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Se7en Discover the Great Artists: Leonardo Da Vinci

May 3rd, 2012 · 17 Comments

Last week in our ongoing Homeschool Series I wrote about how we do a little bit of art every day to get us started with school. I thought I would show you how we look at a great artist. I want to say that we are trying to gain familiarity with a famous artist’s work, learn a few facts and appreciate their work and to explore and discover a couple of new arty techniques. This is definitely a time for less is more and a time to have fun, a little bit of an art study that we do over a week, as a family, as we warm up for our school day.


Here you go: Se7en Steps to Study a Great Artist…

  1. Read a bit…
  2. There are heaps of great artist books in our library and this is the time to head over and see just what is available. Reading about a great artist creates understanding and insights into the life of the artist. All of these books form part of a series of Great Artists and they really appealed to my children:

    For my older children the number of available books explodes, but these are the ones that they loved:

    We also went exploring on internet is exploding with “Leonardo for kids” sites, far and away the best site for us to explore was at the Museum of Science. You have to step inside the “Explore” draws at the bottom of the post and you will discover lots of interesting facts, experiments and even printables.

  3. Write a bit…
  4. My kids usually write mini-reports in their journals once a week and when we are studying a great artist then they will do a short biography. I am not expecting epic tales – really just enough to pop onto an index card: The artists name, dates, region they lived in and then one or two interesting facts. Different kids produce completely different types of report and that is fine – as long as they wrote something down!!! Sometimes we turn it into something more – pretend you were in the painting, imagine if you were that artists apprentice… but mostly it is a few key ideas to consolidate the reading that we have done.


  5. Copy a bit…
  6. Somehow copying a great artist always makes one look a little closer at their artwork. Just that careful observing seems to make it so much easier to recognize an artists work. Copying artworks really does seem to facilitate their ability to page through a book and see a painting and recognize a work as that of a particular artist.


  7. Explore a bit…
  8. Most great artists had a few quirks… at this stage it is our job to hunt them down and to peruse them!!! For example Leonardo wrote a lot of his notebooks using codes and mirror writing.


    He was also intrigued by measurement and the human form… Here’s a fun measurement lesson.



  9. Sketch a bit…
  10. Most books about a particular artist will give you a peep into what inspired great artists… Now is the time to go and look at what inspired them and to start drawing from their inspiration yourselves. Now Leonardo got a lot of information from his natural surroundings… he observed and he filled notebooks with his sketches and notes. So we observed things from our daily living: body parts, and examined some edible bits and bites to create some sketchbook pages.




  11. Paint/Draw a bit…
  12. We like to take a great work from the artist and interpret it for ourselves… trying to use similar media that the artist used. If it requires painting then we paint, pastels or charcoals for drawing and so on. For Leonardo Da Vinci we looked really closely at the Mona Lisa, how he got those small details, and we looked at her clothes and of course her enigmatic expression and then we went on to draw self-portraits using pastels.


    DSC_0253DSC_0254DSC_0251 DSC_0259DSC_0258DSC_0255

  13. Construct a bit…
  14. This is where your recycling bin comes in handy… If you can at all think of a project that you can turn into something three-dimensional, it is just so much fun to create or construct something that you can actually hold or play with. Make a mobile, make a model, make a tool. Leonardo Da Vinci’s art really lends itself to this sort of project. Leonardo was by nature an inventor so we dove into the recycling and invented…


    And the Se7en + 1th Thing…


  15. Act a bit…
  16. Pop over into the world of your artists and explore a bit. This is such fun and my kids never expect it and never forget it. “Climb into one of your artists work… eat what they ate, dress-up as they did… whatever it takes – have a little fun.” So this is the last supper we ate bread and wine (really iced tea!), we listened to some Renaissance music and spoke a little about what we had learnt about living in Renaissance time.

That’s it Leonardo Da Vinci in a nutshell and another Great Artist that we have learnt about.


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Tags: Art · Homeschooling

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