Art Appreciation ~ Mary Cassatt

Mary Cassatt was an American portrait painter ...

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Our latest Famous Impressionist Artist is

Mary Cassatt

She was different from all our previous Impressionist Artists in that she was ~

  • our first woman artist
  • an American

We read a short biography and viewed her art on a slide show.

Then the children wrote a brief narration on our Famous Impressionist Artist biography pages. (You’ll notice that I acted as scribe for my 8-year-old.  She will soon start to write much more on her own, but she loves to dictate her detailed narrations and I wanted all the time available for painting.)

They each chose a thumbnail painting of Cassatt’s woman and children art works and wrote about it in their minibooks.  (We have combined our lapbook minibooks with our biography pages.)

Then we looked at her works more closely in our coffee-table book Impressionist Painters by Guy Jennings.

Appreciating art is such a personal experience, and I let each chose their own painting to copy.

Mary Cassatt’s paintings look simple, but once you begin to paint, you quickly appreciate that her technique, details, colours and forms require skill and patience.

After an hour of painting we had these beautiful copies:

My middle-schooler and I chose “The Boating Party“.

My 8-year-old copied “The Little Sisters“.

These pictures were easy enough to copy, but we use grid lines to copy more complex compositions.  I often trace famous pictures and the children colour them in or paint them.

It was interesting to read that Mary Cassatt herself spent many days in the Louvre copying famous artworks!

I  urge you to include art appreciation in your school week.  Just start with something short and simple and add a little extra until you can complete a full art appreciation lesson.  (We started out slowly – and do art often participating in Sketch Tuesday.)


7 thoughts on “Art Appreciation ~ Mary Cassatt

  1. Pingback: 100 Fine Art Projects Inspired by Famous Artists - Teach Beside Me

  2. I have a question: when you draw something together don’t your children whine that their work is not so nice as the painting or as yours? My daughter (8) is always complaining about it, and I don’t know what to do. Thank you!


    • @Eszter, good question – Whining is actually fear – especially when there are comparisons. “Why doesn’t my work look like hers?” or they think, “This doesn’t look right!” I encourage my kids to try use the same colours, or the same type of brush strokes, but not to make an exact copy. Often my kids don’t even like the artist’s style. I ask them, “What do you like most about your painting?” “Which part looks similar?”
      Perhaps just do fun art and craft lessons and rather have art appreciation lessons where you talk about (narrate) the details in the picture. I suggest that you adapt the art appreciation lessons and make something original – make a puzzle, make a collage, make a model … of the masterpiece. After all, we just want to enjoy and remember the artist’s work and we are not artists ourselves. Take the pressure off and appreciate.


  3. First, let me say that I’m blessed to find your website! I recently finished reading “A Charlotte Mason Companion” and I’m excited to adopt her methodology into our homeschool. Thank you so much for all of the art appreciation info. The links will prove valuable (and time-saving for me!) as I gain more confidence in art study. My three girls love to copy artwork and create their own sketches…but…they don’t seem to like notebooking pages. How did you introduce notebooking pages to your children? Appreciatively, Carrie USA


    • @Carrie, I am sure you will enjoy the journey into Charlotte Mason’s ways. Just keep things simple and short to start with.

      For our notebooking we started with half-lined page and place for drawing. My kids would illustrate their page while I read aloud and then my middle-schooler wrote 2 or 3 sentences for her narration, or I would write while my junior child dictated her narration. I’m weaning my 8-year-old to write on her more and more. They all love writing in minibooks, so I often combine these with notebooking pages and they happily write without complaint!

      You can read more about this if you type “notebooking” or “Notebook Pages” in my search bar and all my related posts will come up.


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