I’m gathering thoughts and getting prepared for starting school. (16 days and counting!) So I have “picture study” scheduled once a week along with some artists I’d like to explore with the kids, but then I kinda went, “Wait a minute…what exactly does one DO during a picture study?” So, I thought I would share my findings.
First off, I want to let you know that I am not an artsy person. I have artwork in the house that I think is pretty of course, but I don’t know my Degas from my Rembrandt. So, this will be a learning experience for me too! (A lot of homeschooling is that way, right!?) However, Miss Charlotte Mason suggested that it (along with music study, hymn study, and nature study) is an important part in an education, so I figured it would be wise to give it a shot.
Basically, you pick a famous artist – any well-respected artist will do – and select 6 to 12 pieces of art that you’d like to show the kids. Then each week (just once a week), you take out one piece of art – hopefully a nice, clear, large print – and examine it closely with your kids – all of them…this is one that can be done together with all age groups. Tell them the name of the artist and the title of the artwork. Everyone looks at it quietly for a couple of minutes, and really there should be no talking. They should be examining the artwork so that they can still see it when their eyes are closed. Next, put the picture away for a moment, and have the kids tell you the things they remember. You could do youngest to oldest child or just allow everyone to chime in at once. Then have everyone look at the picture again to see what was missed or what someone else mentioned that no one else had noticed.
It’s not a big deal if no one gets excited about a particular piece of art, and you don’t need to be looking for wise remarks and commentary from your kids either. Just a simple “There’s a wedding going on” is just fine at times. Then you can also comment with things you notice, and when you re-examine the picture together, point out more things you see that are interesting. Artists really go into great detail! You really need to hunt around the pictures to see all the different items they will include in a piece of art. When we read children’s books together, my kids are great at pointing out some inconsequential image in the book. I’m always amazed at the things I never would have even noticed!
That’s really all that’s involved. You take that artwork and display it so that throughout the week the kids can look at it and remember the study they did. You could even find the artwork on the internet and use it as your computer screensavers! You’re supposed to stay with one artist for a period of 6 to 12 weeks (so 6 to 12 pieces of art). Then you move on to another artist. During your time with each artist, try to read your kids a biography of his or her life so that it can also be remembered upon viewing the artwork.
We’ll be starting out with Norman Rockwell. I DO love his artwork. We don’t have the paintings readily available, so I’ll be getting library books that showcase each artist’s work. We’ll also take a look at Giotto (done around Christmas time), Audubon (used with the Burgess Bird Book), Van Eyck, Degas, and Grandma Moses this school year. I’ve included artwork from these artists in this post. I think my kids will enjoy picture study – even though we may not be artsy people. I hope it inspires a love of beauty in them. 🙂