ARTistic Pursuits (Crew Review)
Art is one of those subjects I love in theory but have trouble being consistent with in practice. As a child I always loved any kind of art instruction and time to create my own artwork, and Ian also seems very drawn to all mediums of art to which I’ve introduced him. I was delighted to get a chance to review the Early Elementary K-3 Book Two: Stories of Artists and Their Art curriculum from ARTistic Pursuits, because then I knew we would be sure to devote some time to an art program, even if only for the time of our review. We both enjoyed this time so much, however, that I really want to make sure to make art more of a priority as I plan our day. We may not keep up the pace of 2-3 lessons a week that we did during this review, but I want to be sure we include it at least once a week.
ARTistic Pursuits offers a complete homeschool art program, teaching both art history and art techniques. I was drawn to K-3 Book Two: Stories of Artists and Their Art because I was eager to introduce Ian to some of the world’s most famous artists (e.g. Da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Rembrandt) and I thought he would enjoy learning about them through stories. (Although we have done some work out of previous books in this series, Book Two works well as a stand-alone curriculum, and it is not necessary to have completed Book One in order to use it.) All the lesson plans are contained in one non-consumable comb-bound paperback book priced at $47.95.
There 36 lessons, providing one lesson a week for an entire school year. As you can see from the Table of Contents, two weeks are spent on each artist, with two parts to each lesson:
Introduction to the artist through a fictionalized story, often about his childhood
- A project related to the artist’s work.
- Study of a famous work by the artist, looking at specific details or techniques used in its creation. (Although the pictures studied are in the book, I chose to find them all online and show them on the TV hooked up to my laptop so we could all get a good look at the same time.)
- Another project related to the artist’s work.
There are also four lessons about art techniques (color mixing, watercolor wash, oil pastel technique, and printmaking basics) with projects that are separate from the artist units.
In order to complete the lessons you will need to purchase art supplies separately. ARTistic Pursuits makes it easy to find everything you need, even before you get the book and look over the materials list. They sell packs with the necessary supplies for each of their books. Another option can be found at the bottom of the “art supply packs” page, where they also have instructions on how to purchase quality discount supplies by looking up the supply lists for their individual books through Blick Art Materials. (This is what I did. All but two items for this book are on the list, and they can be found on Amazon or any hardware store.)
Our Experience with ARTistic Pursuits
At first I did some of the projects alongside Ian, but that led to trouble because he would start to copy me and then get frustrated when his paintings didn’t look like mine. I ended up just demonstrating the technique and then putting mine away to work on later if I wanted to finish it. Similarly, I had to keep the book away from him while he was working or he would just try to copy the sample projects pictured there. I really wanted him to feel free to do his own art rather than trying to duplicate someone else’s.
I loved the chronological journey through art history, especially learning about early artists I’d never heard of, like Cimabue and Giotto. Ian really liked the stories about the artists. When he was showing his fresco to Daddy one evening, I mentioned that we’d been learning about an artist named Giotto. I asked Ian if he remembered anything about Giotto, and he immediately began telling Eric the story about how he painted a fly that looked so real his master tried to brush it off the wall. He also remembered that Giotto had scratched pictures on rocks out in the fields. (Our project from the previous lesson had involved using a paper clip to etch a picture into a paper covered in black oil pastels.)
Having the projects that tied in with their work really helped impress upon Ian some of the things that made that artist’s work unique. For example, The lesson on Van Eyck talked about how the artist liked to paint lots of details that viewers might not notice immediately but would only see if they really spent time looking at the picture. Ian loved playing “I Spy” when we talked about Van Eyck and searching the selected painting for the different objects listed in the lesson plan. Then of course he had a great time creating his own “I Spy” picture using oil pastels.
I also really appreciated these lessons studying the famous works of art. Ian was so excited one night at bedtime when Daddy was reading him a book about knights that we’d picked up at the library that day and they came across a page with a picture of The Tres Riches Heures of Jean, Duke of Berry, the very same painting we had looked at in our lesson earlier that week. I loved it when our schoolwork shows up in other parts of his life and he gets to feel like a part of the wider world. He already recognized the Mona Lisa, but now he feels some ownership of it after spending a little time discussing the painting during our lesson on Leonardo Da Vinci.
What better way to teach children about art history than to draw them in and have them create similar works? I didn’t even what frescoes were until I was in my 20’s, and yet Ian got to make one at age 6. This curriculum did a great job of exposing him to all sorts of different art. Although we did use watercolor a lot, it certainly wasn’t the only medium used, as you can see from the pictures I’ve shared here. All the projects really stirred up his creativity, and he ended up doing lots of art on his own outside of what we were working on during our art lessons. We really enjoyed our time with ARTistic Pursuits, and I’m looking forward to finishing the curriculum and working on some of the projects still ahead of us. If you’re interested in including art in your children’s home education, I would strongly encourage you to check out their website and website and Facebook page.
ARTistic Pursuits has a full range of curriculum available for all ages, and other members of the Crew have reviewed many of them, so be sure to click on the Review Crew banner below to read more about the other books in the program. Here’s a list of all the books from Preschool-High School:
Preschool (ages 3-5)
Early Elementary (Grades 1-3)
- Book One: Introduction to the Visual Arts
- Book Two: Stories of Artists and Their Art
- Book Three: Modern Painting and Sculpture
Elementary (Grades 4-5)
Middle School (Grades 6-8)
High School (Grades 9-12)
There are also two new sculpture books available (with a third expected to be released in 2016), appropriate for ages 11-18: