Thursday, September 11, 2014

How I Organize Our Homeschool - Artist Study and Art

Artist Study ...

Oh, don't get me started.
We LOVE our artist study.  It was Sonja Shafer of Simply Charlotte Mason who demonstrated this in such a lovely way and I've been doing it her way ever since.  Rather than going into all the details, I'll share this video of her instruction.  We study one artist for six weeks - I select six of that artist's works (usually from Ambleside Online) and then download those to a disk.  I take them to a local print shop, hae them printed in color on card stock (sounds pricey, but at the chain in our town I get a copy for each of the boys on 5 x 7 and one for our wall - all this for way under $5.00).  So, in one year we will study six artists total - six weeks of "living with" each one. 

After we have done our brief study of the art work for the week, I frame the art work and put it up in one of the six places in our home where we constantly rotate in the art we are studying.  This way we live with each piece of art for six weeks in a row as we study that artist.  Let's say there is frame #1 near my entry way.  I put our first picture of Van Gogh in there while we are studying him.  Next week I fill frame #2 and on it goes.  But, what was in the frame prior to that?  It was Monet, whom we last studied.  So, for a time, while we are filling in Van Gogh week by week onto our walls, we have some Monet still up.  By week six we will have all Van Gogh ... until we go to the next artist and their work starts to replace Van Gogh piece by piece.  This way each work stays with us a total of six weeks.  It is in our DNA and subconscious to recognize these paintings/drawings as our own.  And, bonus, our home looks lovely with little prints of great art up all the time. 

My children recognize famous artists and works of art and can discern a Monet from a Michelangelo merely by investing five to ten minutes a week in our artist study.  But, more than that, they love and appreciate art.

Beyond studying artists we also practice art using three curriculum.  The first is Exploring Art with Great Artists book which features art projects which emulate the great artists we are studying.  Some of the projects we have done through this book include taping paper under the coffee table and the boys laying on their backs to get the feel of what it would be like to paint the Sistine Chapel Ceiling.  We have painted paper with water and then painted on top of the water to get a feel for Impressionism.  We have thickened paint with flour to make it like "impasto" which Van Gogh used to paint his famous paintings like Starry Starry Night and Sunflowers.  For each six week period of school I select two projects which reflect the style or era of the painter we are studying and we carve out two hours on a Friday every three weeks to spend time doing art.  This isn't the time we focus on skill development.  We are just experiencing art in different modes and approaches.

My Five-Year-Old's Van Gogh's Sunflowers
The second book we use to practice art is the wonderful series, "Artistic Pursuits."  We use these books to develop our art skills and knowledge of terms like shadow, form, value, etc.  The Artistic Pursuits books are geared to develop with your child and they provide samples of art done by famous artists, instruction in techniques and terms and then assignments for the child-artist.  There are also samples in the book for each project of a completed project by a child.  This helps children who may want their work to turn out as good as the Masters.  When they see what someone closer to their age produced, they are able to let their perfectionism take a rest while they just learn the skills.
My 12-Year-Old's Picasso Style Painting
The third art support we use for our own art skills is the fun and simple video instruction given on  We do one simple project once a week after our quiet room time (which follows our reading after lunch).  The great thing about Art for Kids Hub is that the artist is a dad and he brings his kids with him as he does the art.  The view on the screen is bird's eye, so you see their two sets of hands as they draw in a "how to draw a ..." presentation style.  This dad enjoys art and he loves his kids.  He is very encouraging about whatever they do.  Again, watching a child do art while watching a more seasoned artist helps children get over their hesitations about not doing things perfectly while still trying their best.

My 12-Year-Old's Motorcycle Racer
I hope this gives you a feel of how simple it is to add art into your homeschool week, month and year.  I would love to hear what you are doing to involve your kids in art at your home!


Elizabeth Haber-Lopez said...

LOVE this post, thanks for inspiring me!!! as always!!! :)

HeartsHomeward said...

Elizabeth, thank you!! I am so glad God inspires you through me. What a blessing! We have really enjoyed the CDs, by the way.

Hayley said...

Patty, I started homeschooling in June and this along with one other subject is one I am yet to include in our days. Partly because of the ages of my children {6, 5, 3, 2, 6mo} and mostly because it is so out of my comfort zone.

First question: would you PM {if inappropriate to reply here} the exact details of how you have your prints printed. I know that is my first step but I am so hesitant, I think it is just 'fear of the unknown' as I don't know what I'm doing, what I'm asking for {quality, paper, etc.}.

Second: is it possible for you to confirm the books you mentioned in this post with adding the author's name? I looked for the books and am unsure if I've found the ones you referred to.

Thank you for your blog. And for your sweetness. I am privileged to know you, Patty.

HeartsHomeward said...


I will pm you and also want to answer here just in case anyone else has these same questions ... the Great Artists book is by MaryAnn F Kohl. Here is a link:

The second book is Artistic Pursuits by Brenda Ellis. Here is the link to their beginning book on Amazon.

Some of the other moms I know go to PostNet. I go to Office Depot here in town, pop in my disk (which has our downloaded art) and then the Windows Picture Viewer comes up to let me select what size I want printed. I have them printed in color on card stock. Literally it is ridiculous how inexpensive it is. The boys each get a 5x7 of their own of each print and then I print either one more 5x7 or an 8x10 of the print for our display.

Start small and build up if you have to. With your ages of kids I would lay out "project materials" for everyone and then work more closely with your older two - and especially your oldest. Mainly just giving them a chance to experience art instead of what so many people do with younger kids (coloring books). I'm not wholesale against coloring books, but I have heard enough about the difference between art/handicraft vs. arts & crafts. The former is purposeful and skill based while the latter can be somewhat meaningless twaddle and busywork.

I hope this helps. I am so glad to know you, Hayley. Truly.