Does this sound familiar? The lights are low and images of artwork flash on a screen in front of you. Your job is to quickly identify the artist and work. This was my only introduction to art appreciation in my years of schooling, though it should be more aptly named art identification.
Why is this considered art appreciation and education? The only work I remember from those days sitting in the dark is Guernica by Picasso, though there were many more.
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Art in Life
There are a few instances where I have been completely awed by art which transformed my perspective from one of identification to appreciation.
This first was at the Art Institute Museum in Chicago. I was wandering through, casually looking at all the paintings when I turned a corner. There it hung, A Sunday on La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat.
This was a familiar painting I had always appreciated, but to see it in person was overwhelming. I had no idea of its size. At nearly seven by ten feet, it filled the entire wall.
I was able to walk up and see the individual points of color, which seemed only a blur. Then I could back away and slowly see it come into focus.
The other instance of artistic overwhelm was in a museum on a little side street in Florence, Italy. A small sign hung above the door not announcing the greatness beyond.
My husband and I entered into a small gift shop, dark and poorly lit. It led to a brighter room, divided into a winding trail of partially carved granite blocks.
We looked, we read, and we meandered to the last corner, knowing what we were journeying toward, but unaware of the impact it would have on us.
There he stood, Michaelangelo’s David.
I was expecting a statue, but what I found left me speechless. My husband was still a step or two behind me, and I stopped to tug on his arm. I don’t think I uttered a word, I just pointed.
Standing in a beautiful rotunda, looking every bit as alive as I did standing there.
No poster, reproduction, or postcard prepared me for seeing David in person. To this day, it is the most amazing human creation I have ever seen.
Making Art Real
Why were these encounters so profound? They made art real. It was no longer an image in a book or a slide in a darkened classroom. It was something real created with the hands and mind of an actual person.
And isn’t that an incredible realization? Artists were no longer mysterious beings who created things that magically appeared in textbooks.
So how can we make art real for our children and show them that everyone is an artist?
Homeschool Tools for Art Appreciation and Instruction
First, how can we create an appreciation and enjoyment of art in our children? I find the best method is to have things readily available. If you want to start a project, but it requires a trip to the craft store or library, it probably won’t happen.
- You can also check out my post about art for the non-artistic homeschool mom.
1 | Books About Art and Artists
The stories of artists lives can create a connection your child will draw upon in the future.
My second oldest was about 6 when we were visiting an art museum near where we lived at the time. We had sat down to have lunch in the cafe, and I see her whispering to her older sister. Then they look over their shoulders, and I’m wondering what is going on. She tells me the man who just came in looks just like Van Gogh. And he did!
How did my 6-year- old recognize a man resembling Van Gogh? Books. Specifically the World’s Greatest Artist Series by Mike Venezia. Both the books and the videos are engaging and make artists seem like real people you would know. So real, even a 6-year-old can find their look alike.
Other books we have enjoyed:
- Lives of the Artists: Masterpieces, Messes (and What the Neighbors Thought)
- The Magical Garden of Claude Monet
- Degas and the Little Dancer
- My Name is Georgia: A Portrait
- 13 Artists Children Should Know
- Vincent’s Starry Night and Other Stories: A Children’s History of Art (this is my current favorite and is a beautiful art history book for children)
2 | Art Instruction for your Homeschool
Without a doubt, my favorite homeschool art instruction is Masterpiece Society Studio by Alisha Gratehouse. Before she launched her subscription site, I already owned several of her mixed media courses. However, I’m so happy with our subscription because I can easily access all the mixed media courses, her Mixing with the Master’s classes, and all the new instruction she’s adding.
- Here’s the post where I break down everything included in a Masterpiece Society Studio membership.
We recently began her Drawing 101 course that is part of Masterpiece Society Studio. The best thing about it is that Alisha has taken Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, which I have owned for years, and broken it down into lessons that even I can follow.
If you’d like to give one of Alisha’s video classes a try, she has a free Impressionist style bluebird lesson you can try.
I also try to keep simple drawing books on hand, especially for the younger kids. Some of our favorites have been:
- Draw Write Now Boxed Set
- Ed Emberley’s Drawing Book: Make a World
- Ed Emberley’s Drawing Book of Animals
- Drawing Textbook (this is a super-simple little book, but has some excellent instruction)
- 20 Ways to Draw a Tree (and others)
- Illustration School: Let’s Draw Cute Animals (and others)
Follow my Art for Homeschool Pinterest board for more art inspiration.
3 | Art Supplies to Stock in Your Homeschool
There is nothing more frustrating than finding the time to devote to an artistic project, only to discover you need something else from the craft store. This is why I tend to buy in bulk and have plenty on hand. At the very least, I’ll have a usable alternative that will save me from a last minute paint run.
We have an art closet that holds our rolling cart filled with supplies. I also stash things such as sketchbooks and canvases in baskets around the house.
Our drawing supplies and sketchbooks are kept in the living room so when we have the time to watch a drawing lesson, it’s all ready and waiting.
Let me add, art is more enjoyable, and you have better results when you use real materials. There is a time for construction paper and dollar store watercolors, but not when you want to create something to keep and enjoy.
What do we use the most?
- Canvas Panels
- Acrylic Artist Paints
- Strathmore Paint Pad
- Pan Watercolors (these are the best for the price)
- Tube Watercolors
- Drawing Set
- Mod Podge!
- Gesso (we used this to create our art journals)
4 | Developing an Appreciation
So why do I go to such trouble to make art available in my homeschool? In the end, I want to help my children grow in their appreciation of art.
I want my children to see art as a valuable human endeavor in a world that only seems to value standardization, statistics, and coding.
I want them to understand school subjects are an artificial creation and everything thing from history, to science, to math, and even art, are connected.
How can you do this? Don’t make art an extra you fit in when you have free time, weave it into your daily life.
So how do I try to include art in our lives?
- Visit Art Museums – One of my favorites was visiting the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum while on vacation in New Mexico.
- Connect artists with other fields- many artists such as Michaelangelo and Da Vinci made significant contributions to science and history.
- Observe artists – whether a live glass blowing demonstration or video showing the artistic process, this shows children that work is involved, and art doesn’t just appear.
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Has all this got you a little overwhelmed? Don’t worry, Julie Bogart of Brave Writer can help you even more. Grab her free Art Appreciation Guide and then follow along with her art appreciation workshop.
Inspire and Appreciate Creativity
My ultimate goal in bringing art into our homeschool and life is to inspire creativity. I want my children to be creative thinkers and problem solvers, and I see art as a means of protecting their innate creativity.
Also, I want them to appreciate creativity in others. They won’t love every painting or sculpture they see, I don’t either, but I want them to respect the thought and skill utilized.
Our desire as humans to create and beautify our world is innate, let’s do all we can to protect that drive in our industrialized, technological world.
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