Thursday, August 15, 2013

Introducing... Charlotte Mason Picture Study!

This year we have started doing Charlotte Mason-style picture study!

This has been another surprising experience for me. I was rather afraid to try it - afraid that it would be another bit of drudgery to force upon our unwilling 7yo, but to my surprise (like poetry!) - he and I have both greatly enjoyed it!

I have been careful not to make it too formal - "Come, children, let us sit down for our weekly art lesson!" - instead making it more fun and informal - "Hey, let's sit down so I can show you a picture I really like!" I really haven't met much resistance, and it's been a fun (and quick!) weekly adventure into the world of classic art.

We are using the Ambleside Online 2013-2014 Art Schedule, so this year's first artist of study is John Singleton Copley, whose work I have quickly come to love (I'm a huge fan of Colonial American history!). Though I have never been passionately fond of classical art, I am discovering a previously untapped vein of interest in a completely new subject, and I have found myself often sitting for quite some time reading the text of the art book we borrowed, and finding it (the history of John Copley and his artwork) absolutely fascinating!

Here are the first two pictures we have studied:

"Paul Revere"

"The Copley Family"

For each study time, we simply look at the picture together for a minute, then turn the picture over and talk about the things we remember about it. Then we look at it again and repeat. It's quick - less than ten minutes - but it's a great way to introduce great artists and great works of art.

Picture study can, of course, be made as complex as one wishes. You can read an artist biography, discuss the history of the time, tie period artists into your history unit studies, or even provide art supplies for your students to try painting in the same style or with the same medium. The sky's the limit! For us, we're starting slowly, but you can take it as far as you want.

For each year, three artists are studied, and six pictures per artists are studied, for a total of 18 paintings per year. If done for 12 years, this means that a student will study a minimum of 216 paintings - not bad!

It's fun to move into a new area of home education, especially one that is unexpectedly successful, and also very low-maintenance and easy to implement.

As for our 7yo, he has now received more art appreciation than I received in seventeen years in the public school system. Not bad for one ten-minute lesson!

Here is one very thorough article about teaching picture study that I very much enjoyed.

For those of you who do picture study, please feel free to drop me details about how you implement it in your family!

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