Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Review: ARTistic Pursuits Elementary Art Instruction

Getting all wrapped up in the day to day home schooling life of reading, writing, and arithmetic, it is sometimes easy to overlook the special things that really round out an education - the passions that the children have that make home schooling so enjoyable. I try to make a priority out of their special interests, so that they can pursue and develop them regularly. One of my children loves her art. I find it challenging to really engage her in extra curricular art activities, since I am not a very "artsy" person.

Last year we had the opportunity to review a sculpting course from ARTistic Pursuits, and we greatly enjoyed it. When the opportunity came again this year, we were very excited to receive Elementary 4-5, Book One - The Elements of Art and Composition from ARTistic Pursuits. 

What is ARTistic Pursuits?  This is a comprehensive art instruction course for all ages and ability levels. It is MORE than just a book of art projects! Designed especially for homeschoolers, it combines art appreciation, history of art, techniques, projects, and artistic terms into a complete course. Even though it has so many different factors included, the focus of the lessons really is to develop observation and creativity in the student, allowing them to pursue their art projects as they visualize it, not just as the instructor demonstrates.

About Elementary 4-5 Book One - This 90 page, comb-bound book explores drawing, sketching, and beginning colors for the elementary art student. Designed with an approximate grade level of 4th and 5th graders, it can be easily read through and used by the student independently with no extra instructor help.

Scheduling: There are 16 units, each containing several new terms for the artist, introducing a concept, an art appreciation lesson, and several project suggestions that will help the student apply what they learned. There are four lessons in each unit. If a student works on their art lessons for about an hour, twice a week, they will complete the entire book in one school year.

For the teacher: If a parent would like to give their child a grade, there is a handy grading sheet in the back of the book, with an algorithm for the teacher to use to objectively grade the student's work and participation in the course. This book is very user friendly.

About the lessons: The art appreciation lessons use simple and common works that allow the student to easily visualize the concept that is being taught. It also tells a bit of background about the work, connecting it with other subject matter that the student could be learning about.

The Units: In this book, the sixteen units cover the following drawing concepts: space, line and shape, texture, value, form, contrast, natural form, edges, balance, rhythm, overlap, depth, proportion, and movement. There are several units that will combine areas into interesting projects.

How we used this curriculum:  Kelly, my 4th grader, has been learning a lot about painting and color blending, and really enjoys it.  She had a desire to learn how to draw and sketch, so this book was the perfect addition to our art instruction! We worked on the projects together, which Kelly greatly enjoyed. Each time we had an art lesson, we would read the instructional pages together, then work on some technique practice that was being taught in the lessons. We would also complete the project suggestion for each lesson.

Blended subjects: The art appreciation lesson in the very first unit was the famous painting "Washington Crossing the Delaware".  This perfectly coincided with what we were learning in history, and really made the lesson on using space in drawing easy to observe.

Easy Supply Lists: ARTistic Pursuits makes it pretty easy to have all the supplies on hand that you will need for the entire course. For this book, the supply list can be found online, or at the front of the book. I found that the supplies needed for this book were very simple, and we actually already owned almost everything on the list. ARTistic Pursuits also sells supply packs though, for parents who would like to purchase everything at once.

A sampling of some of our projects:

The very first unit encourages the student to find simple, interesting subjects right in their own world, and draw them as they see them. They are given confidence that there are no "right or wrong" sketches, and that the blank sheet of paper is not to be feared. As the student works on simple sketches, they are taught basic drawing elements of using space to their advantage in their work.

As you can see, these are simple sketches of things that we saw in the kitchen during this first unit:

The student is also encouraged to use their imagination to draw things that they see only in their own mind:

Using lines and space in scenery - these trains are trying to draw everything together, both the lines used to draw them, as well as the lines in the background.

Kelly's (and my) favorite of all her artwork so far: (in fact, we even framed it)

What we thought of this program:  We are really enjoying this book! Creativity is emphasized and encouraged. I feel that the lessons give detailed directions to help the student discover how to properly draw what they are observing, without removing their own personal interpretation.  It shows the student what some common mistakes are, and instructs how to overcome those. For a student who really is interested in learning how to draw, this book will allow them to develop that interest into a full-blown hobby that they can enjoy.

Kelly's thoughts: "I like how this book shows me how to draw, but lets me choose my own projects, and draw them on my own, like I think they should look."  (She said this to compare ARTistic Pursuits to another drawing book she has, that uses step by step lines to show the student how to draw certain objects).

An All-Star Art Lineup: ARTistic Pursuits has an entire line of books available for purchase on their website. Their curriculum has levels available for preschool through high school.

Connect with ARTistic Pursuits on Facebook.

Members of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew have reviewed a large variety of materials from ARTistic Pursuits this week - click the banner below to read more reviews:

ARTistic Pursuits Review

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