Tuesday, 10 March 2015

A Shortcut to Art Appreciation

It's only through my daughter's Montessori education that art ever entered my consciousness.  I don't recall ever studying art or music appreciation at traditional school, do you?  Montessori places huge value in art as a form of expression, abstraction and imagination.  
The classrooms use nomenclature cards to build an awareness, vocabulary and interest in artists' works.  I've seen many great homeschool resources online for you to DIY your own art card sets.  Basically you download, print, laminate and cut  -- I've tried it.
My laminating machine is a grossly under-utilised capital expenditure ever since.
This is my working-mom solution:

That's our art-appreciation shelf up there.  Thankfully there are some wonderful art books nowadays that make art appreciation so interesting and easy.  Even I'm excited to get a little lesson in culture!

A few of our art books on rotation

In the last five months, it's been our practice to reach for one of these books and read a few pages as a bedtime story.  I posted this on Instagram some months back:

My fellow-student in art-appreciation, reading ahead of me.

The sad truth is that I didn't get these books in local bookstores.  The leftmost was from The Learning Basket and the rest I got in Kinokuniya during some business trips to Singapore.  Good-luck finding them amid the shelves and shelves of cartoon characters in Manila's stores.  Care to join a petition for bookstores to carry more literature, less commercial crap?   

I did find some great sticker art workbooks in Fully Booked which I happily deconstructed for some leave-behind activities:

Even I can cut out sticker shapes in three minutes!

Sometimes we do them together during our floor time at night, and sometimes I come home to this:

We talk casually about the art - just simple stuff we notice like shapes, colors, medium, style, and our feelings about it.

When she's gone through the entire workbook, I rip out the pages and use her art gallery wall to display them.  Yaya does the sticking!  

Andy Warhol Gallery

Paul Klee Gallery

Ladybug Girl was at a branch of Sonja's Cupcake for a gingerbread-decorating session last Christmas.  There were art prints around the cafe and she named Leonardo da Vinci and Andy Warhol.  It works!

We go to the Ayala Museum every time there's a new exhibit on the top floor, and even I'm building up some awareness and appreciation of Filipino artists.  It sounds weird, but being a mother has made me excited to know art with Ladybug Girl as if it were my first time.  

I guess because it is!  

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  1. OMG, I love your little art area! Plus I really appreciate when you say that you just talk casually about the art -- no pressure, just discussing colors, shapes, ... and especially feelings they invoke in us. This is so important, and I realize that when my older son really has trouble expressing himself verbally using a wide range of vocabulary. And I realize now it's because I never did such kind of exercises with him. So keep doing it mama!!! :)

    1. You've given me more reason to keep going. Thanks, Elaine!

  2. My thoughts exactly, Trina! I stumbled into Art Appreciation only through homeschooling my daughter and I've ever since wondered why we were never taught Art this way in school.

    Be on the lookout for Laurance Anholt and James Mayhew's books on the Master's too. I think we have some of Anholt's books in the shop.

    Oh, and where do I sign that petition?!

    1. Thank goodness for sources like The Learning Basket, Sanne! And homeschoolers! Haha


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