site as we like.

And while I was clicking around another infographic caught my eye: Ten Most Expensive Cats. The most expensive cat is the ashera and because we weren’t familiar with this breed, we did some more research and found a video about them.


Ashera Cat by Aussie Gold, (cc BY-NC 2.0)

Cats, Dogs, Genetics, Ethics, and Environmental Issues

Ashera cats led to more rabbit trails. Gemma-Rose and I discussed genetics, especially selective breeding. We wondered if it’s ethical to selectively breed cats which look cute but have health issues. We pondered the question: Are asheras really savannah cats? (This led us to the topic of DNA testing.) And should the ban on importing savannah cats into Australia have been lifted? You see, they could have a negative impact on our native wildlife.

Cats led to dogs and we watched the first part of a documentary called How Dogs Changed the World – “a two-part PBS Nature documentary narrated by F. Murray Abraham, exploring the 15,000-year-old relationship between dogs and humans and the evolution of wolves into the wide variety of dogs we know today.” (I missed the beginning because I had to answer the phone.)

Yes, one thing led to another… and there are still more things we want to find out about…

Other Resources

Maybe next week we’ll take a look at these resources:

Angel Breed – a Game: “Understand the basic rules of genetics and see if you can breed the rarest fish.”

Unzip Your Genes – a “quiz to determine whether common traits are hereditary or influenced by the environment.”

Atoms Alive –  a “series about DNA and genetics.”

A Weekend Movie?

But before then, there’s the weekend to enjoy. I wonder what we’ll do. We could watch Monuments Men on Saturday or Sunday. I think everyone will enjoy that movie.

“It stars Cate Blanchett,” I say.

“And George Clooney,” says Imogen.

George Clooney? I don’t know who he is. Obviously, I don’t watch enough movies.

So what did you learn this week? Did you follow any rabbit trails? And what about cats? Do you have one?

Have a great weekend!

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    • Anonymous
    • November 11, 2016

    Monuments Men is very good. If you are interested in another movie about stolen art, take a look a The Woman in Gold .

    We always find it fun to research the truth behind these movies as well.

    • Kathryn Coard
    • November 11, 2016

    Sue, I forgot to leave my name on the above comment, sorry.

      • Sue Elvis
      • November 14, 2016


      I googled ‘The Woman in Gold’. Helen Mirren! The girls and I watched a Youtube video which I think tells the same story. It’s called ‘The Art of the Heist: The Lady in Gold’. Thanks for your recommendation. We shall certainly watch the movie!

  1. Reply

    Sue, I love your rabbit trails! I laughed at your surprise at Gemma-Rose’s enthusiasm for maths. My youngest twin hates maths and if she ever actually asked to do it, I think I might very well fall off my chair!

      • Sue Elvis
      • November 15, 2016


      Rabbit trails are such fun, aren’t they? I’m always amazed at where we end up. So glad you can relate to my falling off the chair story! Thank you so much for stopping by. It’s always a pleasure to chat with you!

  2. Reply

    Hi Sue! Thanks for the awesome post! It’s always nice to see how one thing leads to another in unschooling! Thanks for all the resource pointers as well! Our rabbit hole for the week led us to Dada art, a rowboat ride, and a secret Dada party featuring robots as art!

    1. Reply


      It sounds like you also had a great unschooling week! A secret Dada party featuring robots as art? Now that sounds intriguing. I’ll have to check your blog in case you’ve posted more details!

      1. Reply

        Indeed! 🙂 I am working on a post. It’s taking a bit of time to tame it into something that is not too convoluted, yet not too long, yet still interesting to read.

        1. Reply


          I enjoyed sharing your unschooling Dada adventure!

          1. Reply

            Thanks Sue!

    • Alissa
    • September 9, 2017

    I am not sure if you will be alerted to this since it is an old post, but these posts are so helpful. I wish there were more 😉 It provides a narrative while also listing resources I’d like to check out with my kids. Thanks!

    1. Reply


      I do see comments on old posts! I’m glad you like the narrative as well as the resource links in these posts. I wondered if readers would prefer me to get to the point and just list all the resources and nothing else. This type of post is fun to write and, for me, brings back happy memories of following various rabbit trails with Gemma-Rose. There might be more posts like this in my drafts file. I’ll take a look!

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