Time for creative mom

In response to my post Sketching Again, a reader recently asked,

“How much time do we as moms need each day to be creative? “

I suppose it depends on your family life and demands on your time, and whether you enjoy creative activities.  Enjoyment is a powerful motivation.

If I can carve just 20 minutes of creative sketch time for myself, I feel so grateful and rewarded. This is not every day, and it is not always possible when life and stressful situations are more important, but it is something I find easy to pick up and do when there is a lull or gap in my days.  Right now, with just one teen to assist in her homeschooling, I have a lot more free time than I had while juggling three young kids all on different cores so I can find time to be creative!

We need to grow and be creative ourselves in order to give continually to others.

For some folk that “creative / me time” may be physical, such as going for a brisk walk or run, doing a quick workout, or taking a nice hot bath with soft music playing. Others need to be alone, maybe to read a book or listen to a podcast.   Some love to garden, sew, knit, quilt, or sketch.

When the children are young, then it is best to sketch or craft with them. Within a few weeks of doing sketches or nature journal prompts, the kids feel more confident and know what to do and can pretty much work without your help, giving you that time to do the activity along with them.


Doing art together with my children. You’ll see my art page at the bottom of the picture.

We enjoyed Fabulous Fine Arts Fridays, a whole day for our Music and Art Appreciation lessons and some poetry or Shakespeare.  Our Fridays were always so relaxing and enjoyable, so different from our normal school schedule, that we all looked forward to this time together.  It was also very informal.  We simply listened to a classical music piece while observing an artist’s work and often did some art ourselves.

Sketch Tuesdays always were a wonderful opportunity to draw and sketch something really simple.  Because we had a whole week to complete the sketch, there never was any pressure.  And despite there being no feedback or critique given, the children learnt so much about their art and skills simply by viewing the slideshow and experimenting with new and different art mediums.  We sometimes copied other famous artist’s style in some of our Sketch Tuesday sketches, discovering the artist’s true talent and ability.  Again, it is fairly simple to pull out some paper and sketch and paint right alongside your children.

Otherwise, simply do something creative and personally rewarding in the afternoons while the family are doing their own thing.  I often find a half hour after lunch before I need to take down washing or start preparing dinner.  Weekends are also a good time to sketch, paint, garden, sew or do some sort of creative hobby.

If you have lots of children, or little babies or busy toddlers, then you may be deep in the trenches, and creative time for yourself might be impossible for this season, but, remember, that this season will pass, and you will be able to have your body and space back!

Blessings to you as you carve out small Mother Culture moments for yourself each week.

In Grace, Nadene

  • Subscribe Click to receive all my new posts packed with practical tips, projects, plans, pages & art ideas by email
  • Facebook Follow Practical Pages on Facebook


Combine Art & Read Alouds

Here’s this week’s practical tip ~


Busy hands with listening ears” has helped my kids focus during read alouds in our homeschooling.  I always planned hands-on activities for each theme so that my kids were quietly and constructively busy while I read aloud to them.  But, while some projects were distracting, drawing, painting and coloring-in activities were very helpful.  20150701_113932

Combining several children on the same core and covering the same Fine Arts is a wonderful way of streamlining and easing your homeschooling!   We used my traced outlines of art masterpieces and painted them for art appreciation lessons and this was a wonderful opportunity for combining art with listening to classical music or our current read aloud.

Many first-time homeschool moms are often overwhelmed by the huge amount of reading they have with their children and fine arts is often neglected.  So, why not plan a simple art activity for each week and let your children quietly create while you read aloud.

Each week try put out new art materials such as oil pastels, or glue and string, or some magazines and scissors, or puffy paints or glitter, so that your kids can experiment and enjoy a variety of art supplies   (Look on my Art Page for many more art appreciation lessons and ideas.)

Often I encouraged my kids to illustrate the characters or current scene in the read aloud.  These gorgeous illustrations often formed part of their narrations.  After the chapter reading, my kids would dictate or write their narrations next to their pictures.  My youngest is a visual learner and could often express her ideas far better in an illustration than with words!

