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Thoughts on Art

by Cindy Rushton
copyright 1997 posted by permission


This is going to probably sound strong so BEWARE! I feel that some art is not really art...some is sin. Do you let your children look through Porn Magazines? There are those that feel today that that is art...surprised?? Well, we are not free to express ourselves in ways that are not pleasing to God if we are Christians and there are some things that our children do not need to be exposed to! I have prayed about this one and here are some of my reasons for covering some of the obscene things in our print books...

I want for my children to be exposed to art without having to feel guilty about what comes into their minds...Lust of the eyes is addictive no matter how godly you are. Little children are embarrassed by nudity and it automatically makes them thirst for more nudity...that is how Satan's stronghold is built...piece by piece. It is just a stronghold that some people have a weakness for! You know the next steps! We must guard our children's conscience so that they are free to serve God wholeheartedly. I am not free to expose my children to things just because it is called art- because some things are not art (creative expression to glorify God.)

That brings me to the next point...not all art is from artists who function from a Christian Worldview. Some who are somewhat Biblical yet were not Christians were functioning in a society that was basically Christian and had to conform their art to that society...just like you see many artists today who are Christians yet are conforming their art to a society that is not other words, Christians with a Secular Worldview. Some artists were actually trying to break free from the "bonds" of Christianity to do their own thing...irregardless of what God had to say about that! It is fine to use this art to show the downward spiral of any view other than the Christian Worldview but I certainly do not think that it is necessary to expose them to sin to say it is sin all in the name of Art Appreciation! Art Appreciation began for me when I realized that many artists did not have the same worldview that I had...that it was that difference that made their art difficult for me to relate to!

Here are some "did you knows" about art??? Did you know that...

Many artists believe that they are the "creator" while creating their prints...meaning that they reject our Creator and make themselves to be god??? Make up their own reality? Picture things as they view them...all by chance, no real absolutes, all of life blends together (nature and people all the same). What does God say about wanting to be God? What does God say about Himself...He is God of all life!

Many artists function from a rejection toward God in their lives...look at Vincent Van Gogh's Church at Auvers...he makes the church to be creepy, ominous, dark, crude, cruel, and most of all, un-inviting. His painting was completed only a short time before he committed suicide. I show this painting to my children and they themselves discern that this man rejected God and was on purpose blaspheming God's work: not a guy to have as a mentor!

In view of this, it is my job to guard my children from some aspects of art until they are mature enough to handle it. It is my job to train my children to discern worldviews and the result of those worldviews! It is my job to teach them what God has to say about all areas of life including art! As we study art in our home these are the central focus of art. Not letting them go on their own. I feel that they will be better equipped to appreciate and create great art as they are trained to appreciate and create it from a Biblical Worldview!

I would like for you to note that one piece that I covered, Michelangelo's The Last Judgment, was originally painted with all the figures in nude. The actual book I have says, "Some years later, the members of the Vatican Hierachy decided that nudity in the church was shocking, and they asked the painter Daniele da Volterra to clothe them in trousers." Now, why was the nude painting in the children's book instead of the current painting which would show us a combination of both artist's work?? Could it be that Satan has a stronghold here?

Are you not feeling funny about presenting them with things that are contrary to the Word of God? IT IS SIN to look upon nakedness. Do we follow God or the artists??

Swimming against the stream is fine if you are with God; if not the stream is God and you are wrong.

Cindy, who is swimming with my Saviour against the stream!

Essay #2 - Time for Tea Article

"Can someone help me put into words of one syllable why it is important for our children to study great art? I'm trying to explain this to someone who doesn't see the point, but deep philosophical ideas don't go over well. =) *I* understand why, but I'm having a hard time putting it into words. "

Well, Teresa....well, everyone...this is one of those articles! ;-)

I am going to share this old article from Time for Tea...Hope you enjoy! Love, Cindy

One extra thought before I do...I think that the bottom line is that we, as Christians, are challenged to have dominion over this world. All of the beauty is sent from God for us to enjoy and to share with others to glorify HIM! We must be acquainted with the beautiful and lovely in order to do this. Also, I think it is virtually impossible to have a correct view of history without the study of art. It tells the heart of the people. I am not saying that Jesus had long hair because they painted it that way...going back to Ancient Roman art, we find that at the time of Christ, the men wore their faces cleanly shaven and their hair very short (the Republican Style) matter of fact, hair was not grown longer (except if they took a Nazarite vow which was a time of disgracing themselves...hence longer hair for the men) in the Roman Empire until after the time of Christ when Paul was actually writing his letters to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 11???)

