Art Field Trips

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Now that the standardized test is behind us, we can have some fun with subjects like foreign languages and art, which I tend to de-emphasize in the months leading up to the test. We visited two art museums recently, to get our art juices flowing: Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg and the Knoxville Museum of Art.

Girl looking at digital art

My daughter looking at digital art, in Knoxville, at the Museum of Art

At Arrowmont, we caught the tail end of the juried exhibition from Sevier County residents. We live in a community full of talented artists. It was inspiring to see all the different pieces and media.  Continue reading »

Arrowmont displays their permanent collection and then temporary exhibitions. The museum is free and they also have a library filled with art books and magazines. On Wednesdays, volunteers come to cull through their collection and discard what is not needed anymore in the school. They fill up a bookshelf with giveaways or heavily discounted art books.

Boy and girl at Arrowmont

My children at Arrowmont

I picked up several free beautiful art books and a $1 large coffee table book on London. How would you like to travel to London for $1 and not worry about terrorism, flight inconveniences and jet lag? With such a book, one can.

The children enjoyed the art and got a lesson in art marketing. They were shocked at the prices of some of the pieces. The most expensive one was $16,000 and most of them were in the $300 range.

In Knoxville, the Museum of Art is also free. They have a Children’s Corner filled with art books for children, a Brite Lite wall, two art easels for drawing, and many craft opportunities. While their gift shop offers pricey items, I have also found some of their offerings to be the same price as Amazon or Walmart. If you are watching your budget, the gift shop is not a bad option for some of the art products they carry.

Girl at KMA Lite Brite Wall

My daughter at the Lite Brite Wall

Play sticks are available in the Children’s Corner

The permanent collection upstairs houses, among other things, Catherine Wiley’s beautiful Impressionist paintings – my favorite part of going to KMA. I discovered Catherine Wiley’s paintings of motherhood and women six years ago, when my children were in diapers. Wiley’s depiction of motherhood helped me transcend Pampers and Huggies.

One of the temporary exhibits is an interactive, digital art display on loan from the Thoma Foundation and the other one is a beautiful collection of abstract art by Jered Sprecher, a UT art professor. His “Respiro” and “Calling” spoke to me in a personal way. The first one reminded me of Ramazzotti’s “Respiro nel blu” and the latter reminded me of homeschooling, because I feel called to do it.

"Respiro" by Jered Sprecher

“Respiro” by Jered Sprecher, at KMA

"Calling" by Jered Sprecher, at KMA

“Calling” by Jered Sprecher, at KMA

Art museums, for me, represent these spaces where I get in touch with parts of myself I do not usually see or feel. I talk about “art therapy” and that is because I feel more complete or aware or healed when I come away from these places. On a more specific note, I think that we are still healing from the shock we suffered in November with the wildfires, so yes, we need some art therapy.

The children love everything about the visits: the art books, the art corner with its manipulatives, and the exhibits. At KMA, the Thorne Rooms offer a collection of miniatures that delight them. I enjoy looking at them as well and they came in handy, after all the history lessons we had recently. These dioramas show actual living rooms from medieval Spain or Victorian England or the American Frontier.

Develop Artistic Talent with Holiday DIY Project

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With Christmas coming up soon, it’s a great time for moms to work on DIY projects with their homeschoolers. We shouldn’t get so caught up in teaching our children the alphabet and math that we forget about art. Encouraging kids to be creative and artistic is something all parents should be doing.

Not very artistic yourself? It’s no problem. There are still a lot of fun, easy ways you can help your kids develop their own artistic talent.

Here are some ways you can help your child work on his or her creativity in the coming weeks:

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Nativity coloring – Print out some nativity coloring pages from sites like Bible Printables and This can be a fun activity for younger children. It’s a great way to help them learn the meaning of Christmas and to work on their creative side.

Creating gifts – The possibilities are endless. Every year, I give my kids a list of ideas and let them decide on which fun gifts they want to make. Homemade jewelry is always a fun project for girls. For boys, there are fun activities like mini clay bowls and bottle cap magnets. If there are a lot of people to make gifts for, you might want to get this project started ASAP.

Incorporate art lessons in holiday decorating – Don’t just have your child help put up the same ole’ generic decorations. Encourage him or her to be creative. Which light color scheme will look the best? Will gold or silver picture frames look better on the fireplace? Would a white tree or green tree complement the surrounding decor better? HGTV offers a color wheel primer to help you get started. It’s okay if younger kids go overboard with decorations – the whole point is to let them be creative and to have fun.

Don’t forget about digital art – Even if you don’t know much about Photoshop or any other digital art software, you will find plenty of useful tutorials for you and your child both. It’s something mommies and kiddies can learn together. I didn’t even know how to edit a photo, let alone do digital drawing, but I watched some YouTube videos, looked over some beginner’s guides, and just experimented. You don’t have to spend a fortune on software – just use good ole’ Microsoft Paint. Practice drawing a Christmas tree or Santa with a paint program. Or learn how to edit a family photo. You could also use digital art programs to create Christmas cards.

Making and writing cards – Speaking of which, creating Christmas cards is a great way to combine art and writing lessons. Whether you make the cards digitally or the old fashioned way, with markers or paint and crafting paper, you can encourage your child to come up with a design and write a message. Personalizing the cards helps kids with their spelling as well.

Some of these art projects are better for younger kids and some for older kids. Whichever project you pick, make sure it’s something your child will enjoy doing. Take note of what he or she is good at, whether it’s coloring, painting, photoshopping, coming up with a color scheme, etc… and help him or her further develop those strong points in the future.


Guest post by Sam Jones, a digital marketing expert, social media and branding consultant and guest blogger for various publications, including Business2Community, and EZSiteBuilders. In her free time, Sam is an avid traveler, foodie and lover of all things technology. She’s also a fitness fanatic (in the making).