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Art for the Homeschool

About The Author

Homeschooling for a dozen years now, Tricia faces a daily dose of chaos with five children. She is author of A Simple Start in Chalk Pastels, Sunday Savings and Southern Celebrations. She shares art lessons, recipes and all things practical at Hodgepodge. She and her husband, Steve are also owners and authors at Curriculum Choice and Habits for a Happy Home.

By Tricia Hodges

“Well, I’m just not artistic.”

I’ve heard that statement rather often from other homeschoolers who are at a loss as to how to incorporate art into their homeschooling. Since adding in the joy of art is one of my passions, I’m here to encourage you that building this habit is not hard. You did not have to inherit the art gene to pull out the paint brushes.

Like most mothers, I really don’t like messes either. And although I didn’t inherit my mother’s natural artistic ability, over the last several years my mother (Nana) has taught the children and me how to simply enjoy art. She has helped grow a love for art in our homeschool.

Nana teaches us in a very messy medium: chalk pastels. They spread, they smudge, and they stain. But they are beautiful. Blessedly messy. And forgiving. If we make a mark we don’t like, we simply blend it into the picture and layer another color.

Simple Supplies

Art supplies can be very simple. For our times with Nana, all we need is chalk pastels and paper; a beginner set of chalk pastels is less than $10 at the local arts and crafts store. (Nana shares specifics in “Pastels Plus Links to Tutorials.”)

We are slowly adding to our stash of art supplies. Crayons and watercolors were about all we had when we started homeschooling. Based on what our children enjoy and the needs of studies, we now have acrylics, colored pencils, tempera paints, chalk pastels, and markers that smell like scratch and sniff flavors. (And even glitter!) We are expanding into Sculpey clay and more.

For paper, we often pull some from the printer tray, open our nature journals, or enjoy our favorite Canson brand. Watch the sales, take your coupon, and/or simply determine to make art supplies part of your curriculum expenses.

Be Prepared for a Mess

Take a deep breath. Part of being free of the fear of art mess is to be prepared. Before we get started, I always have the baby wipes handy. We enjoy our art time around our kitchen table. The table is well used and easy to wipe; it’s also just steps away from the kitchen sink. For acrylics and other liquid paints, we use washable, plastic palettes. (Nana describes the palettes and where to purchase them in “Acrylics Plus Links to Tutorials”.) Sometimes we wear smocks; often we just wear something we don’t mind getting stained.

Start with Subjects You and Your Children Enjoy

The art medium is not really important. What is important is growing a love of creativity. We find success by picking subjects we enjoy—maybe a character from a children’s book or a seasonal focus such as pumpkins. Our art time often complements our nature study.

Provide time for free, unstructured art expression. Our children started out with paint-with-water papers while they were still in the high chair. Truth be told, my 15-year-old enjoyed some paint-with-water time with her 4-year-old brother just the other day. My busy Middle Girl often asks to pull out the acrylics and just paint whatever comes to mind.

Provide Display Opportunities

It is exciting for children to receive feedback on their creations. We participate in our state fair, entering art work in multiple categories. Our homeschool group sometimes holds an art and photo competition. Plus, there are several invitational shows for homeschoolers, such as HSLDA’s periodic art and photography contests and the quarterly Art for Homeschool online show. And that display on the family fridge goes a long way!

Art Study Enhances Other Subjects

Nurturing a love of art enhances studies of other subjects. For example, our Harmony Fine Arts studies encourage us to investigate art appreciation and technique, whille a recent Home School Heartbeat series explains how to reinforce history study through art.

I hope some of these simple tips will help you add the joy of art in your family.

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Additional Resources

Some of Tricia’s and HSLDA Toddlers to Tweens Coordinator Vicki Bentley’s favorite art resources and more articles:

“Art: A Reflection of Worldview” by Jessica Hulcy

Art Journaling for Beginners by Rachel Ramey

The Power of Paint with Water

• Nature journaling—Sketch the beauty you see, guided by Anna Comstock’s Handbook of Nature Study

Sketch Tuesday, hosted by Barb (Harmony Art Mom) with a new topic for inspiration each week

Drawing Basics by Thomas Kinkade—An Alpha Omega Lifepac for art lessons from a master

Harmony Fine Arts Plans for Art and Music Appreciation—Tricia’s wide age range of children all participate in these enriching studies.

Art for Homeschool—Art ideas, assignments, and contests

“The Arts in Homeschooling” by Marc and Cindy Carrier—The Carriers of Values-Driven Family share some tips from the trenches on how they have managed to cultivate some level of artistic literacy in their eight children, despite the challenges they’ve faced in this area as non-artistic parents.

How Great Thou Art—Barry Stebbing’s award-winning homeschool art curriculum makes learning to draw and paint fun and easy. With time-tested titles such as I Can Do All Things, God & the History of Art and Feed My Sheep, you and your students can learn an array of topics including the fundamentals of drawing and painting, art history, journaling and much more. Resources for all ages, from toddlers to adults.

“Exploring Art” by Kara Murphy

Drawing with Children by Mona Brookes

Kids Create! by Laurie Carlson—Art and craft experiences for preschool through elementary students

Discovering Great Artists: Hands-On Art for Children in the Styles of the Great Masters By MaryAnn Kohl

Adventures in Art: Art & Craft Experiences for 8-To 13-Year Olds By Susan Milord

Artistic Pursuits—A variety of fun art lessons teach both the expressive and technical aspects of art while allowing children to make choices about what and how they will draw, paint, and sculpt.

Art Projects for Kids—Art projects for K-5 and beyond.

Easter art project from That Artist Woman

World’s Greatest Artists Vol. 1 unit study (download)—Volume 1 includes lesson plans, lapbook templates, flashcard printables, art puzzles, and more to become acquainted with eight artists in the Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists book series.

• Mini Masters series, by Julie Merberg and Suzanne Bober. Each board book has simple rhyming text, accompanied by illustrations which are the works of art of a famous artist. In the Garden with Van Gogh, Dancing with Degas, A Picnic with Monet, etc. The works are all listed by name at the back for parents who may not know them all. (Note: The Matisse book does have some stylized nudity.)

Miller Pads and Paper sells a wide variety of art supplies—often at a homeschool convention near you! Check out their featured products for games and books.

Art display ideas (Pinterest boards)—What do you do with all that creativity?

A Simple Start in Chalk Pastels—Nana continues to stop by after work to teach new art lessons to the Hodges family. See photo tutorials for more than 50 lessons in chalk pastels and four lessons in their latest medium—acrylics! Also available in e-book format.

• HSLDA’s online store includes several art resources.

FREE online piano lessons

Mike's Inspiration Station

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This article first appeared in HSLDA’s March 2013 Toddlers to Tweens email newsletter.

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