Ansel Adams: It’s All Black and White

Photo from
Ansel Adams Slideshow

My daughter and I had a chance to sneak away for a girl’s day out a few weeks ago and we decided to take in a museum exhibit. I knew that the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento was showing an exhibit of Ansel Adams‘ photos from a trip he took with Georgia O’Keeffe and a few other friends in 1938. They took a 10 day backpacking trip into the High Sierra to enjoy the landscape and each other’s company. Ansel made photo albums for the other guests when he returned home. The exhibit was actually one of the photo albums taken apart, matted, and displayed in frames. It was so awesome to see his actual work and handwriting up close. Ansel Adams is known for his black and white images with dramatic shadow and line. I love the crispness of his work and the simplicity of his eye. He can take something ordinary and make it interesting. He can take some awesome and touch your heart.

I am very familiar with the part of the world he photographs and I felt as if I could have been on the trip with them. The photos were both of the landscape and formal and informal portraits of his friends. Here are some links to some of his photographs for you to enjoy.
Image from

Moon and Half Dome

Collection at LACMA for Ansel Adams

O’Keeffe and Tree (we saw this one at the exhibit)

Georgia O’Keeffe and Oroville Cox

So that is your introduction to Ansel Adams if you have never seen his work before. If you ever get to Yosemite National Park, make sure to visit the Ansel Adams Gallery. Ansel Adams was also very active in trying to preserve the national parks and used his photography as a way of expressing his outrage at certain events that impacted the national parks and land use. He was an example of how artists can impact lives of many people and influence their thinking.

I am thinking about doing a unit on Ansel Adams and having my boys do some black and white photography. It would be awesome to do this in connection with a trip to a national park…hmmm. It would make a great nature journal project too.


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Harmony Fine Arts Homeschool Art: Grade Two


grade two

The fun really gets going this year with the second grade plan for art and music appreciation if you use Harmony Fine Arts.
Sample Page

The plan has three options for art appreciation that you can pick and choose from. The idea this year is to study artists that fit in with the Well-Trained Mind second cycle of history or from the 1200s to the 1500s. (see the overview chart for more information about time periods)

Option one provides links to websites where you can view the artwork of the artists on your computer or you can pull them up on your screen and make them your desktop background. You could also choose to print them out using your color printer for your child to study and then put in their art notebook.

Option two schedules out Artistic Pursuits K-3 Book Two along with art picture books. You can see all the resources used in the second grade by following this link: Harmony Fine Arts Homeschool Art – Grade 2 Resources
The art apreciation books have brief follow-up art activities that use common materials and take approximately one hour to complete.

Option three for art appreciation is a fast and easy option using Dover Publications coloring books and Child-Size masterpieces that you purchase separately from the Harmony Fine Arts plan. Here is a link for the resources used for option three.

Music appreciation in second grade combines listening to composers for the history time period and the Classical Kids Collection of CDs. These CDs are a fun way to introduce your child to classical music selections and the composers that wrote them. We borrowed these from our library and enjoyed listening to every single one of them.

This year is a great start towards developing yor child’s interest and love in classical music and art of the Gothic to early renaissance periods of time. You can use the second grade plan with children younger and older very easily if you want to combine your family’s study into one plan.

I hope this gives you a better idea of what the Harmony Fine Arts includes for second grade. If you have any questions or comments, you can post them here or you can write me an email.

Taking Care to Make Good Habits-Charlotte Mason Education

Dad's Orchids
Just like a beautiful orchid, habits take time and patience to cultivate. If you are diligent, you will see them blossom.

Our family tries to make good habits when it comes to things like being grateful to our Creator, seeing the beauty in all that is around us, and enjoying the arts. All these habits come with the slow, gradual passing of time. The fruits of these good habits may not be seen for many years but they are certainly worth working on.

Habits and ideas are talked about in Charlotte Mason’s series of books. In my continuing effort to read through her series, I read chapter 9 in Volume 3 School Education. This chapter is titled “A Review of A Great Educationalist”. (Don’t let the title fool you, this chapter has some gems in it if you just read straight through.)

On page 99 there is a section that really caught my eye. Here she says:

Character doesn’t just come from exposing children to great ideas. It’s also the result of habits that we strive to instill based on those ideas. We recognize both principles–idea and habit. The result is that we have a wide range of possibilities in education, practical methods, and definite aim. Our goal is to produce a human being who is the best he can be physically, intellectually, ethically and spiritually; a person who will have the enthusiasm of religion, full life, nature, knowledge, art and physical work.

Ideas start in the brain and then we make habits to go along with those ideas. When we homeschool our children we have the opportunity to start so many good habits and fix bad habits, not by rewards but by putting good ideas into our children’s heads. She also says on that same page:

The culture of habit is a physical endeavor, to a certain degree. The discipline of habit makes up a third of education.

Good habits in our children start with good habits on our part. It takes time and patience to develop good habits like doing chores without being asked, being polite, being generous, paying attention, not wasting time, and being truthful. Habit training should bring joy to your family. There are far less times of friction as each family member strives to apply good habits, one habit at a time if necessary.


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