this sort of study of pictures should not be left to chance, but they should take one artist after another, term by term, and study quietly some half-dozen reproductions of his work in the course of the term. - CM Vol 1 pg 309- 310
In our Charlotte Mason homeschool, art appreciation has really become a habit and one that has given us much joy. Charlotte Mason's simple method of introducing children to artists and their works almost seems ''to-good-to-be-true'. When her method was first introduced to me at a CM Support meeting by a friend [who is the best example of implementing Miss Masons methods in her home that I have come across], I found it hard to believe that this method would be in any way effective. Never the less, I thought we would give it a whirl.
When introducing a new artist this is what I do:
1. I write the artists name in bold black on white as well as his birth and death. I will produce a picture of the artist (usually found on wikipedia) so that they can 'meet' face to face. I will mention a couple of facts about the artist (which I have gleaned from reading up before). This 'Artist Sheet' will be pinned up on the notice board. I have recently found Nadine's wonderful 'Famous Artist of the Month' pages which we are now using - they are great! She gives a 'Gallery' spot on her pages where we are placing thumbprint's of works studied. Once the introduction has been made, we move onto our first painting.
Every second week we would introduce a new work by the chosen artist. Here's what we do:
1. I write the name of the work in black marker on white paper. I hold up the sheet of paper and name the painting (The black on white has an imprint effect on the children's brains)
2. We look at the chosen painting for 2 full minutes. During this time there is no talking and no wondering eyes. The children must take in as much as possible for the next step.
3. We each have a turn narrating what we remember about the painting and mentioning one or two specific things. Here are a couple of things that came out from studying Georges Seurat's 'Sunday Afternoon on the Island of la Grande Jatte'
Kiddy wink 1: 'I noticed the shimmering sunlight on the water, it must be a sunny day. I also noticed the lady in the front has a monkey on a leash but the dog is not on one..'
Kiddy wink 2: 'I noticed that there is a group of men rowing together in the background. I also noticed that the foreground is in shadow. People don't seem to be talking to one another in this painting.'
4. We spend some time discussing the painting together. How it makes us feel, do we like this painting - why or why not, and we discuss the style of the painting. Sometimes we will measure out the painting (specs often found on the plates or web gallery), perhaps mark it out in chalk on the paving.
5. We will then spend a bit of time painting a picture in the artists style or perhaps try to paint the work itself.
Now - let me assure you that this method is EFFECTIVE! It was proved to me on two separate occasions. The first was when we were walking through a very large shopping mall. The building had snippets of Impressionist paintings (snippets - not entire paintings). As we were walking along the way my youngest pointed to one of the snippets and said, 'Look mom, that's Renoir's Luncheon of the Boating Party, and there's the lady from his painting 'The Swing'.
At this point I was stunned into speechlessness! We had studied Renoir the previous term!
The second occasion which just completely cemented CM's method for me was in our local library. We were sitting waiting to use one of the computers. An older lady sat next to us, in her hands she held a little notebook and on the notebooks front cover was Monet's Waterlilies. 'Hey, that picture is called 'The Water Lily Pond' - Monet painted that!' said my daughter not very quietly! The lady looked most surprised and said, 'Is it? - sure enough as she turned over the notebook, the paintings name and artist were printed on the back!
Picture Study takes us about 10 minutes once every two weeks - but it is impressed upon my children's hearts and minds for a lifetime! This is a part of our education that we would not dream of being without. Now that we live in England, I can't wait to take them to the National Gallery to and meet our old friends face to face ;o)