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Harmony Art Mom-May 2019

Harmony Art Mom- Just Breathe

Home is a wonderful place. We’ve spent so much time going back and forth to California that just being back in my own home with my normal routine has been so refreshing. I feel more like myself than I have in a long time.

The weather has cooperated allowing us to get outdoors to hike and to work in the garden. With my healthy hips making it easier for me to get around, I’m thoroughly enjoying my freedom to do things for myself again. It’s been a long time!

Mom Time

barb mccoy and amanda

My daughter was out for a five day visit and we fit in a lot of girl time. We hiked together, did crafts, got pedicures, and met up with my sister and niece for lunch. It’s always so much fun when she’s able to come back home but it goes by too fast! I’m already looking forward to her next visit in July….the tickets are all purchased!

mccoy may 2019

My 3 boys are always coming and going at our home. I enjoy every minute of it and try to appreciate that they still want to see their crazy old mom.

kayak may 2019

Last week we took a paddle down the river together. I love the way we all have similar interests and enjoy each other’s company. It made my heart happy when my middle son sent me lots of photos as he was vacationing in Alaska. He brought me home a rock he collected. Love it!

Me Time

I was in the mood for some spring cleaning so I organized cupboards and sorted winter clothes before boxing them up for the season… I washed windows and dusted knick knacks. Starting fresh just seemed like the way to go.


dave and dogs fall river

There were papers to shred and photos to print. I find such solace in being organized and even for a minute to feel like I’m in control of things. There have been way too many months of not being in control and feeling like at any moment we would need to react to someone else’s needs. My husband and I have actually started to make a list of summer things we want to do and places we want to go. I pray that we’ll be able to have a few months of summer to take in all the amazing things about living in Central Oregon during June and July.

Harmony Art Mom

Next time I’ll share some of our projects we’re doing here at the house…creatively using materials we have gleaned from the yard, gathered from friends and family, and purchased locally. Stretching our retirement budget is something I’m just starting to get the hang of after 2 years of living here.

sierra and kona

I don’t think I’ve shared much about our new Labrador, so that will be on my list for next time too. I forgot how much having a puppy is like having a new child. There is so much training to do, but lots of rewards that go along with it.

If you want to see what we’ve been up to during our time outdoors, you can read this month’s Outdoor Mom post over on my other blog, Handbook of Nature Study.




Charlotte Mason and Art Appreciation – Simple Beginning Steps



“Art appreciation is regarded with a lot of respect, but teachers tend to be intimidated about how to teach it.”
Charlotte Mason, volume six, page 213

As homeschoolers we’re in the unique position to change our own thinking and look at our children as people with varying needs and interests. Balancing the more academic subjects with an introduction to things beautiful to the mind and spirit brings a sense of joy to our homeschool.

“Art is a thing of the spirit, and we need to teach it in ways that affect the spirit. We realize that the ability to appreciate art and interpret it is as universal to all people as intelligence, or imagination, or the ability to form words to communicate. But that ability needs to be educated. Teaching the technical skill of producing pictures isn’t the same as appreciating art. To appreciate, children need to have a reverent recognition of what’s been created. Children need to learn about pictures: they need to learn about them a line at a time, and as groups, by studying pictures for themselves rather than by reading about them.”
Charlotte Mason, volume six, page 214


“The six reproductions are studied one at a time so that the students learn to not just see a picture, but to look carefully at it, absorbing every detail. After looking at the picture, it’s turned over and the children narrate, telling what they saw, perhaps, ‘a dog driving a flock of sheep along a road all by himself. No, wait, there’s a boy, too. He’s lying at the river, getting a drink. You can tell by the light that it’s morning, so the sheep must be going out to graze in the pasture,’ and so on. The children don’t miss any details–the discarded plow, the crooked birch tree, the beautifully formed clouds that look like it might rain. There’s enough to talk about to keep the children busy for half an hour, and afterwards, the picture will have formed such a memory that the children will recognize it wherever they see it, whether it’s a signed proof, an oil reproduction, or the original itself in a museum.”
Charlotte Mason, volume six page 214

If you’re viewing the painting on your computer screen, you can have your child move away from the monitor and complete the narration of what he sees in the painting from memory. Over time, this simple exercise helps your child to see the unique style and techniques of each artist you study. A Monet will look like a Monet. A Raphael will look like a Raphael. All ages of children are capable of this sort of activity and all will learn to narrate paintings quite naturally if you offer the opportunity each week for art appreciation.

monet-and-mendelssohn-mini-unit-buttonIf you want some help getting started with picture study, please check out my free plans for six week’s worth of art and music appreciation featuring Claude Monet and Felix Mendelssohn.

