The Hidden Art of Homemaking – Chapter 4

Painting, Sketching, Sculpting

Hearing these words conjures up images in my mind of the quiet artist, easel standing at attention, paintbrush poised. Or pad and pencil in hand, waiting quietly for the shadows to fall just so, in order to catch the view in the perfect light. Or up to the elbows dirty, messy with clay-mud. Professionals. Amazing talent. Not like me.Coneflower 3

But if I am created in the image of the Creator, well then, maybe there is a hint of that talent hidden somewhere deep down within. Or maybe not so deep. Have I explored the possibilities? Tried my hand at mixing colors on the canvas? Shading in pieces of fruit I’ve scribbled out or outlining spring flowers in a journal? How fun and freeing it must be to play in the ‘mud’, just because.

As a girl, maybe 12 or 13 years old, I picked up the T.V. Guide and came across an advertisement that proclaimed “If you can draw this little doggie, you, too, can take our art school correspondence course!” (or something to that effect). I did it. I drew that little doggie. Not half-bad, either. I sent it in to be critiqued. They responded with a note (a form letter I am sure) that said “Good Job!” with another exercise enclosed. This one was a bit more difficult. And you know, they liked that one too. I could just keep right on going. For a price.

I was so frustrated. “What if I’m not any good. They only want my money. Thousands of people send these things in and I’m sure mine aren’t really any better than anyone else’s.” I saw obstacles and so I did not pursue.

Whoa, this is turning into a sad and pitiful story! Not really. I never did attend art school, but that little pat on the back I received all those years ago motivated me to pick up paper and pencil from time to time. I’ve tried my hand at a little painting and I thoroughly enjoy a good crafting project. I’m no professional artist, but I do enjoy ‘creating’. You will not see any of my creations in a museum, but they bring joy to those I share them with. There is something fulfilling and enriching and healing when using your own hands to bring to life your own ideas that flowed from your own mind, your own heart, your own soul.

sketch by my Caitlin-girl Several of my children are 'self-taught' artists. They have had paper and pencil available, I gave them opportunity and encouraged them to give it a try.

sketch by my Caitlin-girl. Several of my children are ‘self-taught’ artists. They have had paper and pencil available, I gave them opportunity and encouraged them to give it a try.

Now, what about REAL art? You know. Those paintings that hang in the Louvre. Masterpieces by DaVinci and Michelangelo and Degas and Monet and Van Gogh. How do we discover, enjoy, experience these forms of art in our home?

Living way out in the country and having a large family does make it more difficult to see great works of art in person – add up the cost of 8 or 10 tickets to a major art exhibit. A few years back our family traveled to the big city to see something like a display of Van Gogh paintings, taking advantage of Free Admission day. The nearby University also has museums open to the public. These make for wonderful family or homeschool field trips. The are beautiful books available at the local library we can browse through. Now with internet available, we can research any artist and his works in the comfort of our own homes.

'The Artst's Son' by Rembrandt

‘The Artst’s Son’
by Rembrandt

In our homeschool we have used a set of cards showing examples of paintings by famous painters. Every week or two weeks I pull out a new one, the kids and I discuss the painting, the artist, his life, the subject and medium. I leave it posted where everyone can view it as they pass by. It becomes familiar to them that way. You can do this same thing with postcards available through art museums or borrow books on particular artist or style or medium and leave them open on the coffee table.

Young ones LOVE to create, explore with different mediums, share what they’ve made. Recently, my girls used ‘melty beads’ to create a sweet little dish to hold jewelry and trinkets. A gift for a friend. (You can find the instructions here.)

The two younger boys wanted to make a gift for another friend who is really ‘into’ legos.

I demonstrated for them how they could use basic shapes and draw a pretty good likeness of a lego-man. They applied the lesson and produced a unique and personal gift, signed and dated just like the ‘masters’ would have done.

With nice weather finally arriving, we are looking forward to starting nature journals as we get outdoors more. We’ll draw what we see. The more we do, the better we’ll get, the easier it will be, and the less intimidated we will become.

There are many ways we can include ‘Hidden Art’ in our everyday life. Adding your own personal style and flourish to a handwritten note will brighten the receiver’s day. Drawing a tiny illustration on a shopping list, or a swath of color to the day’s to-do list will bring a smile to the face of the one carrying out the otherwise mundane task.

chore board

Long ago I made out little chore cards for my kids and added my own amateuristic images for the ones who could not read. All grown up now, they still enjoy those little doodles. Even stick figures can be drawn to illustrate your ideas. A fun and personal way to engage your children in storytelling.

