Archive for the ‘Appreciating Art’ Category

Email: What other curricula did I use?

Monday, March 11th, 2013

Hi Julie,

Thanks to The Writer’s Jungle, I can now relax and teach writing in a more natural and fun way. Your blog has helped inspire our homeschooling and remind us of what really matters. I like your homeschool style and wonder if I could get your recommendations on any particular materials that you used over the years that you found to be valuable.

murderousmaths

I get the idea that you are probably not the type to use a curriculum – but thought I would ask anyway. I’m sort of a curriculum junkie. I have two daughters, 12 and 10.

For the moment we are using the follow…..

  • Math-U-See
  • Singapore Math
  • Apologia Science
  • History Odyssey
  • Writer’s Jungle and The Arrow
  • Worldly Wise

I’ve wasted a lot of money on plenty of other resources.

Thanks so much,

Susie

——

Hi Susie!

I certainly did use a variety of curricula over the years. Some of it I regret (and cringe to think about now). Some of it I loved and would use again. And then for a period of some years, we unschooled (though the definition of that word varies group to group, but from my perspective, that is who we were).

Some of my favorite resources follow, as well as how I “solved” some of the needs we had where I didn’t purchase curricula. I have omitted choices I regretted.

Math:

  • Miquon Math (For elementary school; combined with Cuisinaire rods—I literally didn’t understand multiplication until these books)
  • Family Math (I loved this book – we did everything in it)
  • Math-It (A game to learn multiplication tables quickly)
  • Keys to… (Fractions, Decimals, Percents)
  • Murderous Maths (Hands-down the most fun we’ve ever had with math; lots of volumes)
  • The I Hate Mathematics Book and Math for Smarty Pants by the Brown Paper School company
  • Saxon Math for Algebra and Geometry
  • Tutoring for math in exchange for writing help between homeschool families
  • Paid tutoring for high school math
  • Parttime enrollment at the local high school

History:

  • Sonlight (back when the Instructor’s Guides weren’t so enormous)
  • Well Trained Mind for a reading list, and Story of the World books
  • Personal rabbit trails and my own interests
  • (My regrets are in this category more than any other so the list appears to be short.)

Science:

  • Charter member of HENSE (Home Educators Neglecting Science Education)
  • Kitchen chemistry experiments from books
  • Ring of Fire Rock Study Kits (These are fabulous!!)
  • DK books
  • A telescope
  • Nature journaling 
  • Bird study through the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, including their BIG book and course.
  • Biology through our co-op
  • Chemistry through the local high school

Language arts:

Logic:

Art:

  • Sister Wendy’s Story of Painting (Oh My Goddess!! I just googled and all of her “videos” are now online for free. Just the music alone sent me wheeling with memories and happiness. Don’t miss these.)
  • Linnea and Monet’s Garden (Then look at the recommended books and you will see all the others we read and enjoyed!)
  • Any museum in driving distance, regularly visited. Bought the books in the museum shop to review at home.

We also had fun with Ancient Greek, Rosetta Stone Chinese (didn’t get far in it, but it was fun to wet our feet), and Power Glide for French. Still, in the end, it was much easier for my kids to learn foreign languages in school (they attended the local high school for language learning, all except Noah who studied Klingon on his own <g>).

Hope that helps! Would love to hear about other favorite resources in the comments below.

Repost: Stuff to do in Summer

Friday, May 28th, 2010

Hi everyone.

I made a list years ago of things to do in summer. We posted it to our refrigerator so that if any child came to me saying, “I’m bored; I have nothing to do,” I could simply point a silent finger at the door and they would know to scan the list before asking for any more ideas. Usually, they found something.

The key to using la liste is making sure that you have the supplies already stocked up in your house. Don’t put “oil pastels” as an option if you haven’t bought them. Make sure everything that they may want to do, can be done.

Before I post the list, here are a few ideas to consider as well:

1. Create an art table that houses markers, paintbrushes, watercolors, glue (of varying styles), paper, pipe cleaners, string, tape, staplers, scrapbooking pages, old magazines, newspaper, construction paper, various sizes of oil paint canvases, and so on. (We use tin cans from beans etc. to hold the paintbrushes or markers.) Purchase colorful clay to bake into novel items. You might add a book or two on art (how to draw, paint, oil pastel, etc.)

