Norman Rockwell made life look interesting. He took the most ordinary and added characters that make us smile. The work of Rockwell and other artists can be appreciated by creating an art appreciation notebook. Years ago at a Charlotte Mason conference, Erlyn Barlocher gave a presentation where she taught how to do this. I’ve may have made adjustments to what she taught there, but here is what we’ve done.
Choose an artist and find prints of several paintings. You will study one painting every week. Using paintings from the same artist for six weeks in a row brings familiarity with that artist’s work. One place to find collections of paintings is in calendars. It's most exciting when I find them discounted because it's several months into the year and they are surplus.
Use the following schedule outline of activities to develop your notebook. There are activities for four days, giving you some flexibility in your school week.
- Day 1 - Memory Drawing. Students study the painting for a couple minutes, trying to memorize as many details as possible. The painting is hidden and the students draw the painting from memory
- Day 2 – Narration. Again the painting is pulled out and they study it for a couple minutes and then put it away. The purpose in this is to train students to pay attention to details. The student then narrates the details of what they saw in the painting. If they are young it may be more effective to have them narrate verbally while you type. As they get older, let them record their voice and then write it down. They will help them become more comfortable with the process the more they do it and soon be writing their own narrations with no trouble.
- Day 3 – Write a Story. This was always the favorite activity of the week. Show the painting again. Let them study it for a couple minutes and put it away. Each student writes their own creative story about what they saw in the picture. They tend to get very creative and sometimes silly. With the younger ones it may be appropriate again to let them narrate their story verbally while you type. Give them as much time as they need. If you are concerned about staying on schedule, plan this activity at the end of your school day or some other time when you have more flexibility.
- Day 4 – Final Drawing. This time you keep the painting out for the entire activity. They study the painting, imitating the details in their own final drawing. They should be given as much time as they need to make this drawing as nice as possible.
Note: Finding the paintings can be the most challenging part of this activity. Do you know other places to find inexpensive prints?