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I originally posted my general method of teaching art in the homeschool as a guest blogger for the Inspired Mrs. L.. Here, I will update this elements of art based approach and add in some more details. This will give homeschoolers a bit more guidance in how to include homeschool art.
Let’s start with some background into the goal of homeschool art education and then go into specifics on how to easily implement it in your homeschool. Finally I will offer all in one solutions if you are too overwhelmed to do it yourself!
Background Information on the Study of Art
Paramount to the study of art is an understanding of the elements of art. While I could elaborate in detail on each of the elements it’s really best if you see examples of the elements as the English language has it’s limits in expressing visual elements.
If you think about the elements of art like the alphabet is to reading you can better understand that artists use combinations of different elements to express themselves and tell their story. The goals of teaching homeschool art is to allow your children, too, to express themselves artistically through the Elements of Art.
Teaching Homeschool Art Step by Step
Work your way through this list one element at a time. Afterwards, repeat each year going further in depth and creating more intricate projects. The process is the same, but the level of knowledge should increase each year.
- Define the element being studied
Work on one element of art at a time. (you can really go in any order) Though I am not usually a wikipedia fan this is one place where you find a very clear definition for each element. Review it in a way your child understands using the infographic as a visual aid.
- Doodle the element being studied
Using just a pencil, markers, crayon or colored pencil doodle some samples of the element. For lines you can have your child doodle angry lines and happy lines etc. Here is a sample picture of doodles for texture. Remember there really aren’t right or wrong doodles here. The idea is to express the concept of texture and that may look different for each person.
- Identify the element being studied in nature
I am a big fan of taking kids outdoors. There’s just something about fresh and air and exercise yields learning. Consider the image below of a butterfly and flower and you can see how easy it is to discuss color– orange, green, purple etc. You could also discuss the Element of value though as well. Look at all the shades of green or consider how the orange is more vibrant on the interior of the butterfly wing. Also note how the purple fades to white on the flower before turning yellow in the center.
- Visit a museum or art gallery.
If you don’t have one nearby you can look online as many museums now have virtual galleries you can enjoy from home. Analyze the works of art you see as they relate to the Element of Art you are studying. Again, there are no wrong answers here. I am not an artist. I have no background in art, but I can look at this Degas and see how the artist used texture through his brushstrokes to give the impression of tulle on the ballerina’s skirts. The background is also stippled which makes me focus on the dancers, but also somehow aware that there is a lot going on behind them.
- Study an artist who used the element being studied
Different artists emphasize different elements in their art. While at the museum have your child select an artist and write a report about how that artist uses the Element being studied. Younger kids can dictate a sentence or two. Elementary students might be asked to write a paragraph and older students can go so far as to write a five paragraph essay or a multi page report. You can do as much or as little as works for you. The important thing is that they are able to identify how a particular artist has used the Element you are studying.
- Apply the element being studied
Have your child do an age appropriate art project and use the element being studied. They should then be able to verbally express to you how they used the element and why it works in their art.
Tools and Supplies
I’ve listed some of my favorite resources and project idea books at the end of the article, but at a minimum it’s important to have some essential supplies available to your kids. Ideally you would have a mess safe area for kids to create and explore art on their own not only during formal lessons, but anytime they want. In this area I would suggest:
- Washable Acrylic
- Water Container
- Multi Media Paper
- Construction Paper
- Card Stock
- Modeling Clay
Adding Art to the Schedule
Finally, remember there is no time schedule to working through these steps. Depending on the age and interest level of the child you may spend many weeks on a single element. Other kids with less interest will speed through. Some will spend hours creating on their own and others won’t bother unless you are guiding them. You should just work through them at a pace that both you and your child find enjoyable. I recommend teaching formal homeschool art for about an hour a week. Obviously, The field trip though will take more time.
Homeschool Art Resources
For those who prefer a set curriculum:
Great books for project ideas:
Inexpensive art supplies: