Homeschool Art Curriculum Review
I love art. I love contemplating bright and happy works of art. My mother is a gifted watercolorist, and I’d say, I can draw simple things rather decently. For some reason though, doing art at home doesn’t come easily to me. My brain’s left side predominates, I’m sure. I guess Super Hero inherited the geek gene, too. Yet, when given the opportunity to review Artistic Pursuits, he welcomed it with gusto. We received Early Elementary K-3, Book 2: Stories of Artists and Their Art for free, in exchange for my thorough and unbiased review.
What to Expect
Just like it’s name indicates, K-3, Book 2: Stories of Artists and Their Art, targets children in kindergarten through 3rd grade. Each lesson comprises the Artist Study, the Picture Study, and the Project pages. These are appropriate even for older children, or anyone who appreciates a quaint story, and lively masterpiece details. The exercises in the Project page are suitable for all ages, adults too.
The Artist Study is a two-page biography with colorful illustrations by the author, Brenda Ellis. Anecdotes during the times the artist was a child, pepper the story, making it appealing to children. The biography not only speaks about the artist’s life. It describes how the artist began his art in the context of what was happening at the time. For example, Cimabue’s bio recounts the battles of Florence, during the Gothic Period. It tells how people protected their towns, building walls and towers to surround them. How they organized themselves into groups, eventually morphing into what we now call the guilds. The author keeps the child engaged mentioning what the boys, and girls, did at the time. It tells how young Cimabue started painting in the churches of Florence, revealing naturally, the techniques and styles that would make him so famous.
The Picture Study page features one of the artist’s most prominent masterpieces in full color. Compelling tidbits and stimulating questions help the child focus on salient points. In short, the Artist and Picture Study pages deliver an art history and art techniques lesson, all-in-one.
Next’s the Project page. This is the moment for the child to practice what he’s learned in the previous pages. The “Student Gallery” boasts an actual artwork by a child of similar age. About 5-9 years-old, since the book’s target is K-3. We like the Student Gallery. It is encouraging to see other children’s creations. Also included are the project’s step by step instructions with helpful illustrations by the author.
How Did We Use Artistic Pursuits?
Brenda Ellis begins, literally, by suggesting to allow the child to work directly with nature:
“Copying an adult model from the pages of a book is a meager offering when compared to the variety of subjects available in nature. The child who copies the adult model will gain skills required to repeat that model, but the nature observer will gain so much more.”
There’s more. But hopefully this quote will give you an idea of her philosophy, and thus, the kind of curriculum she’s developed.
I appreciate her recommendation to work with nature. We did go to our backyard to complete some projects, and we intend to continue beyond it. No one can deny how refreshing it is to get in touch with Mother Nature. It’s invigorating. Without doubt, a wonderful start to creative self-expression.
Still, we’ve done most of our projects indoors, at our homeschooling room (which I love, too.) Super Hero eagerly set up his art stand, and intently observed his toy train, trying to transfer the shapes and colors into his paper. First red, then blue, then brown. He mixed and combined the watercolors following Brenda’s instructions. Later, Super Hero found that working with oil pastels was different from watercolors. The pastels painted a deep and smooth paste, as if they were melting into the paper.
Needless to say, I included myself into the activities and participated right along Super Hero, of course! I told you this was a curriculum suitable for “kids” of all ages 😉
So, What’s the Gist?
Artistic Pursuits is an approachable art curriculum, even for geeks like us. We aren’t intimidated by the projects at all. It’s truly open-and-go (as much as art can be.) The projects aren’t complicated. The “Student Gallery” succeeds in helping us expect realistic outcomes. The child’s not to draw and paint like Cimabue from the get-go. Super Hero finds the lessons pleasant, doable, and best of all, enjoyable. I’m so glad!
I don’t mind the book’s homemade look at all. Yet, I can’t help wondering if it weren’t more favorable to have a “publisher” print Artistic Pursuits’ books. It might produce a more polished book, and greener, too. It’d save paper by printing in both sides of the page. Nothing wrong with the current comb-bound format, really. Not so far, anyway. It is clean, clear, and easy to follow.
In a Nutshell
Yes I would recommend Artistic Pursuits. It delivers art history, art techniques, combined with doable art projects for kids, young and old.
Super Hero has very much enjoyed “Stories of Artists and Their Art”, and so have I.
If you’d like to give Artistic Pursuits a try, Book 2 retails for $47.95. The art supply pack for this particular volume costs $89, plus shipping. You need not buy the art supplies at their site of course. It’s just an added convenience to have all the materials ready.
What to Learn More?
If you’re like me and gotta hunt the entire Internet for more reviews before you commit, you got it easy. Read all the reviews you may be craving from my fellow Crew members. Or stop by Artistic Pursuits’ website.