Why study fine art? And more importantly, should Christians study fine arts? While it might be a little bit daunting and controversial, it is imperative to include the study of fine arts in our homeschool studies. We are creative beings made in the image of God, and our creativity is a reflection of God’s goodness. The beauty of a great piece of fine art is a testimony to God’s creation.
Fine Art Appreciation
When I enrolled in college, one of the classes I was required to take as a part of my general studies was Fine Art Appreciation. I remember really enjoying the class, but feeling like I had been missing a part of my education up until then. I don’t really know why, because I remember going to Art Museums and seeing great pieces of Art as a kid, but I don’t remember ever doing an in-depth study of any of the famous artists throughout my schooling. I’m sure my momma tried to make me a rounded individual, but for some reason I was lacking in the world of art appreciation. So one of the things I am very intentional about in our homeschool is exposing my kids to the great artists of the past.
Why study Fine Art
I can understand why some homeschoolers might be a little bit leery of exposing their children to some works of art. Some works of art depict scenes that we might object to. Many of the great artists of the past have lives that were not God-honoring and I want my kids to admire men and women of great character. But I think we do our children a disservice when we avoid art appreciation. Here are three reasons I think we should still study fine art, even when the artist was sinful.
He that is without sin…
We are all sinful. Since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, men have struggled to do right. I think most of us are striving to be the best people that we can be. But no matter how hard we try, we still fall far short of perfection. So to throw away a person’s life work because they were sinful seems almost like hypocrisy to me. You don’t have to glorify (or even mention) the artist’s sin, but it can be a teachable moment about God’s mercy and willingness to use imperfect vessels to complete his work.
Created in the image of God
I believe that human creativity is a reflection of God’s creativity. Scripture says that we were created in the image of God. In my feeble non-theologian mind, that would include creativity. When I hear someone say, “I don’t have a creative bone in my body,” I cringe inside. I think we are all creative in our own ways. Maybe you are able to create great art. Maybe you are creative in other ways such as photography, gardening, or leather work. We all have different interests and talents, but we all have a God-given ability to be creative.
He has made everything beautiful
Beauty in all of it’s forms are a reflection of God’s wonder and majesty. When I view a beautiful sunset behind the mountains of my home state, I am in awe of God’s creation. A beautiful painting will evoke the same reaction. Most fine art is just an artist’s rendition of the beauty that they see around them – God’s creation.
How We Study Fine Art
Ok, so I’ve made the case for why we should study Fine Art. Now for the how. It really doesn’t have to be difficult to expose your kids to great art.
One day a week, we take about 5-10 minutes during our Morning Meeting to view and study a piece of Art. I do one artist per 12-week term, so we look at about 10 or 12 of the artist’s painting during the term. Sometimes we do a short review of the artist’s life, but not always. I print a copy of each painting for each child so that they have their own collection of paintings.
During our morning time, I introduce the piece by telling the title of the work, and reminding them the name of the artist for the term. We take about 5 minutes to quietly view the piece, and then we go around the room, and tell what we noticed about the piece. My kids love to notice something no one else did, so they are very attentive to the details. They are a little competitive that way!
A while back I came across a video by Sonya Shafer of Simply Charlotte Mason that explains in detail how Charlotte Mason would have done Picture Study. She also has a great blog post that tells more about how to include Picture Study in your homeschool.
So do you teach fine arts in your homeschool? How do you deal with the more unsavory aspects of Fine Art?