Alisa Burke Art Inspiration

Each month I try to introduce my children to a new contemporary artist for new ideas, new techniques or approaches to art.  (Pop over to my Art Page for all my art posts.)

Although I have recently shared about Jane Davenport and her “Beautiful Faces”, this post is about an artist I discovered last year and who profoundly influenced me …

Alisa Burke is an awesome contemporary artist!  Alisa Burke

She is a prolific artist, creating art and posting her sketchbook pages, her art processes and designs, studio updates, tips, fabulous tutorials and art ideas on her blog almost daily.

Anyone who knows me personally will have noticed the impact of her art, style and fashion in my life. In fact, I literally remodeled my wardrobe according to an “Alisa Burke Look”!  Here’s a page I put together from her Fashion Friday posts ~

Alisa Burke Fashion style

Clothes4I even figured out her style “formula” = Crisp white or black + geometric patterns / polka dots / stripes +  a pop of bold, clear color = I am a serious fan!

Of course, we have done quite a lot of Alisa Burke-inspired art here at home ~


She and her hubby and little 3-year-old often do collaborative art, which is really amazing.


Kate recently created these painting based on Alisa’s and her hubby’s latest collaboration ~

Kate's art4


And here’s Kate’s art inspired by Alisa’s beautiful portrait above ~

Kate's art3



Another stunning Alisa-inspired portrait done by Kate ~


And here’s my doodle page of art inspired by Alisa Burke ~


Expand your artistic wings and use some contemporary artist inspiration and fly!  It is wonderful to learn and experience art through someone else’s discoveries and creativity!


Notice Board – Famous Artists & Composer

Here is the last post featuring our new homeschooling notice board ~

Famous Artist & Composer


Our Famous Artist studies have been really rich and rewarding.  This year I selected several famous artists, as well as some featured in Patti’s posts on All Things Bright and Beautiful. (Patti prepares a weekly art, music and poetry study with links & sources – all done for you!)

After I read a brief biography as an introduction to a famous artist, we chose one famous art work and study it quietly (either in an art book, a postcard-sized printout, online, or as an image saved as a screen saver).  I encourage my children to try re-create the painting as a detailed, visual, mental image and ask them to tell me what they noticed in the painting, and importantly, what feelings the colors, textures, objects, placement, space, and details in the painting created.  My kids enjoy creative discussions about the mood of the painting, or how it made them feel. I encourage them to form a personal connection with the art work.

Sometimes we may do an art appreciation lesson where I may trace an outline of the picture and they can paint or color it for themselves.  We also jot and paste a thumbnail of the artist in our Book of Centuries.  We record the artist and we sometimes refer to my Art Era Timelines. Usually I am quite happy that they simply recognize the artist and the famous art pieces.

Our music appreciation lessons are very informal.  We simply listen to one of “VOX Music Masters” CD’s, which tell the musician’s life story over his music, while we paint or sketch, or I play a featured music piece each week. Sometimes we watch a YouTube video of a famous music selection.  My children enjoy occasionally filling in a music appreciation notebook page.  You can download all my Famous Musician pages free.

My aim is to instill a love of beautiful music in their hearts and minds.  It is easy – use the hard work and efforts of others like Barb of Harmony Fine Arts.  She has wonderful free Fine Arts plans!

I want to encourage you to conduct your art and music appreciation lessons very informally.  Surround your children with rich, beautiful music and art and cultivate a wonderful fine arts appreciation in your homeschooling!

Much grace,

Previous Notice Board posts include ~

Wonderful Works of William-Adolphe Bouguereau

This year we started our art appreciation with works from William Adolphe Bouguereau, a very successful French painter of the 1850’s Paris Salon.

His paintings are beautiful and my daughters have loved looking at his works.

William Adolphe Bouguereau picture studyWilliam Adolphe Bouguereau picture study1

My youngest daughter chose “The Hard Lesson” for our most recent art appreciation lesson.  She orally narrated her observations and agreed to paint her own copy of the painting.The Hard Lesson-001

Instead of drawing or tracing an outline of this artwork, I used Picasa‘s “pencil outline” editing option and created a very quick full-page illustration.The Hard Lesson

Miss.L11 painted her picture, while I used chalk pastels for my painting.  We listened to Brahms as we quietly painted.  An hour or less later, our paintings were finished and hanging on our Art Gallery wall (well, actually on our school room door).  Not a ‘hard lesson’ at all!


