As this calendar year draws to a close, I am working on plans for the second semester of the homeschool year, Emma’s eighth grade year. I thought I would take the time to write out how I plan artist study for a semester. If you want to begin artist study this term, this step by step guide should be enough to get you started.
My first bit of advice is to be realistic when you plan. I schedule four day weeks and allow for “blank” days that we can use to catch up or skip artist study altogether. This applies to any subject area, not just artist study. If you plan for delays, your plan will be much more workable.
Select a Time Frame
Will each artist study be six, nine, or all eighteen weeks of the semester? We generally study one artist every nine weeks. That means that in the course of a school year we cover four artists. For a semester we have only two.
I recommend no shorter period than four weeks of time so that you can become familiar with the artist. Artist study is not a race but a steady marathon. Studying fewer artists in greater depth is a basic tenet of Charlotte Mason artist study.
Choose an Artist
When choosing an artist, there are different approaches. Some moms like to select an artist who matches the period of history you are studying. I tend to think like this too; I want everything to mesh thematically. But I have learned that such an approach, although not bad, is not necessary.
There is real value in overlapping different time periods. For time periods you have already studied, the topic becomes review and reminder. For time periods you haven’t yet studied, the topic is a preview that you can refer to later.
The bottom line is that there is no “right” choice. Choose any artist that you and your children are interested in. If you are just starting out, it is even more important to select an artist whose style or subject matter will engage your children. Make their first experience a positive one.
Whether you choose a classic artist or a modern one or even a local artist that is not as well known, the point is to consistently study art. So any artist will do. Don’t spend too long on this step.
You might want to let your resources to determine your artist. What is on your bookshelf right now? Do you have a book on Gauguin? Then study him. Do you have an old calendar of Monet’s art? Then that can be your choice. Keep it simple and don’t stress over the selection.
For a list of possible artists, see my main artist study page.
Determine Picture Study Frequency
Once you know how many weeks you will focus on a particular artist, decide whether you will do weekly or daily picture study. The typical Charlotte Mason advice is one picture per week. For our situation, we prefer to study one work of art each day. Here is why.
1. My daughter has an intense interest in art. It’s a perk to her, so I like to inject as much as possible.
2. We tend to forget weekly tasks or postpone them until they are neglected. Daily routines are easier for us to stick to.
If you think that picture study each day is too intense, remember that it takes about three to four minutes total. You present your child with the art to look at silently for about one minute. Then you take away the art and have her narrate (tell back) every detail she can remember about the art. If you like, you can revisit the art at the end to discuss certain elements. It is that simple.
Select the Works of Art to Study
Now that you have chosen an artist and know how long and how frequently you will have picture study, you can figure a total number of masterpieces to cover.
Remember to factor in cushion for yourself. In our case, we study nine weeks per artist with four days of school each week. That’s 36 works of art total. But I may select only 30 pieces to allow us room to skip a day now and then.
I normally use a art book such as the Taschen Basic Art series because I have one spot for plenty of art options. Recently we have started using a digital alternative — the iPad app Art Authority because it offers a plethora of masterpieces for only $4.99. I highly recommend investing in this affordable app for your artist study.
Schedule Additional Art Activities
Although picture study is the primary activity for an artist study, I also incorporate biographical information about the artist. That may come from books borrowed from the library, online videos, or reference books such as The Annotated Mona Lisa.
I may have Emma create some notebooking pages about what she learns. And we typically create some sort of reproduction during the term. I let her choose a work of art that speaks to her and allow her time to create.
Sometimes I have given Emma writing assignments based on her art studies — paragraphs or entire essays. Those “count” more as language arts, but they are another way to reinforce the art study while getting some quality expository writing practice.
Hold the Plan Loosely
Realize that a plan is just a projection. Reality may be quite different, and it’s okay to veer from the plan. Of course, making a realistic plan will help you be able to fulfill it, but there is no way to prepare for every possible contingency. Your best practice is to plan with some buffer factored in and be willing to adjust as circumstances change.
Schedule adjustments aren’t necessarily the result of stressful events. It could be that your child develops an intense interest in some topic that you want to pursue. That would be a positive reason to adjust your homeschool plans.
More Homeschool Help With Planning
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More Planning Posts
This post is just one in a link-up with bloggers from iHomeschool Network. Click the image to see all the homeschool planning posts in this online event.