We tried our first picture study yesterday. I began with Raphael, at Karen Andreola’s recommendation (see A Charlotte Mason Companion.) I opened the book to a one-page reproduction (about 6×9 in) of the painting and covered the opposing plate with a piece of black paper (held on with a rubber band, which also served to keep the book open to that page. We started with "The Choice of Hercules", a painting in which Hercules is sleeping outside the city, and two women (one holding a sword & book, the other holding a flower) are standing above him. I chose to begin with this painting because Hercules is a very familiar figure to our children. Perhaps I should have began with a painting representing a Bible story, because we couldn’t seem to figure out exactly what the two women represented. A life of duty vs. leisure? Violence v. love (then what’s up with the book)? It was unclear to us, but the picture generated some discussion, and wespent a good part of lunch looking at it. I want to spend tomorrow morning having the kids reproduce the painting.
As we were doing this, I was reminded how hard it is to start new things. it was not a smooth exercise. The kids didn’t know what I wanted. I asked far too many leading questions to get them to give me some details. But I have to remember that, just as with any other subject, competency comes with experience.