Appreciating the Arts

This week, the Virtual Curriculum Fair is focusing on the arts. In our family, we’re not very artistic .. no one plays an instrument or paints or sings or anything like that. I am convinced that artistic ability comes naturally to a person and can’t be “taught into them” no matter how hard a teacher tries.

If any of the boys express a real interest in playing an instrument, drawing, sculpting, etc. we’ll find suitable lessons. In the meantime, our lessons focus on appreciating the beautiful art and music developed by some of the greatest talents to have graced our world.

Art Appreciation

We follow Charlotte Mason’s Picture Study method for studying different artists and artistic styles. It’s a very simple method but very enjoyable and effective.

I’ve purchased different art books that showcase paintings (or drawings or photographs, as the case may be) by individual artists. So far we’ve studied:

  • Johannes Vermeer (my absolute favorite!)
  • Pierre-Auguste Renoir
  • Claude Monet

We study just one picture at a time, and the kids take turns looking at the painting, examining every detail. I then take the picture so they can’t see it, and they take turns telling me everything they can remember. I also briefly tell them the name of the painting, when it was painted, and a tidbit about its setting (if I know something extra about it).

Typically, we study one or two paintings per week this way. We spend several months (sometimes a whole year) on just one artist. This gives the kids plenty of time to really get to know the artist’s work and style. As we study different artists’ work, we talk about the different styles of art and painting (e.g. realism, impressionism).

Enjoying Music

For our music appreciation, I have bought several of the books from Zeezok Publishing‘s Great Musician Series. These are excellent biographies of the most famous classical composers, and we enjoy reading them aloud as a family. The books were mostly written during the 1950s and 60s, and they begin with the composer’s childhood and follow him throughout his career.

Each book comes with a CD of the composer’s music, which we listen to both at home and in the car.

The composers we’ve studied:

  • Frederic Chopin
  • Sebastian Bach
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Both these simple methods have proven to be very enjoyable ways for my family to learn about great art and music.

Read about other families’ approach to art education in these posts:

© 2012, Cindy. All rights reserved.


  1. Sounds like a great plan for music and art appreciation, something that our family really could do more of. Thank you for sharing with the Virtual Curriculum Fair this week. ;0)
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  2. Thanks for sharing these resources. I will be checking these out. Picture studies are great. We should do more of this here.
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