Monday, November 9, 2009

Art, Artists and Art History - Beginning to Search for Resources

I want Max to play with paint.  I want to get all ooey gooey, messy, artsy with him and let him explore that side of himself.  Art is a HUGE topic because it can go in so many varied directions.  I'm a photographer drawn to bright colors; I used to do a fair amount of drawing and have experimented with other forms of art.  Time spent in this way has provided me with an immense amount of pleasure and a very therapeutic outlet.  We humans are meant to work with our hands and many of us don't take the time to experiment with art because we may think  it's cheesy, it's intimidating, it's for sissies.  No it's not to all three counts.  Don't wait for the planets to align, for all obstacles to clear themselves out of your way.  JUST DO IT.  Go get some paper and some paint and let er' rip.

Art in a homeschool situation takes a bit of planning because you need some materials.  But remember, art doesn't always have to consist of a messed up kitchen table, dribbled paint on the floor, glue on the chair.  You can come at it from different angles and use literature to learn about art and artists, too.   I'm looking for resource materials to help us at least be a little directed and here's what I've come up with so far.........I will keep searching and will post about the treasures that are out there.  Am looking for a good set of art cards (reproductions of masterpieces), but can't seem to locate any just yet.

usborne art

Stellar.  Have it.  Use it.  Love it.  Painting in Van Gogh's style is gratifying - it's the first project.  A perfect mix of art history and styles - some twenty plus artists are represented.  I had a hard time being honest with Max about the fate of Van Gogh.  I did mention him cutting off his ear, but not the suicide part.  Lots of master artists struggled with mental illnesses but I feel he doesn't need to know that Van Gogh shot himself at the end of a long and depressing life.  I just said, 'he only sold one painting and then he died'.  And felt guilty.

dynamic art

Got 33 five-star reviews on Amazon, so it must be worth looking at.

lives of the artists

Lives of the Artists:  Masterpieces, Messes (and What the Neighbors Thought) by Kathleen Krull.  Sounds juicy!  This is available as a cassette tape or a CD (and as a book as well).  The CD/cassette is about 3 hours in length.  "From Da Vinci to Warhol, each of these 20 artists is respectfully exposed for their idiosyncracies as well as their contributions to the history of art.  What they ate, what they wore, who they loved and who their friends were - it's all here."  Quote taken from an audio book site.  This might be just the ticket to help kids make connections by learning about those idiosyncracies.  Ms. Krull has other similar offerings about writers, musicians, presidents, athletes and extraordinary women (hey, wait.  Aren't we all extraordinary??)  You can read more about those here:

good book about design

Good basic foundation for design.  Simple yet it gets the point across.


These are fun to color because you can manipulate the design by varying colors.  Pictures within pictures.  There are many offerings in this series - even a stained glass type that can be hung in windows to let the light shine through.

mixed up files

From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler is about two children who run away to spend a week in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and come face-to-face with a mystery surrounding a statue potentially crafted by Michelangelo.   Three-hundred-twenty-eight reviews and it came out with 4 1/2 stars.  Won a Newberry Medal in the late 60's.


Marvin lives with his family under the kitchen sink in the Pompadays’ apartment.  He is very much a BEETLE.  James Pompaday lives with his family in New York City. He is very much an eleven-year-old boy.  After James gets a pen-and-ink set for his birthday, Marvin surprises him by creating an elaborate miniature drawing.  James gets all the credit for the picture and before these unlikely friends know it they are caught up in a staged art heist at the Metropolitan Museum of Art that could help recover a famous drawing by Albrecht Dürer.  But James can’t go through with the plan without Marvin’s help.  And that’s where things get really complicated (and interesting!). This fast-paced mystery will have young readers on the edge of their seats as they root for boy and beetle.  In Shakespeare’s Secret Elise Broach showed her keen ability to weave storytelling with history and suspense, and Masterpiece is yet another example of her talent.  This time around it’s an irresistible miniature world, fascinating art history, all wrapped up in a special friendship— something for everyone to enjoy.

boy of cave

by Justin Denzel and is about a boy who is a talented cave painter in the era of the Cro Magnons.  We read Denzel's Hunt for the Last Cat as part of the unit on prehistoric man and enjoyed his style of writing.


Part of a review:

"Based on "thin threads" of truth, I, Juan de Pareja explores the relationship between famous 17th-century Spanish painter Diego Velazquez and his black slave, Juan de Pareja. Written in first person as if Juan is really telling his story, it is the chronicle of much of Juan's life and his colorful experiences as apprentice to a master painter.

There are many excellent aspects of this book, yet I think that the "strength" of the character of Juan is the book's biggest asset. Many books that are simply first person narratives are dry and boring, yet one could never complain of boredom while reading I, Juan de Pareja.  Juan's intelligence shines through in every page and his intuitiveness fills the book with detail. Also, his struggle to paint (because Spanish slaves at the time were forbidden to practice the arts) is fascinating, suspenseful, and ultimately inspiring. This book would not be a 5-star read without a strong character like Juan.

Historical detail also adds great richness to the book. Author de Trevino has captured the mood of 17th century Spain perfectly, and her accounts of Juan's Italian travels fascinate the reader as well. Art facts and descriptions are well-placed, and the reader will find themselves interested in the rich history presented in the book, rather than bored by it."

leonardos horse

A story about the bronze horse that Leonardo Da Vinci never got to complete for the Count of Milan.  A group of modern-day artists picked up where Leo left off and finished his project.

On with the search!  Please comment if you know of other great resources for art.

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