If I’m honest, I have to admit that art is the first thing to fall by the wayside when homeschooling gets busy. It’s not just because I find drawing stick people a challenge, it’s also the mess that bothers me. Paint splatters, pastel dust, spilled watercolours … and don’t get me started on the time that I let my girls try drawing with charcoal.
Many times, I outsource. I pay other people to teach my kids about art. That counts, right?
Art is also, however, something that I need to participate in as well. Here are some simple ways I’ve been incorporating it into our homeschool, despite being artistically challenged:
Picture study is a wonderful way to introduce art into the homeschool. It’s a gentle way to deepen a child’s appreciation of fine art by exposing him or her to different types of form, colour and style. Children begin to recognize different techniques and perhaps even different artists.
Back in April, I attended a session at the KWCHEA Conference (taught by Sandra Zuidema) on art in the homeschool. The session began with a picture study. It was wonderful, beautiful and inspiring. And although I’ve done picture studies with my girls many times before, this was different. I’m not sure whether it was Zuidema’s method or because she’s a wonderful teacher, but either way, I decided to try again.
My children found picture study every bit as amazing as I hoped they would.
I used the method I learned in the workshop, and my girls thought it was the best thing ever. They begged to do it again.
Charlotte Mason said,
“We cannot measure the influence that one or another artist has upon the child’s sense of beauty, upon his power of seeing, as in a picture, the common sights of life; he is enriched more than we know in having really looked at even a single picture” (Home Education, Vol. 1, p. 309).
In other words, picture study enriches a child’s appreciation of beauty.
Having had a successful picture study under my belt, I decided to take it a step further.
Trips to the Art Gallery
At a recent home educator’s meeting, a friend from my neighbourhood recommended that we visit a small, local art gallery. I’d passed by the gallery many times. My girls often would pause in front of the large windows to see what was currently on display.
But, for some reason, we never went inside.
A few days after the meeting, while out running errands with my oldest daughter, I decided to take my friend’s advice and explore the little gallery a bit further. It was beautiful. The main exhibit featured a breathtaking collection of paintings by two local artists. Also on display were paintings and sculptures by various other artists that included, my daughter pointed out excitedly, a bronze sculpture of Icarus, whom she had learned about from a painting we studied.
I loved seeing my daughter’s enthusiasm when she saw the sculpture. I loved watching her awe as she pointed out the raised, textured brush strokes on the oil paintings. I loved seeing her sit silently in front of a display and soak it all in.
Since then. we’ve made several gallery visits, both to a gallery in our neighbourhood and a larger one in the downtown core of our city. Art galleries are a wonderful way to take picture study to the next level–to view the original work of art rather than a mere reproduction.
Drawing and Painting
Since we were already incorporating picture study into our homeschool, I decided to research the artists we were studying a little further to see if I could figure out how they learned or taught art. Rembrandt, for example, would have his students copy one of his self-portraits and then paint their own. So one week, we painted Rembrandt. The next, we drew pencil sketches of our own faces.
We also tried a Charlotte Mason style art lesson in which we used water colours to paint tree buds. I was surprised by the quality of work produced by that exercise. We plan on incorporating still lifes as a regular part of our art education.
In order to ensure that we’re practicing our drawing and painting consistently, I’ve scheduled daily five-minute drawing lessons and weekly still lifes, in addition to picture study.
Resources for Homeschool Art Lessons
If you’re looking for resources so that you can incorporate art lessons into your homeschool day, here are some that may help:
- ARTistic Pursuits: I love that ARTistic Pursuits includes both picture study and art lessons in one easy to use curriculum.
- Usborne A Drawing A Day: This is a great book for teaching extremely simple drawings to younger children.
- Art for Kids Hub: If you’ve never checked out Art Hub for Kids, you definitely need to. Every weekday, a new step-by-step drawing video is posted. They’re a lot of fun.
- You ARE an Artist: Learn how to draw with chalk pastels by purchasing either a monthly membership or choosing from a bank of video art lessons.
- Masterpiece Society: Masterpiece Society offers art lessons for the entire family using a variety of techniques and mediums. You can purchase individual courses or subscribe to the Masterpiece Studio. You can even try out a free art lesson.
What are your favourite art resources?