2. Create a nature station which includes binoculars, birding guides, seeds, trowels, and a cheap digital camera for photo ops (when the squirrels fight or you see a cool caterpillar).

3. Tune up bicycles (air in tires, brakes that work), purchase a badminton or croquet set, collect water guns and pool toys.

All right, without further ado: here’s the list!

  • Paint
  • Make play-doh
  • Create a collage
  • Take a walk
  • Swing
  • Climb a tree
  • Listen to music
  • Read a book
  • Read a magazine
  • Legos
  • Playmobiles (or whatever toys you have that your kids love)
  • Reorganize your bedroom (moving furniture around)
  • Sew
  • Learn a new recipe
  • Hammer nails into scrap wood (for some reason, this is always satisfying)
  • Jump rope
  • Take the dog for a walk
  • Fill the wading pool and splash
  • Shoot each other with water guns
  • Blow bubbles
  • Sidewalk chalk the driveway
  • Inventory the house (count windows, steps, pillows, door knobs, mirrors, paintings, photographs) Use a clipboard to record findings.
  • Write a poem
  • Make a phone call to grandma
  • Email Dad/Mom at work
  • Play a board game
  • Make a picnic under a tree
  • Lie on your back and look at clouds
  • Watch a movie
  • Play a video game
  • Create fairy houses with twigs, moss, leaves, acorns. Make fairies out of scrap fabric, pipe cleaners and wooden beads.
  • Create shoe box houses for little dolls
  • Catch tadpoles (in a local stream)
  • Catch fireflies in a jam jar
  • Do something for someone else (vacuum a room, empty the dishwasher, fold clean clothes)
  • Sort clothes that are too small and give to charity
  • Alphabetize the spices in the spice cabinet
  • Learn to do a cartwheel
  • Run through the sprinkler
  • Play HORSE with the basketball
  • Play jacks
  • Play pick up sticks
  • Play a musical instrument
  • Dress up in dress up clothes
  • Face paint
  • Draw with oil pastels or charcoal
  • Roast hotdogs in an open fire; make s’mores
  • Collect wild flowers for a centerpiece at dinner
  • Memorize riddles, poems, rhymes
  • Act out a favorite play or story
  • Polish nails
  • Rub on temporary tattoos
  • Learn to braid hair
  • Make a fort in the living room
  • Study a tide pool (if you’re lucky enough to live near one!)

Please add to the list in the comments section! I’m sure you’ll have ideas I haven’t included.

Visiting the Art Museum

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

I posted this awhile back, but I think it’s worth another posting. When we recommend going to art museums, sometimes moms wonder what it’s got to do with writing. Isn’t art its own course of study? Why would Brave Writer specifically promote it?

I promote the enjoyment and study of art because a visual vocabulary is critical to a verbal one. We’re primarily stimulated every day through sight. As we observe the world around us, we form impressions that inform our attitudes, beliefs, preferences and habits. Art uses a visual vocabulary to communicate. We’re awed by the precision of strokes (to an almost photographic accuracy) in some paintings and then moved by the blurry soft edges of impressionism that tend to evoke a mood more than provoke a compliment. We see color manipulated to create atmosphere, we observe other times and eras (habits of dress, style of architecture, expanse of nature). We get to see style (we can compare and contrast artists within one era, and we can compare and contrast artists of different eras).

These encounters are different than nature or TV or flipping through a photo album. Artists are deliberate in ways similar to authors. They select the point of view, they edit the scene in front of them choosing what to paint and what to exclude, they pull from a palette of colors like authors draw from a lexicon of language. They tell a story through images. They create pathos or joy, indignation or peace. And all we have to do is stand and look carefully, allow the painting to speak through its images.

For writing, having a rich visual vocabulary is just as important as having a big word-filled one. Words help to express images and images give rise to words. They partner together to create meaning. A trip to an art museum also offers visuals to go with some of the legendary stories of our collective western history (the Greek and Roman myths, Christian imagery, specific historic events and figures, legends, Shakespearean tales, and the daily lives of people who really did live before our time). Together, paintings partner with language to create new levels of appreciation.

What follows, then, is a window into how frequent trips to the local Cincinnati Art Museum have enhanced our home education. Be not intimidated! Get the stroller and go. You’ll be glad you did.

