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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Artist Study: Our method

Seeing as I knew NOTHING of art (except for boxes of colored pencils, fat crayola markers, crayons and the like that can be found in every crook and cranny of our house at any given moment), I didn't pick up on this subject until several years into using Ambleside Online.

But I am SO glad we've decided to give it a whirl and have now really started to get the hang of it. The kids enjoy it very much (surprise, surprise), as do I.

Here's what we do. It's a smattering of things I've picked up from here and there, and let me tell you it WORKS for us... hopefully, you will find a little something that will work for you too.
Steps 1 - 3, I get done on a Homeschoolplanning Day at some point long before I need them, as soon as the links are available. I usually do this as part of my planning at the beginning of the year.

1. I download the prints from one of the following places:
    • AO Prints - All the AO recommended works for the term's artist in one handy pdf file
    • AO_HEO_PictureStudy 8 1/2 x 11- ALL the AO recommended works for all the years, plus extras for the term's artist available in individual pdf files - also has images for timeline figures.
    • AO_HEO_PictureStudy 4 x 6 - Same as above, just different size.
    • AO Art Schedule page with links to the works on different sites, to download to your computer in jpg file, differing sizes.
    (I had to have jpg files in order to get prints at a photo developing place here in Peru... I don't know what the file type requirements are for Kinkos, Office Max and the like. Check with your local photo printer or copy store - ask if they can print on photo paper from pdf, or if it has to be jpg.)
    2. I take the files on a zip/thumb/USB drive to the printers and order the files to be printed as 4x6 photos. You can e-mail them to some places, I know of.

    3. I write the information I will need on the back of the photos with a photo marking pencil (water soluble pencil) - Artist Name, Year of work, Name of work. This is very handy as I cannot remember who we're studying sometimes from week to week... ;) I'm telling you, I'm that bad!

    Weekly Study:
    1. I keep the prints accessible, and occasionally they pull them out, or sometimes I do when I notice them and feel like perusing my favorites. I let the kids look at the prints whenever they want to.
    2. On Wednesdays, we officially have scheduled Artist Study from 12-12:30 just before lunch. During this time I set out the prints on the table.
    3. Week one: If I have any bio info on the artist or the period they fall into or the style of art (boy I'm grasping for the right terms here... I don't know art, yet.) I read it to them... I use A Child's History of Art, or Lives of the Artists - both can be downloaded for free at those links. They can look at the prints while I'm reading. I only read small sections (15 min, or a page or two, depending on the total size of the reading. I kind of mentally divide it up so that I'll have more to read on subsequent weeks.) They then narrate these back.
    4. Week two: We do picture study. A) Either I or one of the boys will choose which print they'd like to look at. B) I let them look at the print for about 2 minutes in order to notice as many details that they can memorize in their minds' eye about the painting. C) I take the picture and look at it as one narrates back to me what he remembers about the painting. At the end the other boy tells what he noticed that might be different from what the other said and anything he can add that hasn't been mentioned. Oh they both love this! They are both so competitive, even if I don't allow for any competition, they still try to outdo each other in subtle ways. That's it!
    5. Week three and four: We just rotate between the above two steps until the term ends, or we run out of bio info, then we revert to just picture study each week.
    6. As this is one of those 'icing on the cake' studies I do NOT stress if it doesn't happen every week. The kids like it, so it has been happening more often than not... they remind me. Often they would choose this instead of playing.
    7. I have coloring sheets of some of the artist's works that I use as sort of a reward for good behavior kind of activity. If we've run out of bio info, or maybe just for variety, or one of those rare days I feel no stress about mess, I pull out a coloring sheet and they can use whatever medium they want... of course our artistic material box at the moment boasts only of colored pencils, crayons, watercolor paint box, felt tip markers, and water color pencils that we don't know exactly how to use yet... but hey, we're not complaining. I am rarely brave enough for temperas (like once a year rarely if you catch my drift).

    Someday Ideas:
    1. I think my kids would enjoy attempting their own replicas of the artist's works. Someday we'll branch out to this. We're moving slowly towards the hands-on expression part. We are just beginning to express our artistic talents with our nature journals... one step at a time.
    2. I would REALLY like to take them to some art museums in the States. Someday.
    3. I'd also like to have my favorite prints printed in 8x11, framed and then displayed somewhere in our house... if I had anything on my walls at all, it would be nice! (I have moved AGAIN since I wrote this... but it still reflects my current status!)
    4. Of course if we lived in the US, I'd be at the library (every day all day... oh wait, I'd need to go home for meals...) checking out those books that are like coffee table quality... with the really big prints! Oh, sad. No. I will not give in to the temptation to complain...
    So, there you have it.
    Hopefully, you've picked up an idea or two to add to your family's Artist Study.

    Please add any unique ideas that you do in the comments section. I always like to hear about what works for you.


    Related Posts:

    A Child's History of Art - Hillyer
    Artist Study: Caspar David Friedrich
    Artist Study: Van Gogh
    Artist Study: Links


    North Laurel said...

    I just wanted to say that I think it is great that you put this up in your blog! I have uh, dreaded the idea of doing artist study because as much as I read at AO, I just do not feel like I am getting it all. Your experiences make me feel that I can do it as well! Thank you again :)

    amy in peru said...

    Yay! I was the same way. Like I said, we didn't do artist study for the first several years of doing AO! When I saw how easy artist study could be... just look at the prints and tell back what you see... suddenly I could do it too! Then it was just a matter of actually getting the prints made :)
    Now, we are so excited about it that we feel comfortable adding a lot of other things in.

    I'm so glad you stopped by and thanks for leaving a comment :)

    Dovey said...

    Amy, thank you for posting this (as well as your Sargeant post). I have been doing AO for 2 years now and I have a Yr 2, and next year will add a Year 0 into the mix. Thank you for allowing me to see the philosophy put into action. It makes me think I might even be able to do it!!!! Especially, since I am like you with crafts/art. :-)

    christina said...

    wow! thanks. i feel so encouraged. btw...oil pastels are so fun!!

    Eve | Inchworm Chronicles said...

    I've enjoyed reading your blog! I have a 7, 5, and 3 year old boys and a baby daughter and I am looking for ways to incorporate more CM into our days (we've been unschooling to this point). Your tips on the art study have been helpful!

    For hands-on art, I've had this in my own wish list for a while but have checked it out from the library and we did a few things from it.

    Mary Ann Kohl's "Discovering Great Artists: Hands-On Art for Children in the Styles of the Great Masters".

    Maybe that title would be something your kids would like. Have fun and thanks for blogging, I am learning so much here!

    Joy @ SAH Missionary said...

    You totally are amazing. We have so much in common....the way we homeschool. The reason I loved this post is because I can actually do this! Yay!

    Have a great day!!

    amy in peru said...

    Thank you. :) That's exactly how I felt when I started Artist Study this way! Hey, I can do this! My inspiration came from CM obviously, but also Isn't homeschool awesome!?

    theikedas said...

    I just wanted to say thanks for posting so generously. Your music and art posts provide a lot of practical resources (links) for actually implementing CM/AO ideas. I also homeschool internationally, so your experiences are really helpful for me.


    Anonymous said...

    Fun blog! Fair warning, if you ever do get to take your kids to an art museum in the states, be prepared to guard their eyes. We live in DC and the art museums here aren't fit for children. What some call classical art is really closer to ancient pornography, do ya know what I mean?

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