Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Review: Artistic Pursuits

Having an avid artist in the family who loves to draw and would do so all day, every day if he was allowed, I was thrilled to receive Artistic Pursuits to review as a member of the TOS Crew

Artistic Pursuits is an award-winning art curriculum for homeschoolers, by homeschoolers.  There are a total of ten books for students ranging in age from as young as 3-5 all the way up to a senior in high school!  If you choose, you may also purchase art supply packs that go along with each book.  These packs include all the art materials needed for each book and range in price from $45 to $92.  If you're interested in saving a little money or if you'd like to buy individual art supplies rather than the whole supply pack, Artistic Pursuits has also linked to on-line discount art supply stores you may also purchase your supplies from (scroll down to the bottom of the page to find these).

There are several things I really like about this art curriculum, one of the biggest being that the books are written conversation-style directly to the student so my son can simply pick up the book and do it on his own.  This makes is easy on mom while also helping my son feel independent in his art.

Another thing I really appreciate about Artistic Pursuits is how the student is encouraged to look at the world around them, taking it all in and seeing it in a different way than they've ever looked at it before and then drawing from that.  They are not kept inside the box, being shown exactly what to draw and how to draw it within a tiny little box.  They are encouraged to draw things as THEY see them, at their own age-appropriate level, and then praised for doing so.

Within each book is a full school year's worth of lessons, done at two lessons per week.  There are four unique projects in each unit that include creative exercises, art history and appreciation, techniques, and exploration of various subject matter. 

The book we reviewed is Book One of the Grade 4-6 level as seen here:

This book is broken down into 16 units, each unit containing four lessons.  Lesson 1 of each new unit is titled, Explore Your World!  A Creative Exercise Using Real-World Experience.  This is exactly as it sounds, a brief reading of what real artists out in the real world do in different situations along with a 'Try It' activity for the student to do.  The objective for each unit is given at the bottom of this page making it easy for the teacher to see.

"Unit 2, Lesson 1: VOCABULARY AND CREATIVE EXERCISE PAGE Each unit explores one or two elements of art or a compositional arrangement. ILLUSTRATED VOCABULARY: A definition is given in both words and pictures at the top of the page. EXPLORE YOUR WORLD! Students get their hands on art materials the first day in a project designed to explore the subject of art and creativity. OBJECTIVES: The objectives of the Explore your World! section are listed and color coded to clarify the purpose of the creative assignment and for easy grading using a grading system on page 87."

Lesson 2 of each unit shows a master work and helps them apply what they are learning into their own creation.  One of my favorite parts of Artistic Pursuits that I am so glad the creaters included comes in lesson 2 as well, learning about famous (and sometimes not-so-famous) artists and the times they lived in.

"Unit 2, Lesson 2: ART APPRECIATION PAGE Students see how the topic of the unit is used in a work by a master artist. When they see a concept in artists' works, they are more able to use it in their own work. Illustrations accompany the work, helping students see what is being discussed in the text. Arrows point to the places in the artwork that are discussed in the text so students can't miss seeing it."

"ART HISTORY PAGE: Students gain a larger context to view art in as they learn about the artists and the times in which the art was made. ARTIST BIOGRAPHY: A biography of the master artist familiarizes students with major artists and their works. Students learn about painters of the American Revolution, the first painters of the Native Americans, Wilderness Explorers, Cowboy Painters, Quakers, miniatures, American Impressionists, Realists, and Regionalists. THE TIMES: Students learn about American history. They will see what Americans were doing, thinking, and discovering during the artist's lifetime. MAKE AN OBSERVATION DRAWING: Students gain skill in working from observation, memory, or imagination."

 The third lesson of each unit focuses on learning how to use the different medias, materials and tools of art and having them put that knowledge to use in their own art.

"Unit 2, Lesson 3: TECHNIQUES PAGE HOW TO: Students learn technical information. How to use a medium such as pencil or pen and a variety of ways for using each medium are introduced. Techniques for drawing and exploring certain subject matter are shown. This page introduces some basic ideas about seeing to help the student begin to observe more closely. SOMETHING TO TRY: Students practice with the techniques shown, completing a project."

Finally, in Lesson 4 the student is given a project to do that incorporates the new things they have learned.  They use a variety of references such as still life objects, landscapes, portraiture, photographs, and more.

"Unit 2, Lesson 4: FINAL PROJECT PAGE Instructions are given for a final project in which students assimilate the information from the unit and do a work reflecting their interests or particular interpretations. YOU WILL NEED: A materials list is given in the right column. REFER TO THE FOLLOWING WHEN DRAWING: Suggestions for what to use as a reference is given in the right column. Once students go through the book they will have used all the references available: photographs, direct observation, their imagination, etc. STUDENT GALLERY: Students see how others their own age interpreted and successfully used the element of art. A range of skill levels is shown to encourage different approaches to art. LOOK BACK: Students evaluate the success of the finished work by answering the questions. Parents can use the color-coded stated objective for easy grading."

Each of the ten Artistic Pursuits books sell for $42.95.  In my honest opinion they are worth the price.  However, it can get a bit pricey when you have several children that you would like to purchase books for.  I would like to see perhaps a discount when buying multiple books.  But that aside, I do really like this curriculum and look forward to continuing to use it in our homeschooling adventure.

*As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I received this product free of charge in exchange for my review and honest opinion of it. As a believer and follower of my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, I promise you that all my reviews contain only my own honest opinions...'cause He told me to not lie!

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