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Lotus Stuart has always done art with her kids ever since they were little. When she started homeschooling them she began using a curriculum, but what she soon discovered was with using a curriculum they were doing less art and it was certainly less FUN. In that moment the idea for Art History Kids movement was born.

Join Lotus and me as we chat about how to approach art history in a fun, low-pressure way that your kids are going to love. We talk about why it is important to explore artists (and not just the old ones) and how open-ended art projects can inspire interest and creativity in your kids.

Links and resources from today’s show:

Vincent's Starry Night and Other Stories: A Children's History of ArtPinVincent’s Starry Night and Other Stories: A Children’s History of ArtArt That Changed the World: Transformative Art Movements and the Paintings That Inspired ThemPinArt That Changed the World: Transformative Art Movements and the Paintings That Inspired ThemA Midsummer Night's Dream (Folger Shakespeare Library)PinA Midsummer Night’s Dream (Folger Shakespeare Library)


Lotus: I think it’s a great opportunity for us to model for our kids too, that they are lifelong learners. And so are we, so we don’t have to know everything and we can all learn right alongside them. And that’s a comment that I hear all the time is I’m having so much fun learning about these artists, right alongside my kids, because I never learned this in school.

Pam: This is Your Morning Basket where we help you bring truth, goodness, and beauty to your homeschool day. Hi everyone, and welcome to episode 98 of the Your Morning Basket podcast. I’m Pam Barnhill, your host. And I am so happy that you are joining me here today. We’ll on today’s episode of the show we have Lotus Stewart from art history kids, and we’re going to be talking all about studying art history and also open-ended art projects.

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And I really love Lotus's approach to art history and how it kind of weaves in and out of everything in our lives, but also her open-ended art projects, which the kids actually love so much. We had Lotus as a special guest in our, Your Morning Basket plus community earlier this year. And she did one of the open-ended art projects with the kids and they just absolutely loved it. They were so creative and they had such great results from it. So I think you are going to be enthused about Lotus's approach to art and what it means for you as a mom, as a homeschooler as well.
And speaking of art and music and poetry and everything that is wonderful. We have a very special offer for you. You can come to our website and download our free month of Morning Time Ready-made Morning Time plans. These are the perfect way to introduce your family to Morning Time, or just to get a little help choosing all the great and wonderful things. We choose the books. We choose the poems. We choose the music. We choose everything for you for a whole month of Morning Time.
Goodness. And they're absolutely free. So come to Pam to get your free set of plans. And now on with the podcast,
Lotus is an art-loving homeschool mom of two living in Los Angeles. She has a passion for supporting new artists, introducing them to fascinating artists of the past, and weaving art history into everything she does. She wants to help other homeschool moms do the same so she started art history kids to provide moms with a resource for teaching art history in a fun and engaging way. And she does this through her Artist Guide,s and her studio membership, her newly launched magnificent modern art is a year-long done for you art history course that guides kids, as they learn about a range of diverse artists from the last century, you can find her guides, her membership, and her course at Lotus, welcome to the podcast.
Well, thank you so much for having me. I'm so excited to be here. Well, we think it is great to have you here. We love talking about art and just start off by telling us a little bit about you and your homeschool.
Okay. I live with my family in Southern California and we kind of fell into homeschooling by accident. So I never thought that I would homeschool my kids, but when my son was five and it was time for him to go off to kindergarten, he was just not the kind of little kid who was interested in sitting still or listening or, you know, all those things that would be asked of him in school. So I, I wanna, I don't want to set him up for having a hard time in school. I'm just going to keep him home and see what we can do at home for a year. And then we'll see where it goes from there. So I dove in and started learning a little bit about homeschooling and I got connected to some fun resources.
There was a field trip group in our area park day. So we had all these amazing resources in our area and it was so much fun. And then the next year I asked him, would you like to go to school or do this again and see, wanted to continue? And every year it's kind of been a really short conversation. Do you want to go to school?
And we've homeschooled every year? So my daughter is two years younger than him and she's been in the mix as well. So we have so much fun and she kind of threw me a curve ball because I figured everything that worked for him. I'll just do it again for her. So when she got into kindergarten, first grade, I pulled out that curriculum and it did not really work with her. She’s a different kind of learner.
She's interested in different things. So that was, that was an interesting kind of adjustment to think, oh wait, this is part of the beauty of homeschooling. I don't have to use the same thing for both of them. I can adapt it for each of them, find new things and really meet them where they're at and give them what they need.
