Art Appreciation, Charlotte Mason, Education, Homeschool

Art Appreciation

My boys don’t need a whole lot of encouragement when it comes to art, however I also want them to gain an appreciation for fine art from a young age. I was never taught to value fine art and I think pretty sure I’m not alone in this.

I’ve discovered that for me, a lot of the value of a painting comes by seeing the original work of art. Some prints are lovely as they depict a naturally beautiful scene, however others are only lovely when you can see the real brush strokes, vibrant colors and feel the mood of the artist and the passion with which the piece was painted.

We are fortunate enough to live in Europe right now and have access to some of the world’s most amazing artwork and we are taking full advantage of it. We study the artists and then visit museums like the Louvre, Musee d’Orsay and this fall we will visit the Uffizi Gallery. While they might not remember each work of art, there is usually at least one piece that they remember and get excited about. We also bring a notebook with us and let them draw while at the museum. We had a fabulous experience with this at the Louvre.

Obviously not everyone has the opportunity to travel to the Met or the Louvre, but I bet you do have some kind of art museum nearby. Many museums have online resources so you can prepare in advance what you’re going to see and study up a bit about the artists.

We love these books by Mike Venezia on famous Artists (we also use his books on famous composers). They are fabulous for teaching children about artists and their most works. I love that they not only include a history of the artist, but also some of their most famous paintings/sculptures. At around $6 a piece, they are very affordable. (I just wish they were available in one volume because I’m going to buy every single one of them).

Simply having artwork available for the children to look at is the first step. Next time you’re at Barnes & Noble pick up one of their coffee table style art books. Let your kids flip through them and become familiar with the artists and their works. 
I recommend choosing 3 to 4 artists or works per year to focus on. Your local library should also have some books and there are even a few movies available (like The Agony and the Ecstasy which we watched in anticipation of visiting the Sistine Chapel this fall, do your homework though- many aren’t kid-friendly).

One of the best online resources I’ve found is Garden of Praise Art Appreciation/Lessons for Kids page at http://www.gardenofpraise.com/art.htm. There are prints of many famous works of art along with a description of the artist, the painting, puzzles, word searches, crossword puzzles and more. You could seriously do several years of art appreciation using this website alone.

After learning about the artists and their paintings, have fun trying to replicate some of their works. It doesn’t always have to be paintings either. Here are the boys’ renditions of Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit.

  Here the boys are copying a Monet painting from a book we bought at the Musee d’Orsay.

What are your favorite resources for art appreciation?
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