I’ve been doing some work for SchoolhouseTeachers.com recently. I’ve been able to look at the amazing list of classes that are offered. It is the curriculum side of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. I’m always interested in art classes. One course that I got to check out in depth was by Brenda Ellis. I kept thinking I would go back and use her art courses in our homeschool… but something else always grabbed my attention. However, recently, the opportunity came up to review ARTistic Pursuits- Elementary 4-5 Book One: The Elements of Art and Composition… which just so happens to be by Brenda Ellis! I was so excited to take the opportunity. I love art and am an artsy person. My kids love to draw and paint and create. I wanted something that would teach basics and technique. I wanted something that wasn’t overwhelming, but easy to teach.
ARTistic Pursuits is a comprehensive program designed for home and school. The program is designed to involve children in the creative process. It is not simply art history or appreciation. The program includes hands on learning. ARTistic Pursuits offers products from preschool to highschool.
We received the book, Elementary 4-5 Book One: The Elements of Art and Composition. The book has 92 pages, 68 lessons, and 230 illustrations. The book is designed for ages 9 and up (although my 5 and 8 year olds followed along with no problem). The book focuses on teaching children to draw realistically. The book can be used by students who have little or no prior knowledge of art. It is written in a way that a student could work through it independently. The book includes art instruction AND art appreciation and art history. The book has a detailed list of supplies needed on the “Getting Started Page.” ARTistic Pursuits offer art supply packs on their website if you don’t want to have to gather it all yourself.
How We Used ARTistic Pursuits
My children draw ALL. THE. TIME. They mostly draw characters from worlds they have created. It is fun and I don’t mind. However, I want to challenge them to think outside of what they always do. When we did the assignments from our ARTistic Pursuits book, I told them they had to think outside of their imaginary worlds. This was incredible hard for Big Brother! Big Sis is a little more imaginative and creative and took to the assignments with ease.
We are currently working through the Elements of Art and Composition by doing one unit per week. Each unit has four lessons (the 4th lesson is the final project for the unit). Each unit includes an introduction to a concept (ex. line and shape), and example of the concept in an established piece of art with information about the artist and time it was created, a “how- to” lesson and a final project. The lessons are short and very manageable. Each lesson presents an opportunity to try out the concept being taught.
In the second lesson of unit 1, the kids looked at the painting “Washington Crossing the Delaware” by Emmanuel Leutze. We learned that he created this painting from what he imagined the event must have looked like. He was not there. He was not living during the actual event. The kids were then given the task of drawing something from their imagination. Big Brother drew a star fighter from a dream he had. Big Sister drew a scene from Little House on the Prairie. She imagined Ma hanging out laundry while Mary and Laura played ball. They filled the space of the paper.
What we Thought
My kids love all things art. When I told them we would be incorporating the Elements book into our daily school, they were super excited. They crowd around me as we look at the book together. They get so excited about the assignments and showing off their finished drawings. I really like the layout of the book. It is very user friendly. We did not purchase an art supply pack, but I love that the company affords you the opportunity to buy the supply packs that are uniquely designed for each course. I would recommend ARTistic Pursuits to my homeschooling friends and readers who are looking for a way to incorporate art into their day. I think the course could easily be used in a co op or enrichment class setting as well.
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