So that's been one of the most fun things. I think we, we started out with a box curriculum and then over the years, I've kind of begun to piece together, different resources. We use, you know, one curriculum for literature. I do like own thing for certain, you know, I'll other elements of their education. And then we there in a couple of online memberships and now it's just like this fun patchwork of all these different things.
So it's been really fun to find all of the amazing resources that are out there in the homeschool world. And then to kind of curate this education along with their input and, and learning what they're interested in knowing about and diving deep when we want to, and then going broad when we want to, and just having that freedom and flexibility. So that's kind of our approach to homeschool and we get out a lot too.
So we in the Los Angeles area, we have so many amazing things. We create great places that, I mean, art museums there, science museums, there's kids museums, there's the beach we've been to, you know, studying science at tide pools and just, you know, the Griffith Observatory to learn about astronomy. So all of these real-world things we can just get out and do in addition to the things that we're learning in books and things like that.
So we have cleaner kind of a really, I don't know, eclectic Bohemian approach to homeschool. I guess we use some classical resources and then we go off the script and other areas and just find different things to use for our learning.
I love that. Okay. So a couple of things, like you said, curate an education and I thought, oh,
that is such a great turn of phrase for kind of what we can do as homeschoolers is curate this education for our kids. And then what a Testament to the power of homeschooling that you are able to recognize that your daughter needed something different and say, I'm going to provide that. Whereas, you know, if you had been a classroom teacher, you probably wouldn't have done that.
You know, you wouldn't have been able to do that because of, you know, you've got a bunch of kids in one class and you kind of have to go with what you've got, whether that's, you know, the way that they learn or not. So, so awesome and so awesome that they keep choosing it year after year as well. So what a great story.
Yeah. It's been really fun and I do. Yeah. We just love it. It's been really fun and we've moved around the city a little bit too, and it's amazing because every time we do, we find another playgroup and another park day in other, my daughter's been in the same homeschool girl Scouts troop for, since she was five and she just turned 12.
So there's all these really great opportunities. I think it's so funny when people worry about kids, you know, not, not getting to be with other kids or, you know, not being social enough. And we find the opposite to be true. Sometimes I'm like, you know what, guys, we haven't really done this, like sit down kind of book learning for a few days and we need to, we need to tone back if going out. I mean, this is of course pre-pandemic right now. It's been different this past year for us. But, but yeah, it's so much fun. And I do, I love, I love finding different things, putting things together for them finding things that work for them, different programs. And it's interesting how things that worked, you know, for a couple years just stopped working sometimes and you do have to curate it something different.
And I was thinking of, I don't know if you've ever watched the love boat, but the Julie, the cruise director who was, you know, fun would want to do things and she would, she would just facilitate their dreams. And I feel like that's kind of what, I'm a facilitator of their education. Oh, you want to learn about, my son was interested in world flags. Okay. Let's do what we can find. So I just, you know, hear from them, listen to them and then go from there. And it's fun to explore. There's so much out there. And so many things we can't possibly learn at all.
So really fun to just do the things we're really passionate about and interested in. And then I find when we do it that way, rather than me telling them what I want them to learn, they forget it a couple months down the line. If I'm bringing them things, resources that they're interested in, things that they really want to know about. They remember it, years later they'll bring something up and I have forgotten about it. And they're like, oh, this thing, whatever that we learned a few years ago. And I was like, wow, it's amazing how, when they're really, really interested in learning those things, they just stick with them. So it's so amazing.
Yeah. Yeah. I love that. And yeah, I totally remember Julie from the love boat, which dates both of us. There were some younger moms out there going, what, what was that? So looking up on Hulu or something. Well, why was it important to you to make art history a large part of your homeschooling?
Well, I didn't really know it would be. Again, just kind of came up organically. So when we started homeschooling, I was using this box curriculum and there were some art activities in there and they worked good. But before we had homeschooled, when my kids were really little, one of the things we did is we would go to art museums all the time. And so many art museums now they have these amazing things, activity, centers, things for kids to do hands-on things. And so that was just one of the fun places where we would go, even from the time they were two and three years old. So when we started doing this curriculum and it just seemed like there was a lack of real good hands-on creativity, the art was fine. There was art in the program, but it was less than what we'd been doing before we started homeschooling.
