Monday, May 1, 2017

ArtAchieve ~ A Crew Review

art lessons for kids, art lessons for homeschool

After several less than stellar attempts on her own, Arlene has finally mastered her watercolor pencils thanks to lessons from ArtAchieve. For the past six weeks, Arlene has been working through lessons from ArtAchieve's Entire Level IV. There are ten lessons in this level which teach moderate and advanced techniques in a variety of art mediums including: watercolors, watercolor pencils, drawing pencils, and oil pastels. 

ArtAchieve's Entire Level IV is designed for use by students ages 10 and above with a significant amount of previous experience in drawing. ArtAchieve begins with much simpler lessons in Levels I-III for students as young as five. If you are looking for a grade-level equivalent, I would consider Level IV to be upper middle school or early high school level projects. Some students have a natural gifting for art and could begin these at a younger age. All of the lessons in Level IV are available in a video or powerpoint presentation, so your student can choose which method they prefer for viewing. Arlene (age 16) and I viewed the first lesson she choose as both a video and as powerpoint and she decided that she preferred the powerpoint presentation. These online art lessons for kids include a one-year license for home use. There are also options available for teachers with larger classes.

Drawing Pencils

To begin with, Arlene chose Lesson 7 that used the supplies she was most comfortable with: drawing pencils. The lessons do not need to be completed in order. Each of these lessons includes warm-up exercises, including a practice sheet that gets the student familiar with the shapes they will be drawing. ArtAchieve's lessons are the work of John Hofland, a former homeschool dad and middle school art teacher. One thing I was impressed with from the lessons I viewed with Arlene was that John is teaching the techniques that can be used for multiple art projects, not just how to copy one work. This is how real art lessons should be taught, so the student then feels confident to go work on their own creation after finishing the assigned project!


While Arlene was not satisfied with how her first project turned out, she used those techniques on other drawings of her own design. Next up was Lesson 9, a watercolor project based upon the rooftops of Zagreb, Croatia. Each of these lessons has Cross Curricular Connections that include information about the location where the original inspiration came from, as well as a short cultural lesson with links to further information. This lesson includes a short history lesson about Zagreb, the capitol of Croatia. Mr. Hofland encourages the students to listen to music from that culture, or other classical music as they draw or paint. The music is partially for relaxation, and partially for inspiration. At the end of the guided drawing part of this lesson there is a link to a traditional Croatian folk song. This lesson took Arlene several days as she wanted her watercolors to have sufficient time to dry between colors. Arlene liked this lesson so well that she did it twice! She was unsure if the term magic marker meant a permanent marker or a water-based marker. She used one the first time, and another on the second time through. In the end I emailed Mr. Hofland and he said he had intended a permanent marker, but to encourage her to use whichever one gave her the effect she liked best.

One valuable lesson Mr. Hofland teaches is that it is ok to not like everything you draw. Also that it is ok to try again.

I found Lesson 9 to be a particularly useful lesson because it encouraged the students to use the original photo of the rooftops of this town as inspiration for their own picture, but to not try to copy every detail. This is one instance where the practice/ warm-up page gave her the opportunity to think about which shapes she most wanted to use. Arlene's final word was that this was the most fun she had ever had with an art lesson! Then came to watercolor pencils in Lesson 4, now it might be a toss-up as to which was her favorite.

Watercolor Pencils

art lessons for kids, art lessons for homeschool

As I mentioned at the beginning, Arlene has had a set of watercolor pencils for a couple of years. Since I grew up with an artist for a dad, art supplies are a staple around our house. We buy them as gifts, or just because they're interesting. What we had not gotten around to was finding some quality instruction on how to use them. Arlene has used regular watercolors proficiently for a couple of years now, but the techniques for these watercolor pencils were eluding her. Arlene worked through the instructions for Lesson 4 of Level IV: Hawaiian Heliconia. By the time I got home from work that afternoon she had mastered the watercolor pencils and was ready for more. Yes, she spent several hours on her project, but it was worth it! As Arlene followed John's instructions she learned the best techniques and the following day she produced another watercolor pencil project of her own design. She copied a picture of a palm frond that she had taken on our family trip to Florida.

art lessons for kids, art lessons for homeschool

Where ever your student it in their art skills, there is sure to be an ArtAchieve level appropriate for them. There is a free Czech Cat lesson from Level I that would be a solid place to begin your investigation into which level would work best for your student. Lessons from each level can be purchased individually, or you can purchase an entire level of lessons at a significant discount. I consider ArtAchieve to be a solid, worthy, and valuable art instruction option for students. There is a small but growing gallery of student artwork available to view on the ArtAchieve website. Take the time to look over what others have achieved and consider some art lessons for your student, and yourself! I hope Mr. Hofland will continue to add additional lessons to each level. Being able to choose a single lesson based upon a particular medium, or an entire level geared for a skill set, gives a freedom to include art in so many more students' education. 
Truly affordable quality art lessons are now within reach with ArtAchieve!

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Art Lessons Inspired From Around the World {ArtAchieve Reviews}

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A big thank you to Arlene for making all of today's graphics to show off her artwork! :)


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