Alternatively, small kiddies can play with playdough, felt boards, stacking, sorting, beading, or threading, while older kids who do not want to draw or paint can do handwork such as knitting, embroidery, hand sewing, or building puzzles, or making models.

Legos were a favorite, but it was sometimes difficult to prevent the noise of sorting through all the blocks and pieces.  I would encourage them to pour out the pieces on a towel and spread them out first before I started to read aloud.  We even used Legos for narrations!

Read Jean Van’t Hul of Artful Parent.com “Why Read Aloud Time is Drawing time“.

Hope this encourages you in your homeschooling!

Blessings, Nadene


New Music and Art Timeline

I created a new Music and Art Timeline.  Music & Art Timeline Cover This is a helpful Fine Arts tool, identifying both famous musicians and their music styles, as well as famous artists and their masterpieces displayed in parallel.

How to use the timeline:

  • Print out and bind as is, or add to a Book of Centuries.
  • Cut and paste the pages side-by-side/ under each other as a visual Fine Arts timeline.
  • Add artwork thumbnails to a timeline on a wall.
  • Cut the artworks and paste them on cards and let children match the artists to the eras.

Here is the download ~Art and Music Timeline, fresh and newly updated!

Recently Homeschool Freebies of the Day featured my Art Era Timelines to email subscribers.  Subscribers often get links to special freebies that you will not find openly on the Internet, so it is worth joining their subscription list!

Blessings, Nadene

Try wet-on-wet waterpaints!

For this week’s Fine Arts Friday art lesson, I used a simple wet-on-wet waterpaint tutorial I found on YouTube.

Art rusty cup2


The artist’s wet-on-wet painting technique really inspired me because he demonstrated several “new” things I hadn’t ever tried with water paints, such as ~

  • If your paper is wet, the added wet paint flows out and spreads beautifully.  You can paint large areas this way without the dried ‘edges’ showing.
  • Wet paint of different colors can be blended together seamlessly on the paper.
  • Wet paint can be ‘lifted‘ off the paper with a clean wet brush if it is too dark or the wrong color effect.
  • Once dried (he uses a hairdryer) you can paint new water and/ or new paint over the dried paints and paint over them again and again, laying down new layers of color. This helps sharpen and deepen your painting.  You can keep re-painting, drying and then adding more detail and colors.  This is especially good when doing shadows or creating depth.
  • When you want to add deep color and fine details, you can paint denser paint on dry paper or dry paint.

We set up our own little rusty cup with a (struggling little) fern and painted our own rusty cups using these new wet-on-wet paint techniques.

We used ~

  1. 300gsm water-color paper
  2. water paints (We used water paints in tubes which have the ‘proper’ color names used by professional artists.  May I suggest that it is worth investing in quality products for art and train your children to work with them correctly and carefully.  We always share our art materials and they have lasted for years!)
  3. Quality paint brushes.  (Again, see #2 and invest in good brushes!)
  4. Boards and masking tape.  Tape your paper to the board to keep your sheet of paper flat.
  5. Hair dryer.  (Use a low air speed so that you don’t blow your wet paint around on your painting.)
  6. Jars of clean water and clean cloths or tissues to clean off brushes and spills.

As a mom, the tutorial gave me the confidence to try my hand at the new wet-on-wet painting techniques while ‘helping’ and encouraging my kids with their discoveries.  We all thoroughly enjoyed our art lesson!

Art rusty cup

Miss.L12 (She used a sponge with water to wet the large background areas)

Art rusty cup1

My rusty cup

You can find the “Watercolor demo painting a rusty jug” tutorials here on YouTube ~

Give this lesson a try!


Sketch Tuesday ~ Tools & Crazy Fruit

Here are our sketches from the past 2 weeks …

Crazy Fruit ~ Prickly Pears

Crazy Fruit 001

Fix-It Tools

Tools 001 Tools 002

Barb of Harmony Fine Arts at Home says ~

This week’s assignment is due Monday, March 3, 2014.

Sketch something that starts with the letter L.