2005

One thing I love about Cincinnati is that the art museum isn’t that far away. We went to it yesterday for the afternoon. We’ve been many, many times. I noticed that especially yesterday. As we walked in the door, Liam exclaimed, “I love that Chihuly chandelier.” Jacob added, “I could look at it every day.”

We made our way into the Greek and Egyptian displays and Caitrin noticed that they had rearranged them. She went on to point out which of the vases she liked best compared to last time. Liam wanted to stop and look at each of the hieroglyphs again.

We moved on and went into an exhibit that was put up by Proctor and Gamble – all Cincinnati art. I honestly didn’t recognize the exhibit but the kids did. They started reminiscing about the pieces they had loved the last time we’d been there. We marveled at the quality of the artwork. Later we found an entire exhibit devoted to Frank Duveneck (Cincinnati native) and were thrilled to see all his paintings together. That was new.

We made our way upstairs to see the Monets that are on loan from Paris and were blown away by the size and colors. Caitrin immediately told me the story of why this particular “Bridge at Giverny” was so hard to see close-up – “because Monet lost his eyesight as he got older and he would make paintings that were less and less realistic as a result.” She pointed out how much the bridge showed up if we were at the back of the room compared to up close when we could see each swirl of the brush up close.

Liam reminded me of the “Linnea in Monet’s Garden” book we had read and Jacob remembered the movie we had checked out from the library. We were amazed that the Cathedral at Rouen was so dull close up and so vibrant at a distance. You could see the source of light behind it and it glowed from across the room.

We walked into the modern art exhibit and all agreed again that we don’t like modern art, except that I really like Mark Rothko. Rothko asserts that he isn’t interested in form, line or color but in creating emotions. He says that he knows he communicates because when people look at his work, many report that they cry. Jacob, who couldn’t remember who Rothko was when I spoke of him last week, was eager to see our Cincinnati Rothko. He didn’t cry. He didn’t understand why anyone would. I didn’t cry either, but I did feel this weird surge in my chest.

Liam wanted to see a real Van Gogh so I took him to the only one in the museum. He remembered it then and commented that, “That guy must really have liked paint. I like his blue.” Caitrin added, “He uses globs of it. It’s nice to see the real painting so we can see the globs up close.” We wished for a Van Gogh exhibit to come to Cincinnati.

Our favorite rooms were closed for renovation. We were sad. So we went to other rooms we frequent less and noticed all the Italians. Jacob asked, “Will some of these painters be in Italy when we go next summer?” We discussed the benefits of great art being dispersed throughout the world rather than collected all in one town. We talked about why the Italians artwork was so much more dramatic than the British in the room next door. We shuddered in front of a boyish, rosy-cheeked David holding the recently severed head of a bloody Goliath.

We ended up in front of a painting that showed a woman deranged with a pale face, flowers dripping down her white gown, restrained by a man in a renaissance costume. They stood before a queen in anguish and a king with his face in his hands. Jacob called out, “Mom, this is from Hamlet! That’s Ophelia.” And it was. The man was Laertes, her brother. Apparently this artist had wanted to make a series of Shakespeare paintings to display together in England, but the project failed and the pieces he painted have been bought up by a variety of art connoisseurs. This painting is the first to have been purchased for the Cincinnati Art Museum and its purchase preceded the museum’s construction by about five years.

It was a great afternoon. And it was fun to see that repeated visits yielded so much in my kids.

Boneheaded art study tips

Monday, August 31st, 2009

Thought you all might like a little help in encouraging art study in your homes.

1. I am not an art student. I never was. I didn’t “get it” when I studied it in college. As a result, all I have to go on are my immediate impressions of art. So do you…and you can love art with no teaching at all.

2. The place to begin is in an art museum. Books are fine, but there is NOTHING like seeing a painting up close. The textures are totally lost in books. And to realize that Ruebens or Matisse stood where I am standing at some point in history takes my breath away every time. So go to a musuem–any one will do because there is always at least one painting worth seeing.

3. Before you enter the museum proper, buy the picture postcard pack of that museum. This is esp. helpful with kids. Flip through it. Note the paintings that you want to see and then go straight to them. Don’t stop and meander. Start with the good stuff. It is the weirdest thing–just seeing it in a picture first will make the experience of seeing that painting in person even more powerful. Sounds like I am negating principle number two. Well, I did call this a “bone-headed” approach to art appreciation. :)

The point is to make the museum your goal and to not be satisfied with mere imitations in prints.

