Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Homeschooling: Art Appreciation!

If you are like me, then you know NOTHING about art or art appreciation. This can be a problem when you want to present a well rounded curriculum for your homeschool child(ren). Luckily for me, I came across, or rather was divinely guided to, this beautiful new book by titled, Jesus Christ & The Virgin Mary in Art.  This book has everything a beginner might need to introduce some artistic concepts to your child(ren) while focusing on appreciating beautiful religious masterpieces of the past.

So, why do I love this book so much? Well partly because it is perfect for a beginner such as myself, and partly because it is a book that teaches one how to pray using religious art as inspiration!

What specifically do I love about this book?  Well here's my top 5 list:

1.  The Variety of Artists:  This book presents works from 36 artist of varying notoriety.  Both well known and lesser known (to those of us who have no art background at least) artists of various periods in history are included in this large compilation resulting in a large accumulation of various types and styles of art to observe, learn from and appreciate. 

2.  The Low Down on the Artists:  This book is divided into chapters by artist and each chapter provides an introduction to the artist, a little bit about their background and the basics of what we would need to know to appreciate their art. This includes the style of art they use, the period in which they created their masterpieces, the use of colors or various shapes for which each artist was known, etc.  I like that this information is fairly short and sweet (typically only a page or two) and it leaves one feeling as if they understand what they should be making note of when looking at each artist's work.

3.  The Art:  You can get a sense of the beauty of this book by looking at the above picture. There are 280 oil paintings included in this anthology!  You can easily get lost in some of these remarkable works of art and being that it is in one book, you can always return to a favorite any time you wish.

4.  The Scriptural Connection:  Below each masterpiece is a scriptural reference you can read and on which you can meditate if you so choose.  It's a beautiful way to make the pages of the bible come to life right in front of your eyes!  Below each scripture verse, there is a written prayer for you to pray if you wish.  I love this way of using art to pray!  I've never done this before so to me this is all new and quite beautiful.  I find myself creating my own personal prayers after meditating on a piece of artwork, something that was WAY out of my comfort zone, prior to using this book!

5.  The Glossary:  Oh for the art novice, the glossary in this book is a life-saver!  It provides one with the basic definitions for some well used and some unknown art terminology which aids in one's understanding of information presented in the information portions of this book.

How do I use this book while homeschooling?
I use this book with my son in a very simple way. First I explain the very basics of what makes the artist we are targeting, famous. I share a few points explained in the introduction about the artist's work and what we will be looking for in each of the artists' paintings. Then we spend some time just looking at one painting. We talk about it, the shapes, lines and colors we see, as well as the  emotions we feel when looking at each painting.  We talk about the characters we see in the paintings and their possible feelings at those moments as well.  I read the scripture verse followed by the prayer. Then I give us some time for our own thoughts and meditation on the picture. Usually only a minute or two, because a five year old boy can only "meditate" so long. Then we share our own spontaneous prayers this painting has inspired in us. It's very basic, but I feel it's a great way to introduce the concept of art appreciation and how it can inspire our own prayer. 

I cannot express enough how much I LOVE using this book as a simple, fun and prayerful way to introduce art appreciation for some of the most beautiful religious art that we have available at our fingertips and for such a reasonable price.  I know it will take us a long time to get through all 280 paintings available to us in this book and I definitely feel that I received my money's worth based on what I can share and what we can do to create such a powerful prayerful experience in our homeschool.

If you are interested you can find it at this website or on Facebook.

Blessings to you and yours, 

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