Charlotte Mason’s method for helping children love and appreciate art is so simple, and thankfully it doesn’t require advanced training in the arts! Simply choose an artist, choose several of his works of art, and spend about 5 minutes a week looking at the picture with your child. After you’ve turned the picture over (or taken it off the computer screen!) Have your child tell you everything they remember about the picture and then look at it again. If you can post the picture so everyone can see it all week, all the better.
In addition to this I like to try to find a book about the artist at the library and read it. This requires some discernment, because not all artists have particularly God honoring lives, and some things I’m simply not ready to explain to my kids. Use your own judgement. I also like to try to find some art project that highlights some part of the style or subject of the artist. There are several good books you can get at the library or at Amazon that can help you out, or you can find some websites as well.
Choosing the artists and pictures can be as easy or as hard as you make it. Ambleside and Simply Charlotte Mason have lists of artists and paintings to choose from, many linked to websites with the pictures at your fingertips. Charlotte Mason suggested 12 weeks spent per artist, using one piece of art per week if possible. Sometimes I can’t find that many that are appropriate, or I have more artists that I want to study, so we may study an artist for six weeks. You can print out the art, look at it online, or buy prints. Sometimes you can get fine art calendars in February quite cheap–you’re not interested in the dates, just the pictures, so who cares if the year’s partially over? Or sometimes bookstores have art books ridiculously cheap on clearance tables. tI got a 250 page book of Monet paintings (on Amazon at $25.55) on clearance at Borders for $7.99 and subtracted an extra 25% with my teacher’s card and paid 6 bucks. You can’t beat that price!
I try to choose at least some artists based on exhibits in our area. This fall, the Frist is going to have a lovely exhibit from the Musee d’Orsay. The website lists the artists whose work will be displayed. Since the exhibit runs from October until January, I’ve chosen artists from the exhibition for us to study until then. Here’s my list for my first quarter and links if you want to join in.
Since this is mainly an impressionist exhibit, we’ll start by reading Katie Meets the Impressionists
I’ve also checked out two books from the library to read a little of Renoir’s story to my children. After we finish the last picture, we’re doing an art project based on his work from Discovering Great Artists.
We’ll finish up with another project from Discovering Great Artists.
If you try this with your kids, let me know how it goes. I’d love to hear your experiences!