“All sketchers are welcome and there is no need to sign up. Send in your sketches in jpg format and mail them to: sketchtuesday@yahoo.com by Monday, March 3, 2014 and I will include them in Tuesday’s slideshow. Complete instructions are found by clicking the Sketch Tuesday tab at the top of my blog.”

See you at the slideshow!


Fabulous Fine Arts Fridays

Another What Works! post …

Looking back over the 14-odd years of homeschooling from preschool to high school graduation I want to share what was successful in our home …

Fine Arts are rich, rewarding & relaxing!


We set aside most of our Fridays for Fine Arts – art, music, and poetry, and sometimes some Shakespeare.  The simplest way to do this was to plan the “extras” in our Theme of the Day and Refreshed Theme of the Day. It is my kids favourite day of the week!

My older children still ask for art lessons once a week. Despite the textbook-based high school curriculum I used for my eldest daughter, these fine art Fridays were the saving grace of our homeschooling journey. In many ways, they are the “soul” days of homeschooling.

My kids considered Fridays as free days because we set aside normal seat work and written assignments.  Despite its seeming “frivolous” nature, where fine arts is often considered an “optional extra”, this aspect of education is the most inspiring and rewarding.  At times our Fridays were the only happy days of our week.  Homeschooling can be tough!  Making time to relax and enjoy fine arts is a relief!

Art started with art appreciation lessons, Charlotte Mason-style.  I sometimes added simple art activities to some of these lessons. We discovered famous artists and their masterpieces, observed different art styles over the centuries.  Here is my download ~Art and Music Timeline.  We often experimented with a variety of art mediums.  My young children loved building the 3D Seurat model which is one of my younger girls’ favourite and unusual art activities!  Now and then someone experienced a “flop” lesson, but mostly we admired and encouraged each other as we gazed at our ‘gallery’ … we were enriched!  Importantly, we each have amazing internal, mental art galleries of famous artists that we will carry all our lives!

Sketch Tuesday remains a regular constant art activity, which we continue even when we have stopped our formal schooling for school breaks.  It is such a simple, quick session, often with no discussions, research or planning, but Sketch Tuesday has had an enormous impact on our art!  The simple act of regularly looking and sketching develops ones confidence and approach to other more formal art activities.

We listened to classical music each week.  I first used CDs from our collection and later we streamed or listened to classical music online as we did our art. My younger children loved the Classics For Kids series.  We bought a CD collection, but you can listen online.  My older children have an incredibly eclectic collection of their own music which they play as we work and do chores.  I eventually ended planned formal music appreciation lessons as my children grew older, but my children often recognize classical music especially when they hear these pieces in movie soundtracks.

Poetry has been a hit-and-miss affair, where I sometimes do formal poetry lessons with my younger children on our “Tea, Poetry and Shakespeare” afternoons.  We studied some poets through the year and we all found our poetry readings relaxing and inspiring.  My kids never really learnt any poems by heart, but some poems were an inspiration for art or illustrations.  Our most exciting poem-inspired activity my girls did when they were younger was The Lady of Shallot with a Lego diorama.

I recently discovered that my junior high daughter is writing her own poems to express her photo collage creations she makes on Polyvore. Her poems are amazing!  When I read them I am utterly stunned with the images and feelings that her words evoke. So, deep down, despite doing poetry informally, poetry struck a special chord in her life.

Our Fine Arts sessions have enriched our relationships.  Somehow, when we paint or sketch together, or when we lie under the tree talking about a poem, or when we listen to and describe images and feelings that classical music evokes, we share time and experiences that are deep and personal. These are intimate times that make homeschooling special.

My advice to moms who want to “do it right” is to keep it simple and fairly informal.  In my early years of zeal and idealism, I came on too hard and my kids almost dreaded the lessons.  I almost lost them to my teacherly-don’t-miss-the-moment approach.  They did my Famous Artist and Famous Composer biography notebook pages, filled in timelines and narrated their observations.  We used my wall charts, but the best lessons were those where we each connected individually and personally to the art.

