Handcart list- fine arts

We live in pioneer country; this list is the result of a question posed to me by a friend.  “What books would you load into a handcart and push to Missouri if need be?”  While the list is a bit long for that actual event, it does represent the items without which I would feel lost as I teach.  This list contains my thoughts on why each item is on the list, and how I use them.  Remember each resource is a favorite because it lends itself to being used in different ways for different learners. This list focuses on fine arts and various ways to expand your studies.  (If you are unfamiliar with the learning levels, please refer to my blogs dated 2/26-28/2013.)

Discovery level-

  • Spiritual Lives of the Great Composers by Patrick Kavanaugh- tell the stories in this book as you listen to the music of each of the twenty composers about whom Kavanaugh writes.   The history of each is written in a style that makes a great read-aloud book.  No need to research, and compile.  He has done it for you.
  • Recordings of a variety of musical genres.  One good starting point can be Beethoven’s Wig volumes 1,2, and 3.  Beethoven’s Wig is a fun, easy introduction to classical music.  Each composition is on the cds twice, once with silly lyrics and once as it was meant to be played.  Love them!
  • Copies of visual art pieces.  Find calendars or other inexpensive resources for prints with the work of famous artists.  Dover Publishing has prints in 3×5 card form for art study.  The book Mommy, It’s A Renoir!  has activities to teach art appreciation to young people.
  • An art anthology (or two) with pieces of classic and religious art- You can study time periods, or individual artists; but make art study part of the exposure you give your children.   Lift their sights as they see the vast array of art created by gifted, inspired individuals.  (Classic art study is a good introduction to the ideas of celebrating the beauty of the  human form vs. form for arousal’s sake.  There is a difference.)
  • Various art media for experimentation-crayons, chalk, clay, pencils, paints.  There are so many great, messy ways to experience creating your own masterpiece.  Let them get in there and try a variety of methods.  They may well surprise you!  Try your hand at it too.  Make it family experience.

Analysis and Application levels-

  • Experience with playing a musical instrument- This can help with brain development, self-image, focus, and self-discipline.  Don’t set things in concrete for them.  Let them dabble a bit if they need.  Piano, strings, brass, whatever calls to them.  Give it a year or two.  Some will continue.  Some won’t.  That’s okay too.  The experience may teach them that serious musical study isn’t for them, or it may begin a love that lasts through their lifetime.
  • Continue with experience through various art media.  Sculpting, whittling, and other forms which require the use of sharp implements are better suited for these stages.  If your child is interested, consider art classes through Community Education or the local school.
  • Attend community events which focus on the fine arts.  Museums, concerts, and other venues can allow for and expanded appreciation for the creative process.

Add a little art to your life.

We live in a world where the transient and the odd are celebrated.  If your family is going to learn to appreciate the truly great things around us, purposefully seeking it out is recommended.  It can give them something to joy in for the rest of their life!

Learning about the visual arts is not as difficult as it might seem.  You can put together a great program with a little planning.

Studying the work of famous artists can be done in a number of ways.  One that many have found successful is as follows:

1. Choose one artist for the month.

2. Choose four works from that artist to study.

3. Each week of study, the following approach for each piece can be fun:

Day 1– Study the painting closely for ten minutes.  Put the painting away and write everything you remember about the painting.  Color, mood, or contrast can be as important as the images in the picture itself.  Younger children should tell you what they remember and you write it down.  Older children should be able to write their own narration.

Day 2– Re-examine the same painting.  Have each child talk or write about the feelings evoked by the painting.

Day 3– Using the same painting, write a story using the painting as inspiration.

Day 4- Using paint, paper, clay, crayon, chalk, or whichever medium you choose, recreate the painting.

To find prints, look for calendars of famous artists or second-hand books for sale. The internet has many wonderful sites and Dover Publishing has post cards and other resources for art study.

Try to create something yourself.  Take classes if you want, or just buy supplies and have fun.  As you become more proficient, consider buying better supplies and experience what you can do with higher quality materials.

If you want some technical help but not necessarily lessons, look for art instruction books.  Ed Emberly has a series that is simple and fun for children and definitely outside the box.  DK Publishing has a number of art instruction books that are more technical and great for older learners.  The books Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain or Drawing with Children are highly recommended.

Visit local museums or other venues that display the work of local artists.  Visit exhibits featuring different media.  Which do you prefer?  What piece is the favorite one for each member of the family?  We live in a world filled with beauty.  Help each other see what you see.