It doesn't have to be difficult to include art study (or composer study) in your homeschool day. With a bit of planning and a simple schedule, you can learn all about a variety of artists. I've found that the easiest way is to schedule in 6-week segments, studying one artist (and one composer) during that time.
Simple steps for art study
At the beginning of the year, we choose 6 artists. We choose artists that we're curious about, fit our history schedule or an art movement that interests us. We've done it all!
After choosing 6 artists, I select 6 pieces of art for each of those artists. Then I have them printed as 4x6 prints (I do all 6 artists at the beginning of the school year so I don't have to remember to do this each term).
Art Study in Action
The only steps that are necessary at the beginning of the year are choosing the artists and getting 6 prints for each artist. If you like, you can also choose one art project for each artist as well. Then you're ready to begin!
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Here's how it looks at our house:
- Hang up the art prints and choose one for picture study each week (instructions for picture study)
- Get some books about the artist or art style from the library (I really like the Mike Venezia books for this)
- Once or twice during the term read a book about the artist and look at more examples of their work
- Add the artist to our lapbook (wonderful Activity Pak from Homeschool in the Woods!)
- If you like to add some art activities, find a project that fits for the artist you're studying
- Play an art game (Birdcage Press games are great)
- Sketch a painting
- At the end of the term, flip through our picture study album
Each week we study one piece of art and one of the other activities listed above. When we're done, the photo goes in a small album just for pictures we've studied. It only takes about 10-15 minutes once per week (more for art projects, of course!) and, since I did all the hard work at the beginning of the year, it's quick to pull it together every week.
We love art study and have collected quite a few resources through the years. This isn't a huge list but it's a good place to start adding some art projects and appreciation to your homeschool day.
Favorite Art Appreciation Books & Resources
One of the most important resources to have on-hand are art reference books. I have two that I use quite often - Sister Wendy's Story of Painting by Sister Wendy Beckett and The Story of Art by E. H. Gombrich. (Note: There is nudity in these books so use with caution.) Having art reference books on-hand makes it very easy to look up a specific artist or art period for further study. I love The Story of Painting - it is chock-full of paintings and details. It is my most highly recommended art resource. If you only have space for one reference book, save your pennies for Sister Wendy!
Drawing With Children, while a bit difficult to implement, is still a great resource for teaching drawing skills. Donna Young has some fabulous resources to help get you started with that book. These lesson plans also break the book down into manageable pieces. We've used both these resources as a pattern for our own drawing lessons.
For art projects I really love the following books - The Usborne Art Treasury, How to Teach Art to Children, Global Art, and Discovering Great Artists. These are great books for finding projects for specific artists or places. If I can't find what I want in those books I like to check out Art Projects for Kids and Harmony Fine Arts for more ideas.
Once in awhile it's fun to add in some interesting extras. When we want to do something "extra special" there are a few things we really like.
- The art games from Birdcage Press are just beautiful. The cards are very nice quality and the games are fun.
- The Artists Activity Pak from Homeschool in the Woods is great. I really love their lapbooks - they are the best we've ever done. We use this to keep track of the artists we've learned about - adding their names to the art movements list and making a little art mini-book for each artist with details about their life and work.
- Confessions of a Homeschooler also has some great art stuff. Her World's Greatest Artists lapbook is really nice - we use the Artist Report page for every artist we study. It's a great way to wrap up each one before moving on to a new artist.
- One other resource I really like is the Art Projects DVDs from See the Light. They are beautifully done. I love that each project is broken down into steps so you can do one part every week. I've been eyeing the Art Class DVDs - I think we might just splurge and get those for 5th grade.
- These Art Analysis questions are a great addition to art study. I like to ask a few questions about the piece we're studying.