Definitely not something I have any teaching ability in whatsoever. Definitely a skill I want to encourage in the kids.
What to do? Hope and pray that the right curriculum finds us – one that, out of necessity, requires no more actual skill from me then providing the books and supplies.
Lo and behold, I think one found us.
We were thrilled to find out that we’d get to try out Artistic Pursuits – I’ve heard a lot of great things about their art curriculum. But AAAAGH! Decision time. I had to figure out which specific book to request. The kids range from 3rd to 9th – and I wanted each of them to be able to participate. That led to my choosing of the 4-6th book: just right for the younger two, and hopefully not too babyish for my older ones, who’ve had no formal art instruction since they were in public school, 2-4 years ago. (If it can be called “art instruction”, when it was of such dubious nature, random and infrequent.)
The book arrived – and wow, bright, intriguing cover, chock full of instructions and sample art. Approximately 90 pages, spread over 16 units, with four lessons per unit. My only disappointment was in the binding – it’s comb-bound. Comb-binding just doesn’t hold up well in our house, so there’s a good chance it will end up dismantled, put in sheet protectors and ensconced in a binder for longevity.
Then it was time for a material hunt. Supply packs are available from Artistic Pursuits, plus they’ve done the kindness of setting up easy-to-order bundles with a couple of online companies, but I wanted to look over the book, and check supplies on hand, before I decided what – and where – to purchase.
Most of what we needed we already had, with the exception of the Ebony pencils, so it was off to our local art and bead store I went. (They offer teachers a 15% discount for class materials – and homeschoolers count. Puts the price that much closer to the discount online places – and supports a local business while we’re at it, definitely a good thing. Besides, it gave me an excuse to check out their neat new location.)
Materials needed vary from book to book, but lists (and info for the bundles) can easily be viewed on Artistic Pursuit’s website. The book itself is text/reference, and reusable – supplies, though, will need to be restocked with regular use. If your kids are anything like mine, you’re not going to get just one project per lesson.
Since we’re on eclectic-leaning-toward-relaxed mode, I wanted to know, right from the get-go, if it would work well with a work-at-your-own-pace-individually situation. Pleased to report that it has, quite well, in fact. My input has consisted of: providing materials, asking if they’d worked on it this week, and admiring the end results. As far as I’m concerned, that’s as independent-friendly as a curriculum can get!
The recommended pace is 2 hour-long lessons per week, which would fill 32 weeks. Lessons will likely require more time to complete as the year wears on, because more skills will likely translate into spending more time working on each project. Also, the parent is advised to schedule lessons when they can be completed without interruption, as a break in the middle can derail enthusiasm and energy.
Artistic Pursuits would be a great addition to any core curriculum, with or without high teacher involvement. It would be easy for a knowledgeable parent to spend more time or go into more details on desired topics, but it’s not necessary. This book is definitely accessible for middle grades, and with a complete set on the shelf, would be a great resource even for unschoolers who enjoy art.
Each unit has four lessons. The first is focused on the topic presented in that lesson, giving ways to observe that detail in the world around them, and create art from what they see. The second lesson gives examples of the skill in other works of art, and relates that art to the history and culture of the artist. The third lesson centers around technique and helping the student to apply their new knowledge to their own art.
We didn’t schedule in two specific times per week – instead, I just added it to their schedule as something that they could work on when they had time – lately we’ve had too many projects going on at once keeping things disorganized, so it fit into our schedule better that way.
I was very excited to learn we’d get to check out Artistic Pursuits; I had high hopes for this product, and this book has met and exceeded my expectations. My biggest surprise? It’s actually the quality of results that I’m surprised at. I’m no artist, but I can appreciate when something is well drawn. Two of mine seem to be gifted artistically, while the other two do not – but what really got my attention that my less-naturally-skilled kids have produced drawings that are far better then I anticipated.
Artistic Pursuits is going on our must-buy list. There are two books for 4th-6th grade, two for junior high, and two for senior high. I’m actually considering, in addition, purchasing the 1st-3rd grade books, also – not sure how well they’d adapt for older kids, but we might just have to try them out and see.
The kids were curious at first look, and anything artsy or crafty, they tend to dive into wholeheartedly. Artistic Pursuits has joined the “wish we’d tried it sooner” collection. It’s going to be interesting to see, as time goes by, how things improve – and I think I’m going to try it out, too. Supposedly, anyone can learn to draw.
ARTistic Pursuits (Grades 4-6) Book One: The Elements of Art and Composition may be purchased from Artistic Pursuits for $42.95. This is just one book in a series that encompasses all grades from preschool through high school – all books are currently the same price.
To see what other crew members had to say about this product, check out the TOS Homeschool Crew blog post, Artistic Pursuits.
**I received this product for free as a member of the 2010-11 The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew so that I could provide you with an honest review of it by our family.**