Evaluating our School Year: Picture Study

This post is part of a series I'm doing as a way to evaluate our school year.  I am covering each subject, describing what we did; what worked for us and what didn't work; and detailing any changes I plan to make.  I find this process so helpful as I finish out our year and before I begin to plan for our next year.  

Picture (Art) Study

We do Picture Study once a week.

This past year we studied three artists, and 5-6 paintings from each. We studied paintings by Georges Seurat, Claude Monet and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot.

At the beginning of the year, I downloaded PDF files from the Ambleside Yahoo Group and had prints printed locally.  

I want my kids have a familiarity with the paintings and artists we've studied, so I make sure they have a print of each painting.  I get one 8 1/2x11 print of each of the paintings we'll study, and then four paintings printed per page for the kids to put in their binders; smaller versions of the paintings we've studied.  Here is an example of what they keep in the Picture Study section of their binders:

As to what the study part of this all looks like at our house, I've edited a post I wrote seven years ago to describe what we do.  We're still doing Picture Study the very same way, all these years later. 

Once each week, this is what we do:

Introduction:  If it is the first week and thus a new artist, I introduce the artist, giving the name; often in writing, and any biographical information I think is pertinent. Then I read a short bio or even just a few facts about the artist.  For all subsequent works by this same artist, I'll skip the biographical information but note the artists name each time, and recall the previous painting studied.

Description:  Then I pull out a print and hand it to a child, hiding it from the rest of the children, asking the selected child to describe what he or she sees. The rest of us listen and try to imagine the painting in our minds.  My children all love this part. They actually bicker over whose turn it is to describe a painting.

Questions: When the child has finished describing the painting, the rest of us get the opportunity to ask that child questions about the things our minds are still wondering about.  (I think this is one of the reasons why my kids love their role of narrator; they get to play teacher and "call" on their siblings' raised hands to take their questions. ;)) 

Reveal: When the questions wane, the child reveals the painting he or she has just described (and the rest of us have imagined) and we all exclaim over it and talk about it. 

That is our procedure with each new painting.

For example, our weeks studying Georges Seurat looked like this:

Week 1: Introduce artist, short bio, select a child to describe the painting: Rock-Breakers
Week 2: Brief review: Who remembers our new artist?  What was last week's painting?
New painting: Man Cleaning His Boat
Week 3: Brief review. New painting: A Sunday on La Grande Jatte
Week 4: Brief review. New painting: Bathers at Asnieres 
(Mark was the teacher this week, and he let the kids choose a portion of the painting to paint.  I generally wait till the end of our study to do this.)
Week 5: Brief review. New painting: The Circus
Week 6: Brief review. New painting: The Eiffel Tower
Week 7 | Final week: Brief reviewCompare and contrast all the paintings.  How are they similar?  How are they different?  Can you tell that the same artist painted all of these? Then, we paint. I choose one of the paintings we've studied for us all to attempt to paint.  (We each painted Seurat's The Eiffel Tower.)

*Each time we study a new painting, I choose a different child (or myself!) to describe it.

* * *

For further consideration and lists of artists, check out the artist rotation at Ambleside Online.  I don't actually follow the same order they suggest.  I choose artists that I love or that I think my kids would find interesting and we go from there.  :)  I really enjoyed my college Art History classes and I genuinely love introducing my kids to the painters I admire. 

Another post on Picture Study that may be of interest to you:

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