Thursday, January 24, 2013

First Grade in Our Home: Artist Study

While Angela rests and recovers from a difficult week of illness, we have somehow managed to stay healthy and are busy with our second week of Term 3.  And I'm finally revisiting the write-up of our first grade plans that I started a few months ago, filling in on the last few subjects that are additions to our weekly AO work.  Today: art study!  I have chosen different artists than the AO rotation partly because art history is an area of interest of mine (my minor in college) so I'd like to hit some of my particular favorites, and partly for the reason Lindafay mentions in the comments to this post at Higher Up Further In:
"This is why I don't follow the Ambleside selections and order of artist study. I like to tailor mine to my children's interests a little bit. This is especially important when first introducing Picture study. If a child's first visitation with art is with a painting he doesn't care for, than it can ruin his love of the subject. Certain boys will appreciate battle scenes or Native Americans such as Geronimo, or Greek tales, etc... My daughters really love Renoir because along with a few of his most famous paintings, I chose some others of his that are about sisters that we thought were beautiful. If I had shown them just the AO selections, they would have never fallen in love with his paintings."
I agree with her, and I'm very happy to choose artists that I think will particularly appeal to my kids at this age.  For my son and daughter, religious themes are very popular; mythological and historical ones would go over their heads, not having a broad background in history and literature to draw from yet.  It makes sense to accommodate that.  I also want to highlight varying styles and methods to keep things fresh and to serve as examples as they experiment in their own artwork.

So here are the artists' works we're working on for Year 1:

:: Term 1 - El Greco.  One of my husband's favorites, and mine too--especially after visiting Madrid and Toledo as a teen and seeing his work in person. :)  I have a close-up of the Madonna de Buena Leche hanging in our family room, and my mother-in-law has a miniature reproduction of "The Burial of Count Orgaz" in her hallway, so these were immediately familiar to them.  They loved making that connection right at the start of our studies.  The other works I chose have subjects of special interest to my children or add variety so as to exhibit El Greco's breadth as an artist.

:: Term 2 - Pieter Bruegel.  Another favorite of mine, and I thought the sweeping landscapes and busy scenes would be a nice contrast to El Greco's rather stark compositions.  Their styles are so different that it was fun to switch gears.  My son in particular was fascinated by all the little groups of people in "Children's Games" and "The Way to Calvary"; my daughter particularly liked his "Adoration of the Kings," as she has been drawing nativities of all kinds since Advent.

:: Term 3 - Degas.  Angela mentioned they were doing Degas this semester, and I decided to join in the fun.  I was looking for something lighter, maybe Impressionist, and he fit the bill perfectly.  Ballet dancers for my daughter, racehorses for my son. :)  We will also take the opportunity to look at some statues and sketches alongside the paintings.  And it will be fun to contrast his self-portrait with the Van Gogh self-portrait that was part of our artist studies last year.

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