4. Beg, borrow (we did both) or steal Sister Wendy’s video series. (Called the Story of Painting). It is so enjoyable and she has such passion for art that you can’t help falling in love with her and the paintings. Gotta love her habit!

5. Put up prints in your house. I have the four “heads” print of Van Gogh hanging in my office.  Every day I see Van Gogh and remember how great he was and is. We have Picasso prints, Alexei Jawelensky and Monet hanging out with us too.

6. When you find a painting you like, sit in front of it for a length of time. Really look. Look at the colors. Look at the corners. What’s in them? Focus on the activities and the direction of the faces and who’s looking at whom and what they are possibly saying. Look at the position of the sky and how much canvas it takes up. Look at the interaction of light and shadow. Notice the style and size of brush strokes. These things were all deliberately done for effect. That’s why it’s worth stopping to notice. Talk about them with your kids.

7. When you like a painting, write about it. I have so enjoyed Charlote Mason’s approach to art appreciation. I keep my comments about paintings on scraps of paper, in notebooks and on the backs of programs. When I write/narrate I find that I “see” more than I knew was there. And then I can recall the painting in my memory from re-reading my writing.

Let me know some of your tips for the enjoyment of art appreciation!

Art Appreciation: Enhance your awareness of beauty

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

this July.

Good friend and art aficionado, Beth Burgess, is again teaching her well-received “Art Appreciation” course from last summer. So many of us want to give our children a rich education in the arts, but feel we lack the skills to equip us. Beth’s years as a painter, photographer and art history student (combined with her years of home educating her own four children) give you the chance to unlock some of art’s mysteries. Charlotte Mason has long venerated the idea of a solid art education. She talks about “furnishing the halls of our minds with great works of art.” She suggests picture study as a way to expand a child’s attention to detail and appreciation for beauty.

Brave Writer has long suggested devoting time to art appreciation as visual stimulation has a way of revving the writing impulse. Encounters with visual images crafted for specific impact stir our imaginations and vocabularies. Art appreciation is also a lens through which your kids may enjoy viewing history.

Read the class description here and give yourself a treat this summer. Immerse yourself in a course that will both prepare you to teach art to your kids, but will also offer you a respite from the daily cares of life at home. Escape into the visual world of paintings and photography. You deserve a chance to grow, expand and be nurtured, too, you know.

Course Description

Summer Class Schedule and Registration

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

We’ve got our Summer Class Schedule all set to go with immediate registration already open.

We’re offering three classes and one “One Thing Workshop” (all listed on the same page).

For junior high and high school:

For the whole family:

I want to particularly draw your attention to our “Art Appreciation” workshop. It’s brand new!

What makes the art appreciation workshop so special is that it’s a one-of-a-kind online class! Our instructor, Beth Burgess, has led online art discussions for the last seven years with homeschooling mothers. Many of them have gone from a feeling of utter bewilderment when looking at a work of art to becoming passionate art history buffs themselves. Whether your kids are ready for art or you need a summer treat designed just for you, I highly recommend this One Thing Workshop to you. It will be a real treat! Beth Burgess is one of my dear friends, an artist in her own right, has home educated her children, is currently an art student, and a long-term passionate fan of art history.

The Brave Writer Lifestyle includes experiences like art appreciation, nature walks, freewriting, dictation and copywork, Shakespeare study, poetry enjoyment and writing, revision of one writing project per month, grammar study through games and interaction with real literature. Rather than sending you off to invent how to do these all on your own, the Brave Writer team offers short, intensive workshops to help you develop the skills and creative applications for each of these ideas, one thing at a time.

This particular workshop with give you both the experience of enjoying and examining art for yourself, as well as preparing you to create an art rich environment for your kids.

The tuition is $99.00 per family as you, the homeschooling parent, will do the activities with your children at home.

Write For Fun: I wanted to also point out that Write for Fun starts in just over two weeks. It’s one of the most popular classes with our teens. If you need a class that is utterly unlike any writing class your kids have ever taken, join this one. The first week’s assignments have your kids collecting words from magazines, billboards, the Internet, song lyrics and anywhere they can find them, then tagging them to objects and items all over the house. Trust me, they love it! Changes the way they see language and writing forever.

