My View on Art Appreciation Using Dover Coloring Books

Dover Coloring Books Using Them for Art Appreciation
Someone commented yesterday on this blog that they didn’t think that using Dover Coloring Books was real “art”. I agree completely. I also know that in our family they have contributed to a lot of great “art appreciation”.

There is the problem. If you are looking for a product that will teach great art skills and techniques, these coloring books are not the solution. I am looking at the coloring books as a tool to learning some very valuable concepts in a more rounded art program. I do feel that the use of coloring books is a great way to introduce small useful skills. I admit that simply handing your child the coloring book and instructing them to complete a page will not help them learn much except to have a little skill with a colored pencil. I never intended or encouraged families to use the coloring books that way in my art program or on this blog.

Here are some random thoughts about the use of Dover Coloring Books.

I have a child who never colors inside the lines of a coloring book. I am the opposite and at first it drove me crazy that he wouldn’t follow the lines as boundaries for separate colors. Using the lines as a basic guide and not as a strict “do not cross” line, your child can individualize the pages.

I have seen how observing the black lines of the coloring pages shows them how to set up their own paintings. By comparing the coloring book outlines to the original artist’s painting, they can see how the sketch you start from doesn’t always show all the details. It may not seem like an earth-shattering concept but it is something that every artist needs to know.

I know when I first started out trying to “teach” art with my children I felt very inadequate. In those days I thought I had to know exactly what to do so I could “teach” it to my children. Time has helped me see that I do not need to know everything and that starting out with art coloring books is a great way to introduce my children and myself to great artists. It was as stepping stone to picture study.

Harmony Fine Arts uses Dover Coloring Books in almost every level for various reasons. The plan uses the coloring pages as a follow up to picture study. Another way they are used is as a connection between history and art. My boys love the Dover Coloring Books that teach about a period in history. They are always eager to pull out their art supplies and get started when it is time to get into the coloring books. They are just another tool to hook their interest and create an anticipation for a topic. It also gives them time to experiment with various art supplies.

One benefit of using Dover Coloring Books has become clearer as the years have ticked by. They actually helped my children learn to draw. My middle son loves to draw airplanes but if you have ever tried to draw a real airplane you realize just how hard it is to get the wings to look right and the shape of the airplane to be in proportion.

My son solved this problem by looking at Dover Coloring Books. He uses them as a guide when he is trying to make his airplanes “look right”. He is very visual and after looking at the drawing in the coloring book he can see how the author solved the problem and imitate it in his own drawing by first tracing it and then after he became more familiar with the shapes and perspective, he could draw it free hand. Thanks to the black line drawings in the Dover Coloring Books he is now very proficient at drawing airplanes.

As I stated at the beginning of this entry, I am a color in the lines girl. My children have really taught me that you don’t have to be confined in between the lines. Staying within the lines is comfortable for some of us but if you can use the coloring books as a tool in the bigger homeschooling picture, they have a solid place in the creative aspects of your day.

Vary your medium. Try using colored pencils,


watercolor pencils,

thin markers, crayons, graphite pencil, oil pastels.

My reasons for using and suggesting Dover Coloring Books can be summed up by this statement:
Dover Coloring Books are a tool to be used alongside picture study and in addition to a gradual program of learning to draw and paint.

Best general art appreciation coloring books:
Art Masterpieces to Color
Impressionist Art Masterpieces to Color

You can read more of my thoughts and ideas for using coloring books on my Dover Coloring Books-Art Appreciation Ideas page on Squidoo.

Homeschool Reminders to Myself

Photos from our Oregon Coast trip last week

I took some time this week to review some thoughts from my Charlotte Mason journey. These are reminders that I am printing out and putting in the front of my homeschool planner. I’ve listed these points for the days that I question my ability to do an adequate job homeschooling my boys.

They are for the days when I feel like I have a game plan and then someone changes the game. All quotes are from Charlotte Mason.

1. Don’t settle. Seek out the best in everything.

“A thick book, a short book, a first-hand source or a second-hand one–either one might be the right book, as long as we’re able to tell when a book is living, able to quicken the mind, and full of living ideas about its subject.”

2. Teach good habits and you will have less work in the long run.

“The mother who takes pains to endow her children with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days.”

3. Be confident in whatever you decide to do. You know your child better than anyone else.

“Parents should have more faith in themselves. It doesn’t take a whirlwind of restless activity to get things accomplished. The mere presence of a proper parental relationship, with the rightful authority that goes along with it, is to the children what sunshine and water are to seeds in fertile soil. “

4. It is all about relationships. Nurture those that are the most important. Relationships between people and ideas….physical relationships, spiritual relationships. Relationships with what we know and what we are coming to know.

5. Nothing is set in stone. Homeschooling is in constant motion.

Enjoying the journey,
Barb-Harmony Art Mom

Tapestry of Grace Year 2 Unit 2 Art and Music Plans

I know I said I was going to take a break for the month of October but before I close up the homeschool shop, I wanted to finalize my unit two art and music appreciation plans for the weeks after we come back from our break. It is helpful to put it all down in a post so I can refer to it later if I need to jog my memory.

As we go through the units of Tapestry Grace Year Two, I am refining my projects a bit so they are able to done in two forty-five minute sessions each week. The boys complete these on Monday and Friday afternoons and it is a refreshing break from the academics of the week.

Here are my ideas and plans for unit two. My boys are 13 and 15 so take that into account when you are reading through my plans. 🙂

Art Appreciation:
Week 11:Giotto, Brunelleschi, Donatello Picture Study-print out one painting and copy a portion of it for your notebook.

Week 12: Leonardo da Vinci Stained Glass Project-Use Dover Stained Glass Coloring Book Complete at least one page with watercolors or Prismacolor markers using the internet as a reference for color. Hang on a window of your choice.

Week 13: Michelangelo Reproduction: Lesson Plan on Teach Art At Home

Week 14: Venetian Painting: Project on Aerial Perspective, pages 37 and 38 only. We are going to read through the whole document but the two pages noted are the only “assignment” we are going to complete.

Week 15 and 16: (Use the two weeks’ class time and the weekends) Photography Project
The boys will take photos and pick one for each category to print, mount, and display at our unit celebration.

Week 17, 18, and 19: Baroque Artist Project: We are going to adapt this lesson plan to make a mini exhibit and a museum guide to go with the exhibit for a Baroque artist. See steps 4 and 5 of the lesson plan. The boys will be choosing from these artists: Caravaggio, Rubens, Van Dyck, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Frans Hals, or Steen. These will be displayed at our unit celebration.

Music Appreciation:
Weeks 11 and 12: Madrigal music project
Weeks 13 through 18 Renaissance music and Renaissance instruments project

Here is a link to the lesson plans in PDF format for these two projects.
Tapestry of Grace Year Two Unit Two Music Projects

Here is a link to my music appreciation log sheets.
Log Sheet

I hope you can find something that inspires you in your homeschooling.

Barb-Harmony Art Mom

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