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Re-discovering the ideal Art Appreciation lesson - with original art

Amanda has been home educating her four children with the Charlotte Mason method in the English countryside for five years. When she's not talking about copywork, she can be found sharing her experiences of other aspects of a CM education. Like today!

Art appreciation: it's part of a Charlotte Mason education to serve our children with a feast of knowledge, ideas and experiences to help them develop full and flourishing lives. Some times we nail it; other times we don't.

We've been studying David Hockney in our house - on and off since January. I didn't purchase a book with his pictures like I normally do for artist study and that is probably why it's been taking so long. It's so much easier to buy a second-hand book for a few pounds and cut out full page paintings, 'mount' them on white paper and pop then in a folder ready for use. Instead I purchased some David Hockney activity books - they've been okay but probably not a great investment compared to sourcing a book of his pictures. Oh well. We live and learn. Nevertheless, I was reminded yesterday that there is no substitute for seeing art in its original form - up close.


Our family attended a (free) learning workshop at London's National Gallery with other home educators and we spent the first 15 minutes studying a huge painting by Titian based on the mythological story of Bacchus and Ariadne (see below). The sheer size of some artworks makes them so much easier to study closely. We were guided to complete four drawing activities based on that one painting, so in total, we 'sat with' that painting for nearly 45 minutes. It's simply impossible to be that focused on an A4 cut out.


It can be easy to visit art galleries and wander aimlessly from room to room feeling overwhelmed. Yesterday reminded me that it's okay just to focus on one piece of art - we don't need to study the whole room to learn something and to be impacted in some way. Art appreciation is a powerful way to develop the habits of paying attention and asking questions; it's also a beautiful form of story-telling in its own right.

Back to Hockney for a moment: yesterday we spent the afternoon creating our own Hockney inspired landscapes, using a simple tutorial from YouTube to give some direction. 3/4 of my crew thoroughly enjoyed the process and are happy with their creations. I always like to round off a study of an artist with some practical imitation if we can: it makes the learning that much more memorable and also develops skills in the process. Check out the artists at work below.

If you haven't yet visited an art gallery this year, let this be your prompt to put it in the diary today. If your local gallery offers educational workshops, then even better. And if you can get yourself to London, the National Gallery is full of treasures (and a great education team).


Amanda's Blog

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