And here are your free pages ~

William Adolphe Bouguereau biography page

May you enjoy this easy lesson in your Fine Arts!

Blessings and much grace,

Pastel Art Appreciation of John Singer Sargent

Chalk pastel art is very popular in our home!

My children begged me for another chalk pastel lesson for our weekly art appreciation …


After viewing several of John Singer Sargent’s paintings, we voted and then, because we couldn’t settle on one, we chose to do 2 paintings ~

Miss.T18 and Miss.K14 focused on “Rosina” 


while Miss.L11 and I selected A Gust of Wind

The Gust of Wind

Miss.K used her new birthday gift; her nifty aluminium, collapsible easel to prop up the printouts.

(My hubby and I agreed to buy our 14-year-old some quality birthday gifts to encourage her natural creativity!  Along with the easel which comes in a lovely carry bag,  she  received some canvasses, acrylic paints and a lovely set of drawing pencils.

I purchased some very basic leather tools for her ~ a bag of mixed leather pieces, some needles, waxed thread, special leather pen and eraser, eyelets and studs and an assortment of brads and buckles.)

But, back to Sargent’s art appreciation lessons …

Here are the “Rosina” chalk pastel paintings ~

Art John Singer Sargent3

Art John Singer Sargent2

And here are our “A Gust of Wind” chalk pastel paintings.

Art John Singer Sargent1

This week, my youngest did not once worry or fret about her art work.

Art John Singer Sargent

Here are free downloads ~

The reason my older daughters love chalk pastels is that they can cover ‘mistakes’ with extra layers.  They even use an eraser and rub out small sections!  Because it has a ‘loose’ feel, they do not feel that they have to get the details perfect, but I am stunned by the clarity and detail they achieve.

Chalk pastels are a simple medium which produce  gorgeous effects.  I love the color combinations, the smudged effect when you rub an area, the quick way you can cover a whole page with the side of the chalk .

We use all three types ~ the basic chalk pieces, really good quality wrapped chalk pieces and my extra-special set of chalk pencils.  We have discovered that one cannot really use the chalk pencils over other chalked areas, so now we save the area where we want to use the pencils for the last phase, when we ‘pull out’ the details.

We each use a section of toilet paper to keep our hands fairly clean, and we quickly wipe the dust off  the plastic tablecloth with a damp cloth.

I really encourage you to try chalk pastels for some of the less detailed, precise art works you and your children may study!


Albert Bierstadt landscapes in Chalk Pastels

This month’s famous artist in our homeschool is Albert Bierstadt.

I have always loved the misty luminance of his landscapes.

My older daughters both wanted to do art with Miss.L11.  After reading a brief biography, we looked at some examples of his works and sat chatting about his paintings.  Each of us connected with a  different painting, so rather than focus on just one piece for the day, I let each choose a painting.

Using our chalk pastels, we covered the backgrounds, filled in dark area and then worked to add focus and detail.  All the while our Famous Composer ~ Chopin’s music quietly filled the room.

My youngest two chose The Golden Gate.

Miss.K14 said that it reminded her of a scene from The Dawn Treader by CS Lewis.

Art Albert Bierstadt2

My youngest preferred to paint her picture. Art Albert Bierstadt3

She is in a “realism” stage and becomes discouraged when her art doesn’t ‘look right’.  She walked away when her smudgy painting was done.  I gently encouraged her to try some chalk pencil details once her painting was dry.  Amazingly, she found that she could pull out the details, smudge white chalk pencil to create the glow the Bierstadt masters in his work, and she and I were very happy with her painting when it was done.

Miss.T18 and I chose The Giant Redwoods Trees of California.  She and I loved the faded mystical quality of the distant trees.

