Drawing With Children: Nature Journal Style Lesson 1

For those of you using Drawing with Children by Mona Brookes it might be interesting to try to adapt those lessons to work in your nature journals.

I would complete “Choosing Your Starting Level”, pages 40-52 without any changes.

Here’s what I came up with for Lesson 1, pages 55-79.

Work through the lesson as outlined with the following adjustments:
1. As you learn the “5 Basic Elements of Shape”, make sure to have some objects from your recent nature walk to look at. Use those objects to find the elements of shape.
2. Play the “Visual Games” from page 64 while on your next nature walk.
3. Draw the bird as outlined on pages 75-79. Finish the bird drawing by sketching an actual tree branch that you have seen on your nature walk.
4. Before you move on to lesson two, practice drawing different birds you have observed by using a field guide or a bird photo. Use the basic bird drawing technique and adapt it to birds you have seen on a nature walk or at your birdfeeder.

Well, that was easy to adapt. I will try to work on the rest of the lessons in the weeks to come.

Barb-Harmony Art Mom

More than a Heart can Hold: Paintings for a Lifetime

Caspar David Friedrich sea_of_fog
Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog, Caspar David Friedrich, 1818. artchive.com

“How should we prepare a child to use the sense of beauty that every child seems to be born with? His education should familiarize him with entire galleries of mental pictures by great artists from the past and present, such as Jozef Israel’s Pancake Woman, his Children by the Sea: Millet’s Feeding the Birds, First Steps, Angelus; Rembrandt’s Night Watch, The Supper at Emmaus; Velasquez’s Surrender of Breda. In fact, every child should leave school with at least a couple hundred paintings by great artists hanging permanently in his mental gallery, as well as great buildings, sculpture and beautiful forms and colors that he sees. It would also be good to supply him with a hundred lovely landscapes, too, such as sunsets, clouds and starry night skies. Any way, he should have plenty of pictures because imagination grows like magic. The more you put in, the more it can hold.” Charlotte Mason, volume 6, Towards a Philosophy of Education. Page 43.

“The more you put in, the more it can hold.” I don’t know about you but those words resonate with my wishes and prayers for each of my children. I want them to have full hearts when they venture out into the world and on to their own lives.

How can we accomplish viewing two hundred paintings before our child reaches the end of his homeschooling? I did some quick math and that would mean that in 13 years of homeschooling, you would need to view and study fifteen paintings a year. Fifteen paintings in a school year is only two paintings a month. If you made it a goal to view two paintings per month, you could easily accomplish the goal of two hundred paintings and still have room for skipping a month here and there or starting later than in Kindergarten.

A great place to start is with Ambleside Online’s picture study suggestions for each term. There are six paintings suggested for each artist so that would be a total of eighteen paintings per year without much extra effort.

Here are this year’s suggestions:
Term1: Leonardo da Vinci
Term 2: Rembrandt
Term 3: Jan Van Eyck

Here are some links to the painters that Charlotte Mason suggests in the quote above.

Josef Israels
Jean-Francois Millet
Diego Velasquez

Please Note: It is always nice to have goals but the point of artist study is to enjoy the paintings.Try not to get caught up in the number of paintings but look at each painting as a way of filling your child’s heart with worthy images to feed their imagination.

Barb-Harmony Art Mom
The painting in this blog entry by Caspar David Friedrich is one of my personal favorites. I love the feel of this painting…..I can look at it a hundred times and not get tired of it.

Tips for a Family Visit to the Art Museum

I had a request for information on how to plan a trip to an art museum with children. I can’t believe I haven’t blogged about this before, it is a great topic. (Thanks Laura.)

There are several things that you can do to prepare for a successful day at the museum.

  • I usually start by going to the museum’s website and looking for a button that will take me to their permanent collections. You can search on Google for the museum’s name, or I like to search on Wikipedia for the museum’s name.
  • My next advice is to scan through the museum’s collection to see if there are any paintings you have already studied or artists that you are familiar with.
  • You could pick an artist that has paintings at the museum to focus on and use resources you have or those from the library to share with your children before the trip. It always helps build enthusiasm if they are looking forward to seeing an artist they have learned about beforehand.
  • You can print out a few of the paintings (postcard size) that you will see and let the children carry them with them as they walk through the museum, using the cards for a sort of “scavenger hunt”. I would suggest three paintings per child would be a good number to start with. It makes it more interesting when they actually have some reason to be at the museum other than just wandering around and not knowing much about the painters.
  • Check the museum’s website for any lesson plans or activities they offer for children that relate to exhibits they have at the museum.
  • You could even print out a map of the museum from most websites and this could help you plan your visit. It always helps to know where the restroom is for those little emergencies.

Another aspect that you need to prepare you children for is the “manners” part of visiting an art museum. There are certainly no hard and fast rules but just common sense and common courtesy. Most people come to the museum to relax and enjoy the artwork so it is best to use your best “library” voices when you are talking in the galleries. In the past, my husband and I tried to hold the children’s hands as we walked along and this not only helped to keep them from running in the museum, it made it easier to point things out or discuss what we were looking at.

Plan to spend no more than 90 minutes actually looking at paintings. You will not be able to bring snacks into the galleries but most museums have some sort of cafe or outdoor eating area where you can take a break if you notice the children are getting weary. I usually plan to arrive as early as possible in the morning so my children are fresh. Make a trip to the restroom before heading to view the artwork. It is usually warm inside so leave the coats at the coat-check if the museum has one.

The Met. The Egyptian Art Gallery
Another activity you can do while at the museum is to have a “theme” for the day. You could decide you are going to look for artwork that has hats in it or you could look for artwork that has circles or trees or horses or whatever you decide. This makes it fun for the children to really look at the paintings and then share with you what they see. If your children are older and have studied a little art history, you could challenge them to look for artwork from a certain art period.

Last but not least, plan for a few minutes in the museum gift shop. These little shops are like a treasure chest of art related books and resources. I always let the children pick out a postcard-size reproduction of some painiting we saw during our visit. We use these to follow-up our trip to the museum. A really fun idea is to take the postcard home and then have the child write some comments about the painting on the back of it to remember the experience with.

Here are some additional websites for you to scan for more ideas about visiting art museums:
Making the Most of the Museum Visit
Making a Museum Visit Fun for Toddlers, Teens, and In-Betweens

I really hope that you all attempt an art museum trip this year. Once you try it, you will look forward to your next visit. We visit the Crocker Art Museum every year and we never tire of looking at the paintings. We have our favorites and we always find something new and interesting to look at.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Main Entrance.

Edit to add: You may be interested to read about our trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City: Harmony Art Mom’s Visit.

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