In this post I will give an easy step-by-step guide to Charlotte Mason-style art appreciation, also known as picture study, and provide some free printable art appreciation resources for your homeschool.
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First of all, I want to stop and ask you: when you think of art appreciation or picture study, how do you feel? Do you feel confident in those areas, or intimidated? I know I used to feel like art, music, et cetera were these higher and unreachable ideals. Almost like being a wine connoisseur, I thought one needed a developed palate to do this “right.”
Maybe you don’t feel that way at all, but if you do, I encourage you to let go of those negative thoughts and feeling about yourself. The full criteria for art appreciation is actually just being a human. You are fully qualified to teach art appreciation to your child without any other knowledge or experience.
What is Art Appreciation?
Art Appreciation is a simple and enriching activity. In the Charlotte Mason method of home education, art appreciation, or picture study is done once per week. It is a time to simply look at and absorb art, rather than learn about or practice art or art history.
Who was Charlotte Mason?
Charlotte Mason was an educator and educational reformer around the turn of the 20th century. She was born in Wales and lived in England. She wanted all children to have access to a liberal education.
What do you need for art appreciation?
The essential things for need for art appreciation are
- 5-10 minutes per week
- Printed art or art to view on a tablet or laptop (check out my free printable below!)
All you need for art appreciation is 5-10 minutes per week. For young children, maybe even less. Older children or kids who are really interested may want a bit more time, like 15-20 minutes.
Charlotte Mason recommended that 6-8 pieces of art from a single artist be studied in a 12-week term. The rest of the weeks could be used to “level-up” or “level-down” the study.
Why is Art Appreciation good for kids?
Art appreciation (picture study) is very beneficial for children. It helps children to develop vital skills like attention and observation. It also exposes them to powerful ideas that can only be transmitted through art. Studying great art also helps develop a child’s sense of beauty.
What Age Should Art Appreciation Begin?
Regular picture study should be done starting at age six. Charlotte Mason says,
When children have begun regular lessons (that is, as soon as they are six), this sort of study of pictures should not be left to chance, but they should take one artist after another, term by term, and study quietly some half-dozen reproductions of his work in the course of the term.VOL 1 PG 308-309
Why Should You Study Several Pieces From One Artist?
The method of studying several pieces from a single artist helps children to learn to recognize the artist. It is like they are getting to know the artist over a few months.
How Long Does this Take?
Charlotte Mason picture study takes a mere 5-10 minutes per week of homeschool time, however it is such a wonderful aspect of education that it ought not to be thought of as an add-on. This small amount of time is like the salt in a recipe, so essential and adds all kinds of wonderful flavour.
What Resources Do I Need?
Part of the beauty and simplicity of Charlotte Mason style art appreciation is that it does not require any additional resources other than good art to look at. It can be helpful to have a few additional resources, but they aren’t necessary.
I like to use:
- A small tabletop art stand
- Famous Artists Picture Book
- The Timelines of World History Book
- A laminator to protect our printed art
- Our history timeline notebook so we can place the artist in the context of history
What did Charlotte Mason say about art appreciation?
Two of my favourite quotes by Charlotte Mason on this topic are:
There is no talk about schools of painting, little about style; consideration of these matters comes in later life, but the first and most important thing is to know the pictures themselves. As in a worthy book we leave the author to tell his own tale, so do we trust a picture to tell its tale through the medium the artist gave it. In the region of art as else-where we shut out the middleman.VOL 6 PG 216
His education should furnish him with whole galleries of mental pictures, pictures by great artists old and new;––…–– in fact, every child should leave school with at least a couple of hundred pictures by great masters hanging permanently in the halls of his imagination, to say nothing of great buildings, sculpture, beauty of form and colour in things he sees. Perhaps we might secure at least a hundred lovely landscapes too,––sunsets, cloudscapes, starlight nights. At any rate he should go forth well furnished because imagination has the property of magical expansion, the more it holds the more it will hold.VOL 6 PG 43
How to do Charlotte Mason Art Appreciation (Picture Study)
It is very simple and quick to do Charlotte Mason-style Art Appreciation.
It is ideal if each child has at least an 8.5×11″ print of the art. You can also display the art on a laptop or tablet. Set aside 5-10 minutes of quiet for the activity.
- Look at a piece of art together for a few minutes, trying to develop a clear image in your mind.
- Cover the picture up and try to describe it in detail. This is called narration.
- Look again and check out any details that were unclear in your memory. Now is a good time to trickle in a little big of information about the art or artist.
- Display the art in your home all week, ideally in a place where your child can see it easily.
Free Printable Art Appreciation Guide
How to do Art and Music Appreciation with Kids
I recently discussed art and music appreciation on YouTube. See it here:
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