03 May Enjoying the Feast
I knew that art study was important for our homeschool, even for our hearts. We value the true, the good, and the beautiful and pursue it relentlessly. So I got the cards, the ones that showcase some of the most famous art in the world, painted or sculpted by some of the most famous artists in the world. And we looked at them. The same one every morning for a whole week. But after two weeks of staring blankly at two different pictures, I went in search of some direction. I found art questions: “What kind of lines did the artist use?” “What’s the season in this painting?” “What’s happening just outside this painting?” “What would you like to ask the artist?” “Where are the shadows?” and on and on. We asked 1-2 questions every day. By the beginning of the fifth week, my children would look at a painting and say, “I see straight lines; there’s a shadow on his face; it looks like it’s spring; and I wonder why he’s in the kitchen.” We were having conversation. We were looking at real art. But. I don’t know. It felt flat. Forced. Not savored. Not enjoyed. But I just didn’t know what to do differently. Art is not my forte, so I felt like I needed to push those basic fundamentals because really, what else was there? #sorryartists That was back in September and October. But I believe in what we do, in the long haul versus the short term, and so we just kept on doing.
I’ve read a few books since then. Watched a few YouTube videos. Skimmed some articles. We’ve also been practicing the skill of narrating the stories that we read. This is not picking apart stories, not sharing opinions. This is simply stating what is. Speaking back a story to another person shows how well you know that story. And then I watched this video:
And the heavens opened. There may have been a dove. At very least a beaming ray of sun. And everything changed for our art appreciating.
We now know each art piece we study. We have a relationship with it. And whether we like it or not, it has found its way into our hearts.
We haven’t used this method for a month yet, but here’s where we are. Mondays, we observe. Tuesdays, we observe, turn the card around, and state at least three components (including their color and location)–psst, that’s a narration. Wednesdays, we narrate the painting again and then we color a coloring page version of the painting while looking at the painting. We often watch a kid-friendly video on this day as well, only because the kids love to hear the details behind the painting that I just don’t know offhand. Thursdays, another narration and another coloring, this time without looking. And Fridays, we draw it. From memory. I was shocked and totally teared up (did not) ((did so)) that first week. BECAUSE THEY ACTUALLY DID IT. (As an aside, I could see us eventually doing two days of drawing instead of two days of coloring. Still experimenting.)
For the record, I believe the actual art terms are 100% useful and will actually enhance our conversations of this art. But it’s after the relationship is formed that we can start talking about the kind of lines and the technique of the brush stroke. For then those things will have meaning.
And herein lies the difference between knowing and loving. We can adequately pick something apart, find the small details to focus on–curved lines, dark sky, looks cold, but can you love something you haven’t actually spent time with? What about these details–Jesus died for me, the God of the Bible is the one true God, the Bible is the inerrant Word of God? Do they mean anything to you today if you don’t let them dwell with you?
The knowledge informs the love; the love drives the pursuit of further knowledge. We must have both.
I had spread this feast of good art before my children. We were looking for the truth in it. But we had forgotten to enjoy the beautiful.