One very simple way to appreciate art is by adding Picture Study once a week. Picture Study is a method that Charlotte Mason believed was an important addition to any curriculum. “Every child should leave school with at least a couple of hundred pictures by great masters hanging permanently in the halls of his imagination . . . At any rate he should go forth well furnished because imagination has the property of magical expansion, the more it holds the more it will hold” (Vol. 6, p. 43). It’s also easy to do and doesn’t take very much time.
The first step is deciding which artists you want to study and finding some pictures for each of those artists. In a regular school year there are generally 36 weeks. We cover 6 artists a year so that is 6 pictures for each artist. I don’t like having to scramble around at the last minute finding pictures so this is something I do at the beginning of the school year. Believe me, it’s nice to have this part done and ready for the year!
The first step is to do an online search for the artist and save 6 pictures to your computer. Repeat this step for each artist (I like to create a folder for each artist so I don’t get the pictures confused). Once you have 36 pictures print them out (or upload them to an online source and have them printed for you) and sort them by artist into envelopes. Decide which artist you’re going to study first and file the other envelopes away for future weeks.
After you have your pictures ready, all you need to do is study one each week. Here is a simple “how-to”:
- The first week you’ll want to introduce the artist. You can read a few facts from an online source or from a book. I like to use the Mike Venezia books with younger students – they are a great way to introduce the artist.
- The next step is to choose a picture to study. Give it to your student (one for each student so they can have their own collection) and let them look at it until they can picture every detail in their mind’s eye.
- Have the student flip their picture over and describe it to you, remembering as many details as possible.
- Once they’ve finished “narrating” the picture to you, tell them the title and ask a few simple questions about the picture. “Did you like it?” “What does it make you think of?” “Does it remind you of any other pieces of artwork?”
- After you have finished, have your child write the title of the piece and the artist on the back and put it in a special album just for their art collection. After awhile they will have a veritable museum of their own!
- That’s it! In another week you’ll choose another print to study.
- Once a term you could set aside one hour a week to have an art class. Imitate art in the style of that artist, use methods and mediums that he or she may have used, find a black line drawing of one of his/her pieces of art to make your own creation. For more ideas, see some of my Favorite Art Appreciation Resources.
As you can see, Picture Study is not a long process – it really does only take a few minutes each week. For the visual learners, here’s a great demonstration of how it’s done:
This is a guest post from Tonia at The Happy Homeschool Nest. Tonia blogs about homeschooling her 4th grade daughter, books & reading, and an occasional recipe or two.