Tag Archives: art

Art and art history

To carry over the summer, we have subscribed to an online art programme called “Meet the Masters” through Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op.  We were warned that a talented or gifted kid might find this a little superficial but our subscription gives us access to all the ages covered and their learning content, right up to adult level.

I have decided to bypass the Introduction unit of the 5-7 year old section, as it is way too simplistic, but we will make the art portfolio at the end of the classes.

Unit One covered Vincent Van Gogh – with an emphasis on Starry Night – and focused particularly on texture and what it achieves, why texture meant that Van Gogh did not sell during his lifetime, and understanding the role of “convention” or “tradition” and how change can be achieved.  Not bad for a kid’s art history class.

Meet the Masters is very hands-on.  There is a little that the home teacher or facilitator reads, whilst watching an online slide show.  Then there are hands-on activities that introduce the artistic concept being explored (such as texture, for example), then there is the art work made “in the style of” the Master being studied.  In our case, that is an oil pastel on black paper version of Starry Night.

Mr.D. has gotten a good sense of how texture can affect our response even though we cannot touch the painting; he also has developed an understanding of why spirals imply movement and concentric circles imply raditation and simple circles imply circles!  This seems quite easy but it is what the art critics of Van Gogh’s time could not understand; brushstrokes were to be hidden, not given prominence.

These lessons are meant to be once a month but I see us doing once a week through summer, except for the weeks of camps and activities.  This way, we finish the Masters, then go back and do them again at the next age level, and so on, until a depth of understanding is achieved and enough repetition is done to reinforce the memorisation of facts.  All that and some hands-on fun with art as well.  Bonus.

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Teaching a 6 yr old about Art with a capital A….

The lovely (I presume, I have never been) folk at the Cincinnati Art Museum have provided a way into the world of art appreciation for the school-age set.

Mr. D. and I gave this our first go this week – even though I forgot to give his NIDES teachers a copy of the art we looked at!

Very simple really:  get the best reproduction of an art work that you can, have your child look at it, then ask a few questions.  Such as:  What did you see first?  What colours do you see?  Is it a portrait or a landscape?  Do the people look rich or poor?  How are they dressed?  Is this a farm or a large estate?  There really is no end to the questions you can ask, because, the first step in art appreciation is really, really, really looking.  Something we don’t take enough time to do in our busy lives.

We’ve done something similar with classical music at dinner times.  We’ll play a piece and ask the children what is happening.  When they create their own stories to accompany the music, it is wonderful.  When the magic isn’t there, Mummy steps in a creates stories of fairies and toadstools and thunder claps.  Even the youngest child will listen intently to the music if there is something enchanting to be imagined within it.

So, without further ado, Mr. D. decided these rich folk had their portrait done to show off their wealth.  Who knows – he could be right.

By Hals (c1665) Portrait of a Dutch Family

by F. Hals circa 1665

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