Art is not a talent I possess. My mom is an artist (oil painting mostly) and my brother is an artist (photographer and graphic designer). I’ve even seen some sketches my dad did many years ago that clearly show he is gifted as well but it skipped right over me! I have creative talents outside of art but the best I can draw is a stick man, so I have never felt much confidence in teaching art to my kids.
In the past, we have done some artist studies and the kids have attended homeschool art classes regularly. This year, the instructor for the homeschool art classes had complications with her pregnancy and the classes were cancelled so I was no longer able to farm out this part of my kids’ education! I’ve been procrastinating on doing any art teaching, telling myself that since we do crafts, it’s almost the same thing.
I had heard of a series of books on chalk pastels that had very good instructions and finally decided to take the plunge. We own two of the books in the series, Chalk Pastels Through the Seasons and A Simple Start in Christmas Chalk Pastels (full disclosure here: I bought the first one and asked Tricia if she was willing to send me the other one in order to try it out and review it and she kindly agreed so I was provided the other one for free but am sharing my honest opinion of how it worked for us).
Before you sit down to do art with chalk pastels, be sure to have some wipes (baby wipes work well) or wet washcloths and paper towels. Also, use art smocks or wear clothes that you don’t mind getting coloured because the chalks stain. And they get everywhere. We also sprayed our finished artwork with acrylic sealer but hairspray would work to seal them also. This is an important step so that they don’t smudge or smear onto other things.
Normally, the mess of the project would be enough to have me not do it again or to not even attempt it in the first place, but this is worth the mess!
Since the books are in ebook format, I brought my laptop to the table along with the supplies and had it there to reference while we worked through the lesson. If you don’t have a laptop or tablet, the lessons are short enough that you could jot the steps down ahead of time or even remember them if your memory is better than mine!
The first one we did was a Christmas star. I was surprised at how easy it was to go through the steps with the kids and have the finished projects all work so well. The other thing that really struck me was how calm my kids were during the art lesson. The relaxing atmosphere this created is actually the main reason we went on to do another lesson the next day and then to do yet another lesson today. I have one planned for tomorrow as well!
The second one we tried was a winter snowman scene. One of the things that I most appreciate about the book is that is gives the basic instructions but encourages individual artistic expression. You can see from the pictures below how different each of the kids’ pictures turned out. Some added tobogganers, another added a chair lift and a skier, one of them even has the snowman’s head fallen off beside him!
The one we did today was a present and again, the kids all put their own spin on it. Granola Girl drew hers beside a Christmas tree with other smaller presents. Einstein made striped wrapping paper and Dancing Queen drew a picture of Jesus on hers. Miss Optimism made hers in pretty girly colours!
The art sessions have been such a success that the kids have even asked if they can stay at the table longer and work on their own creations. I was blown away by this one made by Snuggle Puppy without a tutorial or instruction of any kind using many of the techniques we had been learning about in our sessions:
I’m loving our morning art sessions and look forward to this becoming a regular part of our homeschooling routine. The kids are finding it relaxing and are learning a lot about different techniques and methods. They are also gaining confidence as they learn.