We love creating in our house. From projects to go along with history or science to crafts of whatever holiday is just around the corner, if we can get out glue, paint and markers, we are very happy. However, I will be the first to admit that we have done very little formal study of art and those who make it, so when I received the opportunity to review ARTistic Pursuits, I was looking forward to getting to share it with my children.
We received a copy of the Early Elementary K-3, Book 1: Introduction to the Visual Arts. This book is meant for children in the age range of Kindergarten-Third grade. I used it with all four of my children, and their ages are 9, 7, 4, & 3.
This book is divided into 36 lessons, and the intention of the publisher is that one lesson should be completed per week. This would make each book a full year’s curriculum.
You will need additional supplies to complete this curriculum. Most supplies are basic art supplies, and there’s a complete list in the front of the book, including sizes and recommended brands. However, here’s a brief listing of the most prominent supplies.:
- sketch paper
- watercolor paper
- construction paper
- self-hardening clay
- chalk pastels
- oil pastels
- watercolor crayons
- ebony pencils
- watercolor paintbrush
We actually had many of these supplies lying around our house. You will too if you’ve done much art. However, since this is a year’s curriculum, and I wanted to make art time special, I bought each child his/her own supplies and a little tackle box to put them in. I even asked Hubby to make them their own name labels for the tackle box.
ARTistic Pursuits does offer packages of supplies on their website, and they also have lists that go with each book where you can purchase supplies directly from Dick Blick. If you’re not art oriented, this is a good resource to lean on in acquiring the supplies that you will need for the curriculum.
The Introduction to the Visual Arts book is divided into three sections:
- What artists do
- What artists see
- Where we find art
What artists do is delightful section showing how artists get inspiration, what they use as sources for their art, and the purposes of art and the different basic types of artwork (still life, landscape, portraits, figures, etc.) that you will see as you explore the world of art. The idea behind the lessons and exercises is to get your young elementary student to begin thinking about how art is made.
The second section, what artists see, discusses the basic elements of design. These include shape, form, line, color, edges, space and texture.
The final section of this book, where we find art, begins at the beginning of art history with the cave drawings and explores some of the more famous examples of types of art between primitive art and medieval book making. For example, you will study Egyptian art and Greek and Roman art along the way through this section of the book.
Each lesson is also divided into three sections. There’s a lesson page that is written to the student explaining the terms, ideas, or history of the lesson. There is also an art appreciation page where you are taking a work of art and looking at the element or idea from the lesson in this art. There are questions to help guide you through this easy picture study. The final component of each lesson is the project for the student to do. These projects guide the students on what they should be doing. However, they’re also open-ended enough to allow a great deal of creative expression.
To give you an example of the art appreciation section (and the beautiful full-color photographs), I want to share with you part of a page from one of our recent lessons. You can see more samples on the website of different lesson components.
We actually used this book exactly as the manufacturer intended. Around once a week, we would pull out the book, open it up and do all the components of the lesson that day. If you’ve bought all your supplies, this book is very easy to just open and go. We would complete the entire lesson in around an hour. Most of our time was spent with our individual art projects, not with the printed material of the text.
I found the lesson text to be quick and gentle. It’s perfect for the young elementary school student who is much more interested in creating than the actual art appreciation or lesson portions. However, because the focus on the text is on creation, this is a great way to combine multiple ages together for lessons because each child will create something different based on their ability level.
My favorite thing about this program was the creative prompts. They were related to the lesson that the author was teaching, and they allowed for a great deal of original response. Usually the book has examples of what other children have done in creating for the lesson, but the prompts are so open-ended that the student is not told exactly what to do.
When I see my children draw, most often they choose to draw images from video games, kittens or superheroes. I loved how often my children, when given the creative prompt would choose to draw and paint from their real life memories and observations.
Sometimes I couldn’t even resist picking up a watercolor crayon or a pencil and completing a prompt myself!
Most of the time, the children loved working through this book, and I definitely felt that it was a good addition to our homeschool.
The only complaint I got about this book was from Rose. Many of the early projects use either watercolor crayons or the ebony pencils for drawing. While the rest of us enjoyed that, Rose likes to experiment with different techniques and mediums, and felt like the beginning lessons involved too many repeated uses of watercolor crayons. There are a lot of techniques and supplies used throughout the book, but it is true that the first seven weeks all you’ll need are watercolor crayons, watercolor paper and ebony pencils. She’s anxious to get through these lessons and onto using some of the other new supplies she sees in her box.
We’re enjoying our time with ARTistic Pursuits, and we plan to continue using it. I actually plan on going back and re-completing this book with Monkey and Owlet in a couple of years, as they get a little older and are in the intended age range of the product. This book is gentle and fun, and it makes art a time to look forward to, instead of just another box to check off of your weekly list of subjects.
This text can be purchased directly from the ARTistic Pursuits website for $47.95. ARTistic Pursuits offers a complete line of textbooks from preschool through high school. They also began releasing sculpture books for middle and high school this year. These are unique in that they’re the first in-depth art textbooks for sculpture created for the home environment. Several of my fellow crew members reviewed different books, including the sculpture book, and you can follow the link below to see some reviews on the other elementary levels of books and the brand new sculpture books.