Our main goal is not to do an in-depth artist study but to do an introduction of the various styles and works of the masters, with some information about each artists’ life. If the kids choose to linger over one particular author, as my daughter has done with Faith Ringold and my son has done with Vincent Van Gogh, then that is fine. We will linger. Otherwise we spend a couple of days very focused on a particular artist. I leave the materials out for at least a week, so they can come back to them when they want to.
A Place for Our Artist
I set up an area that includes a copy or two of one the featured artists’ paintings, a photo of the artist, library books of their work and some art supplies. I also print coloring pages of some of the famous works of art. I have one child who loves to do the coloring pages, another who prefers to paint her own masterpiece in the style of the artist and a 4-year-old who is occasionally interested at times and wanders off at others.
Resources for viewing or printing works of art.
- For viewing works of art, you can always use Google Images. Google also has a tool called Google Art Project, a virtual tour of museums around the world.
- Art Authority for iPad allows you to type in works of art, styles, time periods, etc. to find examples of famous artwork.
- Free printable art cards from The Paper Maid include Van Gogh, Renoir, Rembrandt, Monet DaVinci and more.
- Wikipedia will tell you if a piece of artwork has copyright restrictions or not. If not, you can print it. Here’s an example of a Seurat painting that is free of copyright restrictions.
Resources for coloring pages of famous paintings.
Focus on Style vs. Recreating Specific Works of Art
Rather than tasking the kids to copy a famous work of art, we focus on the style. They can paint whatever they want, but I ask them to try to paint it in the style of our featured artist: The swirly-whirly painting of Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night. The huge, off-the-page flowers of Georgia O’Keeffe. I first read about this approach on Heather’s blog, Only Passionately Curious. I love her easy approach to art with kids and her frugal homeschool art tips are awesome, too.
Visit Art Museums or What to do if You Can’t
With our newfound knowledge of famous works of art, we found we didn’t have to go to an art museum (although we have and we will) to see some of the great pieces we are learning about (or at least copies). We noticed Mary Cassat and Claude Monet in our pediatrician’s office, Georgia O’Keefe in a shop we frequent and Vincent Van Gogh at a restaurant.
Supplement with Books and More
Go to the adult non-fiction part of your library and check out the biggest coffee-table book you can find on each artist, if they have it. We take turns paging through the book, then use a post-it note to mark our favorite. Then everyone shows their favorite and talks about what we like about it. This gets them looking at all the artist’s work (early, middle and late), noticing how their style changes and voicing how their favorite art work makes them feel.
Our absolute hands-down favorite resource have been the Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists) series by Mike Venezia. In fact, we are using the titles from this series as a guide to plan which artists we will study next. The books are fabulous and the DVD’s absolutely awesome. I check out two or three of the DVD’s from the library at a time and play them in the car. The ones the kids ask to see again, the ones they talk about, those are the artists we focus on.
Here are some examples of the books in the series. The series includes books about Cassatt, Dali, DaVinci, Degas, Klee, Michelangelo, Monet, O’Keeffe, Picasso, Pollock, Renoir, Ringgold, Rockwell, Seurat, Warhol and many more. They feature the artists cartoonified, telling interesting facts about their life and how their work changed over time.
The DVD’s bring the cartoonified artists to life. The voices are funny and awesome: Andy Warhol’s groovy tones, Michelangelo’s Italian accent. The DVD’s are new to the World’s Greatest Artist series and currently include Degas, Cassatt, Warhol, Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Ringgold, Van Gogh and Monet. I do hope Mike Venezia has more in the works. These are really engaging and an awesome learning tool.
For more ideas on learning about art, follow the Creekside Learning art pin board on Pinterest.Pin It