While you can’t see the difference, Miss.T18’s picture is a ‘small’ A4 page, while the rest of us worked on nice large A3 pages. Art Albert Bierstadt1

Bierstadt’s paintings are very big, so it seemed right to paint ours large too! This is my pastel painting~

Art Albert Bierstadt

Here are all our paintings on our school room gallery door ~



Bruegel’s “Hay Harvest”

This is our 2nd week art appreciation of our Famous Artist Bruegel the Elder and we looked at ~

Hay Harvest

The Hay Harvest

We viewed wonderful color plates in the “Bruegel” art book by the Colour Library of Art borrowed from our local library.

They also display several enlarged selections from the main painting.  We enjoyed looking back at the original to find where these smaller focused areas appeared.

Some of these selections made wonderful art works of their own.

My youngest daughter especially liked the focused area of the three peasant women in the  “Hay Harvest” which she traced by herself, and which I then enlarged on my printer.

Bruegel's Hay Harvest

Miss.L11 used pastels for her first attempt at the art work and she was unhappy with the results.

She then tried her second picture with water-color paints and was very satisfied!

Bruegel 002

As I’ve shared before, an art appreciation lesson does not require any actual art activity.  Charlotte Mason encouraged detailed observation.

We often enjoy simple oral narrations, but many of our art activities are  spontaneous, as with this painting.

I love the child-led interest.

And why not? We are building an amazingly rich mental art gallery!


Bruegel Wedding Feast

We have started our next famous artist ~

Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Because so many of his works feature peasants in everyday life, he was known as “Peasant Bruegel”.

My daughter chose this painting,The Wedding Feast, for our first art appreciation lesson.

The Peasant Wedding, a 1567 or 1568 painting b...

The Peasant Wedding, a 1567 or 1568 painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, with two men playing pijpzaks (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We both looked at all the details in his painting. He puts so much into his works that you can almost play “I spy” to try find the many characters!

I traced a fairly detailed outline of the painting.Bruegel Wedding Feast

Miss.L11 painted it with watercolors, carefully copying the colors. 2013-06-17 21.37.09

It took several short sessions before had she completed the entire painting, but it was a quiet and enjoyable activity.20130617_213723

Why don’t you give this art work a try?

  1. Find the painting online  ~
  2. Download the outline ~ Bruegel Wedding Feast
  3. Color or paint the picture if you wish.
  4. Have fun!


Leonardo Pastel Portraits

Leonardo’s da Vinci’s portraits are beautiful.

Leonardo Pastel Portraits

Something about his unfinished sketches draws the viewer’s eye to the glorious shading and luminescence of these faces.

We used an extract picture from “The Virgin of the Rock” (because it was on the font cover of my Leonardo art appreciation book – just using what we have ;) )


I made a simple outline drawing ~

Leonardo portrait 001

Free download ~ Leonardo da Vinci portrait

We all started our own “incomplete version” of a Leonardo portrait.

  1. Cover the entire page with orange, yellows and browns and ‘fist it in’ or blend it well.
  2. Do all the hair with dark browns and even black areas and cover the areas around her face with dark browns and blacks.
  3. Add shadows to the face – under the chin, the neck folds, the  lower cheek, the creases in the eyes, the bags under the eyes, the nose and lips – and blend lightly.
  4. Then add skin color or light beige or cream for highlights and blend slightly.
  5. Now it is time for details – dark, dark brown or black on the upper eyelid and the pupil of the eyes and the nostril.
  6. Add shading to the eyelids, the nose and the lips.
  7. Emphasize what is really dark and those areas that are light.
  8. Add light yellow swirls to the hair.
  9. Maybe add some white to her collar.
    Leonardo Pastel Portraits1

There were moments of frustration … add in “wanting to give up” … when fuzzy pictures were difficult to ‘pull out’.  We also all struggled  for a moment when the picture was ‘almost done’ and it became fuzzy again and we ‘lost it’.  (It is best not to “over-work” this type of   pastel art.)

But pastels are wonderfully forgiving and you can just layer on top of the colors or textures you need to change.Leonardo Pastel Portraits2

It is phenomenally difficult to capture the pristine beauty and luminescence of the original … but we all felt quite happy about our efforts.

