- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 22, 2000

Several months ago I came across a home-schooler's dream at a yard sale. A retired public school teacher was selling a lifetime's worth of books and resources. An art teacher for years, her collection included everything from arts and crafts to Monet and Picasso.
A small two-volume set, "Great Artists," by Jennie Ellis Keysor, caught my eye. Published in 1899, the books highlighted the lives of eight great artists. I purchased the set along with a number of other titles, took them home and promptly forgot about them.
When I began planning our new school year in June, I had to decide what we would do for art. Although I have several art appreciation books in our home-school library, I have never done more than arts and crafts or art lessons with my children. I thought it was about time we did something new, and I remembered my yard-sale finds. With the Keysor books as the foundation for our study, I decided we would take a look at the lives and works of some of the world's greatest artists.
My biggest concern with studying art in history was what to do about nudity. I picked up several books in the children's section of the library that contained nudes. Unfortunately, most of the great artists have some nudity in their collections. My advice is to review the books and Internet sites you plan to use before your child has access to them. I paper-clip shut the pages that contain nudity, and navigate the Internet with my children.
As I searched for additional resources, I was amazed at how much is available. One of the best places to begin is the children's section of the public library.Look for an art history book that is easy to understand but informative.
I chose one artist for each month of the school year. After reading about the artist's life and studying several paintings, we will use "Discovering Great Artists," by MaryAnn F. Kohl and Kim Solga, and try our hands at creating an art project in the style of the masters.
Your child doesn't need to know everything about art history or even a particular artist. You can determine which artists, major periods or styles you want to explore. If you choose Jean Francois Millet, for example, what are some of his most famous works? What was the period when he was painting called? You could also look for local exhibits that may include Millet's works. The National Gallery of Art has a Web site where you can access the works of many the world's great artists.
If you are uncomfortable with pulling an entire art program together on your own, a number of ready-to-use art appreciation and history curriculums are on the market. "Child-Sized Masterpieces," by Aline D. Wolf, can be used with children as young as 4. Two courses, "Adventures in Art," by David Quine; and "God and the History of Art," by Barry Stebbing; and a book, "Art Adventures at Home," by Pattye Carlson and Jean M. Soyke, are designed for children age 8 and older.
Who knows, with a bit of inspiration and practice your child could follow in the brushstrokes of Cassatt or Rembrandt.
Kim Huber, a mother of four children, has been home-schooling for 17 years. She and her husband serve on the Christian Homeschool Association of Pennsylvania's board of directors. She can be reached by e-mail (CHAPKimH@aol.com).

More information:

Book series
"Art for Children," by Ernest Raboff, Doubleday & Co. Inc. (This series is out of print but can be found in many local libraries.)
"Child-Sized Masterpieces," by Aline D. Wolf, Parent Child Press
"Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists," by Mike Venezia, Children's Press
Books
"Art Adventures at Home, Volume III," by Pattye Carlson and Jean M. Soyke, At Home Publications, 1999
"Child's Book of Art: Discover Great Paintings," by Lucy Micklethwait; D.K. Publishing, 1999
"Discovering Great Artists: Hands-On Art for Children in the Styles of Great Masters," by MaryAnn F. Kohl and Kim Solga; Bright Ring Publishing, 1997
"Month-By-Month Masterpieces: Explorations of 10 Great Works with Step-by-Step Art Projects," by Bobbi Chertok, Goddy Hirshfeld and Marilyn Rosh; Scholastic, 1996
"Exercises and Activities for Short Lessons in Art History: 35 Artists and Their Work," by Phyllis Clausen Barker; J. Weston Walsh, 1992
"Sister Wendy's Story of Painting," Sister Wendy Beckett; D.K. Publishing, 1994
"History of Art for Young People," H.W. Janson; Harry N. Abrams, 1997
Courses and games
"Adventures in Art," by David Quine, Cornerstone Curriculum; 972/235-5149, www.cornerstonecurriculum.com
"God and the History of Art," by Barry Stebbing, How Great Thou Art Publications, 800/982-3729, www.howgreatthouart.com
Artdeck, Aristoplay Games; 800/634-7738, www.aristoplay.com
On line
National Gallery of Art, www.nga.gov
The National Gallery London, http://nationalgallery.org.uk
Kids Art Art Teaching Supplies, www.kidsart.com

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