Featured Lesson Designer

Great artists and their works can help students to better understand the principles of art. Opportunities abound in this day of technology, making art more accessible than ever before. I am excited to share my interview with Gina Ferguson Foster as she shares about the importance of art and ways to cultivate time for creativity. She is the lesson designer of Drawing in Pen and Ink (SchoolhouseTeachers.com/school-subjects/art/drawing-in-pen-and-ink), available on SchoolhouseTeachers.com. Gina is a talented art teacher with years of experience and a heart’s desire to see all students enjoy art.

TOS: In your opinion, why is studying art important for homeschoolers?

Gina: We all know that art assists in developing creativity, but beyond that, I believe art enhances our grasp of other disciplines and even helps us see the world in more detail. Light, shadows, color, texture, etc., each appear more vivid when we better understand and observe the visual nuances around us. As Christians, studying art—both studio art and art history—raises our appreciation of the Creator and His omnificent (all-creative) nature, and hopefully, like the angels in Revelation 4:11, causes us to worship Him for what He has created.

TOS: What inspired you to become an artist?

Gina: From a young age, my parents perceived that I had an eye for drawing and encouraged artistic pursuits. I’ve always loved nature and took great delight in trying to reproduce God’s creation on paper. In eighth grade, I asked my parents if they would homeschool me for high school and, thankfully, they said yes, as this allowed me to take intensive private art lessons from a professional artist. She required that I devote significant time to studying art history, something that I was initially reluctant to do; however, I soon found that this quickly advanced my technical understanding and skills. The experience confirmed that I should pursue art professionally, especially since my art and writing portfolios helped me earn a full college scholarship and even make money while still in college.

TOS: What is your favorite medium to use for art?

Gina: I love working in graphite pencil, colored pencil, and pen and ink, mostly because of the high level of detail that can be achieved. Some of my favorite pencil projects include creating expressive eyes with colorfully detailed irises and well-defined eyelashes that help bring a portrait to life. I developed the Drawing in Pen & Ink class for SchoolhouseTeachers.com because it is an often overlooked medium, yet one that can create striking high-contrast images with brilliant texture and intricate detail.

TOS: Please share with us about your book, The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective.

Gina: In 2006 I was asked to teach a high school art history course and quickly discovered how limited the resources were for advanced art history studies from a Christian perspective. Through this experience, I felt the Lord lay on my heart the need to develop a Christ-centered curriculum, a project that ultimately took over a decade to complete. Today, The Master and His Apprentices is a full-credit course available in both hardcover and budget friendly digital versions. It is unique in that it begins with Creation and God as THE Master Artist and parallels art history with Biblical and Christian history. The textbook contains over six hundred images, all nudity-free, and the teacher guide makes it easy for parents to facilitate—even with no art background. The uniqueness of the curriculum has also attracted use in private Christian schools and even in some university courses.

TOS: What words of encouragement would you like to share with students who are reluctant to create art?

Gina: Find a subject or medium that you enjoy working with, relax, and focus on having fun rather than pressuring yourself to create a “showpiece.” The creative process is about experimenting and finding what works for you. Some of the best artists are those with the confidence to experiment and “fail,” because they realize that skills, understanding, and some of the greatest works of art are developed from “mistakes.”

TOS: Do you have any tips for parents of students who are not artistically inclined?

Gina: Use the flexibility of homeschooling to your advantage! Once the basic principles are mastered, encourage students to explore the art options available to them, whether various media, styles, approaches, etc. Giving students the time and freedom to identify the thing that catches their interest often motivates them to delve deeper than anticipated. Moreover, studying art history, going to exhibits and museums, visiting art stores, or browsing the creative process online are each fun ways to inform and inspire as skills are further developed.

TOS: Thank you for sharing your expertise with us, Gina! I hope this interview encourages our readers to cultivate time for art. It may be what sparks a new interest for students or even their parents!

If you’d like more information about designing lessons for our site, please email the Executive Manager at stmanager@theoldschoolhouse.com.