So I thought I want to bring this in. And I started looking for things. I started looking online and seeing what I could find and everything I found was either it was too academic. It was really educational, but not so fun for the kids to explore things on their own, or it was kind of like, crafties like cutting out doing pom poms and sparkies and things that didn't really relate to the artists and kind of missed the point of learning about that artist. So I wanted to introduce them to these artists, to get them to understand, you know, not at that age when they were still little, but just that age, just more about awareness, just here, here are these artists and here's what they did. And then as they get older, kind of bringing in that historical context and the reasons why they created art the way they did and what might've influenced them, and then just people and all of these cool things. And I couldn't find it so I just started piecing it together myself, and it became one of the most fun parts of our homeschool.
So it would I'd find that it would get brought up in different things. We were doing so different, you know, science activities, or if we were reading something or just driving in the car, somebody would see a billboard and mentioned, oh, that reminds me of this art thing that we saw our game. And I thought, wow, it's this great like thread that kind of brings everything that we're learning together and creates this amazing foundation for them, just to be able to, you know, explore their own creativity and, you know, their critical thinking skills and all of these things. So I decided to bring it in because I found it missing in the box curriculum that we were using. And I just wanted to make sure that they were from a really young age exposed to all of this art, because it is kind of like they have such unlimited creativity when they're little, you know, they just look at things in a totally different way. And it's such an opportunity to tap into that creativity and then continue to nurture it as they get older.
I love that. And I love you talking about how it's a thread that ties things together. And there are so many threads like that out there, but by kind of capitalizing on this thing that your kids enjoy doing, and it really can become a thread that weaves together so many different topics and subjects in your homeschool. And you've, you've kind of gone into something that they enjoy. And something that comes to mind is thinking about totally the opposite, but something like weapons. If you have this kid who's obsessed with swords or something like that. Well, you know, you can go back and look through history and find knives and swords and early tools and what they look like in the 17th century and the 19th century and the 20th century, and really kind of capitalize and learn so much about artisans and metallurgy and history. And so many things just from studying that one topic and art is the same way. And actually probably even more robust than my example of swords, but you can learn so much about the world around you and so much about history and just different things, technology and other things through the ages, through the study of art. And if you've got a kid who's interested, it's a great way to tap into that.
Yeah. It really it's so fascinating how it really does and yeah. With any subject, I mean, they all connect and that's, what's so fascinating. And I found like I didn't realize these things until I was in my twenties and thirties.
Like, I didn't make these connections in my mind, these connections, weren't something that, that were any, anything that we were doing in our school when I was a kid. So it's like we would learn history, we would learn literature, we would learn science, we would learn math. Like they were all separate classes and they never, they never came together.
And I think that it's so fascinating to learn about, oh, this art movement was a reaction against this historical thing that was happening for, you know, all of this, this art movement could only have come at this time because of the technology of, you know, paint tubes had been invented now or all these different things that played into each other and make everything click into place in a way that you suddenly start to understand things at a much higher level, you get this bigger overview and then you can really sort of, you know, get into all different areas even better than you can if you're doing them one at a time.
Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So let's talk about a couple of, kind of like sticking points. Cause Lotus loves art and Lotus’ kids love art. So what about families where the kids don't like art or don't plan to pursue any art in their future are even, oh, you get this all the time. I can't draw, I can't make art. Is it important for them to look at art history?
I think Art History is a really fun subject for everybody. And I know that it kind of has this reputation for being kind of stuffy and maybe a little bit elitist and the art museums like you, you know, we think of them as you have to be quiet and you have to stand still and you have to keep your hands to yourself. And those things are true to a certain extent, but like we were talking about earlier, there are so many hands-on fun kid activities that they, that they have now, museums that make it more approachable.
But I think that it's not about, I'm only doing art. If you have kids who want to be artists, because I'm sure that lots of our kids don't want to be scientists, but we're still including science in our curriculum. And a lot of our kids don't want to go on to be novelists, but we're still making sure they know how to spell and they know grammar and they know all of these things.
It's just one of those things that when you understand art, even if you don't want to pursue it. And, and I want to talk to you about learning about art and also making art, because I think those are two different things and they're both very valuable, but you don't have to do them both necessarily. But I think even if you don't want to be an artist, if your kids don't want to be artists, it's still really valuable to look at these artists to get to know them as people. They're fascinating. I mean, the world of art history is like a soap opera. I mean, it's amazing all these stories that come up and why people did things and who they knew and the way that, you know, people were considered so rebellious because they did certain things with color or shape or for like, and it was scandalous back then people were like horrified when they saw this art shows. And now we're, you know, from our current perspective, we can't really imagine that, but it's fascinating to kind of put ourselves in that history and learn about these different eras of time and connects to these art movements and the artists who were part of them, and then just explore art in whatever way makes sense for you.
