The Value of an Online Art Course

Hannah Master Copy
Student Artwork

Recently, I was asked about the cost of Renaissance Academy courses. As a homeschool mom I understand the financial constraints that play a part in the decisions we make for our students’ education. Renaissance Academy courses have been priced very competitively with other online Classical schools. The courses I taught for the past two years at another Classical Christian online school are priced at $650 and have a similar cost for supplies, and is priced at about the center on the continuum of similar schools.

Courses at Renaissance Academy differ from most online schools in that the maximum class size is 9 students. This allows for much more one-on-one instruction with students than other online schools ( where you’ll find over twice as many students per class).

Renaissance Academy courses are live classes that meet once a week for 1 ½ hours. If you paid per class, the cost would be about $25 a class, less than what most private art instructors charge for that amount of time. It is comparable to the cost of swim lessons and gymnastics lessons, and far less than quality music lessons.

Michelle NAture Patterns
Student Artwork

However. Renaissance Academy art courses are not just a “once a week lesson on art techniques” as found in typical art lessons. Renaissance Academy courses provide students with an education in art history, promote critical thinking through online and class discussions, and teach students how to critically analyze artwork and to give and receive critique.

What is the value of a Renaissance Academy course? One of my students from last year is going on to major in Graphic Design at a well-known Christian college. One of my students won a Scholastic Art and Writing Award, a national competition which opens doors to other scholarships and educational opportunities. Three of my students won scholarships to art courses offered at different Art Colleges, including the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the oldest art school in the United States and alma mater to notable alumni such as Thomas Eakins, Mary Cassatt and Howard Pyle.

Could you pay the same or less for art instruction somewhere else, such as a community college? Of course. However…will that instruction simply be teaching students how to make art? Will it give them the philosophical background to understand what is good, true and beautiful art? Will it be taught from the perspective of a Christian worldview?

Kyrie NAture Pattern
Student Artwork

I received an excellent art education at my Christian high school. Regrettably, when I went to art school, I lost my grounding. The art world is mad with relativism. It can be very confusing to young adults who are trying to find their way in the world. I have designed Renaissance Academy art courses to challenge students to begin asking the deep questions about art that they will be faced with later in life, and have created a place where they can seek the answers to those questions under the guidance of a Christian instructor.

Registration for the Studio Art: Foundations course will close on Monday, July 31. Registration for the Studio Art: Explorations course will close on Monday, August 14. If you are unable to take a course this year, keep Renaissance Academy in mind as you make your plans for 2018!

Hannah still life
Student Artwork



The Future of Homeschooling

The_official_poster_for_the_film_Hidden_Figures,_2016What does the future look like for today’s homeschool students? It has been estimated by a professor at Duke University, that of all the students who began their education in the year 2012, 65% will have jobs that have yet to be invented! Did you see the recent movie, Hidden Figures? Based on the true events surrounding the early NASA space missions, NASA scientists, engineers and mathematicians were faced with solving problems never before encountered by humankind. Yet, due to the curiosity and creativity of some remarkable men and women the impossible became possible. In the same way, our students of today, will tomorrow be finding answers to questions that we have not yet asked!

It is a well known idea among Classical and Christian educators that education is the transmission of culture to the next generation. Of equal importance, however, is that education is the preparation of the next generation to create solutions to future problems. Information is critical to meeting the former stated goal of education. Creativity is imperative to meeting the latter.

Michelangelo “The Creation of Adam”

As homeschool moms, we do not want to stop at molding our students. We want to prepare our students for their future and whatever unknowns lie ahead, that they may successfully fulfill their God-given purposes for their lives. After all, God is the Creator and we have all been made in His image. Human beings are creative and designed to be that way by their Creator.

Sadly, the nurturing of creativity seems to fall behind the traditional information rich subjects such as history and math. Yet, the world’s greatest mathematicians in history made their contributions to the world because of their creativity!

Renaissance Academy courses are built on the foundation of art history, in order to pass on the Western world’s art culture to the next generation. The courses also are designed to nurture creativity, as we have all been created to create. Whether the students you know are preparing to be scientists, mathematicians or artists creativity will be a necessary skill.

If you or someone you know is looking for creative studies with a Classical foundation from a Christian worldview, take a look at the courses offered by Renaissance Academy. I would love to be a part of your student’s education in creativity! 

The Art Room Door

My artistic journey began behind a door. Apprehensively, I knocked. I looked up at the small square window of glass. A smiling pixie face crowned in golden tendrils peered down at me, like an ancient fairy guarding the entrance to a secret treasure-trove. Her blue eyes twinkled. Her lips curled up in a faint smile. She opened the door.

She was my art teacher. She opened the door that day not just to the art room but to an entire new world. A world I had previously appreciated from afar, but one to which I was a foreigner, trying to speak to the natives with a clumsy tongue. She taught me that anyone could learn the language of the land. Then she taught me the alphabet of her world’s strange and enchanting language: the language of fairies and dragons; of history past and time future; of the visible and the invisible world. For art is a visible expression of an invisible reality.

