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Annotated Mona Lisa – Book Review and Tips to Using

High school art appreciation can be a fantastic way to balance out the more academic courses required of our students. During my children’s high school years, we used The Annotated Mona Lisa as the spine resource for our art appreciation plans. This book is a nuts and bolts book that will take you through the entire course of art history with no frills. It’s the perfect jumping off spot if your teen gets interested in a certain aspect of art. I like that this book includes various topics other than just painting like sculpture, photography, video, and architecture.


How did we make the most of this book?

  1. We would read 2-5 pages a week according to the Harmony Fine Arts plans.
  2. The boys would take notes, make a sketch, or research something of interest according to the topic in the book.Annotated Mona Lisa and Harmony Fine Arts

Taking this slow approach, it would take four years to get through the book. It is possible to read through the book more quickly, but we preferred to take our time and really appreciate the material. Of course, we used other resources and did other activities to round out our study.

Harmony fine ARts notebook pages (1)

If you’re interested in learning more about the other parts of our art appreciation plan, see the information and link below.

High School Art – How To With Harmony Fine Arts

If you have to pick one easy to read resource, I would pick The Annotated Mona Lisa. Please note the link above is an affiliate link to Amazon to the book that I own, have used many times, and purchased myself.

Art copywork using great artists paintingHere’s a link to an entry I wrote that explains just how we completed art appreciation in our family during the high school years using Harmony Fine Arts: Homeschool Art Appreciation.

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Create a Basic Art Resource Library for Your Homeschool



I’m often asked for a list of art books that I think are valuable in a homeschooling library. I created a post years ago that is still relevant today: Art Books: My Suggestions for a Basic Library.

Take a look at the suggested books and see if you already own any of them. Then, make a list of books to check for at your public library. I always like to look at a book before I purchase it, saving precious homeschooling dollars.

Note there are the essential books that form the foundation of my art library listed in the archive post and then there are several other resources I highly recommend. Keep a wish list on Amazon if you don’t have the budget for new books yet.

Please note the links above are Amazon affiliate links to books I own and LOVE.

Picture Study Help – Create a Viewfinder

Picture Study Using a Viewfinder @HarmonyFineArtsAre you looking for a fresh way to look at a painting and then narrate what you see either in words or in a sketch? Then I invite you to read about a simple tool we used in our family to focus on parts of famous paintings without being overwhelmed.



Simply cut a rectangle in a piece of cardstock or in an index card to create a little “window” for placing over a print of a painting.

Isolating a section at a time helps you really “see” what is there by creating a window using the viewfinder. You’ll be surprised how much more detailed your picture study narrations will be after using the viewfinder to look at a painting.


My boys were very young when we started using viewfinders to help them sketch little bits of a painting.

More information can be found in the original blog post: Picture Study Tip – Using a Viewfinder.


We used postcard size prints for much of our picture study. These usually come in sets and are reasonably priced. I found the Dover Publications cards to be durable and able to stand up to many small hands using them over time.

The above link to Amazon is an affiliate link to an example of the art cards we used in our family.

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