I cannot teach art. I cannot do art. I can barely appreciate art. I was raised in a family that traveled extensively, visited museums regularly and had a wide variety of excellent art on the walls of our home. I absolutely understand the importance of art as a medium to express the true, the good and the beautiful but it is the one area of homeschool that basically paralyzes me.
Along the way, we fell in love with the Dinotopia books. There will be a separate post on the books (there are 2 kinds plus several other James Gurney books) and the tv series (there are 2 different runs with different casts). But, a love of the Dinotopia world and an appreciation for the exquisite illustration in those books led us to try to find more James Gurney and in so doing, we discovered his fantastic videos.
James Gurney is a master artist. He was commissioned by Scientific America to work on several dinosaur spreads as well as the Australian government to create commemorative Australian dino postage stamps. He is a master and he happens to be an excellent teacher as well.
We discovered that James Gurney has a Youtube Channel with all kinds of short free interesting art videos. So far I haven’t encountered one that wasn’t family friendly. As we were watching the free vidoes, we discovered that some were trailers for full length art videos! Psst! He is on instagram too!
Upon the good advice of friends who are very good with art, I decided that we would keep our focus on watercolor this year – and it is one of Gurney’s preferred mediums. To help with watercolor, I purchased 2 of his videos – Watercolor in the Wild and How I Paint Dinosaurs. These do exist in DVD form (versus download from the site linked) but they are more expensive.
In these videos we are treated to explanations on technique, really interesting explanations on materials/supplies and how to make them portable as well as the science behind drawing things which rely on our scientific imagination.
Thanks to Gurney, I purchased for each of my three children their own starter pencils set (wth a kneaded eraser, charcoal and different densities of pencil lead), good watercolor paint (and ultimately we made our own), good brushes and excellent colored pencils.
I know that this is not excellent art, but I am impressed by the paintings and sketches that my kids are producing now that their imaginations have been stirred and they have been given some technique mentoring from a master.
My kids can sketch and color any time – and often do while I am reading aloud. Painting, however, is reserved for Fridays and special days. In this way I am not cleaning up paint mess every day.
We have watched each of those videos several times and I will often turn them on on a Friday morning while I exercise and shower. Sometimes my son will ask to see just a specific scene or two if he is trying to get clear on something Mr. Gurney has said or modeled.