Pascal Dagnan-Bouveret

The teacher was Mrs. Unger. The school was Delaware County Christian School. The child was myself, age eleven. When I was bored after school one day, my mom, the school secretary, said, “Why don’t you go downstairs and see if Mrs. Unger is in her room?” So I did and thus began a journey that continues to this day. Evenings and mornings (not to mention many of the hours in between), I could be found sitting on a stool by a window in the art room. When she taught private lessons, after school hours, she let me sit at a table nearby, “working” on my own artwork. I am sure she knew in reality I was listening to everything she was teaching her paying students!

By the time I became a Junior in high school, it was a given that I would go to art school. I do not remember that I seriously considered any other options. I graduated, packed up my charcoal, sketchbook and a trunk-full of art supplies (I also took a small duffel bag of clothes) and off I went.

I hopped around for awhile, not quite able to ever find another home in the land of art. In fact, for quite sometime I deserted the land completely until the day there was a need. Some students needed an art teacher, could I teach them, maybe just fill in for awhile?

Its funny, the journey Mrs. Unger took that brought her to Delaware County Christian School began the same way, with a need. She came to the art room for a day, and after the students left, she found herself sweeping the floor, claiming her space. Or did the place claim her?

Albert Roosenboom

Much in the same way, I jumped in and began teaching the students at Veritas Press Scholars Academy the language I thought I had forgotten. I discovered that like Mrs. Unger, I delight in teaching students that anyone can learn the language of art. It all begins with a simple alphabet: a hand, a tree, a face. Open your eyes. Learn to see. Play. Imagine. Create.  And most importantly, just when you think you have finished a piece know that you have really only just begun!

So here to new beginnings! I am excited to teach the two new art courses I designed for high school, homeschooled art students. I am looking forward to meeting a new group of students. I eagerly anticipate sharing the pleasure of their first discoveries as they embark upon a lifelong journey on a newfound shore.

I am opening the art room door.  Won’t you come in?

Recovering from Homeschool Mom Burn-out

Charlotte Mason

Here is a link to an encouraging article that stands the test of time, written in the early 1800’s and published in “The Parents’ Review: A Monthly Magazine of Home-training and Culture” edited by Charlotte Mason. If you are not familiar with her, she was a British educator of the 19th century who wrote extensively on her philosophy and principles of education founded over her thirty year history as an educator. She established a teacher’s college in addition to a correspondence school for homeschool families. “The Parents’ Review” was a monthly magazine intended to support the parents of the students of the correspondence.

When I first read this article, entitled, “Mother Culture,” it fell like drops of rain on my thirsty soul. The author acknowledges that when we, as wives and mothers, pour out ourselves in a completely self-sacrificial way for our families we actually do them a great disservice.


Then it is that, in her efforts to be ideal wife, mother, and mistress, she forgets that she is herself. Then it is, in fact, that she stops growing.

As I did in my post yesterday, “Homeschool Mom Burn-out,” the author encourages mothers to pursue a personal life of growth.

…if we would do our best for our children, grow we must; and on our power of growth surely depends, not only our future happiness, but our future usefulness.

Please read and be nurtured by this woman’s wise words which reach out to you beyond the dimension of our time. I hope the article will help you grow into the woman God designed you to be.


(c) The Armitt Museum and Library; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Charlotte Mason painted by Frederic Yates


Mother Culture

Homeschool Mom Burn-Out

Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the very heart of your house, your children like olive plants all around your table.

~Psalm 128:3

the giving tree

Once there was a tree…and she loved a little boy.

So begins the poignant children’s book, The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein.

Every day the boy would come to the tree to eat her apples, swing from her branches, or slide down her trunk…and the tree was happy. But as the boy grew older he began to want more from the tree, and the tree gave and gave.

Link to the complete book summary from Shel Silverstein’s website

When I first read the book as a child I did not understand why the boy took away the tree’s beauty. I thought the boy was selfish. However, when I read the book as a mother I understood why the tree gave her beauty to the boy. I understood why she gave the boy everything she had which in the end meant giving him herself. It made the tree happy to see her boy happy.

As I looked at the black and white pen drawing of the sagging stump I saw myself. Since the birth of my oldest daughter I have been giving myself away to my children. I have replaced my activities and my interests for theirs. My children came at a pivotal time in my life. I had just stepped into adulthood. I had not yet figured out what I wanted to do with my life. I was trying to figure out who I was. As I journeyed through the mire of confusion I met my husband and had our first baby. Suddenly I was something. I was a mother. No longer did I need to agonize about what I should do with my life. The answer lay in my arms.

Several children later with babies on my hip, toddlers around my legs, and students on my mind I realized something needed to change. Unlike the tree I was not happy. I read Proverbs 31 and for the first time it struck me that God says this amazing woman, “Strengthened her arms.”   The godly woman built herself up so that she could accomplish her tasks.  I changed our daily schedule to involve activities that I enjoyed, mostly hiking. I packed a book that I wanted to read alongside our lunch. While my children played in the stream I sat nearby and read books on homeschooling. I reserved a couple hours in the afternoon to spend some time by myself doing things that I enjoyed.