A spritz of fixative and our portraits were done.


Famous Artists 2013 Timeline

Famous Artist Timeline

We use both our Book of Centuries (BOC) and our Wall Timeline.

Every year I seem to change and refine our timeline work and their applications.  As the children grow up they develop a more detailed sense of where things “fit”on the timeline or in their BOC.

As the children entered middle school, they each started their own BOC.

Much to my disappointment, they didn’t really refer to it much unless I scheduled it.  Their entries were also not as detailed or as personalized as I would have liked.

But, I press on in 2013, and made this ~ all our Famous Artists we’ll study this year printed out on a simple timeline ~ (click the title below for your free download)

Famous Artist Timeline for 2013

With a quick snip-snip, my kids can cut out and paste the Famous Artist in their BOC. I’ll encourage them to write their biography notes with each artist and musician.

Which artists are we studying this year?

Rembrandt van Rijn, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Caravaggio, Joseph Farquaharson, John James Audubon, Jules Breton, Albert Bierstadt, Elizabeth Gardener Bouguereau, William Bouguereau

Here’s a sample of my year plan:

Famous Artist 2013 Year OverviewHow did I plan this?

The simplest and most inspiring Charlotte Mason weekly inspiration came from All Things Bright and Beautiful. Patti creates a weekly post with a famous artist, some observations and suggestions for the art work, and she inserts a Classical Musician link and quotes a famous poet.  True to Charlotte Mason, she focuses on the same artist, musician and poet for the whole month.  If you are unsure of how to start your CM Fine Arts, just subscribe to her blog and it is all done for you!

Tip: Right-click on any famous public domain artwork and “save image as” to save the image to your computer. Use as a screen saver or wallpaper for the week you are studying the artwork.  Or print out postcard size for your “gallery” and your child’s picture study.

I also add artists or art works that I have in my art book collection.  I believe I must be faithful to use what I have at hand.  I’ll add library books to the collection as we go along. Basically I look for 3 to 4 good-sized prints for each artist. That will give us one picture each week for that artist for a month.

Typically I also look for a picture that will lead to an interesting art appreciation lesson.  We do not “do art” each time, but the picture should evoke a feeling, a thought or stimulate a story, or should be able to be narrated in detailed.

Ambleside Online have a great list of Fine Art subjects for each year.

Read how these amazing homeschool moms plan their art study:

Jimmie’s post – How to Plan Artist Study for a Semester at Jimmie’s Collage and

Barb explains how she does her Planning Art Appreciation for Homeschool or co-op at Harmony Fine Art.

Also, you can pop over to my Art Era Timeline and Famous Artists pages for more inspiration and free downloads.

So, join in.  How do you do your art study?  Feel free to share your experiences in the comments.


This post was submitted for the Carnival of Homeschooling.

Loretta Grayson Inspired Art

I first came across Loretta Grayson’s art via Pinterest a few weeks ago.

I spent some time browsing her blog Shoebox of Photographs I was totally mesmerized by her colors, style and themes of her art and crochet work.We spent Friday’s art session doing her free tutorial.The tutorial was very clear and laid out simply.  You will need good paper, a ruler and pencil, oil pastels, water colors and acrylic paint for this art activity.

I followed her tutorial precisely and enjoyed the process and the results.

My two daughters created their own design inside the tree circles and came up with completely different paintings.

Miss K.13’s named hers “Burnt Trees Come to Life

Miss L10 worked her textures with toothpicks and added lots of detail, spending much more time on her art than we did!  She loved the process, but was not thrilled with her actual painting. 

I spent some more time in the afternoon working on tree inspiration for our Lucerne Tree Farm.  I managed to capture our mountains, the lucerne seeds on our trees and their long roots going deep into the soil with their nitrogen-fixing nodules.

I loved the simplicity of the Loretta’s squares, the colors and the patterns. 

I’m hooked on Loretta Grayson’s art!

It was refreshing to focus on a ‘newfamous contemporary artist for our Friday Fine Art theme.

What artist has inspired you lately?