You cannot know these little details of history unless you add in the extras like Picture Studies to your History AND Bible Studies! ;-) It sure helps us to see that REAL story behind history. By the way...did you notice that I said the history of that TIME period? It is not enough to trust art from today to depict what went on because it is biased by belief so much. If I were to paint a picture, it would first of all give you a good giggle!, OK...It would be based upon the beliefs, or Worldview, that I hold. Just like literature, where you get a Worldview of the author, so it is with Art and Music. Soooo, you might can see the heart condition of the time period of the painter through his creation. It is sooo shaped by the thoughts and beliefs of the culture. That is why I guess I love Rembrandt...MY personal favorite time period is that enthusiasm after the Reformation for living wholeheartedly for the Lord...I love the art after that period because it portrays that enthusiasm and passion for God. I think it is because being in a Post Christian Society...I feel that little flicker of a great revival that is growing upon many like pre-reformation times! I love the idea that men and women like Frances Schaeffer, David Quine, The Clarkson's, Marilyn Howshall, and prayerfully even me...will influence through the pen the next generation of art...wouldn't it be neat to see the art of those returning to a Judeo-Christian Worldview??? Whew! It gets me excited!

Now...Here is that article! Love ya! Cindy

Picture Studies

By Cindy Rushton

Art…what comes to your mind? For most of my life art brought a blank. As a child, art was perhaps the most neglected subject of study next to music. I never really could understand the importance of studying much less teaching great art to my children until around 4 years ago as we continued developing our studies based on the Charlotte Mason Approach. Charlotte's works have challenged me to not only give my children the best…but to do myself a favor by giving myself the best! Let's look at the why and how of Picture Studies!

Why study art?

Art seems to be one of the greatest means that we can employ to encourage our little ones to really "see." By this I am not meaning to quickly look and go on, rather I mean to really give full attention to the details, to the spirit behind the great works. Art forces us to take time to look at details that we often walk right past whether the beauty in God's creation or the beauty in creations of others. Art opens the mind of the child (as well as the mind of the adult!) to beauty. It slows us down to see the beauty that is in the little things in life. Great art encourages a greater enjoyment of the beautiful things in our life. Art is the gift that disciplines our minds to really pay attention, to enjoy the little things that exist just for our blessing!

Art is not just for our discipline; it is a great bridge to times of the past. We are able to introduce our children to great minds of the past. As children are influenced by great masterpieces, they are able to develop friendships with the artists. They are able to get a glimpse at the society, culture, and predominant Worldview of the time period that the painter lived or based the work. In the study of art, we are able to see whether or not the predominant influence was a belief in God. As we look back to the art of the past, we are able to compare the effect that worldviews have on art, government, culture, and theology. As we take note of the shifts that have resulted from worldviews, we are better able to understand our own society, art, government, culture, and theology. Can you imagine the disservice that we do to our children and ourselves as we place art studies as a last priority? We are unable to understand history until we are able to understand art.

Two Kinds of Art Instruction...

There are really two kinds of art instruction for children: art expression and art appreciation. I found myself feeling very inferior in the area of both. For one thing, I had never been able to understand art much less enjoy it! I was unable to get past the fact that so much art went against my conscience. It seemed as though there was so much nudity and chaos…it simply did not make sense to me! I began to study art with the Cornerstone Curriculum's program Adventures in Art. During our studies one day, I realized that it was my Worldview conflicting with the Worldview of many artists! (Such as Picasso! YUCK!) I found certain artists that not only agreed with my Worldview, but also were able to express it so beautifully on canvas! I began to APPRECIATE art!