Beatrix Potter’s classic stories came about from letters she wrote to a young boy who was ill – can you imagine how alive those letters must have been, with her beautiful watercolor illustrations and sketches?

Looking back at the length of this post, you can see this chapter is one close to my heart. You’d think there would be ‘art’ seen all over the place. Or that we would have a pencil or paintbrush in hand all the time. I’ve sadly negleted this form of expression, but we are working at ‘doing’ a little each day. It really does enrich our lives!

Summer Break is a wonderful time to ‘do art’ or try out something new. Do you and your children sketch or paint together? How do you incorporate ‘art’ in your homeschool?

You’ll find the complete list of posts in this series HERE.

this post will be linked to the Book Study hosted by Cindy at Ordo Amoris


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  1. What’s the story of the flower paintings at top? I love the wide variety of art mentioned just in this one post.

    • I’m glad you stopped by, GretchenJoanna ๐Ÿ™‚ The flower paintings are the result of my attempt to teach myself the One Stroke Painting method. I will be posting about that more this summer, but if you’d like to see more you can go to this link:

      Thank you for your sweet comment – I feared this post was a bit long, but didn’t know how to cut it down. There was even more I wanted to add but decided enough was enough. Looking forward to reading everyone else’s posts!

  2. Your daughter big cat is very lovely! I also have little hastily-sketched things we used when the kids were little, never really thinking they would be used year after year, and now they are “family institutions.” The kids wouldn’t have it any other way. Clearly, you have done much to inspire your children. Even playing the “Masterpiece” game is a pretty good way for kids to become familiar with some of the great works!

    • Thank you Mary Kathryn ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ll pass on your compliments to my daughter and other children. We also have ‘family institutions’ that my now grown children are especially attached to. Really makes life and family celebrations fun.

  3. Loved the sketch of the tiger …. she is very talented. Thanks for all the reminders of the various art forms we see in our every day lives. I get so tunnel-visioned when it comes to art that I forget there are tons more ways we express ourselves which truly is art.

  4. Yes….the Tiger!!

    Your drawing entry story reminded me that I once did the same thing with a poetry contest and I still feel a little affirmed by it too. I wonder what that means about the human spirit? Makes me want to encourage my children more.

    • Thank you, Cindy, for your sweet comment. As far as the human spirit goes – I’m afraid mine still seeks the approval of men way to often. I agree, it does make me want to encourage my children more. That’s why I’m enjoying this book study so much. It’s making me take a good look at the ruts we are in.
      Hope you are enjoying that beautiful ocean view ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I love how you are incorporating art appreciation into your home with the little cards. And I think it is wonderful to just have materials available for kids to experiment with.

    Love the Lego man cards! My guys loved Legos long after other tors were laid aside.

    • Thank you, Barbara ๐Ÿ™‚ it really does take little things to inspire the children. This chapter reminded me of many ways we can give our children exposure to beauty and art.
      They never really outgrow legos. My adult boys still enjoy creating with legos!

  6. Whenever my students would mutter something like, “But I’m not creative,” as an excuse not to try a project that was “out of the box,” I would scoff, “Yes, you are. Everyone is creative. It’s just a matter of uncovering it.” And I really do believe that. Being created in the image of God, who is the ultimate Creator, I believe that everyone has that creative bent. In fact, at the beginning of every school year, I would show my students Sir Ken Robinson’s TedTalk on “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” (As a homeschooling Mom, I think you might find it fascinating, and perhaps it affirms some of your motivations behind homeschooling.) But as a classroom teacher, I always tried to make a room a space where students were not afraid to be wrong. Where they could courageously step and try something new and unleash their creativity within. I’d like to think that on many occasions, we did achieve that!

    Anyway, reading about your experience with art as a child and how you’re nurturing a love and appreciation for art in your own children just sparked some of these memories from my three years as a classroom teacher. I love the idea of including hidden art in our daily lives. After all, there is art all around us. We just need to open our eyes to see it! Thanks for this lovely and inspiring post, Linda.

  7. Hey Lauren!
    I say AMEN! Everyone is creative in some way or other. I sure wish you were one of my teachers when I was young. I think your philosophy and goals are right on the money. We all can grow, wherever we are, if we have a safe place to express ourselves and to make mistakes and to try again.
    Seeing the world through my children’s eyes teaches me so much. I’m sure you found the same thing when you were teaching.
    Thanks for stopping by this weekend, I always appreciate your sweet words ๐Ÿ™‚

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