I’ve told this story once before, but since it’s been a constant plague on my existence, I thought I should tell it again.
Those Darn Silver Stars
In elementary school, we were required to enter the art fair contest every year. I don’t remember much in the way of instruction or inspiration. All I remember being told was to pull out the paper and make something to enter in the show.
The artwork we produced would be hung all around the cafeteria walls by grade. Then, one morning you would come in and find that some mysterious committee had judged all the artwork during the night, having bestowed silver stars on those worthy of being entered in the art fair at the high school!
Year after year, I would frantically search to see if I had been chosen by the faceless committee and year after year I was disappointed. I couldn’t understand why my artwork was never chosen.
Fifth grade was the final year, after that entering the show was only for those children who took an art class and judging from my performance each year, I had no business pursuing artistic interests. That year I did get a silver star. I’m not sure whether it was a pity star or an accurate reflection of my original construction paper collage of a clown. I’ll never know.
Later in adulthood, I realized that although the ability to draw is magically given to some people, it could be cultivated and improved with instruction and time. I also wanted my children not to be paralyzed in their artistic expression for fear they weren’t any good.
With this goal in mind, I have tried to provide materials, instruction, and inspiration so that my children may have a better relationship with art than I did. So far I think I’m doing okay.
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Homeschool Art Appreciation and History
First, I want my children to appreciate and be knowledgeable about artists and art history. I did take Art History in college, and all I remember from that class is sitting in a dark room and having slides of artwork flashed on the screen. Our only job was to name the work and the artist. It wasn’t until I was a homeschool mom that I learned so much more.
Lucy Micklethwait has beautiful books for the littlest ones. These are also excellent for picture study with older kids because they have such lovely, full-page images.
Another favorite for younger kids, though my older ones still love these, is the Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists series by Mike Venezia. I prefer the video’s, so check with your library. I have this pet peeve about reading bubble dialogue, so the video is more enjoyable, though we have several books.
Some other books we have and enjoy are:
Art in Focus-this is a textbook, but it’s perfect for quick, brief information.
We also have some things other than books, like games and puzzles. We just played our Impressionist Go Fish game today and also did our Starry Night and Sunday on La Grande Jatte puzzles. This art trivia game is next on my list.
Last but not least, Usborne! Fair warning, I’m a consultant, but they have amazing books. One of my favorites is the Famous Paintings Art Cards. We love just to flip through and see who can name the paintings.
Homeschool Art Instruction and Inspiration
Since I’m not naturally artistic, I need some help in the instruction department. Hands down, my favorite courses are by Alisha Gratehouse. What I love about them is that most any age can do the projects and even though there is an example end product, everyone’s will be different. We are currently working through the Mixing the Master’s course, but we’ve also completed projects from Springtime Splendor and Celebrate Summer.
Alisha is so encouraging and walks you through each piece step-by-step. I love that you’re using real materials, it makes even your humblest effort seem a little more professional.
If those seem like a little too much for your kids or you want more of a full curriculum, I think Lindsay Volin’s Home Art Studio (be sure to buy through Homeschool Buyers Co-op and save $) is great. It is more incremental, teaches different techniques and how to use various materials. You can also find specific projects to compliment what you are studying. This past week my younger girls made African masks following her video. You can check out her program and try some free lessons at her website.
I purchased these two programs when I was a contemplating art class for five children (pricey!) and decided they were worth the investment.
Art in the Everyday
Sometimes, you’re not up for the huge, make a mess all day project and on those days we do things a little simpler. Our drawing books, colored pencils and maybe some YouTube videos.
This isn’t an exhaustive list, but should hopefully give you a few resources you haven’t heard of before. I’ll try to compile a list of all the other online resources we use on occasion.
Have fun creating and enjoying art! No need for silver stars.