How many kids do you know have studied Vermeer on their first day of Kindergarten? If you know Sophie, then you know at least one.
Does studying 17th Century Dutch art at 5 years old sound crazy to you? It probably would have to me too a few months ago. Since then, I’ve learned about Charlotte Mason and her methods. There is a lot I really like about the CM method, but probably what has me most excited are artist studies.
First, I would like to point out that CM isn’t really meant to be started until age 6. However, I had a wonderful conversation with a CM veteran who helped me come up with our Kindergarten plan. It is something appropriate for my 5 1/2 year old, so don’t feel like all 5 year olds should be studying Dutch Golden Age art. Do what works for your family.*
So, here is how it works. You pick an artist to study for a certain number of weeks. I’ve seen some do for 12 or 8, but I’ve decided on 6 weeks at a time, (for now). One artist for each 6 weeks, a single work of art by that artist each week. We are starting with Johannes Vermeer. I chose Vermeer because Girl With A Pearl Earring is on tour and just a short drive from us. We will be going to see her very soon. I have, unfortunately, no immediate plans to travel to the Netherlands again, (where Girl lives at Mauritshuis, The Hague), so this may be our one opportunity to see her.
Last Monday, I pulled out our print of Girl and showed her to the kids. I told them, (let’s face it, mostly Sophie), to look at her and try to remember everything about her. We looked at her for a minute or two, then I turned the picture around. I asked Sophie what she remembered. She remembered things like her pretty lipstick, her shiny earring and her blue hat. I remembered the shadow on her nose, the light reflecting on her lips, her thin white collar and the decorative border on her end of her turban. We turned the picture back over and looked again to see what we had missed. You may not notice at first that there are two white dabs of paint in the corners of her mouth, or there are small pleats on the back of her shoulder. Take a close look and see what you see. I then took our print and slipped it into an acrylic frame, (I can easily change the display) and displayed it for the week. I also changed the desktop background to the image for the week. That, my friends, is a picture study. Sophie will recognize Girl With A Pearl Earring for the rest of her life. Maybe you will too.
The goal is that after getting up close and personal with a few Vermeer paintings, we can see a Vermeer and recognize it as a Vermeer. In fact, the more I learn about Vermeer, the more I find he is an excellent first artist to study. He often reuses props, costumes and models, and his quiet scenes, heavy use of yellow and cobalt are also easy to recognize traits.
Are you ready to go see Girl With A Pearl Earring? She’s at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta until the 29th. Art History Mom has a fantastic post on preparing to take your kids to the exhibit. There are some amazing pieces in the exhibit from several great Dutch painters.
You can also download a exhibition guide on itunes. It shows some of the highlights of the exhibit. There are two options within the app, a children’s guide and an adult guide.
Girl’s Selfie, no duck face, thankfully.
I can’t find who did this, but I like it. If anyone knows, please fill me in.
More Vermeer coming your way soon.
*Go here to check out Simply Charlotte Mason’s Preschool Guide.