So if you don't want to be an artist, then you could just learn about art and there's nothing wrong with just studying art, talking about it, observing it. I think that the observational skills you get from looking at art and the verbal communication from, you know, translating what you're thinking in your mind and expressing that in words, those are such valuable skills that are so easy to do with art history. And then those skills that we learn, they, they help in all other subjects. So it's not like the things that you do in art class are just for creativity or just for art. We're doing things in art class that are going to help us in every other subject that we're studying in our schools.
So I love that. Yeah, yeah. Very much so. So like practicing the narration in the conversation and the thinking skills and the communication and all of that stuff. So important. Well, before we get on to talking about making art, because we're going to do that in a minute, let's talk about, we've talked about the reluctant kids. Let's talk about the reluctant mom.
And usually when we come across a reluctant mom, it's because of a lack of confidence in some way, you know, I never took art or art history in school. I have very little background in art. So how can a mom find the resources to grow in confidence with teaching art to her kids?
Well, I Love there's this quote that van Gogh said, and he said, “great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” So I love this quote and I use it all the time in my own approach to homeschool. And if I feel overwhelmed by something where I, like, I remember I remember this when I was about to teach Shakespeare to my kids. And I was like, I learned Shakespeare in school, but I don't feel like it shakespeare expert. And I'm not sure if I need to be qualified to teach them Shakespeare, even at a grade school level. Like I don't want to mess this up. And so I put it off and put it off. And then I realized I had, I had this book on the bookshelf about like how to do Shakespeare with your kids for years.
And one day I was like, we're, I'm just gonna do it. I'm just gonna dive in. And I thought, I'll just do whatever we can get done in 10 minutes, we'll do it. And we ended up having so much fun that summer. We explored a Midsummer Night's Dream. We did all these things that were in this book and it all came from me just deciding I'm just going to do it for 10 minutes and see what comes of it.
And I'm not going to wait until I have it all figured out. And I feel that they probably will never come with Shakespeare and me. I think that that can be universal for anybody. We all have our subjects that we feel more confident in and stronger and more capable of teaching. And then we all have other ones that we're like, Ooh, I'm not sure if I should be the teacher for this.
But I think it's a great opportunity for us to model for our kids too, that they are lifelong learners. And so are we, so we don't have to know everything and we can learn right alongside them. And that's a comment that I hear all the time is I'm having so much fun learning about these artists, right alongside my kids, because I never learned this in school. And then you can be in it with your kids and you're at the same level. And you're exploring this together and you get to see it through their eyes and they can see it through your eyes. And it's like this shared experience that becomes a really long lasting memory because it's new for everybody. So if you're reluctant and you didn't have art in school and you don't feel confident about teaching, it, don't worry. You don't have to be the expert. You don't have to know anything. Just tell your kids, Hey, we're doing this together. This is new for all of us. Let's see what we can find out when we dive in and start exploring it together.
I love this because, and you probably don't know, but this is one of the pillars of Morning Time that we talk about so much. It's the time of day when the mom does not have to be the teacher. She can be the co-learner alongside her kids. And this is wonderful for so many reasons. I mean, one reason is it really does kind of hold off burnout for moms because you're, you're constantly learning something new something you can get excited about yourself, but also because it models for your kids what lifelong learning can look like. And so I just love that you brought that up and that's, that's your attitude toward that whole situation is we can come along beside our kids and learn beside them. And yes, to just get started. Sometimes I think, you know, Nike's got, just do it, but I really think it needs to be like the homeschool mom motto too.
Yes, it does. I think that we're all, I mean, we want to make sure that we're doing things the right way and being prepared and getting all our resources together. And then it delays us sometimes for like in my case for years.
And so, yeah, just getting started, you can do so much and like that Vanguard quote, little things add up, you know, to make this wonderful, great, big impact over time. You don't have to do all like this huge lesson that you've totally researched and planned. Just little tiny things are so valuable. Yeah. Just get started.