Now, I am convinced that regular yet informal exposure is better than formal, structured lessons.

Schedule time in your week and just do it!

Don’t worry if you don’t have anything to “show” for your Fine Arts lessons.  It doesn’t have to be recorded or written or filed.  Just talk with your children and listen to their interpretations, encourage their creativity and personal connections.  Look for ways to for them to “make it their own”.

Charlotte Mason’s approach to Fine Arts has been an amazing, rich and rewarding = fabulous Fine Art Fridays!

May you find the approach that works for your family!

Blessings, Nadene

A Treasure for CM’ers

I’ve just discovered a lovely Charlotte Mason-inspired blog

All Things Bright and Beautiful

, a mother of 11, grandma to three, keeps a country household and teaches her precious children


“Friends have sometimes said to me, I’d love to do picture study and classical music and poetry with my children, but I just never find the time.  If you find yourself in this position and would like to share these things with your children but just don’t know where to begin or don’t have the time to prepare, or maybe you’d just like a little culture in your life but don’t have time to pursue it on your own this blog is a gift for you.

I enjoy sharing classical music, art and poetry with my children and wanted to invite others to share the wonder and beauty of what we are discovering together. 

I hope to post regularly – hopefully weekly so you can use these in your home school if you would like.  We will look at one artist’s work for a few weeks in a row and one composer’s work and a poet in that way, also.”

Her selections are truly beautiful and inspiring.

Here’s an example from this week’s post ~

Picture Study

Joseph Farquaharson’s “A Winter’s Morning”

A Winters Morning - Joseph Farquharson

All her pictures are on public domain and you may make copies for your children.

For Music

Beautiful and peaceful guitar music of Ferdinando Carulli – today’s piece is Etude  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0btBVhYx3E


Patti featured  Amy Carmichael this month and posted “Let Us Look Up

So, for new CM moms, Patti has made your fine arts studies easy.  Just pop over and visit her blog and enjoy all her bright and beautiful things.


Fine Arts updated

I have been busy planning our Fine Arts for 2012.

May I share how I go about this?

English: Autograph partiture by the Polish com...Famous Composers

  • list all my classic CDs I already have at home (be faithful with what I have)
  • check Ambleside Online’s composer schedule  (free)
  • find music appreciation unit studies free online – try Harmony Arts Mom  (free)
  • register with Naxos.com for online listening and hyperlink the composer studies  (small monthly cost saves me having to buy CDs)
  • match the suggested AO composers and my CDs and online music, youTube urls, other music studies and put 12 composers on my year plan  (takes about a day)
  • Last year we only covered  6 of our 12 planned composers, but we really loved those we listened to.  I simply start this new year where we left off from last year.

I have updated my Famous Musician Pages to include ~

  • Frederic Chopin
  • Johannes Brahms
  • and new biography pages with a map

Famous Artists

Pineapple Bud, oil on canvas painting by ''Geo...

by Georgia O'Keeffe

I have created my own studies and Famous Artist Lapbook, but I was blessed to download Erica’s free The World’s Great Artists Unit Studies. Vol 1. at Confessions of a Homeschooler.com.

She created detailed lessons based on the book World’s Greatest Artist Series by Mike Venezia.

I don’t have these books, but there is so many rich resources on the internet that I will link to the lessons.

I updated my Famous Artists page with wall chart and biography pages to include ~

  • Georgia O’Keeffe
  • Henry Matisse


Playing with Poetry

Illustration from The Pied Piper of Hamelin

Image via Wikipedia

Fridays are Fine Arts Days

when we do our Famous Musician composer study and our Famous Impressionist Artist of the month.  It is also the day we do poetry!

It is a inspiring and fun  activity we all look forward to!

I usually schedule one poem each week.

Sometimes it is one good, long story poem which  the kids soak in …

like …

The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes, which my kids really loved.  We recited some parts with dramatic expression (tried to do it like Ann of Ann of Green Gables).

Illustration from The Pied Piper of Hamelin

Image via Wikipedia

They also loved The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Robert Browning (all XV parts!)

