Monday, March 02, 2009

How to Get Children to Appreciate Great Art OR Mamas, Throw Out the Lessons!

When you first begin picture study with your children, you want to capture their interest right away so that this area of a 'wide and liberal education' becomes dear to their hearts. Some artists' paintings simply aren't as engaging as others. Be very careful in deciding upon the first artists' works. Think about your child's age, gender and interests. When my two older girls were very young, we began with Renoir and Mary Cassatt. I chose a few of Renoir's most well known paintings, but I also hand picked some more obscure ones that I knew would particularly appeal to my daughters at the time. They loved beautiful children, vibrant colors, girls in dresses, music and sisterhood.

When my other two children came along, my daughter and son were quite the adventurers. Sweet children in passive settings held no interest for them so I chose Rubens' Biblical pictures and N.C Wyeth's classic adventure tales .

Now that their interest in art was captured, the following year I felt more free in introducing other artists, always being careful to include a few pictures that would capture their fancy.

Ambleside has a wonderful selection of artists and their pictures. Typically, I use their suggestions as our base but I follow an order that pertains to my own children's interests and ages. I also visit to find even more paintings from the artists suggested- paintings that didn't make the AO cut but I know will excite a particular child of mine. At the end of the term, I show my kids some more pictures from the artist we studied that term. These are the ones that we didn't get to but I thought they might like. Together, we download their favorites and put them on a flash disc, take it to Walmart and have each printed for about a quarter each. Then the children get to add them to their personal artist albums.

My sixteen year old has been keeping an artist album for ten years now. She can recognize and tell you the names of approximately 180 works of art and their artists. She cherishes her album and has fond memories of particular paintings, is very opinionated about her favorite and worst artists and what makes a great work of art. She can often determine the author of a painting by noting the style, technique and color scheme. While I think those accomplishments are noteworthy, I am mostly pleased at the simple fact that she CARES. This will give her pleasure for many years to come, broaden her relationships with others and help to reveal another area to worship the Author of all creativity and beauty.

I can't think of a better way to learn to appreciate art. (Thanks to Miss Mason)

Mamas, throw out the lessons.

one step at a time...


  1. Do you have to have a memership to download images?

  2. Great ideas! As an artist I'm always trying to find ways for art to come alive to my children. Most homeschool art programs are boring and full of twaddle.

  3. Amy,
    You don't have to have a membership. The pictures are free to use for educational purposes, but not for profit.

  4. Lesson learned the hard way this term. I knew she'd love"Benjamin West and his cat Grimalkin" but didn't think about his paintings not being of interest to her. Worst artist study we've ever done because of it!! lol... Her drawing of part of the "Death of Wolfe" was just awful. She's much happier with are new artist. I let her chose the picture!

  5. A fantastic post, LindaFay. I've shared this on the Yahoo Artist study group because I want everyone to read this.

    We should work WITH our children's natural interests as much as possible, especially when starting something new. A great reminder.

    Artist study is one of our favorite parts of HS.

  6. I like the idea of having an album to put the prints in. What size do you print them?

  7. What a lovely post ! Thanks for sharing it in the CM Blog Carnival.

    Grace & Peace,

  8. I always have good intentions with studying art, but I like your ideas, so thanks for sharing! ♥

  9. Thanks for all the wonderful comments. Hopewell (Lisa), even though I don't always respond to your comments, I want you to know that I appreciate it when you share how it's going for you, the good and the bad.

    Renee, the pics are 4x6. I tell exactly how we do this in my post PICTURE STUDY IN OUR HOME. The link is at the bottom of this post.

  10. Thank you for this, Linda Fay. I can hardly wait to start my children with their own personal artist albums!

    I've linked to your post on our regional CM Study Group's blog, because I believe it will encourage so many others, too.

  11. Sarah M4.3.09

    Your website is such a blessing to me!!! The Lord has truly gifted you and you are using your talents well! Thank you so much. :)

    If you have a moment will you explain how you download the paintings to disc for later printing. I am rather computer illiterate. Only if you find the time. ;)


  12. Sarah,
    Just right click on the picture and then click save picture as...

    You can read more about our artist albums in the post called PICTURE STUDY IN OUR HOME at the bottom of this post.

  13. This post is lovely! I discovered it by searching for Charlotte Mason and discovered the carnival... I am soooo glad I did! I loved this post on artist and the study of. I have started homeschooling this year and I am also following the AO list of artists. What you said here sounds so "right"! and now I am looking forward to starting an artist album of my daughter's favourites! and because we have ten week terms here I am going to get her to pick four works that she likes for the last few weeks... what a wonderful suggestion. Thank you so much.
    Pauline in Australia "O)

  14. We have revamped the way we do our art study around here since the baby was born, and I think we are better for it. Less reading about the artist and more enjoying/discussing the paintings. I think we are all enjoying the process more. I went back and read about your art notebooks. I think the girls would really enjoy doing that. Thanks for the idea.

  15. Awesome ideas!! Thanks for the inspiration!!
    Be Blessed-Angie in GA

  16. very inspiring! thank you.