I hope you find a class that works for you!

Glass Artist: Dale Chihuly

Sunday, January 14th, 2007

Our Cincinnati Art Museum is fortunate enough to have a Chihuly chandalier (featured above). Dale Chihuly is known for his exquisite glass work. Please visit his site when you have some time to spend. It is exquisite.

Six years ago, I heard about Chihuly online from some friends and looked up his work. Then that weekend, I discovered in the newspaper that a Chihuly exhibition was coming to Dayton, Ohio (just up the road from us) that week. I love those serendipitous coincidences. I threw the kids in the car and we had one of the most delightful afternoons of art appreciation ever. The kids are hopeless when it comes to Chihuly, swearing he is the most visually stimulating and engaging artist they’ve experienced. If you need a way to jumpstart interest in art, glass exhibitions are truly a marvel. Chihuly is the best. You can often find his works in wonderful documentary form on DVDs in libraries too.

I noticed that Chihuly’s art is on display in Columbus, Ohio right now! He has an exhibit at the Franklin Park Conservatory until February 25. We will certainly be going. If you live in the area, schedule a trip. You’ll be glad you did.

8 Ways to Train the Art Appreciator in You

Monday, August 15th, 2005

Art Appreciation

I’ve developed this guide for the intimidated among us. Enjoy!

1. I am not an art student. I never was. I didn’t “get it” when I studied it in college. As a result, all I have to go on are my immediate impressions of art. So do you…and you can love art with no teaching at all. Allow your reactions to guide you. Don’t pick paintings to appreciate… look for paintings that you like and start there.

2. The place to begin looking at art is in an art museum. Books are fine, but there is nothing like seeing a painting up close. The textures are totally lost in books. And to realize that Ruebens or Matisse or O’Keefe stood where I am standing at some point in history takes my breath away every time. So go to a musuem–any one will do because there is always at least one painting worth seeing.

3. Before you enter the museum proper, buy the picture postcard pack for that museum in the gift shop. This is especially helpful with kids. Flip through it before you enter the galleries. Note the paintings that you want to see and then go straight to them. Don’t stop and meander, trying to appreciate paintings that you don’t like, understand or care about. Art appreciation takes energy so feel free to conserve yours for the ones you think are gorgeous, terrifying, creepy or sexy!

Seeing the painting in a postcard before you look at it on the wall will make the experience of seeing that painting in person even more powerful. It’s the weirdest thing, but that brief first exposure primes you for the second, up-close-and-personal encounter.

4. Beg, borrow (we did both) or steal Sister Wendy – The Complete Collection (Story of Painting / Grand Tour / Odyssey / Pains of Glass) (affiliate link). It is so enjoyable and she has such passion for art that you can’t help falling in love with her and the paintings. Gotta love her habit!

5. Put up prints of famous paintings that you can’t see in person in your house. Put up prints of your favorites from your local museum in your house too. My husband bought me the four “heads” of Van Gogh’s self portraits in a poster. They are in my former dining room which we call “the art room” because I have littered it with all my favorite prints from museums I’ve visited over the years.

6. When you find a painting you like, sit in front of it for a length of time. Really look. Look at the colors. Look at the corners. What’s in them? Focus on the actions of the subjects. Look at the directions the faces are looking, and who’s looking at whom and what they are possibly saying. Look at the position of the sky and how much canvas it takes up. All? Some? Very little? Look at the interaction of light and shadow. Notice the style and size of brush strokes. These things were all deliberately done for effect. That’s why it’s worth stopping to notice.

7. When you like a painting, write about it. I have so enjoyed Charlotte Mason’s approach to art appreciation. I keep my comments about paintings on scraps of paper, in notebooks and on the backs of programs. When I write/narrate, I find that I “see” more than I knew was there. And then I can recall the painting in my memory from re-reading my writing.

8. If you are someone who doesn’t love art but thinks you should, I strongly recommend going to an art museum either alone or with a friend who loves art, on your first trip. Don’t take your kids with you. Learn about whether or not there is anything in art that attracts you, alone, without education as your objective. If it turns out there is, then you can share that with your kids.

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