(To read more about Charlotte Mason picture study and see the other Picture Study Aids I offer, click here.)
When someone asks me how they can make their picture study time richer or help their kids (or themselves!) understand an artist better, I almost always recommend reading a biography on that artist. Finding out where an artist came from, what their childhood was like, their original impetus for entering the art field, and things along those lines can really help give a much deeper appreciation for their art. Often after I finish reading these biographies and then look at that artist’s work, I feel like I’m meeting an old friend.
This was especially the case for Canadian artist Emily Carr (1871-1945). I wrote back in 2019 when I finished reading her biography:
This was fascinating. Emily Carr, a Canadian artist who had her very own style, was active primarily during the early part of the 20th century. I really didn’t like her throughout most of this book and based on what others have said about her (including a random review I found of a book about her that was actually more of a review of her as a person [1 star]) she really was not very likable. But as the end came near, I found myself relating to her a lot, and even coming to think of her as a kind of kindred spirit. I’m not sure what that says about me….
Obviously, it was an interesting read. 🙂
I appreciate Carr’s art because it was so different from anything else coming out at the time. She has often been compared to van Gogh with her stylized skies, but at the same time, the “plastic” quality of the trees and hills of her later career was a characteristic all her own. I also appreciate that she painted the world around her as she saw it and valued the beauty of First Nations culture (leaving us with a record of so many aspects of it that would otherwise not exist) as well as the natural world of her native Vancouver island.
As I said above, for good or bad, I found a little bit of a kindred spirit in her, and I’m excited to announce today that I’m offering an Emily Carr Picture Study Aid and art prints! She is my first female and Canadian artist offering. The book includes a brief biography, key topics about seven of her paintings, and printable versions (in the PDF) or professionally printed copies of the pieces discussed (without artist name or titles), as well as her self-portrait at the end of the printed book.
Emily Carr was a prolific writer throughout her life and left us with several books that were published both during her life and posthumously, including:
Carr was considered a very eccentric woman by her contemporaries, and her writing reflects this. While many of her works are autobiographical, some historians have noted that she presented different views of herself in various writings. Reading her words is essential to getting to know her better, but they are not unbiased. If you are looking for an impartial and thorough biography on Carr, I highly recommend Maria Tippett’s Emily Carr: A Biography (2006).
Monica Kulling’s When Emily Carr Met Woo (2014) is a biographical children’s book. However, it focuses more on Carr’s menagerie (specifically her monkey) than her art. Many large-format collections of her paintings exist, and any of these would also be an excellent addition to an art book collection. Keep in mind that quite a few of her paintings do include First Nation spiritual content (including female totem poles with exposed, stylized breasts), so preview the books as necessary to fit the values of your home.
This is by no means an exhaustive analysis or study of each piece, and that is intentional. I tried to keep it all very simple in the spirit of Charlotte Mason’s principles and there being, “no talk about schools of painting, little about style; consideration of these matters comes in later life, the first and most important thing is to know the pictures themselves. As in a worthy book we leave the author to tell his own tale, so do we trust a picture to tell its tale through the medium the artist gave it. In the region of art as else-where we shut out the middleman.” (vol 6 pg 216)
For enjoying art with children in general, I also included a page of art sources that I’ve found particularly good:
Online Art Collections
For younger children, I highly recommend the Mini-Master series by Julie Merberg and Suzanne Bober. Also, the Touch The Art series by Julie Appel and Amy Guglielmo.
For both younger and older children, the Come Look With Me series by Gladys S. Blizzard is excellent.
You may download it below for personal use in your own homeschool at the link below!