Archive for the ‘Appreciating Art’ Category

Artist Highlight: Vincent van Gogh

Artist Highlight Vincent van Gogh

This May is all about Art Appreciation in the Brave Writer Lifestyle, which makes this the right time to break out some Vincent van Gogh art!

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Vincent van Gogh is considered one of the greatest artists to have ever lived, but in his own lifetime he was considered something of a failure. While alive, he had difficulty finding buyers for his paintings and was financially supported instead by his brother Theo. This might feel somewhat hard to believe nowadays when we’re used to seeing his works on display in museums next to plaques explaining their great significance to the art world, but Van Gogh’s fame only came about posthumously.

Van Gogh was born on March 30th, 1853, in Zundert, Netherlands. He spent much of his early career as a painter drawing and painting the downtrodden, particularly coal miners. Even later, when his paintings became brighter and more vibrant, he still liked painting people at work. We traveled across Europe, perhaps most famously to France. He struggled with his mental health throughout his life, painting many of his most famous works during his stay in an asylum, before eventually taking his own life in July of 1890.

Vincent van Gogh, the man behind the art, can be challenging to discuss with children due to the way his life ended. The rebooted British children’s show Doctor Who has an episode in its fifth season (aptly titled Vincent and the Doctor) which shows Van Gogh’s illness in a gentle and sympathetic light that may help with contextualizing these issues for kids (we do recommend that parents view the episode first, before deciding if it is right for their families). Its time travel concept also allows for the inclusion of a beautiful moment of wish fulfillment, since one of the great tragedies of Van Gogh’s life is that he never knew that his art would one day be considered essential viewing for the art lover.

But even if your kids aren’t ready for the details of his life, you can still bust out the art books this month and enjoy the riot of colors and the uniquely expressive beauty of Vincent van Gogh’s artwork.


Vincent’s Colors – “Van Gogh’s descriptions, arranged as a simple rhyme, introduce young readers to all the colors of the rainbow and beyond.”–Amazon

Vincent and the Doctor – Doctor Who episode in which the Doctor and Amy Pond travel back in time to meet Vincent van Gogh

Art Appreciation Through Projects and Stories – From notbefore7 (includes Van Gogh and other artists)

Brave Writer Lifestyle

Playing What They are Learning

"Dutch Masters" in the studio

Brave Writer mom Lise (Free to Be a Child) writes:

Yesterday “Vermeer” and “Rembrandt” were at work in the studio, taking turns sitting for portraits by the other. L has been listening to a series of books about artists (Art for Children), and is particularly interested in Dutch artists, as she is part Dutch. So those names stuck with her.

She spent the day in her Dutch-inspired costume, and when S arrived, he joined her for some klompen (Dutch clogging) dancing.

Naturally, when they later decided to paint, they took on the names of Dutch artists.

"Dutch Masters" in the studio

Playing what we’re learning is common here, a Reggio-inspired early childhood program in my home (where I also unschool my daughter). But becoming artists who paint portraits of each other is clearly influenced by some of Julie’s scopes, which inspired me to incorporate a morning basket, including lots of art appreciation.

🙂 Lise

Learn more about art appreciation in your homeschool:

Check out Brave Writer’s Art Appreciation Workshop!

Art Appreciation Workshop

Art Appreciation with Julie Bogart

Don’t worry if you missed the Art Appreciation Workshop live.

It’s as good as new on REPLAY!

Just download the FREE Guide, gather materials then watch the broadcast below.

You’ll guide your kids in new ways to engage art and discover its pleasures!

Art Appreication Workshop

Such good fun!

I love helping you bring joy and practical growth into your home education experience. Art is one of the easiest and most satisfying, if you can enter it with some child-friendly strategies!

Images by Brave Writer moms Teeshalavone and Nicola

Art Appreciation for the Whole Family

Art Appreciation for the Whole Family

Art Appreciation for the Whole Family

Periscope: Friday February 5, 2016
4:00 PM EST

Join me tomorrow on Periscope! I’ll send your kids on a treasure hunt through art books. I promise: it will be hilarious good fun!

I’ll talk to your kids about how to look at paintings and ways to enhance their close observation of the contents. I’ll talk to you about how to see when you look at art and how to manage the cluster of little rascals when you brave the local museums.

There’s a download (free) for tomorrow’s scope that you may want to grab in advance.

Get Your Guide Here!

Email: What other curricula did I use?

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.


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,



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.


  • 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


  • 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.)


  • 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:



  • 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.