Okay. So let's talk about making some art because you talk about on your site and this is one of the things I think that makes you different from other homeschool art teachers that are out there. You talk about the benefits of open ended art projects. So can you define what you mean by that? And then tell me why these kinds of art projects are important.
Yes. So I think with kids, especially in there's, like we talked about before, they're so creative at this young age and they'd have so much inside of them that they are just eager to get out in their visual expressions in their artwork. But so many times art projects are geared towards tutorials or demonstrations. And I, I remember in my art classes in school, it's like we would all do the art project. And then the teacher would put them up in the hallway and every single art project looked exactly the same. You had to check for your name on the back to remember which one was yours. And when we do art this way, it's kind of like there are benefits and there's value to learning a technique by following a demonstration or tutorial or doing art this way in certain circumstances.
But I love to always keep the end in mind when I'm starting something new. So like, what's the point of us doing our, why are we, why are we going to bring art into our homeschool? And it's the reasons probably not to be able to learn how to follow directions. And that's kind of what these tutorials and demonstrations do a lot of times as we're following directions.
And we get a great end result, which is so enticing because everybody wants their art to look good at the end of the project. But you don't really have ownership of that project when you followed a demonstration or tutorial. Whereas when you approach it from an open-ended philosophy, you're kind of giving kids a prompt or a starting point. So you're saying, why don't we take what we learned about this artist and the way they use complimentary colors.
And let's see what we can do with art with that. Or what if we just focused on composition or symbolism or contrast or all of these different things that we might have talked about when we learned about an artist, we're just going to take one thing, be inspired by it, and then use that as a jumping off point for our art projects. So if 10 kids did this art project, we would have 10, totally different looking pieces of art. And the best thing about them is the kids will put their own self-expression into this art now because they might have a starting point and an idea, something to get them going. But there's no external thing to look to. Like, what do I do next? What color do I use? They have to go inside and decide for themselves, start making these decisions and start doing this creative problem solving. And well, if I do this, then this will happen with my art and maybe make a few mistakes and figure out how to change it, to look the way you want it to look or just decide like, oh, this is even better than I planned and then go in a new direction.
So all of these things can happen when you're doing open-ended art. And it's really hard to get this level of creativity when you're doing something with a tutorial or a demonstration.
So love that so much. And yeah, you're right. I mean, my daughter, okay. So my daughter really is an artist. She likes to create art. She likes to draw and things like that.
And she goes to a YouTube looking for tutorials because she wants to know how to do something specific. And so that's her end goal is that specific thing. And that's why those tutorials work great for that. But if you're just exploring art and getting messy with it and learning about different aspects of art from, you know, a particular artists or history, you know, if you're in goal is exploration, then I love the fact that these open-ended projects, that's the way to go, you know?
Yeah, exactly. Yeah. There's different things. And sometimes those tutorials are great. Like I, I'm not saying never to use them. I think that they're so valuable for a lot of things, but I think that a lot of kids, they almost get to a point where they've done so many tutorials and demonstrations that they feel like when they see a blank piece of paper. And when we, if you give a blank piece of paper to a three-year-old, they have no problem marking that paper up. They will just have to blast making art with that paper. But maybe at the age of like nine or 10, they start to wonder what to do. Or I don't want to make it, I don't want to mess it up. I don't want to do the wrong thing. I don't want to end up with an ugly piece of art, but it's like, that's all part of the process and just exploring that creativity. And so what if it looks ugly at the end, you can always get out another piece of paper and do something different next time. And that's the journey of discovering how you make art and as an artist, because it's fascinating to, when you learn about these artists in our history. So many of them, their story is went to college, dropped out of college because they got tired of copying the masters, founded their own art movement because they tried things in a different way. So it's like, it's good to know. Like I think Picasso said, we have to learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them or something like that. So it's good to know how to do the techniques. And it's good to know the foundation and to know all of those things and then take everything you've learned and forget it and just explore your own way and use what makes sense and try things different ways, come up with your own techniques that might be even better. And just give yourself that permission to kind of experiment and get messy and not worry about if it's going to look at, in the end, knowing that the process of making the art is this amazing self-development that you just can't get. If you're, if you're doing a step-by-step kind of art project.
Yeah. I mean, it's good to know The techniques and stuff, but it's also good to have the freedom to explore it. It's two different things and it's good to have both like, you know, think of a scale, balancing the scale on both sides. It's totally like, and so often we just do the technique side and we never get to the other side.
