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Gauguin Artist Study

Updated on June 29, 2015

Vibrant Gauguin to Enrich Your Homeschool

Consistent artist study is a part of a Charlotte Mason homeschool. The principle is that a little bit, done often adds up to large amounts of knowledge over time. I can vouch for the effectiveness of this approach. Picture study is simple and quick. But when done repeatedly will result in a strong foundation for the fine arts.

This page will walk you through how to implement an artist study on Paul Gauguin. Everything you need (and plenty more) is all right here.

Gauguin artist study essentials:

picture study of one work of art each week for every week of your term (6-12 weeks)

(That's it. That is the minimum. Just one small weekly task.)

Gauguin artist study options:

study more pieces of art

read a biography of Gauguin

create a reproduction of a painting

make notebooking pages about Gauguin

visit a museum

Choose Your Gauguin Art

One Print For Each Week of Your Term

Essential to your artist study is your selection of six to twelve works by Gauguin, one for each week of your term. I prefer to use prints from a book, but you can also use electronic versions of the paintings.

What happens for each of these weekly picture studies? Let your child look at the work of art for two or three minutes, studying everything he sees so he can describe it later. Then ask your child to verbally describe the painting (while not looking at it). If picture study is new to you, you may find these questions helpful for helping your child discuss a work of art.

1. Looking At Art

2. Questions to Ask About Art

Basic Art Gauguin - A Good Resource For Art Prints

I prefer a printed source of art prints rather than depending on the internet. The Taschen books are good options since they are affordable and packed with full-color prints to choose from.

Here are some free downloads that you can print and study:

Gauguin: Maker of Myth brochure from the National Gallery of Art includes ten full color reproductions.

Paul Gauguin, 1848-1903: The Primitive Sophisticate
Paul Gauguin, 1848-1903: The Primitive Sophisticate
I have used the Taschen art books for several of our artist studies. They give a wonderful overview of the art plus lots of historical and biographical information. I normally don't read that information to my daughter. But sometimes I like to browse it for my own interest.

Music with Gauguin Paintings

This simple video has nice Tahitian style music and a nicely paced (not too fast) slideshow of Gauguin's paintings. Note-- there is nudity. You could use this as in introduction or a wrap up of a Gauguin artist study.

See Art In Person

At an Art Museum

Visits to art museums are a wonderful addition to a Charlotte Mason artist study. More often than not, your local museum's exhibit is not featuring the artist you're currently studying. No matter. Take every opportunity to see art when it is available even when it doesn't match your curriculum.

During our study of Gauguin we happened to have the opportunity to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. What a privilege to stand before original Gauguin paintings and see them in person. Of course, we saw far more than just Gauguin's work. Our years of artist study found a wonderful culmination in our being able to appreciate and recognize so many works of art at the Met.

My daughter is standing before Gauguin's Two Women.

And I am in front of The Siesta.

Your Favorite Gauguins? - a poll

What are your favorite Gaugin paintings?

See results

Biography of Paul Gauguin

For every artist study we do, I always integrate some amount of biographical information about the artist. We like to add the artist to our timeline so that he is put in the context of his time. Be sure to look for a kid friendly biography. Gauguin's life is filled with things that you may not want your child to hear about or that you will at least want to express carefully. Always preview all the books you give to your children. Here is a kid-friendly bio from Scholastic.

Paul Gauguin (Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists)
Paul Gauguin (Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists)
Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists is a great series of books, introducing artists to children in a very accessible way.

Gauguin for Children

Paul Gauguin (The Life and Work of . . .)
Paul Gauguin (The Life and Work of . . .)
This living book is full of reproductions, biographical information, a timeline, and photographs which serve to introduce Gauguin to children.

Gauguin's Words About Color in Art

It is the eye of ignorance that assigns a fixed and unchangeable color to every object; beware of this stumbling block.

Paul Gauguin

Quotations Copywork

If you'd like to integrate some handwriting, copywork, or vocabulary into your artist study, copying quotations from artists is a great method. Discuss the quotation and what it means, especially focusing on any new words. Have your child copy the quote, correctly including all the punctuation, capitalization, and spelling. Then store the page in your art notebook.