Summer 2009 Art and Music Appreciation Plans

Everything you need to get started with a study of Claude Monet is included in the plans, even the paintings and links to viewing them online.


I’ve written several other mini units covering other artists and composers. You can click over and read more about them on this page:

Harmony Fine Arts Mini Units


Van Gogh and Handel ButtonVermeer Haydn Cover Button 2Degas and Prokofiev button

Learning to See – Help for Beginning Artists

learning-to-see-cm-beautyHave you struggled with helping to teach your children to draw? Perhaps because you don’t feel confident in your own abilities or because some time in the past you became frustrated with making drawings that didn’t look “right”. I invite you to read a bit of encouragement from Charlotte Mason and then a few of my own insights from my experiences tackling the job of teaching beginning artists.

“Appreciation for beauty usually comes after recognition. Notice how, from the time he’s little, this young child tries to capture a flower’s beautiful color and graceful form with his own paintbrush. A wise mother is careful to make her child aware and appreciative of stylized art. She has him look at a wild cherry tree from a distance, or a willow tree with its soft pussy willows. Then she shows him how the picture on a Japanese screen has captured the very look of the thing without being an exact representation. When he compares a single pussy willow or cherry blossom with the ones in the picture, he can see that the pictures aren’t attempts at exact duplication. From an early age, he learns the difference between painting what we actually see, and painting what we know is there even if we don’t see it. He learns that it’s more satisfying to try to paint what is actually seen.”

Charlotte Mason, Volume 3, Chapter 7

childs drawing of person

My son drew this when he was about 5 years old. Yes, it is supposed to be me.


An example of this is when your children try to draw things like the human face or human hands. These are things that they have seen hundreds of times and yet they often draw hands with five fingers all sticking out and eyes as big as saucers. They understand that the hand has five fingers on it and they draw it that way. But, that is not what we usually see when we look at someone’s hands. We see parts of hands, parts of fingers, and hardly ever the palm facing out.


This is where we see the struggle of the child trying to draw what he thinks a hand should look like as opposed to what he really sees. The same thing happens when children draw ears and noses and mouths. They end up drawing the symbol for what they think are these facial features instead of what they really appear to be on the human face.

drawing of apple

Here’s another example that illustrates this phenomenon. Notice that my son drew the apple seeds that he knows are on the inside of the apple even though we are looking at the outside of the apple. His brain is telling him that there are seeds inside even though clearly his eyes don’t see them. I find this truly fascinating.

Art copywork using great artists painting

Viewing Art – How do other artists solve these problems?

I learned from Charlotte Mason’s writings the value of viewing paintings as a way to learn how to represent objects realistically in our own artistic pursuits. To see from a variety of artists the solution to making hands in a painting look “right” is just a matter of taking time to study each painting one by one over a period of time. This is called “picture study”. We can see how other artists have solved the problems before us and learn from their examples.

From My Archives

Just What is Picture Study? – Here are a few beginning steps to viewing famous artwork with your child. As your child gains some experience with really looking at great art, they will start to see how various artists make things look life-like. This takes some time so just get the process started and little by little your children will come to appreciate each painting and remember it like a friend.

art copywork john singer sargent

Great Reproductions- Another Helpful Lesson in Copywork – Here’s an entry that gives you loads of instruction on how to use picture study and then art copywork as a stepping stone to learning to draw more realistically. This entry is aimed at high school students but you could easily use the resources and adapt the ideas with younger children.



Drawing With Children – Helping Moms to Learn to Guide Little Artists

A valuable resource for helping your family to learn to draw is the book, Drawing With Children by Mona Brookes. I recently shared some thoughts about this book here on my blog. I invite you to read her words and be encouraged to use her methods with your family.

Here is the entry: Drawing With Children – Free Lesson Plans

“We need to stop mystifying the drawing process and explain to students how artists actually achieve the results they do. For instance, Picasso and Michelangelo both copied other artists’ work for at least two years as part of their initial art training. When Picasso began to express himself in what were considered “unique” styles he was actually copying many of his images from African masks. Painters such as Degas and Toulouse-Lautrec worked from photographs of their subjects, and many famous painters have used each other’s paintings for inspiration.”
Drawing with Children by Mona Brookes, page 11 in the section, Changing Your Attitudes and Abilities


Please note these are Amazon affiliate links to books I love and highly recommend.

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