Picture Study, Part 2 – How We Enjoy Picture Study

Girl With a Watering Can by Pierre Auguste Renoir

We have totally enjoyed our weekly picture study – it takes about 15 minutes a week at the most, and is so easy!

It is a very powerful tool in a Charlotte Mason Homeschool.  I like that it gives me a chance to expose my children to the beauty of art – to the different historical periods; to things that enrich their minds and souls.   I like that it is teaching them the value of observing and remembering details.  I see that flowing over into their daily lives.

Charlotte Mason outlined this idea before the advent of television or the internet.  Sometimes I like to allow them to experience art in different ways, using the Picture Study as a jumping point.  Here are some of the things we have done as enrichment to a simple Picture Study (for different artists/times):

1. Try re-creating the masterpiece.  During our Creative Art time, I have printed a copy of the painting we have studied and let the kids experiment with different types of art mediums – like chalk, oil pastels, and watercolors.  After they try doing the picture like the artist, they are ready to create their own masterpieces.  We have used play dough and clay to recreate sculptures. FUN!

2.  Watch appropriate movies about the lives of the artists.  We have some really fun ones called The Artists Specials that we love to watch over and over.  There is one about Edgar Degas and his Little Dancer model.  Mary Cassatt has a neat story about her friendship with Degas and how she became an Impressionist painter.  There are always neat stories that make the history of the art important and personal.  Look for those.

3. Order tons of free videos from the National Gallery of Art – keep it for 2 months, and return in the provided container.  All we had to do was order it, watch it, and pay media mail to ship it back.  There are thousands of items to choose from – science, art – even the time periods – can be chosen.  We watched a video about Ancient Egyptian art with our history studies.  VERY cool!

4. Go to an Art Museum and see the works in person.  Oh my!  We had read the story of Degas and the Little Dancer but never thought about actually seeing it.  One day we decided to go to the St. Louis Art Museum instead of the St. Louis Zoo (both are free to the public and just across the street from each other!).  Lo and behold – in the Impressionist Room is one of the 24 copies of Degas’ Little Dancer.  You cannot imagine our excitement!  They beg to go to the Art Museum, and have favorites there to visit when we go.

To see the first post in this series, click here.


3 thoughts on “Picture Study, Part 2 – How We Enjoy Picture Study

  1. Connie Yeates

    I tried to do this that quarter I subbed in art. The more you know, the moreyou appreciate the prcture.I remember taking a humanities class in college. When it came time for the music study, the teacher had us listen to some classical music. I had heard some of it before and have always enjoyed listening to it. He picked two songs and really made us listen. He told us a bit of background to the pieces. One was Vivali’s Four Seasons. In the fall, the people are going on a fox hunt. If you listen carefully, you can visualize the fox hunt. Wow. The other was Bolero. I hadn’t really paid much attention to the music. One thing to do is listen to the different instruments and really focus on what they do. Then go back and try to listen to another. When you think you have figured them all out, go back and just listen to the music. It is amazing how much more there is to the composition. To think that someone can put all those intruments or colors to work together in such a fashion as to make you go back again and again.

  2. Mary Jo Rasmussen

    I remember taking all 8 of my children to the art museum in Joplin MO.The oldest child wasn’t more than 13. i tried to impress on them that this was not a place to run around. I really worried that I had set myself up for a hard time- but to my utter delight-all of them were enthralled with the pictures and sculptures. We all enjoyed it and I was proud of my children!

  3. Karen Tezen

    I love this idea. I borrowed it last night for family night, but used the photo I posted on my blog. I love what we can learn when we just pay attention to the details. I had to do a report over a painting once in my art history class. I loved the depth that I found in the painting I chose after I had looked at it for a while. And I love St. Louis’s Art Museum!


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