Charlotte Mason Homeschooling and Art

One of the most common objections I’ve heard from people when I talk to them about the Charlotte Mason method is: “But I’m not the least bit artistic!”

I can understand why. After all, the Charlotte Mason method is chock full of things that require drawing or anything involving creative work. Think nature study and nature journalling, picture study with narrating back the picture by drawing, and even handicrafts.

But I love how Charlotte Mason emphasizes the need for paying close attention to detail, as a crucial foundation, I would say, more than the actual “skill” of expressing what you see. And the more we learn the skill of observing, the more we will be able to express that in our own output.

So for example, in nature study, we can observe:

  • The way that a tree’s branches grow (are they straight up? crooked? complicated?)
  • The size and shape of its leaves (are they long or short, rounded or spiky?)
  • The similarities between different plants (say, did you notice that the flowers of the acacia tree, ipil-ipil tree, and makahiya look like little cotton puffs? and that their leaves also all look fern-shaped?)
  • The different feathers all on one rooster
  • The different shades of color on one caterpillar
  • The different “containers” or pods of seeds

Then, in picture study, we practice observing:

  • The colors in the painting: are they happy- or sad-looking?
  • The sizes of the items relative to one another: how do the people close to the foreground look compared to those in the background? How far away are they?
  • The different items in the painting: did you notice that little jar off one corner? What use could that have served?

Anyway, this past week, on a whim, I bought some more art supplies, and decided to try oil pastels for my younger son. (We used to do mostly watercolor and colored pencils.) And because I don’t really have any formal training myself on the use of the medium, we turned to YouTube for a simple tutorial. I took a break from my online writing job to join them, and ta-daaaa!

I’m so happy we took the time to do this, partly because it was a refreshing break for me during a very stressful week. And, just to encourage all you other moms, we don’t actually get to do this often! (I wish we did haha. But, working from home has its challenges! And really, part of me wants to chalk up this post to a Mother Culture moment instead of art lessons!)

Anyway, here is what our drawings look like. I’m surprised that it’s hard to distinguish my work from that of my 12-year-old’s.

I guess my parting shot would be: Moms, I encourage you, if at all possible, join in some of the “riches” activities of your kids. I’ve always been greatly blessed whenever I join them, say, in singing hymns, folk songs, or even drawing our picture study narrations. I say this not with the goal of setting an example for our kids (although that works, too), but more for our own soul health! 🙂 We need these regular doses of beauty, and I’m glad to know I can access it anytime in my kids’ homeschool schedules! 🙂


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