A Closer Look at Charlotte Mason-Inspired Fine Arts Credit in High School
Charlotte Mason loved Fine Arts, and Heart of Dakota does too! Like most of you, I have been very pleased by the various areas of fine arts emphasized throughout our guides. I enjoyed the watercolor painting lessons my boys did in Creation to Christ (CTC). I loved the Charlotte Mason-style picture study and art appreciation sessions in Resurrection to Reformation (RTR). My boys and I enjoyed the music appreciation and composer study in Revival to Revolution (Rev2Rev). We also loved the nature journal and related art lessons in Missions to Modern Marvels (MTMM). We’ve happily read, written, and discussed poetry all throughout every guide from Beyond on up! To top it off, our sons have all become better drawers through the years! This is definitely due to Draw and Write Through History!
Fine Arts in High School
As we arrived at writing the high school years, the Fine Arts credit loomed. It was hard to decide in what direction to go in pursuit of that credit. I must admit that with my oldest son I floundered a bit in how to pursue this credit in a way that would be interesting to him. We tried two different music-related approaches with him. One was more successful than the other. Yet, as I looked at my next son coming up, I really wanted to focus more deeply on art appreciation because he had more recently (and thoroughly) covered music and the composers already through Rev2Rev.
A Christian Influence in Fine Arts
I really wanted to have the Christian influence wound within our study of art, as well as have a hands-on component to the program. As part of the study, I wanted some living, narrative textual information about the artists along with some follow-up assessments. I desired for this to be combined with some beautiful picture study/viewing. Last, I wanted students of all levels of artistry to be able to enjoy the program and learn to appreciate art. It was a tall order, and one that took a long time for me to find.
World History’s Fine Arts Credit
I looked a long time (years in fact) before I came to the combination of resources that I included in World History’s Fine Arts credit. We’ve enjoyed this Fine Arts credit with 3 of our 4 sons so far, and we plan to enjoy it one last time next year with our last son! For those of you looking ahead to doing the Fine Arts credit with your own children, I will give details about it in the remainder of this post. We have had such great feedback from families who have completed this credit! We hope you enjoy it too!
Fine Arts: God and the History of Art
The first resource in our Fine Arts: Art History/Appreciation course is the 3 part DVD series “God and the History of Art”. This DVD series is divided into 12 parts. Barry Stebbing journeys through the centuries offering Biblical insights into the great art and artists of the ages.
What is Art?
The Second Commandment
Early Christian Art
Godly Periods of Art/Byzantine
The Dark Ages/Monasteries
The Gothic Period
French Neo-Classical Art
American Artist and Other Artists and Styles
This three-DVD set features beautiful colors, paintings, and classical music. God and the History of Art provides a unique view into many of the great works of art in Western culture. We will integrate this series throughout our chronological study of art history.
Fine Arts: Short Lessons in Art History
The next resource in our Fine Arts program is Short Lessons in Art History by Phyllis Clausen Barker. This book includes narrative biographical readings about 37 artists and/or sculptors. It begins with “Artists of the Italian Renaissance” and ends with “Contemporary Sculptors.” These lessons are the backbone of the program and are paired with Exercises and Activities for Short Lessons in Art History.
Short Lessons in Art History brings art to life with lessons that showcase the successes and struggles of legendary artists. The readings build an appreciation for major artists and art movements from the Italian Renaissance to current times. The high-interest readings on artists and the cultural and personal forces that shaped their work will captivate students. A full-color insert highlights timeless works of art.
Fine Arts: Exercises and Activities for Short Lessons in Art History
Exercises and Activities for Short Lessons in Art History is designed as a companion to Short Lessons in Art History. It includes activities that move from basic comprehension (through fill-in-the-blank, word puzzles, crosswords, and matching) to synthesis (through short answer questions) to deeper insight (through independent writing or research topics). Used in combination with the Short Lessons for Art History text, students increase their awareness of various artists and their work and draw their own conclusions about what makes the work of certain artists timeless. Note: Since the art projects within these lessons are not described or laid out very clearly, and often are overwhelming to perform without more instruction, we omit the “Art Projects” part of the activities as we cover this area in a different way.
Fine Arts: Art Gallery Student Notebook
As narrative as the Short Lessons in Art History text is, it does not shine in the area of full color artwork. While it would seem easy to add to a book of art prints to our package to accompany the text, this route had many barriers. First, many of these types of full-color art print books are very expensive. Next, the prints often contain multiple images with nudity. Last, even after overlooking cost and the lack of clothing issues, many books didn’t contain prints of all of the artists the students will be studying.
To remedy these problems, we designed an Art Gallery Student Notebook that contains at least one full-color print for each artist. The Art Gallery Notebook is used in conjunction with the Short Lessons in Art History readings and is a beautiful collection of paintings by famous artists throughout history. It is a very Charlotte Mason-inspired part of the program!
Fine Arts: Art Projects DVD Set
The final component of our Fine Arts program is the Art Projects DVD Set from See the Light. When I found this set, I knew the final piece of our Fine Arts program had (at long last) fallen into place! This is a 9 DVD Set of art projects designed to be completed at home. Master artist Pat Knepley narrates, models, and teaches each project on the DVD with a Christian emphasis.
Each DVD focuses on a different artist and a different type of art project. Pat neatly divides each project into 4 separate sessions. Then, she takes you through each step of the lesson on the DVD. We have students do one art project session each week, so they complete an art project every 4 weeks. The design of the projects makes this an art class that your students can enjoy and excel at in the comfort of your own home. We plan for sessions to last about an hour with the DVD running about 30 min. This allows time for students to pause and work along with Pat and take their time to be creative and do the project well. Some students may take longer to work.
Art DVD Projects
Each DVD includes art history, art elements, art principles, step-by-step tutoring, and integrated Biblical truths. Students end up with a portfolio of 9 completed projects as part of their Fine Arts study. Artists and corresponding projects are as follows (Art History style and medium listed in parentheses):
Tiffany Window in the style of Louis Comfort Tiffany (Tiffany Windows: Marker)
Repeated Sweets in the style of Wayne Thiebaud (Pop Art: Watercolor)
Paper Jungle in the style Henri Rousseau (Naive Art, Collage: Paper Collage)
Pointillism Fruit in the style of Georges Seurat (Pointillism, Impressionism: Still Life)
Poppy Collage in the style of Georgia O’Keefe (Realism, Abstraction: Tissue Paper Collage)
Dreams of Joseph in the style of Marc Chagall (Surrealism, Symbolism, Fauvism: Wet-on-Wet Painting)
Horsing Around in the style of Edgar Degas (Impressionism: Chalk Pastel)
Peaceful Seas in the style of Winslow Homer (Realism: Mixed Media)
Sunflowers in the style of Vincent Van Gogh (Post-Impressionism: Oil Pastel)
Two Options for Earning Fine Arts Credit
The last benefit to our Fine Arts program is that there are two options for credit with this program. The first option (and the recommended option) is to earn one-full credit in Fine Arts: Art History/Appreciation by using all of the resources outlined above and scheduled in our guide. The second option is to earn 1/2 credit in Fine Arts: Art History/Appreciation by omitting the Art Projects DVD Set. This option utilizes all of the remaining art resources outlined above, but omits the once weekly art project session. We only recommended this option if you have already met part of your Fine Arts requirement some other way, or if your state only requires 1/2 credit in Fine Arts.