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How I Teach Artist + Picture Study plus a FREE Printable Picture Study Guide

Do you ever wish you could be a fly on the wall during someone else’s homeschool lessons?  Just to see how they do it, what they like, what works for them, what doesn’t, and how the heck do they get their kids to sit still?

As homeschool moms, we inevitably fight the question “Am I doing this right?”

Well, since we’re all wondering, I thought I’d share how we do it – what our days look like and how I teach each subject in our rotation.

This is going to be an ongoing series, so make sure to check back often, and don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss a post!

Not long ago, I talked about our Morning Basket routine and what all is included.  We have a set Morning Meeting, as we like to call it, that gives us the time and place to get in some of the subjects that seem to otherwise fall through the cracks – like Shakespeare, poetry and art – specifically picture study.

Art appreciation, expressed through picture study, is one of the key components of a Charlotte Mason Education, and it’s not as complicated or intimidating as it sounds, especially for us mamas who are not as artistically inclined as maybe we’d like…

The bulk of artist and picture study is comprised of exposing your kids to well known artists and studying their art. It really is that simple!  Now, what exactly does it mean to study a picture?  Here’s where confusion can come in, especially if fine arts studies have never been a part of your own education.

In a nutshell, here’s how our family studies the great paintings

and the artists behind them…

Each term (12 weeks long), we pick one artist to study.  I love using Ambleside Online’s Artist list and schedule to give me a well-rounded list and approach to covering some of the great Art Masters.  All of the names and pieces are planned out for me, and this is also a wonderful FREE resource for viewing the actual pictures as well.

Your artist can coincide with the time period you’re studying in history, but it’s not necessary.  In the past, I’ve also studied certain artists that coincided with a particularly engaging science topic, or we’ve chosen artists and composers that would have created at roughly the same time, to get a well rounded picture of the artistic culture of the period.  Whichever route you choose, simply pick one artist and dive in.

I have a list of some of our favorite resources and books (coming in the next post!), but if you don’t know where to start, then head to the library and choose an art book that catches your attention.

Each week during morning time, we read portions of books or online resources about our artist for 5-10 minutes.  Before we begin, I ask the kids to recap what we read about last time, and we build our “review” time on this conversation.  After I finish reading the new material, I ask them to narrate orally what we just read, to see what they remember and to see what jumped out the most to them.

After that, we spend just a few minutes looking at a picture painted by our artist.  I don’t go in any particular order, but you’re free to arrange your painting selections chronologically.  For my younger students, this isn’t something that I worry about pointing out, but as your kids get older, it’s interesting to pay attention to the evolution of the artist’s talents and subjects over time.

Once the time is up, I display the picture in our school area (which has been multiple places and rooms over the years!) so that it’s constantly in the periphery of our studies, to build familiarity.  I love using these simple wooden easels as well as magnetic picture frames to display our paintings and also to make changing them out simple.  Each week or two, we add on another painting and it too goes on the wall or bookcase.

As we “study” the picture (in other words, just look at it intently), I tell the kids that we are going to look at it for a solid minute, and I time them.  I ask them to notice every.little.detail.  How many people? Animals? Living things? What color jumps out the most?

When the time goes off, we’re done.  We may discuss it a minute more, if the questions and subsequent conversation lend itself that way, but if not, we step away and we’ll study it again for another minute the next time.

It’s a very simple subject to execute and throw into your schedule if you’re not already doing it!

And I’m about to make it even EASIER!

Over the years that we’ve been homeschooling, I wanted something more…definitive…to guide our artist study time, so I created a FREE PRINTABLE PICTURE STUDY GUIDE to help put some substance into our picture study, and I can’t wait to share!

It’s a 5 day study guide – for those that would like to spend a little time each day.  However, not each question applies, depending on the works you’re studying, so feel free to jump around, combine days, or omit days all together.

Here’s a sample of the questions for Day 1 and 2 – 

get the word out:

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