Thursday, March 7, 2013

Artistic Pursuits- High School (9-12) Book One

My Dad was an artist, I grew up around art. Drawing, painting, pottery, sculpture, these were all a part of my education. We spent a lot of time at the Art Museum too. Ever since we have had children, I have wanted to pass on that love of beautiful art to them. When they were little, it was easy. Provide the supplies, and help them when they asked. Work on something of your own and hope to see imagination pour forth. This worked quite well for us for many years. A couple years ago I taught a small art class in my home for our girls and a friend's child. While that went well, the scheduling of the art class made me feel like the spontinaity of the art making process was stifled.

Enter ARTisitic Pursuits.

ARTistic Pursuits is a multi-level curriculum that provides both instruction and encouragement for either home schoolers OR independent study. If your child's school has cut out Art Class due to budget troubles, this can be your reasonably-priced alternative. The curriculum options begin with Pre-school and go all the way through High School. 

Some of my friends say they're not very art-minded. Never fear, there are books for your 'littles' that can guide you through a whole year's worth of art projects! (Click the link at the bottom of this review to see what other Crew members thought about the younger levels, and the other High School book.)

We reviewed the "High School 9-12 Book One, the Elements of Art and Composition" title for this review. Emily LOVES it! This gem of a book includes 16 Units, with 4 lessons in each unit. Unlike traditional art textbooks, this one combines the technique training with Art Appreciation lessons that feature European art, and short artist biographies of well-known artists like Michelangelo, Da Vinci, and Renoir. 

I like this curriculum for several reasons, first, it is independent study. So even though I would love to get out my sketch book and join Emily every time she draws...I don't have to. I can go make dinner or check her math assignments. Secondly, I really value the art appreciation sections. While growing up in public school gave me lots of time for art projects, the only art appreciation I received before my college  Art History class was when our parents took us to various art museums or fairs. (For those of you who don't consider yourselves art-minded, this may be a harder concept to grasp- but it is SO valuable!) Thirdly- I know the recommended art supplies are what SHOULD be used at this stage. If you don't have access (or the inclination) to shop at your local art/ craft supply store, ARTistic Pursuits has put together kits that go with each level. Being a part-time artist myself, we already had many of the needed supplies, so I just purchased the items Emily would need that we didn't already have (or that I didn't want to share-LOL!)

Fourth, and possibly most important for a quality art curriculum, each Unit only focuses on ONE skill to master. I believe the reason so many people are turned off of art is because someone is trying to teach them multiple skills in the same lesson and they get overwhelmed. That does NOT happen with ARTistic Pursuits. Each Unit has 4 lessons, which can be repeated until the student is comfortable with the new skill/ technique. Unit One covers 'Space,' Unit Two: 'Line,' Unit Three: 'Texture.' This continues all the way through Unit 16's focus on 'Clothing the Figure.' (No worries, there aren't lessons on drawing naked people---this one just focuses on HOW the clothes fit, drape, and conform to the people you're drawing!)

Just in the time we've had this curriculum (about 5 weeks,) I have noticed a marked improvement in Emily's drawing skills. She has always enjoyed drawing, but now she is adding techniques that take her drawings from cartoonish or child-like to mature and full. I was really impressed with her recent drawing of one of our chairs. If my dad were still alive, he would have loved it too!

This new Third Edition of the High School Book One currently retails for $47.95. How much you need to spend on the art supplies will vary depending on what you have on hand. The lessons can be divided into two semesters, focusing on pencil drawing first semester, and charcoal drawing second. To get started you need a drawing pad, various drawing pencils, and a couple erasers. You will need to purchase the rest of the supplies after a few units. Overall, you should be able to secure the needed supplies for between $40 and $70 dollars depending on the prices where you live. So about $100 total for the book and supplies for TWO semesters worth of High School level art. That is a whole lot cheaper than private art lessons, or group lessons at our local art museum! In the back of the book there is a guide to help you know how to list the course on your child's transcript. Since this is a non-consumable book (you draw on drawing paper, not in the book) you can use it over and over again with all of your children.

So how did we actually use this in our house??? Like this: Emily took the book and suplies and ran! LOL! She was fascinated by the way the lessons were laid out, and would often (like almost every time she drew something) bring her sketch book to show me what she had done. Her best friend turned 16 and had a "Mad Hatter" themed party during the review period. Emily drew her some pictures from "Alice in Wonderland" using her newly-aquired skills and them we framed them simply in some old frames we had purchased a few years back at an auction. After 5 weeks, Emily is almost done with Unit 3. She is waiting for the recent snow to melt because she said "it's too hard to draw a landscape with snow!" 

The assignment for each lesson is printed in red, so there is no confusion about what the student should be doing. There were several lessons where Emily chose to do the assignment more than once. Some, because she wanted to do a better job than her first attempt. Others, because she enjoyed the assignment.

I would whole-heartedly recommend ARTistic Pursuits for your family. Even though I could be teaching Emily every technique myself, this curriculum makes it much easier for her to learn them herself, only needing to come to me with questions, or for additional advice about how to use the techniques. If you are not art-minded, this will take the stress off of you AND provide a wonderful art class experience for your child.

Some people view Art as an elective, something to choose to do if you want to. We view Art as a necessity, an expression of the beauty we see in the world God created. Artsitic Pursuits will help you view Art as fun- a necessary elective!


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