AmblesideOnline Picture Study

I have done several things with the art study, including pulling it up and looking at it on the computer. I also use my right mouse button sometimes, click on it, and select 'set as wallpaper.' This makes the picture the background or screen saver on my computer.

Then we see it every day. I have also printed the pictures out on photo quality paper, saving it to disk, using an art program (like print shop) and fiddling with the settings. I am not good enough at this to explain how I did it to somebody else, however.

Something else I've done with the prints is to sometimes fiddle with the settings and print it as a coloring book, or print it in only black and white and have the children trace it. Sometimes we study it and then they turn their backs and describe it to me. Soemtimes we study it, and then I ask them to pose as the picture (not doable with landscapes!) sometimes after looking at it intently, I ask them to sketch it, roughly, for me, explaining the main idea is not to duplicate it perfectly but to give the idea of where things are in the painting.



"I am having a very hard time with the art appreciation time with my kids. I cannot look a picture and be able to tell what the artist was feeling or trying to portray."

Before becoming a stay-at-home and homeschooling mom, I was a graphic artist. Here is my $0.02 worth of advice ...

There are only two basic reasons an artist creates (well, three, if you include making a living!).
1) An artist creates to express himself, a thought, a feeling, a memory, etc.
2) An artist creates to draw the viewers in and to encourage them to consider the artists' expression and/or how the viewer him/herself feels about the artwork.

So, when viewing an artist's creation, remember this:
1) Try not to worry too much about what the artist was thinking. (You will find that info in good art books, which you can share based on your children's maturity level and comprehension abilities.)
2) For now, concern yourself only with what you and your children are thinking and feeling while you view the artwork!

For example, one of my province's claim to fame is the artist and writer Emily Carr. My daughter and I could view a piece of her artwork ... say, "The Little Pine" . . . Then we might start discussing it... 'What does this picture remind you of?' 'What do you think of this picture?' 'Do you like it?' 'I feel - , when I look at it.' 'Is it daytime? Nightime? Stormy or clear weather?' At the same time - interspersed with her commentary, I would share my own ideas without pushing my viewpoints on my daughter. 'When I look at "The Little Pine", it reminds me of going Christmas tree hunting when I was a kid - and finding that perfect tree! Those streaky lines in the sky make me think of a windy night. Or maybe the nights we have seen the aurora borealis dancing in the sky! And the sweeping green colours make me feel like the tree is growing. It is alive! I like this picture. I like it better than some of Emily Carr's other tree pictures, which seem so dark and brooding. This picture seems brighter and happier to me.'

(Coincidentally, I have learned upon further research, that Emily Carr was wanting to express the vitality of West Coast forests! I always find it amazing when I discover the painter's expression and my interpretation were similiar. I, too, sometimes don't feel like I "get it"!)

My 6 yo daughter usually decides on her own to draw or paint a picture, inspired by the art we have been enjoying together. On days that she doesn't, then she easily takes part when she sees Mommy getting out extra paper! It is really enjoyable to try our hand at creating a drawing based on what we have seen.

Lately my daughter and I have been enjoying Beatrix Potter stories. We discussed the illustrations, what we thought was happening. She is very good at narrating back in her own words what I have read aloud. After a couple of days of reading from our Beatrix Potter book of stories, she pulled out paper and began drawing her own pictures of our pets (wearing clothes), engaged in human activities. The drawings are terrific - and I would think so even if I wasn't her mom! <g>

The more-experienced CM ladies could step in here... my impression from Charlotte Mason was that she wanted the children to learn to enjoy art because it was relevant and interesting to them - and a normal part of their life. I believe that she encouraged Art Appreciation as it naturally develops the childrens' observation and narration skills. As the children mature, they will be able to comprehend the 'stories' behind some of the artwork. This links together history, literature and art in a meaningful way.

I encourage you to take your children to an art gallery. Even our city of 76,000 people has two art galleries, including a Native Indian gallery of art. Check - sometimes an art gallery's admission is 'by donation only' or they have an 'admission-free' night.

No art gallery where you live? Your public library or civic buildings may have art on the walls - inside! Not the grafitti on the outside. Although... hmmm, that could be worth discussing - with older children only!

Keep your eyes open for current events - sometimes local artists have an art exhibit, where their work is juried (judged) by their peers. Afterwards, the public is invited to view the art. My daughter notices art because my husband and I have always noticed artwork and discussed our thoughts concerning it. Being a strong-minded little girl, she likes to take part in the conversation too! <g>

One book which I enjoyed in grade twelve was "Civilization" by Kenneth Clark. BBC has a video series by the same name. Another book I would suggest is the one by Rick Steves (yes, the "Travels in Europe" guy). The book is called "Mona Winks". It, of course, is a travel book. However, for art in more than twenty museums, he goes through the history, inspiration, themes, labels, etc. Your public library may have this book.

Keep in mind that unless the book is an autobiography, usually the artwork narrative is the viewpoint and from the perspective of that book's author... and may not actually reflect what the artist intended.

Please don't be intimidated by art. Just begin where you are at and learn as you go. You can always go back to an artist once you know more. Art is fun and interesting. It is thoughtful and thought-provoking. Art is classic, traditional or modern... and all those other labels in between! For the most part, art is meant to be enjoyed. Well, some artists deliberately want to repulse people - yuck! But you get the idea... enjoy Art Appreciation and try your hand at Art Expression, too!

I hope this helps!

Kelly:-) in BC Canada