I have been hoarding artist study materials for a while, as this is something I really want to go over with my children, but often find that it gets put on the back burner. They really enjoy it when we are able to make time for it, though, so I was glad to find an opportunity to utilize them recently.
We use The Story of the World as our history curriculum for our homeschool. We are currently on Volume 2: The Middle Ages. When we reached the chapter about the Renaissance, I decided this would be the perfect time to incorporate some fine art study into our school year.
First, I pulled out our set of Memoria Press art cards, and picked out the ones that were appropriate for the time period. We looked at the cards, read the information about the pieces, and discussed which we liked best and why.
Next, I chose some prominent Renaissance artists to focus on – Michelangelo, DaVinci, Rembrandt and Raphael. I used this timeline to help me narrow the choices down. I have biographies from the Great Artists Series by homeschool bits for each one, which also include links to online videos and activities about the artist. We focused on one artist per class. We read the biography together, answered the review questions, watched some of the links, and viewed examples of the artist’s work. We used some of our art cards for this, as well as Enrichment Studies art pages (you can receive free art pages from them each month if you become a subscriber). We also visited the Google Arts & Culture page. One caution about the Google page – many of the pieces of art on it contain nudity. My son is not a fan of Michelangelo as a result. He said, “I understand him painting Adam and Eve naked, but King David wore clothes!” Oh, well.
Another source that we used was a series on YouTube called Art with Mati and Dada. We discovered it a while ago and my children really enjoy it. We found the episode that went along with the artist we were reviewing that day and I let them finish the lesson by watching it.
When we finished studying all of the artists that I had selected, I picked some of the art cards that we had viewed and wrote the last name of each artist on index cards. I laid both sets of cards out and had the children match the name of the artist to the art that they had created. I was pleased to discover that they were able to match them up without much difficulty and had fun doing it. We hung the matched sets up in our classroom afterward so they can continue to observe them.
I found that tying the study of art into our history lessons worked well. I didn’t feel like I was taking time away another subject, but was enhancing it instead.
Edited to add: If you will be studying Renaissance artists with your children next year, I just found out that Enrichment Studies will have a new study on that time period that will be available. Each week will focus on one artist, and each day there will be a video about the artist and/or their work sent by email. There will be coordinating Fine Art Pages to have on display in your home during that week as well. It will give a short, daily dose of art appreciation that’s easy to find time for.