How We Do Picture Study: Picture Study, part 2

CM Homeschool picture study Millet Daisies

Last week we discussed some reasons to add picture study to your home school. Picture study is a simple method that reaps great rewards.

This week let’s look at the how-to. Here are the easy steps that Charlotte Mason described for doing picture study.

1. Select one artist and six or so of his pictures to study.

2. When you begin to study a new artist, Charlotte suggested that you read a short story of that artist’s life.

3. Let the children study one picture, silently taking it all in, noticing every detail until they know it and see it in their mind’s eye.

4. Turn the reproduction over or hide it from sight, and have the children describe it in as much detail as they can remember.

5. When the narrations are complete, invite a short discussion about the picture. Keep in mind that you are not supposed to be the dispenser of all knowledge. Simply tell the name of the piece and ask the children’s response to it. “Did you like this painting?” “What did this picture make you think of?” “Did it remind you of anything you’ve read about?” These simple questions further the children’s interaction with the piece, helping them connect the new painting to their previous knowledge.

The next week, select another picture by the same artist and repeat the process. Over several weeks you will have covered all six pictures, one picture every week or two.

Then choose a new artist and go again.

Would you like a demonstration? This video excerpt from our Books and Things Seminar on DVD shows how you can easily use picture study in your own homeschool.

See how simple it is? Ten or fifteen minutes once a week is all it takes. Yet the change in type of lesson, the enjoyment afforded by looking at great art, and the relations your students will make are just some of the rewards you will discover by including picture study in your home school.

Next week we’ll answer some Frequently Asked Questions about picture study.

Who are some of your favorite artists? Leave a comment and encourage others in their picture study.


  1. Thanks for another installment Sonya! We are going to be adding picture study to our routine this year and I’m excited about it.

    I have a question (maybe it will be addressed in next week’s post?).

    Do you make the children take turns telling what they observe about the picture? How do you keep it pleasant and not a competition as they rush to share what they remember?

  2. After studying Norman Rockwell, we went to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA. Little did we know our elderly tour guide was one of the children in Rockwell’s “New Kids in the Neighborhood” painting. He gave our girls signed postcards of that picture! He also pointed out his own relatives in several other paintings. What a memorable field trip spurred on by picture study!

  3. We enjoyed studying Hokusai’s works, but my favorite individual work is “The Girl with the Pearl Earring” by Vermeer. I had no “connection” with good art before, so I’m really enjoying “feasting” along with my children.

      • nope… My narrations are more like “there were some flowers with someone watching them…..” lol

  4. I am delighted that one can start so simply and enjoy art appreciation so much. My children and I love our Art and Music days.
    What is really lovely is that they “own” their art masterpieces and are thrilled to recognize that work in other sources.

  5. I am excited to read this series on picture study. We have done picture study on a limited basis this year, but I realize now that I was prompting for too much information. Your video broke it down so beautifully that I think picture study will be easier next school year.

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