Gauguin Activities - Printables & Notebooking

As part of our Gauguin study, we read the book The Yellow House: Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin Side by Side. This book is a wonderful living book that ties Gauguin to Van Gogh. They both worked together in the Studio of the South in Arles, France. Since we had studied Van Gogh long ago, this book was served as a great review of Van Gogh while it taught about Gauguin. The artist recreated scenes based on the art of both men. I highly recommend this book!

Reading it led us to compare and contrast similar works of art by the two artists. My daughter compared two portraits of Madame Ginoux, one by Van Gogh and one by Gauguin, on a notebooking page which you can download for free at my blog Jimmie's Collage.

As we read our Gauguin biography, I integrated some geography with mapping pages printed from Scholastic's Ready-to-Go Super Book of Outline Maps. My daughter marked each mentioned location on her maps. Since Gauguin spent time in South America, France, and Polynesia, it turned out to be a great geography lesson.

Reproduce Your Own Gauguin

This optional activity is something that my daughter always enjoys. I let her select one work of art to reproduce in whatever medium she chooses -- drawing, painting, oil pastels, or even collage.

She chose Reverie, a melancholy painting of a Tahitian girl in a rocking chair. She sketched in pencil on a piece of quality cardstock. Then she went over her basic design with a combination of marker, crayon, and colored pencil.

Making a reproduction requires a deeper level of observation than the picture study. After you've made your own version of a work of art, you will always recognize it. It has become "yours."

Gauguin Writing Assignment - Art Analysis

In our homeschool language arts lessons, I integrate writing into all our subject areas. So my daughter often writes about history or science topics. I consider it a two-for-one deal; she is working on both language arts and another subject at the same time.

For our Gauguin study, I suggested that Sprite write an analysis of Reverie, the painting she reproduced. This was her first try at writing about art. (She is in sixth grade.) But we've had years of Charlotte Mason artist study. That laid a good foundation for her to be able to discuss the painting.

What I expected to be a paragraph turned into a simple essay which you can read below.

Her prewriting was done with the reproducible art analysis pages from Smart Art.

Smart Art: Learning to Classify and Critique Art
Smart Art: Learning to Classify and Critique Art
You can read my full review of this book at my blog, Jimmie's Collage.

Sprite's Essay About Reverie

Paul Gauguin loved painting Tahitian women. I especially love the painting Reverie. But the bright colors and the sad emotion of this painting do not match at all.

The painting's colors are happy and peaceful. The pinks, in my opinion, show happiness and joy. But the blues and greens on the wallpaper and floor show peacefulness. The woman's dress has all sorts of pinks that almost flow. The fabric looks soft as if you could reach out and touch it.

The emotion, on the other hand, shows sadness, boredom, and depression. The word reverie means being pleasantly in one's thoughts. But this woman is most certainly not pleasantly in her thoughts. She looks like her little daydream is one of sadness and mourning.

A viewer of the painting will notice a picture hanging on the wall. The painting has a little house and a tree. It almost seems that the woman is dreaming she could go there, but she cannot. Maybe that is why she looks so sad.

This painting attracted me because of the clashing elements. At first when I saw this painting I thought it was a boring painting. From now on when I see a painting I think is "boring," I should give it a closer look.

Color Your Own Gauguin Paintings

Color Your Own Gauguin Paintings (Dover Art Coloring Book)
Color Your Own Gauguin Paintings (Dover Art Coloring Book)
Coloring pages are a good alternative to making your own reproduction depending on the time you have available and the preferences of your children.

Coloring Page Samples

Here are a few samples of the coloring pages in the coloring book above. Click on the images to go to a larger image suitable for printing.


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    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Gauguin is one of my favourite artists. I just love the colours and the simplicity of his paintings. I remember studying him in art many many years ago and found his biography interesting at the time.

    • LilliputStation profile image


      9 years ago

      Tell Sprite I loved her essay. Great job! (The lens is really good too. ;-)

    • SpellOutloud profile image


      9 years ago

      Another great resource. I love that you go to see the paintings in person! Great pics. of you and Sprite.

    • Barb McCoy profile image

      Barb McCoy 

      9 years ago

      I have such a Gauguin story for you! I will email you since it is rather long. I saw an exhibit of Gauguins when I was in SF last December and I decided that his paintings are not my favorites...I think it is the colors or the kids loved him thought.

      Great lens and lots of wonderful information!

    • rasisonia lm profile image

      rasisonia lm 

      9 years ago

      really interesting subject... thanks for sharing these beautiful arts..


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