My eight year old dreams of becoming an artist. She would love to just spend the whole day coloring, drawing, painting and creating. As a mom, I want to give her the tools she needs to develop skills in art as well as understand artists and to appreciate real art. So, when I received the opportunity to review a book from ARTistic Pursuits, I was thrilled.
I received a copy of Early Elementary K-3, Book 2: Stories of Artists and Their Art. (This is actually the second ARTistic Pursuits book we’ve used. You can read my review of Early Elementary Book 1 here.) This book begins its survey of artists and art history where Book 1 leaves off, beginning in the 1200s and extending all the 1800s, examining many major artists over these time periods. However, you this book uses different supplies and techniques from the first book, making it a cinch to start with this book, depending on where your child’s interests lie. I actually used this book with all four of my children, and their ages are 10, 8, 5, & 3, making this a whole family endeavor.
Features of This Book
This book contains 36 lessons, so if you use one lesson a week, it will take you an entire school year to complete this curriculum. There are three types of lessons in this study.
The first is artist study. These studies are always told in an engaging storybook format. Even the preschoolers would crowd around me as I would start to read the stories and they would enjoy the reading and remember much about the story later. Each of these artist stories are paired with a project that is indicative of the artist’s work. One of my favorite examples that we’ve done so far is from when we studied Giotto. We found out in the story time that he would scratch drawings into the rocks around him as he watched his sheep. After we studied this story, we had the opportunity to use oil pastels and our own scratching tool to make work similar to what Giotto would have made.
The second type of lesson always follows the artist story lesson and it is a picture study of the artist that is being studied. The two lessons together for a unit of study. The book presents a picture of an a famous artwork from the artist that your children have read about in the previous lesson. The lesson presents details about about the painting and adds questions in to help aid your child’s understanding of the painting and appreciation of the details of the painting. Your child is then presented with a project that relates to the painting that your children have studied.
One of my children’s favorite paintings so far has been when we studied Cimabue’s Madonna Enthroned, with Saints and Angels. In this lesson, the children were introduced to the concept of using gold leaf in a painting through the use of gold leaf on the throne and halos in Cimabue’s painting. Afterwards, the children make their own painting using gold origami paper as an accent to their paintings.
Some units (but not every one) also contain a third lesson. These lessons teach additional techniques. The technique lessons include color mixing, watercolor washes, oil pastel resist, and printmaking. These were fun lessons that were looked forward to by all the children as they learned the new things contained in the lesson.
Using this book is really straight forward. As long as you have all the supplies included (list is in the beginning of the book and ARTistic Pursuits sells supply packages), you can just open the book and go to the lesson. The text is written to the children and they can even read it independently if they wish. We didn’t wish to, so we all curled up together on the couch to read the stories and to study the pictures.
Then we would be able to go and get started on our project. Except for the multistep fresco painting, every project that we’ve completed so far has taken less than an hour to complete. We’ve completed the first eight projects in the book, so we’re almost a fourth of the way through the course.
Our Final Opinion
We loved this book. We had enjoyed the book we got to review this year, but we’re loving this one. This book is predominately made up of watercolor painting and adds in a handful of printmaking, oil pastel and construction paper/tissue paper techniques. Almost every lesson gives them a new technique to add to their watercolor painting or a way to add oil pastels or other media (like origami paper) into their paintings. Because of the emphasis on oil pastels and watercolor paints, it gives the children plenty of practice in both mediums, allowing them to have greater and greater experience and skill as the year moves along.
I also love the artist studies and the emphasis on appreciation of paintings. They’re so simple, but the children learn enough, and I wouldn’t be confident enough of my knowledge of art and artists to feel like I could teach this subject area without guidance. Because we’re using this curriculum, I feel like I can give my children a balanced art education without it being overly complicated.
However, the best recommendation of this book I can give is on the part of my eight year old daughter. She said she’d always enjoyed art before, but now, with this book of art study and techniques, she says she’s eager to do art. With all the other children crowding around for lessons and running to the dining room table to paint, I know that they’re eager too. This curriculum makes me feel like a rock-star homeschooling mom, and I’m happy we’ve had the chance to use it.