The Listeners by Walter de la Mare was dramatic!  My youngest loved to illustrate this poem!

And every child has to listen to Hiawatha’s Childhood by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

And remember how we created Lego diorama for The Lady of Shalot by Lord Alfred Tennyson?

But we often end up covering several short, fun and nonsense poems in one sitting like …

Mr Nobody Anon

Colonel Fazackerley  by Charles Causely

The Owl and The Pussy-Cat by Edward Lear

The famous nonsense poem Jabberwocky by Lewis Carol

We love the play of words and their meanings, the sounds and rhythms of words, the rhymes and the ideas.  These fun and nonsense poems declare,

“You can do this too!”

And that’s how we have done poetry the last while.

We make our own versions of the poems!

We illustrated or painted our poems.

We dramatized the poem and even made finger puppets.

We created a tunnel book pictures of The Door by Miroslav Holub.

We each created our own versions of Cardinal Ideograms by May Swenson.

Not only did my 11-year-old-I-can’t-write-poems child write extremely clever concepts for each number shape, but she wrote them all about her beloved cat!  A Cat Cardinal Ideograms!

My youngest 9-year-old became quiet and thoughtful and came up with these original ideograms:

And, while they were creative, I joined in and created these Ideograms:I’m excited that we are playing with poetry.  I love that we love to play and work with words! I love that we  have moved from reluctant writers to creative poets!  Poetry inspires, and I hope that each child discovers their unique gift with words.

I use a compilation called The Works 7 – Classic Poems for the Literacy Hour by Brian Moses which I bought cheaply at Bargain Books Store.

The other anthology is our Sonlight poetry book, The Oxford Illustrated Book of American Children’s Poems edited by Donald Hall.

Use whatever you have on hand or find at the library and enjoy poetry with your children!


Tracing Outlines of Famous Art Works

I have often made outline drawings of our art work for art appreciation lessons.  (The Van Gogh picture  “Starry Night”  is one of my most popular downloads!)

Creating an outline is a simple, really easy and frugal method to create an outlined picture which is instantly ready for your child to colour, apply art techniques, experiment with different art mediums, or to make your own version of the art masterpiece.

How to make an outline of a masterpiece tutorial:

  1. You need a tracing pad/ tracing paper (available fairly cheap at stationary or at large department stores) and a photocopiers or printer and prints of art works (postcards, calendars, books, prints).
  2. Select the picture you want to trace.  Size doesn’t really matter.  You can enlarge any small picture on your printer.  If the picture is larger than your tracing paper, just section off the picture and trace each section separately.
  3. Trace the main lines and shapes and outlines with a black pen or fineliner.  (Pencil prints out too faint) You can include major shadows or sketch or paint lines that feature strongly in the painting.)
  4. Draw a frame around the picture and write the artist’s name and the title of the work at the bottom. (I always try give reference and honor to the original artist.)
  5. Place your tracing paper on the printer face down.
  6. Print a copy.  Viola!
  7. Of course, you can enlarge your small tracing to fit the page.  Just experiment with about 120% or more and see if it needs to be made bigger/smaller.
  8. Make several copies for each child or family member.
  9. Have fun on your paper copy!

Why do we use tracings?

  • Create a reference to a famous work and add it to written biographies and narrations.
  • Apply techniques famous artists use
  • Learn to mix colours, do colour washes and paint in layers with details last
  • Make the art work “your own”
  • Focus on the original for clues and details
  • Use the original for some more contemporary art techniques (like a collage/ a mural/ coasters/place mats/ quilt designs/ build a 3D landscape, etc.)
  • Although many adults consider this just “colouring in”,  I encourage them to give it a try!  It is MUCH more difficult than it seems! 🙂

Hope this helps you create fun and easy art appreciation lessons for your family!

Pop over to my Art Page for all my other art appreciation lessons, free downloads and Charlotte Mason Fine Arts ideas.

Update:  I found an easy tutorial at quotidianmoments.blogspot where Willa shares how to make coloring  pages tutorial using Picnik

Blessings, Nadene