Friday, May 2, 2014

Artistic Pursuits (A Schoolhouse Crew Review)

ARTistic Pursuits is a homeschool art curriculum for students of all ages.  With a total of 13 books, ranging from preschool to high school levels, there is a program for every student.  Matthew has been reviewing the Elementary 4-5, Book 1: The Elements of Art and Composition ($47.95, plus art supplies). Although this book is actually intended for younger elementary students, seventh-grader Matthew is a beginning art student, so this suited his skill level well.

ARTistic Pursuits Review
The Elements of Art and Composition literally begins at the start of freehand drawing.  Working in black and white, activities are mainly about line, shape and form.  The focus is on honing observational skills, and learning to focus on practicing drawing "what you see" and letting go of the need to draw "what you think others expect you to see."  The lessons start with absolute basics -- the direction to not be afraid of the white space of the paper!

Each unit focuses on a different aspect of drawing, and how to work on controlling your final product so that it fits in itself.  For example, an early lesson discusses space - both the space your drawing takes up, and the space that it does not.  When it comes to art, the adage "A picture is worth a thousand words" is never more appropriate.  The program uses paintings to help explain the lesson, and how adjusting that concept completely changes your final drawing.  Some are images that we have seen often before, including Emmanuel Leutze's Washington Crossing the Delaware and Portrait of the Artist's Mother by James Whistler.  There are also a number of student renderings included in each lesson.  While it's very helpful to have professional, well-known works included (they are classic art because of the artists' skill and beautifully illustrate the ideas being taught), having simpler, more rudiementary student examples helps the student gain confidence, and not feel they have to be Louvre-caliber artists right out of the gate.

In addition to using the famous art as concept examples, each unit includes a study of the artist, and a contextual historical study.   While this would not suffice to create an entire social studies/history course, it would certainly be a good parallel study, or can be used to round out the art program with basic art history.

This past year, Matthew has gotten involved with the Art Club at school.  He will be homeschooled next year, and I know that art was something that he was going to miss. I also think he may have a real talent for it - he has a very good eye, and has brought home several simple yet impressive for a true beginner paintings.  He also is a doodler -- I find all kinds of drawings on the back of papers, in margins, etc.  I really wanted to try this program for him because I would like him to be able to continue with art.  Ideally, we will find a local artist to tutor him, but in the meantime, I wanted him to have a way to learn skills on his own.   Because he's really a beginning student, going down to a "lower grade" really didn't pose an issue.  He's used to working in acrylics, and he struggled a little with the idea of black and white pencils being "all" he had to work with.  However, I think it is good to begin with pencil and then move on to color, because the student is forced to learn control - control of his grip, pressure on the pencil, etc.  This actually translated to his acrylic work, where he had a better eye for light/shade. He also said he had an easier time painting because he didn't have as much smearing -- he wasn't globbing paint on as much.

This program is ideal for both homeschoolers and in-schoolers.  The lessons (four per unit) are meant to be done at a rate of two per week, making it not overly burdensome to add to the school day.  How long each lesson takes really depends on what the student decides to draw.  Sometimes, Matthew only spent about half an hour on a sketch, while other days he may have spent a couple of hours if it was more detailed.  (At two lessons/week, it will take a full school year to complete the course.)  They are also simple enough that a student could complete a unit a week with near-daily practice.

This is definitely a program I see us continuing through the summer and into next year.  I think we would likely mix in some other media/art styles just to break things up, perhaps doing blocks of 4-6 weeks with this program and then a week of using a color media to keep his interest.  (There is a book on Color and Composition as well that I think would interest him.)   Everything is sequentially laid out and well explained, making this an ideal program for the student who wants to learn artistic principles.

Click to read Crew Reviews

 ©2012- 2014 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

1 comment:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Pin It button on image hover