Although I still have the ability to express art that would make an art instructor quit teaching (MINE DID!); I love Art and enjoy trying out my elementary skills! This is key to teaching art to your children! First, give them contact with the great artists. Let them learn to love and appreciate good art. Then, watch their expression! They'll begin to use techniques that were common to the masters because they will be students of the all time best!

How to Study a Picture...

We study art in the simplest way, yet we have enjoyed such benefits! Here are some tips for Picture Studies:

? Show the children (I teach my children all at the same time!) a print giving them plenty of time to look and enjoy. Try to make picture studies a family fun time, like your family read-aloud time. Curl up and enjoy the print with them over tea! Relax and enjoy...they will learn to cherish this time with you!

? Discuss the print with your children...DO NOT lecture or explain! If you are like me and know very little about the print or the artist, then trust me-it may be for the very best! You will be less likely to lecture or try to be a source of information. You will let the child get in touch directly with the art and artist! This is the GOAL!

? Turn the print over and let the child describe the details from memory. This can be in the form of a narration or drawing or discussion. I have found that my children are remarkably attentive! They notice the most incredible details! This will encourage them to notice even greater details. We have sometimes given them a blank sheet of paper to let them have a chance to try to recreate the print themselves. This is fun and very interesting as you see how much they are really able to recall! You can keep the drawings and narrations in a notebook just for Art! If you have extra prints, you can even let the children have their own for their notebooks as well!

? Turn the print back over to see how accurate they were!

? Leave the print out for the children to come back to it during the week. We placed ours on the wall as you walk out of our family room for a long time. I recently purchased a gorgeous portfolio to place all of our prints in. I have placed it on my coffee table in our family room for the children to enjoy. We often just sit down with the entire portfolio and enjoy all of the gorgeous works…even those we have enjoyed in the past! You may choose to purchase or check out a beautiful art print book. (I have been coveting a book at the Christian Book Store about all of Rembrandt 's Bible Art!) We have access today to these wonderful resources at great prices or for free from our libraries! I have found myself personally steering away from many of them because of my convictions about not exposing my children to the nudity in many works of art. If you feel as I do ,there are several alternatives! You could take out all the prints that you do not mind your children studying and place them in a portfolio! I haven't because they ARE still too expensive for me to justify cutting up and throwing out the book! Another option is to use inexpensive print books (I have found some for only $1) and "dress" the nude figures with handy magic markers…the children just giggle over "mom helping the artist!" Many moms also use prints from post cards, calendars, art prints from department stores, and greeting cards. These are O.K. But, I personally prefer nice large prints so that we can enjoy the intricate details!

? At the end of the week, we usually discuss the painting and details that we have enjoyed from the print. (Again, this is where I have loved Adventures in Art because it is complete with the prints and the study guide!) At this time, if the print is religious in nature, we look up and read the Bible account in Scripture. For example, while studying Rembrandt's The Raising of the Cross we looked up the gospel account of the crucifixion. This adds to the emotion of the print and helps us to actually go back in time to Rembrandt's well as, the cross! ? Speaking of this print, I try to bring out certain prints at certain seasons: The Raising of the Cross by Rembrandt and Cimabue's The Crucifixion at Easter, Fabriano' s The Adoration of the Magi, and Duccio's The Nativity during Advent. They compliment our decorations and our festive moods! Also, I do this with Music such as Handel's Messiah...but that is another article!

A challenge...

Picture Studies will open up the world not only for your children but also for you! I never had the benefit of Picture Studies, much less from the Biblical Worldview! Since our family has made Picture Studies a priority for every year instead of a luxury or one time unit, we have chanced to meet the greatest men and women of all history! We have learned to see life more clearly. We have seen history from the eyes of men and women who had much to tell us! We have been able to see things as they really were with accurate, firsthand communication. We have been given a challenge to create as the masters have created! We have been challenged to appreciate beauty! Yes, we should not neglect this area of study when so much is captured on canvas. I challenge you to make picture studies a priority in your homeschool and watch out for all the blessings! Happy Studies!

Copyright 1998 by Cindy Rushton. Rushton Family Ministries, 1225 Christy Lane, Tuscumbia, Alabama 35674. Picture Studies is a reprint from Time for Tea. For more information about reprints or subscriptions, please request from the above address or email

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