So yeah, I love that. I actually very recently, a few episodes ago, I had a math teacher named Denise Gaskins on, and she talked about the fact that, you know, on one side of one side of the equation, no pun intended. You know, when you think about math, you think about like computation and things like that.
But there was so much more to do with math that we never get to in homeschooling. And I think the same thing happens with art as well. You know, we get to one side, but we never get to the other side. So that's why I love it.
Well, can you give me an example of an open ended art project?
If we have a mom sitting there at home, who's like, okay, well, you know, these ladies are saying, I need to go to the other side. What might that look like? So I always like to kind of see what the kids are interested in first. And so I always start there. So if you're starting, if this is just going to start this from scratch, and you're just going to do an open-ended art project for the first time ever, just ask your kids, you know, if they're interested in a specific artist or a certain kind of art, like landscape or portrait, or do they want to make a still life or do they want to do something abstract and then maybe look a little bit at an artist and how they did that and then ask them, you know, what's, what's the one thing here that stands out to you, or what's the thing here that is really fascinating about the way that this artist did this. And then you can have the kids decide what that one thing is. And I always just like to start with one thing.
So whether it's, you know, using rhythm in art, or like if, if your kids are inspired by Kandinsky and the way that he heard music and that influenced his art, or if your kids wanted to try to do some kind of a, a still life with, you know, a bowl of fruit and then make it look abstract or whatever they wanted to do, just start one starting point and it could be anything.
It can be, it can be totally vague. And that's, and I think sometimes the more vague, the better, because then your kids can really read into it and interpret it in a way that they want to, you know, to create the kind of art that they're going to be inspired to create. So just start with one little thing and then just let them go and explore that whether they, and they can also, you know, when you do this, open-ended art, they make all these decisions. Like what kind of paper am I going to use? Is it going to be small? Is it going to be a big piece of butcher paper roll? Is it going to be a recycled cardboard shipping box? Like, what am I going to paint on and how am I going to make my art?
Is it going to be paint is going to be marker. It's going to be pastels, whatever, all these decisions you start to make. And they all build up to have, you know, at the end, this amazing piece of art that your kids really take this like amazing ownership of because they made all these decisions along the way. So there's no real instructions for like how to do an open-ended piece of art.
You just be inspired by whatever inspires your kids. Let you know, try to try to be the Julie, the cruise director and facilitate them. What art supplies do you need? What can I get for you? Do you know, if it's going to be super messy and you see that ahead of time, maybe set them up outside or with a drop cloth or something to make things not get too messy, but it could be collage. It could be even fruit. We just, you know, explored Ansell Adams in my community. And so it could be photography. Like we sometimes think of art is always painting and drawing, but we could do sculpture. We could do photography, just see what they're interested in. And then just set them free to doing what they want to do, and maybe resist the urge to direct them in any way that you might want to, or just kind of like remind them that they are basing this on an artist because ultimately the inspiration can come from that artist. But the art project might look completely different. Like having, like you would never be able to tell, oh, they were inspired by that artist when they did that work of art, but that's okay because there's some kind of connection there for them and the way they got there, isn't that important. So just whatever they end up with celebrate the effort and not really the end result. That's a really important thing with open-ended art. Cause sometimes it doesn't turn out the way you have it in your mind, and that can be harder for some kids than others.
Some kids, they just brush it off and they just do something else. Other kids are, you know, perfectionist type kids can be really disappointed, especially if they're used to knowing that their art is going to turn out, looking the way they want it to, to have this kind of unknown. And in with those kinds of kids, I would definitely suggest starting with some kind of an abstract art project, because there is no way to make any kind of right or wrong abstract art. So if, if you are, you know, if your, you know, your kids are, you know, predisposed to being a little bit perfectionist in some of their, maybe if this is your first open-ended project, definitely look at an abstract artist to start with and just, you know, remind them that the process of making the art is way more important and more valuable than the end results and what they learned during this art project. You never know where that'll take you. I might show up, you know, 10 art projects from now. You're like, oh, I remember when I did this one thing and it did this effect and then you'll do it again and you'll make, make it more intentional in your art. And then you'll come up with this whole new kind of thing that you're doing in your art and a whole style that's all your own. So you never know where these things are going to lead you.
