Google The Unplanned Homeschooler: A review of 'Famous Artists: Renaissance to Surrealism'

Monday, May 16, 2016

A review of 'Famous Artists: Renaissance to Surrealism'

One of my most memorable experiences as a homeschooler was taking my children to see the traveling exhibit of Claude Monet's water lilies triptych at the St. Louis Art Museum. These three massive paintings, each canvas 7 feet tall and 14 feet wide, are owned by three separate museums in the United States. They had not been shown together since the 1970s, and the chance to see them as they were meant to be was an opportunity we could not miss.

Claude Monet's Water Lilies from the St. Louis Art Museum

I was awestruck, standing in a darkened room with a limited number of guests, silently taking in the beauty of an artist's work I had only seen in pictures and prints. I took my glasses off and looked at the canvases as Monet would have looked at them, or close to it, as my vision is not quite as impaired as his was when he painted these masterpieces in his old age. As the colors converged in my blurry sight, the images took on new life and I could almost believe that if I reached out my hand, it would permeate the water. I felt deeply connected to the art and the man.

Not everyone has a chance to see incredible art up close and have this sort of moving experience. I know, growing up in rural Oklahoma, my opportunities were limited, at least as compared to those who live close enough to stop in at a major museum whenever they'd like.

Maybe that's why I am so impressed with the Famous Artists: Renaissance to Surrealism unit study by Beth Napoli of Loving Learning Freely. This interactive unit study introduces kids to artists like Monet, daVinci and Picasso, whose work they probably already recognize, but also includes artists like Klimt and Dali to introduce forms which may be less familiar.

Gustav Klimt's Kirche in Cassone

With several artists to study, each representing a different and unique style, students can become familiar with a wide range of artistic movements, spanning more than four centuries. And the interactive elements in the study will help kids feel more in touch with the art than just flipping through the pages of a book.

Your students may not have a chance to see the work of these great masters in a museum any time soon, but they are sure to get excited about building and sharing their own virtual gallery. Having completed a unit study like this one, your whole family will have a more complete appreciation of the experience the next time you get to visit a museum in person.

Look for the Famous Artists: Renaissance to Surrealism unit study on the Loving Learning Freely blog, in the Online Unit Studies section.