Art: What to Teach?

Fine arts are often the first to be cut from public school curriculum when the budget gets tight. We want our children to be cultured! Art is a big part of cultural refinement, but do we start? Basically, 1) doing art and 2) enjoying and learning from art that was done exceptionally well over the history of our world.

Art Expression

Doing art is just that: experimenting with different mediums (crayon, chalk, paint, clay, etc.) to create something beautiful that conveys a message, meaning or mood. This is the “fun” art that children love and do so spontaneously, without any fear of censure. Almost all children love doing art!

As children grow up, our job as a mother is to protect that wonderful, free-flowing creativity that knows no embarrassment. This is done by our attitude, and also by protecting our children from criticism of others. Rejoice in what your children create! Be positive. Work along-side your children on your own art, so that you are their mentor in being spontaneous, not self-conscious or self-critical. Seek your children’s feedback in improving your own artwork, and give your children small doses of kind, careful feedback and instruction (after lots of enjoyment, praise and positive comments).

Don’t save “Art” for a special class. We use daily journal writing to help my children learn to write and express themselves in our homeschool, and this provides a time to sketch or draw daily to express themselves too. They write on paper that has a blank half page on the front so they can illustrate what they write. This habit promotes that ease and lack of embarrassment that enables artistic expression. It also frees them from the encumbrance of words! Do you know how much easier it is to draw the cave entrance than to describe it in words?! Both skills make a literate person.

There are many “how to draw” books available. Teach your children the basic skills while they are young, just like you teach them phonics. Once children are given the tools (either to read or to draw), the practice over the years just perfects those skills.

Art Appreciation

Who is Mona Lisa? Part of being culturally literate is to know the works of the great masters of the art world.

To plan your “Great Artists” class, start with a list. Rembrandt, Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Vincent Van Gogh and Raphael are great artists that you will find ample information about. I like to introduce Mary Cassatt because she mostly drew children, and Winslow Homer for his exciting outdoor scenes. For older students, you may want to teach by art movements or period. There is so much (too much!) information on the internet!  You’ll find color reproductions, plus many books on the market and in the children’s section of the libraries to help you too. Take one artist at a time: learn about his life and look at his great works. This can be a once-a-week 45 minute lesson per artist or you can delve deeper. Read commentaries on his most famous work. Try to replicate the artist’s style in a project in homeschool. This method is exciting and memorable to a child. I’m glad to learn it now, as an adult!

If you want an easy course already set up for you, try Discovering Great Artists which couples learning about the artist with instructions for an art project (in the artist’s style) to do yourself. Look at some color reproductions from the internet or books, and this course is wonderful and easy for mom to pull off without too much effort. It is geared for elementary-aged children, but can be used as a framework for 8th-12th grade by creating more detailed art projects and going into more depth in the study of the artist.

Another course I have used with  my children and truly appreciate for teaching children to recognize great artists is the Child Sized Masterpieces program.  Children learn art in a very

hands-on, “do touch” these paintings way with postcard-sized masterpieces.

 

For “doing” art, nothing beats Scribble Art. It has every imaginable art or craft project, and is great for all ages!  This book alone will keep your children enjoying all the art projects you need.

 

If you are looking for an excellent “how-to-draw” book, may I recommend my favorites:


 

 

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