Art Appreciation

A big part of art class should be art appreciation,  Learning about the great artists and their works is a great beginning to an art education.  If we could go to art galleries every week we would, but sadly, that’s not a feasible part of our homeschool (although we do go whenever we get the chance!).  Instead, we look at famous artwork in art books and online.  And we also use art cards to learn paintings, schools, and play games to help become familiar with the great art.  We have lots of free art cards on our art page, like these printable Renaissance Art Cards.

Art appreciation is more than just looking at art.  To appreciate art, you need to understand what you are looking at, but the first step is to become familiar with art and artists.  Here are some activities you can do with art cards with your kids of any age.

  • Have the kids study one painting for a few minutes, encourage them to try to remember everything they see.  Then take the painting away and quiz them on details.  This helps them to really look at what they see, instead of just getting an overall impression.
  • Choose several art cards and write the names of the artists on separate pieces of paper.  Match the artist with the painting.
  • Get prints of a particular school of painting, like cubism or impressionism.  Have the kids find and discuss what similarities there are between the paintings.  “Can you see anything these all have in common?”
  • Get two identical sets of postcards and have kids match identical paintings to each other, Concentration style.
  • Use prints from two or more different schools of painting and have the kids sort them into their proper categories.  All the post-impressionists together, all the Renaissance paintings together, and so on.
  • Sort paintings according to artists.  All paintings by Degas in one pile, all paintings by Rembrandt in another and so on.  Start with artists that have a great deal of contrast between them, then over time move to artists with similarities.
  • Sort paintings into color families, cool vs. warm.  Discuss the mood of the paintings.
  • Sort them from light to dark.
  • Sort paintings based on subject matter.  Mythology, nature, religious, portraits, and so on.
  • Talk about line in painting and how artists use lines, either curving or straight, short or long, to direct your eye to a certain place, to show movement, to give formality or informality to a painting.
  • Look for shapes in paintings, people with their bodies making triangles, buildings made of squares, and so on.
  • Talk about composition in paintings.  Why are the people standing where they are?  What role does the background play?  The foreground?  How do the trees or buildings on the edges of the painting play into the whole?  Are the people or objects centered in the painting or do they bleed off the edges?
  • Talk about messages or information the artist is trying to give with the painting.  Why are certain objects placed in a portrait?  Why was a particular religious or mythical scenes done?  How are the peoples bodies positioned?  Are the people looking at the viewer or at something else?  Finally, do you agree with the artist’s message?
  • Place a grouping of art cards out and let each person choose their favorite and tell what they like about it.

This is a great beginning to art appreciation. You can get new art postcards little by little as you go through your history or art history studies, matching artists with their time period.  Once they recognize some famous paintings, take an opportunity to go to a museum and see the paintings and artwork there for some real life experiences.  When you’ve spent some time in museums you will see that no reproduction on the internet or in a book can match it.  There is also a quiet, reverent tone in most museums that is neat to observe as art lovers look at the paintings and other exhibits.  Finally, you should also have art books lying around the house or classroom, available for looking through.  Once kids start to recognize famous paintings they will love spotting them.

Printable Art Cards From Layers of Learning

These sets are made by us, are printable, and are free.  They have cards showing great art and companion cards for each piece that explain the art.  These are just a few of the sets we offer for free.  There are lots more on our arts page.  And they all have art units that teach even more about these beautiful paintings in our catalog.

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