The first couple of years that we were homeschooling, we used to always have Fine Arts Fridays. Every Friday we'd learn about a different artist, do some artwork in that style, and listen to classical music while we dabbled.
For the next many years, my kids took art class from a wonderful teacher at our co-op; and I missed our Fine Arts Fridays. So this year only Duncan is taking art class, and we've reinstated our weekly art lessons, now on Wednesdays.
We've been using the book Focus on Artists, which I keep renewing from the library. It's not a fancy book. I have to print out samples of artists' work from my computer to go along with the book. But it has a one-page biography of artists (divided into time periods) and a main project for each artist as well as suggestions for other projects. Simplicity—that's what I need in my life. We have a pretty good shelf of art books to go along with the Focus on Artists book; I especially like the ones in the Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists series.
I've turned a closet door into the art wall. Having bio briefs and artwork displayed helps us stay organized and puts the various artists into perspective. We're still on the Renaissance and will be for quite awhile.
I found a fantastic picture book of Leonardo da Vinci on my shelf, The Genius of Leonardo by Guido Visconti (published by Barefoot Books). I loved the details in this book, which is told from the perspective of Giacomo, one of da Vinci's apprentices. Mona Lisa: The Secret of the Smile by Letizia Galli and Leonardo and the Flying Boy were also enjoyable, but not nearly as informative and engaging as The Genius of Leonardo.
We're finishing Albrecht Durer tomorrow, and then I'm excited to move on to Michaelangelo. I have a special affinity for Michaelangelo, having spent time in Italy when I was in high school. I am blessed to have parents who were extremely interested in seeing all the famous paintings and sculptures, as well as cathedrals and other museums and buildings. I've stared up at the Sistine Chapel, stood before the Pieta and David, and walked through the Forum. (We also spent a few days at the Louvre, and my kids think it's pretty awesome that I've really see the Mona Lisa, among other amazing works at the Louvre and in Paris!!)
Someday, I want to take them all across Europe. For now, we read and learn and dabble, thankful for and awestruck by these great artists.