I love it. Okay. So a lot of art history programs focus on classic artists like your van Gogh and your Picasso and Renoir and you know, all of those old dead guys. But one of the things I've noticed about you is you like to include a lot of modern artists. I was really kind of surprised actually. I don't know why I was surprised because, so we had Lotus on in our membership earlier this year and I gave her the theme of space And I, I wasn't sure what she was going to do with this, but she comes back with Alma Thomas, who I had never heard of before, but I just absolutely was fascinated by your presentation on her. I loved her art and the way she showed movement. And she was like from the sixties and I just would not like I would not have even thought of, you know, I didn't know where you were going with it, but it's not where I, you know, expected. So how do you find these artists and why is it important? What's the value of including modern art?
Yeah. I love to include modern art. And I think, I think the classical art is amazing too and all, you know, the Renaissance and the Dutch Golden Age and all of those in the, you know, classical Greek sculptures and all of those things. They're so fun to look at and learn about, but they can be a little bit hard to approach for kids are kind of unrelatable in a way. So like if you're studying Leonardo da Vinci and then you're like, okay, let's do something, you know, based on what we learned about Leonardo da Vinci.
Well, normally a kid's our project is going to look nothing like anything that Leonardo DaVinci created. It can be a little bit, there can be a little bit of a disconnect, but when you do an artist like Alma Thomas, who did these brightly colored abstract, you know, using shapes and having movement and having, you know, this kind of idea that comes through in a non-representational way, these can be really approachable for kids and kids can create something and be like, yeah, this looks a lot like what that artist did in their art. So they can feel a little bit more successful right off the bat, even if their art skills are brand new and they haven't, you know, built that kind of toolbox of techniques and all of those things that they know how to make art in a more educated, classical way yet. So I, that it's really fun to incorporate modern artists that are even, you know, all the Thomas she's not alive anymore, but even artists who are, and artists who are working on, you know, ideas and themes, things that are happening in the world around us today, because part of our history, that's fascinating is learning how these artists were responding to what was happening in their world and then learning history through that.
But today artists are responding to what's happening in our world right now, and what's happening in different parts of the world. And how are they creating art that reflects that. So it can be really valuable to kind of, you know, learn about current events, things like that, different parts of the world. And I just tend to find artists like that through, you know, there are a lot of cities have really great contemporary art museums that will show this kind of work. I get I'm on some mailing lists that, you know, that have articles that come out about which artists are having new art shows and things like that. So I kind of hear things through that, but there are so many resources online where you can find out about modern artists.
And if you live in a city with a museum, you can ask them, they're always really friendly and helpful, and they always are, you know, insiders and know who's who's around. And who's maybe going to show something in your area that you can go and see, but there are so many fascinating artists now doing all kinds of fun things.
So it's a good balance. Like we were talking about earlier that balance of, you know, the past and then the present as well.
You know, that's interesting because I always tell people, oh, go use your library and go talk to your library. And they want to recommend the kinds of books that you, you know, are looking for and things like that. But you could have that same kind of conversation with the curators at your local art museum. And it had never crossed my mind. So what a great recommendation there.
Yeah. Well, what tips do you have for including art history in a Morning Time setting?
So this is really fun. There are so many ways that you could approach this and going back to your local art museum. I, this is one of my favorite things is every time we visit an art museum, I, before we leave there, I go to the gift shop and I get some postcards. So sometimes they're postcards of things that we saw that day. And sometimes they're not sometimes they're things that we, I mean, if you have heard me talk about going to art museums with kids before you'll know that I recommend you don't look at everything in the art museum one day, cause it's way too overwhelming. So sometimes I'll grab a few postcards that we didn't see in that museum. And maybe with the intention of going back, if, if it's nearby or it's not just to research it later, but I just collect these postcards from art museum gift shops. And then you can have that be part of your Morning Time. You can even find online collections of these. If you don't have a museum nearby to go visit in person, but just to have postcard and you just look at a piece of art and you talk about it again, open-ended conversation, you don't have to, you don't have to plan out any questions to ask them, just ask your kids. What do you see here? And start with that and just let the conversation go where it will just talk about it.
And a lot of times you can, you can look up a couple of fun facts if you want to know about that artist or about the art, but you could just leave it at that. And just that awareness. And just bringing that into your day and looking at the art and talking about it. Sometimes that's enough. You don't need to go further right now.
You can always circle back and learn more later. The postcards are one great way. There's also so many amazing games. Now art are these games. So they're like go fish games or memory games, or there's different puzzles or different things like that. You could incorporate an element like that in talk about the art while you're playing. There are a million storybooks about different artists.