But then one day I looked in the mirror and saw a sagging stump. I thought of the beautiful tree I had been. I thought of all my talents. My life had been so promising. What had I done with it?  I had given it away to a selfish child, actually seven of them. Homeschool mom burn-out, it held me in it’s ugly grip.  

I stopped. I thought. I listened. I realized that reading books on homeschooling while my children played nearby, or carving out a couple hours of “me time” a day still left me with nothing but an old stump of the person I used to be or could have been.

Vincent Van Gogh

I do not want to be a stump! I want to be a tree.  I want to have branches that reach high to the sky and spread their dappled shadows on the grass below. I want to have the sweetest, crunchiest, juiciest apples. I want my children to delight in swinging from my branches.

I needed to return to that complicated place of self-discovery.  I needed to cut off not my branches but everything in my life that has become like the dig of a chainsaw: math lessons, for one.  Why was I spending so much of my time trying to figure out how to teach my children math when it is not something I am really interested in myself?  Let someone who loves math teach them math, and I will spend my time sharing myself with my children. I will share the books with them that I love to read. I will share the paintings with them that I love to enjoy. I will teach them how to do the things I love to do so that we can do them together.

In the end of The Giving Tree, the boy, now an old, worn out, tired man returns to the tree which is only a stump.  He wants nothing more than a place to sit.  He lived his life searching for meaning in relationships, wealth, and wanderings.  The tree gave to her boy everything he wanted. She lost everything she had. I do not want my children to become worn out old men and women just looking for a place to sit.

There is a tree in a park I visit with my children.  It is over three hundred years old.  Once we circled around it and tried to touch hands but we could not.  It is immense. An aged tree is majestic. One beholds an old tree in awe. Even children stand amazed at the girth of an ancient tree and gaze up wonderingly at its strong, thick branches.

Children and trees. The words paint a beautiful picture.  They belong together.  Yet, is not the glory of a tree its age? It is the age of a tree that becomes its beauty; that offers a place for children to play.

Vincent Van Gogh

I want my children to grow strong limbs from learning to climb my branches. I want my children to develop wondering minds from sitting and dreaming under my leaves. I want my children to grow healthy bodies from being nurtured upon my sweet fruit. I want them to return to me some day with the crown of age shining silver upon their heads. I want to stand as a tree, immense and majestic before them.  In the dappled sunlight they will stand with me: poets, painters, philosophers, leaders, dreamers, and an aged tree.

Mom, I want you to be a fruitful tree. How can homeschool moms prevent burn-out?

Strengthen your arms.

Focus your life on doing those activities that make you a strong individual. Then share those things with your children. Seek out others who will enjoy teaching your children the subjects that you do not love whether that is math, foreign language or art. Teachers can be found in all sorts of places other than schools or co-ops. Look to grandparents, co-workers, and teachers online who can come alongside you as you educate your children. You are more than a mom. You are more than a homeschooler. God designed you and you have a special purpose as an individual. He wants you to share your strong and beautiful self with your children. Strengthen your branches, don’t cut them off and give them away! Do you want to be a giving tree? It is a sad book, almost everyone cries when they read they end and see the sagging stump and the old, withered man. Instead, as God wrote of in the Psalms, be the fruitful tree!

Vincent Van Gogh


Homeschool Mom Journey

Proverbs 31: 14

She is like the merchant ships; she brings her food from afar.


“A Pier Overlooking Dordrecht” by Aelbert Cuyp

Homeschool mom, you are a resource gatherer. I know. I am a homeschool mom of seven children. This coming fall I will have a senior in high school, whom I have educated since the very beginning, and a preschooler, who is just beginning her education. In the early days of my homeschool journey, I gathered books and craft supplies. As my children got older I gathered curriculum and textbooks. Finally, in their high school years, I gathered teachers.

I am truly grateful for the wonderful teachers who have come alongside me on my journey and shared their own passionate interests with my children whether that be math, logic, or marine biology. My children benefit from the excitement their teachers bring to their respective subjects. I benefit from being able to spend more of my time sharing what I love with my children.

“Putting Out to Sea in a Swell” by John Thomas Serres

One of the subjects I love is art. I find great joy in guiding young adults on the beginning steps of their artistic journey. Maybe you have a student who is artistically inclined, and yet, you feel lost in the strange yet beautiful world of art. I understand. I too have been lost on this journey! I have wandered through the dismal swamps of math curriculum and the foreboding forests of foreign language textbooks.

The internet makes it possible for us moms to not have to travel so very far to gather the resources that our children need. Take a look at the online art courses I am offering beginning this September. Check out the artwork of the students I have had the honor of walking beside. When I tell people I teach art online, even other artists and educators, their first response is, “How do you do that?” So feel free to ask! Send me an email with any questions or comments you may have about online art classes.

“Sailor med kikkert” by Martin Aagaard

Looking forward to the journey!