Homeschool Co-op - Grandma Moses

Without a single doubt, one of my favorite things about being a homeschool mom is our co-op!  We're part of a local branch of a national co-op called Classical Conversations, and I'm sure it comes as no surprise that I chose a co-op that has a really great art component.  (Also there are things like this Forbes article does a better idea of explaining.. but you know, I REALLy like art!) For the first 6 weeks, we focus on an art concept- like "Abstract Art."  for the third 6 weeks, we focus on specific artists.  (In between is music, which I also enjoy!)

Since this cycle is the American history and geography cycle, it makes sense that we're also studying American artists.  And the first week was an absolutely fascinating artist- Grandma Moses! 

Quiet Village by Grandma Moses

Quiet Village by Grandma Moses

If you're not familiar with Grandma Moses, here's a brief bio. 
Although Grandma Moses is known for not really becoming a painter until she was nearly 80 and began to paint the idyllic scenes of her memories of growing up in pre-Industrial revolution New York, I would argue that's missing a lot about her personally.  She began painting as a child, using things like lemon and grape juice to make colors for her landscapes and continued an art habit all the way through her life!  But those lovely landscapes she painted late in life are what she's known for and what you'll see in museums and on the walls of upscale collectors. (Her most expensive painting went for 1.2 million in 2006!) Grandma Moses was 101 when she passed away, leaving us with these wonderful treasured memories!

Sugaring Off by Grandma Moses (sold for $1.2 Million in 2006)

Sugaring Off by Grandma Moses (sold for $1.2 Million in 2006)

Before we started this semester, the director and I got together to chat about how we wanted to introduce Grandma Moses to the kids in a really interesting way.  "What if we do a mural?" she mused.  "YES!" I said! 

I wanted the kids to be able to use acrylic paint for the quick-drying properties, so I needed a paper that was large enough for almost 40 kids, ages 4-11 to make a contribution, but heavy enough to support all that paint and glue.  You know what works great for that? Seamless backdrop paper.  It's also fairly cost efficient for the thickness and size.  You can find it here on Amazon, and you are welcome. ;) 
I chopped off a piece that was a little over 6 feet, taped it down to my living room floor, and started painting a backdrop!

Y'all, that was fun! Even when I sat smack down in the yellow paint!  Luckily, I was wearing my painting pants, and those are now just a little more decorated than before. Here it is when I finished it 


As an aside, if you ever do art with kids, you need to know about that fish drop cloth I stuck under there to paint the green without also painting my hardwood! At Walmart, you can find these inexpensive tablecloths that are vinyl (plastic of some sort?) with a flannel (cotton of some sort?) backing.  Those babies are amazing! Nothing gets through them, and they're also super soft on your surfaces! I have about 20, and I use them every single time I do art with kids!

Now back to our Grandma Moses mural! 

Our classes are split by age, and the kids range from 4-11.  There's a pretty wide range of capabilities there, but I wanted them all to have a significant contribution.  So what I did was paint in some tree trunks and leave an area specifically for the littlest ones to sponge in trees and bushes directly onto the mural.  They got to learn about paint mixing with the green, white, and yellows they used, and they also got to use a super fun tool with the sponges! 

My middle kids all made houses and barns.  Grandma Moses made some fairly busy scenes, so I figured ours would still be true to her work!  The oldest kids got a half paper to draw and paint their houses and barns, and the middle classes got a quarter paper.  This way, we were able to talk about perspective in addition to the lines, shapes, and colors that Grandma Moses used to create her simple buildings.  Having them work on a separate sheet of paper also made it a whole lot easier not to step on someone else's artwork or rip the paper as they crammed onto the mural!

Finally, the oldest class did our animals.  We limited them to only animals you might have seen in Grandma Moses' work, but we gave them free reign from there! 

After co-op, all the kids crowded around the mural with their dry and cut-out art pieces and placed them where they wanted to.  A couple other moms and I glued them all down with good 'ole Elmers, and we stood back to look at our finished mural. 

I can't really express it in words.  You'll just have to see it!


The kids were SO proud of their work together, and my heart simply exploded!  It will be on display for the gallery show I get to put on every year for our end-of-year celebration, and I can't WAIT for everyone to see it again! 

I know kids love to be able to take home their work, but there's really something to be said for everyone coming together for a mural like this! I'll be doing it again in the future, for sure!  If you try it out, I would love to hear how it goes! Or leave me a comment with your best group project tips! 

Until next time!