Sketching In Nature by Cathy Johnson

This book has been in my backpack all summer long. It has been packed along with me and been a companion while I worked on my nature journal. I carried this book, my nature journal, my watercolor pencils, a small paintbrush, and my field guides with me just about everywhere I went.

What I loved about it:
1. It goes beyond the basic tools needed to work in your nature journal.
2. It has a variety of mediums demonstrated: pencil, pen, watercolor.
3. It has lots of examples of how to show things that I want to include in my nature journal like trees, landscapes, water, plants, and birds.
4. There is a section on sketching with color and I really enjoyed practicing the techniques that go beyond just sketching with a pencil.
5. This book is small enough to fit in my nature pack but it has enough “meat” in it to last me for years to come.
6. This book is totally all about sketching in the outdoors so it is perfect for beginning nature journalists.

What I didn’t like about the book:
Hmmmmmm…..that’s a little tougher. I can’t think of a single thing that I don’t like about this book, it is that good.

I would highly recommend this book to homeschooling families that are looking for a way to learn to sketch in their nature journals.

Harmony Art Mom

Usborne Art Treasury

Here is a question that I get asked a lot.

Is there an art curriculum that teaches about an artist and then gives directions to do a project in the style of that artist?

Yes, there are several out there but I want to share with you a great new book that does just what you are looking for and it has a nice affordable price tag.

I just received The Usborne Treasury of Art (ISBN 0-7945-1452-9) from for about $13. It has 22 artists and their paintings and it looks like a little over half of them are from the 20th century.

The book has a two page spread of a piece of the artist’s work along with a short biography and description of the painting. The next two page spread is an art project that either is based on the painting or the theme or idea of it. There are multiple mediums included in the projects in this book such as: watercolor, collage, oil pastels, ink, chalk, sponge painting and more.

A few of the artists included in the book are Van Gogh, Picasso, Matisse, Money, Degas, and O’Keeffe. The book also gives a list of the needed supplies to complete the projects in the book. I can see where this book could easily give a homeschooling mom the basis for a whole year’s worth of art appreciation and art acitivities for a variety of ages. I would suggest using the book with children ages 8-12. Of course you can adapt the projects easily for older or younger students.

Check your library or put it on your wishlist.

Harmony Art Mom

Harmony Fine Arts Homeschool Art: Grade Eight


grade eight

So here we are finally in grade eight. Our family worked through this plan last year along with Tapestry of Grace year four. It also works well with The Well-Trained Mind year four cycle of history.(modern history)

This 32 week plan includes art appreciation, music appreciation, and a plan for using Artistic Pursuits Junior High Book 2.

Here’s who you will study:
Artists-Matisse, Monet, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Sargent, Cassatt, Renoir, and Pollack.
Composers-Tchaikovsky, Debussy, Ravel, Bartok, Prokofiev, Gershwin, Copland, and Bernstein.
Harmony Fine Arts Homeschool Art – Sample Plan for Grade Eight

You can get a good idea of the program by looking at the suggested materials for this grade.

List of Materials for Grade Eight

Here is how the program breaks down by options:

Option one schedules the eight artists listed above for picture study. I provide internet links for you to view the artwork online and for you to use to print out the paintings for your art notebooks. I also give internet links for online biographies for you to use when making a notebook summary for each artist. This option is appropriate for all ages in your family.

Option two provides a plan for reading The Usborne Introduction to Art and it also uses Art Masterpieces to Color as a follow-up activity to the book. The Usborne Introduction to Art is internet linked and has many links to view examples of the art elements and time periods studied and art activities that you can complete online.

Option three
is the plan for completing Artistic Pursuits Junior High Book 2. This book has art prints for your child to view and then lessons to teach art elements by giving specific instruction. It has step by step instructions for drawing with oil pastels. This option does not tie in with the other options but is a supplemental schedule for completing the book in a school year.

The music appreciation plan for the eighth grade year is based on the book Classical Music Experience. This book gives biographies of composers along with a CD to listen to excerpts of the composer’s music. In addition, the plan suggests CDs for each composer but if you already own CDs for the composer, you can use those instead.

I always like to remind readers that you can be very flexible with the plan that is shown in Harmony Fine Arts. You can combine all your children into one grade if you wish. You can pick which ever grade works with your history time period. You can stretch the year plans out over longer periods if you desire. If you are on a budget, use option one and you don’t have to purchase any additional materials at all.

Please email me with any specific questions or comments you have about any of the grade levels for Harmony Fine Arts.

Barb-Harmony Art Mom


Here are some examples of artwork completed this year with Artistic Pursuits.
Grade 1 Starry Night Van Gogh painting with ink American River

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