I had a friend express her frustration over wanting to show her children art but not finding anything clean to share with them. I find this to be a common dilemma amongst homeschooling moms. When it comes to naked art, I personally do not like it. I don’t want to even look at Michelangelo’s David, or any other so called “true art” with nakedness in it. And then I hear great critics explain why its wonderful to teach this art to our children, and why they are enriched for it. But my heart cannot stop but think of the first parents in the Garden of Eden, once they were enlightened of their wrong-doing, they had to cover themselves. Noah’s sons walked backwards to cover the nakedness of their father. When you are looking at art, you are looking at someone’s daughter,son, brother, sister, wife, etc. No. I keep going back to that and I want my children to look away when they see it. There are wonderful pieces of art that do not contain nudity, and I want to enjoy and focus on that.
So, we are all in agreement. Now, what books do we get?
When it comes to the younger years and art, think about what excites children, its not landscapes or a Rembrandt painting with people in funny clothes. Its the things that are relatable to the child, such as birds, animals, children, dragons, etc. Those are the type of things we want to introduce to our children. So keep that in mind when you do your research.
First of all, this is a GREAT opportunity to use your local library!
Also, learn to think outside the box. When we think of art, I think we have an idea of landscapes and people, what about the naturalists that studies habitats and drew? We learned about John James Audubon, the painter who loved birds. Studying about him opened up a whole other plethora of things to learn about: birds, habitat, Audubon’s paintings, time period, etc. These are just a few of the books we have read or in one case, are requesting. Again, PLEASE use your local library! Its a great opportunity to save cost, and support them. It also holds you accountable since you have a time frame to return. 😉 In most cases, you an request them ahead of time and pick it up, which as a busy mama, is the most wonderful thing EVAH!
(psst, I made clickable Amazon links so you can get the complete information about said book, however, if you want to make a purchase, might I suggest thriftbooks.com? Free shipping on second hand books over $10 and a reading reward for every $50 purchased. 🙂
We learned a lot about Audubon and even tried to copy a couple of his style of art. If you kids love birds, I recommend these resources.
Now these, I do like to pick these up when I can– we have one on Monet, Emily Dickenson, Audubon, and Degas. If you don’t do the bookmarks (cause that can add up to quite a few) then the sticker books are fun for little hands, or even the coloring book: (I recommend Dover because they always have wonderful descriptions to go along with the coloring page)
Similarly, you can also do Redoute’ who loved to paint flowers (and got to meet Audubon. Children love it when people they have learned about are intertwined with one another). Now, I didn’t get as into detail with Redoute’, mainly because I didn’t have it as well planned as I did Audubon. Again, this also opens up a new door to learn more about the anatomy of a flower! Get them to paint it, get them to explore the parts. It’s hard to keep thing simple and not overwhelm small minds, but just keep these things in the back of your mind. Some days it might seem like a great opportunity to pull it out, and other times it may just be too much. Let your child be your guide. I also have memories interwoven in art like this. Redoute’ reminds me of the paintings my Grandmother has. As a nostalgia flows within me as I am showing pieces where I can hear the creaking of the back door, the view of carousels lining shelves in her living room, and the whisp of smoke in the air (yeah, could do without that but it’s there nonetheless). When you have a connection to something you are teaching your children, your enthusiasm and passion will show and that is what will capture your children attention. So, think about it– what captures your heart?
I also LOVE using authors like James Mayhew, Laurence Anholt, Illustrator Nancy Lane and the authors she works with to give a history of some of the painters stories (usually involving children; remember relationship is the key here!). Giving children great illustrators is another way to get in some great art exposure.
This is also a VERY popular series, especially in the homeschooling world. I have been able to find several at our local library: (I may add that while many have really enjoyed the light-heartedness and comic feel of these series, I found that it turned me off more but this is my own personal opinion)
Alright, now lets get to what I prefer to do with my older children.
First of all, I have what I call a SPINE; this just means that it is what I base all my art studies off this book. I LOVE my FunSchooling Book. The ONLY complaint I have, and it’s not the price, is the fact that the pictures are not labeled. So it does require some work when you are trying to share art by the artists with no names. Extra work, but at the same time it has opened the opportunity to see more by the same artists. Not necessarily something I always want. BUT, I am so glad we have it, and I love how there are some question you can ask the student and if they want to create a keepsake, they can fill it in. I just think for now, that would be an expensive investment for us, family of 5… but a neat idea nonetheless. This has so many pictures by artists, and all clean, and a variety.
Through this book we have covered: (And these are books I read aloud to my children after I previewed them first. I found that the content was a bit heavier for the younger ones but the older ones engaged and learned a lot)
Degas: and the resources I used was this (I believe one of them I skimmed over a page or two.) I also believe I had another book with just his paintings, but I cannot recall the exact title but any library should have a plethora of resources available.
Claude Monet: (please note, we did find the fact that he wanted to paint his dead wife, a little disturbing.) But this book ALSO opened up a TON of information like his best pals (Renoir’, Sisley, and Bazille), what was impressionist painting, georgraphy, and type of painting (stroke, watercolor, acrylic, etc), and more!
And finally, we have begun Mary Cassatt (her plate “drawings” have one of woman washing and you might wanna skip those), again the best way to catch these is to be a part of the art with your children.
This one I noticed is better summarized from your perspective rather than read straight through or maybe even the older ones (jr high- high school) would better enjoy this.
If you would like some read aloud stories about some of our favorite artists; I can recommend:
This one does have a sketch of Michelangelo’s David but as a drawing and roughly done. No intimate details. Great way to get an idea of what he is famous for but without the explicit detail.