Bring me to an art gallery and I am in my bliss.
Visiting Paris’ Louvre was a dream, and the Met was divine. Unlike my husband, who brought our two youngest kids to lay eyes on the Mona Lisa, and dragged them back out as quickly as he could get in, I could spend days leisurely walking the halls- maybe even hiding in the bathroom to stay all night!
I spent the day there, then the next day too, while my husband brought the kids to a French McDonalds for French French fries (roll my eyes, eating McDonald’s in Paris!) While they ate French fries, I explored the largest museum in the world, which was once 12th century Phillip II’s fortress.
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My family was also in and out of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City too. I leisurely stood, stared, gazed, and peered at the brush strokes, while listening to the pricey tour guides and pretending to stare at different angles of the pieces as though I actually knew how any of them were created.
I’ve only had one of four kids remotely interested in the arts, and she’s not the kind of kid that would tell me she liked anything that I was giddy about. She just went along without resistance. She and I wandered the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, enjoying Van Gogh and other Dutch artists. She has walked our town’s Art Walk during late summer. She joins me at the Vancouver Art Gallery whenever I trek eight hours to the big city.
That daughter recently returned from a backpacking solo adventure to Mexico where she independently perused art galleries and museums and Catholic cathedrals on her own, just because she enjoyed them.
There are so many ways you can find to teach and explore fine arts with your family. Here are just some of the ways I have found over the years…
How to find Fine Arts study for your family:
1. Hamilton and other stories found on Broadway. Here’s where my husband enters stage left. He has a passion for musical theatre, along with football (aka soccer), American Football, presidential history (despite being Canadian), world politics, and baseball stats. We have attended a few theatre presentations and he has singularly influenced our family’s musical memory by regularly playing Sirius Broadway Hits.
2. Professor Noggin’s History of Art card game. If you feel you don’t know anything about art history, this art card game is an excellent fly over. It’ll give you questions you can research on YouTube. YouTube is replete with art history for kids videos.
3. Drawing pencils and Sketch books. Get the official stuff like pencils and sketch books and you’ll feel more official as you practice drawing.
4. Drawing classes. Or drawing practice on your own, because there is no ‘complete artwork’. Even Picasso’s early practice pieces have been sold through Christies for ginormous prices, and they were valued because of who he was, not because your kindergartner couldn’t accomplish
My own foray into the art world began as a kindergartener. Fat red pencil in hand and the teacher instructed us to draw anything. Draw? I was mortified. I knew this was a recipe for humiliation. I drew what I knew I could draw for sure, electrical poles, the same shapes as Jesus’ cross. It was what I could do. Fast forward thirty years, I signed up for an ‘official’ drawing class (me-time as a homeschool mama of four!) and I discovered that this drawing thing is as challenging as a high school geometry class. Those few drawing lessons were super helpful.
5. Colouring books. You know those meditation colouring books for adults? Well you can find them in any subject. Try the Harry Potter Magical Places and Characters Colouring Books. Or Animal portraits. Or my favourite, Jane Austen.
6. You Can Draw in 30 Days by Mark Kistler. This artist is super practical and engaging for anyone, and will get you drawing no matter how ‘not artistic’ you are. You can learn what you’re doing if you want to read along with his instructions or just follow along step by step.
7. Watch Bob Ross. Besides being a morning meditation if you like (the guys voice is so soothing), he is amazing. In one half hour, this guy gets a piece of art off his easel.
8. Find the Louvre or Metropolitan Museum websites on-line. Naturally, the websites of the largest art galleries in the world are an excellent place to start your fine arts learning. Their on- line shopping options are the best places to find fine arts curriculum too.
9. Chalks, pastels, watercolour art kits. My opinion, if you have small kids, stay away from oils, unless you enjoy cleaning stains out of your kids’ clothes (and I have no idea how to get rid of those stains, so good luck with that). Purchase chalks, pastels and watercolours and have fun.
10. Keep cardboard or white packing boards. So your kids have a piece of official place to draw their masterpieces and you don’t have to buy official canvases. Until, of course, your kids want to buy official canvases to decorate your home, or your chicken coop as mine are presently.
Pursuing my fine arts interests has broadened my children’s worlds, whether they know it or not. At the very least, they will be interesting cocktail party guests when they discuss the reasons Claude Monet’s piece was described as impressionist. They’ll recognize two of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. They’ll recognize Byzantine art by the golden touches. They will certainly grow up to tell stories of their mom’s passion of fine arts into their homeschool worlds.