So that's probably the easiest and most accessible place to start is just find a story book about one of these artists and bring that into your Morning Time, read a little bit about them and just like, kind of learn about them as a person, which I feel like is so valuable. Even if you don't really look at their art necessarily the first time you introduced them to your kids, but just get to know them as a person and the reasons for why they made art, the way they did, how did their life unfold and what led them to be the artists that they were just getting to know them and build that connection. Or you could get a big book. Like there are these big volumes of, you know, art history books that are geared towards kids.
I love there's this one called Vincent Starry Night instead of deceptive, because it says has been since starting night, but it's a whole history of art. So it goes for, you know, centuries and there's one or two pages on each different work of art or each artist. And it's just a great introduction. And there are a few others like that.
There's a great one called a history of pictures for children. There's a DK one called Art That Changed the World. So there are all different kinds of books like this. So just doing one page in the morning would be amazing. Or if you have, if your homeschool is a little bit more digital and your technology based, there are some fun apps.
There's one called daily art, where each day, the woman who runs this app, she shows a different work of art and she tells a little bit about it, and this is your toward adults. So I would definitely preview it before you show your kids that day, but 99% of the time, they're fine for kids. Like if your kids are sensitive to certain intense imagery, definitely check it out first. But the vast majority of the art that she shares is like beautiful, wonderful kid friendly art that you could definitely bring into your Morning Time.
So there are so many fun ways you could bring it into your Morning Time, depending on what you like to do and what your kids like to do, and the way you just want to approach it. So you have lots of fun options.
I love it. I mean, just right there, postcards, puzzles, games, books, and app. So, so many fun ways and really good ideas. So well, Lotus, thank you so much for coming on and sharing with us about your approach to art and open-ended art projects. I think it's wonderful and we really appreciate you doing that.
Well, thank you so much for having me. This has been really, really fun and I appreciate being on this is wonderful. Well, I Know so many of our moms are going to be really interested into digging a little deeper into bringing some art history and some of these open-ended art projects into their Morning Time. So Lotus, can you tell us where they can get more information?
Yes. I am excited to explore art with your families and introduce you to easy ways that you can bring art into your curriculum or into your Morning Time, or just into your lifestyle in general, because that's what this really is going toward. That you can go to And I have a bunch of fun resources there, things that relate to different blog posts really quick, just print out and go ideas for doing art with no prep and planning and just a fun introductory way to explore different artists with your kids.
Oh, What a great resource. Well, thank you.
Thank you so much. And there you have it. Now, if you would like links to any of the resources that Lotus and I chatted about today, you can find them on the show notes for this episode of the podcast. That's at Pam We'll have links to all the books that Lotus talked about over there, as well as her download and the month of morning, time, morning, time plans that you can come and get from us for free as well.
Now we'll be back again in a couple of weeks, we're going to be having a very special guest, Mr. Andrew Pudewa of IEW and we're going to be talking all about grammar. And this was one of those podcasts that went into a different direction than what I thought it was going to. Andrew is a fabulous guest. He does lots of research, and I think you are going to really be fascinated by what he has to say. So do come back and check that one out in a couple of weeks until then keep seeking truth, goodness and beauty in your homeschool day.

Key Ideas about Teaching Art History in Morning Time

Homeschooling provides such a great opportunity to curate your children’s education, focusing on things that interest them.

Art History provides a thread by which you can weave many different subjects together. So many things that happened in the world of art are a response or a result of something happening in history or were made possible only because of various technological advances of the time. So, by studying art history, our children can see the broader impact of those events.

We don’t have to be the expert in Art or Art history to teach it to our kids. We get to be co-learners with our children. Additionally, art history doesn’t have to take a ton of time. We can take it in small bits and study a little bit every day. Over time it adds up!

Open-ended art projects are so important and allow children to explore their own creativity instead of just following directions and producing the same project as everyone else. Through open ended projects our children get discover how to express themselves through art.

Find what you want to hear:

  • [2:29] Meet Lotus
  • [6:38] curating a unique education and following your kid’s interests
  • [9:45] the importance of Art History
  • [14:55] when your kids don’t love art
  • [18:05] Art History with the reluctant mom
  • [22:58] defining open ended art projects and why they are beneficial
  • [28:21] an example of an open-ended art project
  • [33:15] value of including modern artists
  • [37:30] tips for teaching Art History in Morning Time

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