Friday, September 20, 2013

Finishing Our First Charlotte Mason Picture Study Series - John Singleton Copley

This past week we finished our first-term series of Ambleside Online Charlotte Mason Picture Study, looking at the works of John Singleton Copley.

It has been a complete success!

Truly, I never knew that one could actually enjoy classic art. Or that it was really worthwhile to do so. In my seventeen years in the California Public School system, the total time that I spent studying art (classical or otherwise) was a big, fat zero - so this is my first formal exposure to really good art. It's awesome! I am enjoying it very much, as is our 7yo, and I plan to continue using this schedule as we move through our home education experience. I'm so glad that our children are getting this opportunity, and I'm thrilled to be along for the journey.

An added benefit of having art books around the house is that I have often picked them up to read the history and/or artist biographies, and I've really enjoyed learning about the pictures and their backgrounds! We've discussed various historical details as a family, and it's quickly becoming part of our family culture. My husband is becoming accustomed to walking into a room and hearing, "Hey, hon! Come here! You've got to see this picture!" (Or hearing about obscure historical details surrounding the artist and his works.)

Adding art to our curriculum has also been a great way to add even more history, culture, vocabulary, etc. to our knowledge-base. For example, today - as we started with our new artist, Edouard Manet - we discussed the following:

(1) The American Civil War (going on while the painting in question was created)
(2) The meaning of the word "parasol"
(3) Horse-racing, jockeys, race-tracks, etc.
(4) The geography of France
(5) Locomotor ataxia, the disease which eventually killed Manet

What an awesome way to add richness and culture to home education!

For our now-completed first-term work studying the works of John Singleton Copley, here are the paintings that we studied in depth (we studied many others less formally):

"The Copley Family"

"Paul Revere"

"Samuel Reproving Saul for Disobeying the Commandments of the Lord"

"The Nativity"

"The Red Cross Knight" 

"Watson and the Shark"
Here are just some of the topics that came up during our discussions of these pictures:

- Ships and sea travel
- Sharks
- Country flags
- Neo-Classicism
- The legend of the Red Cross Knight (read "St. George and the Dragon")
- Bible history (Saul & Samuel, the Nativity, etc.)
- The story of Paul Revere, and the science of silver smithing (we got lots of books on Paul Revere out of the library - including Longfellow's poem - and are still enjoying them!)
- Period clothing, wigs for men, infant mortality in history, etc.

And those are just a few from memory!

Picture study has been a wonderful addition to our school time - I'd encourage anyone interested to give it a try!

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