Saturday, December 3, 2011

Review: Artistic Pursuits

L has really overcome his fine motor delays, and has turned out to be a pretty good little sketcher. We've picked up a few how to draw books, the ones that focus on particular cartoon or comic book characters, but that's been the extent of his artistic instruction up until now.

I feel pretty unqualified to teach art. I'm undoubtedly crafty, but not too artsy. (The one year I took art class as an elective in middle school, I nearly failed. Groan.) Art lessons sound good in theory, but they're expensive.

I was really excited to be chosen to review one of the Artistic Pursuits books, as part of the TOS Review Crew.

I chose Book One, An Introduction to the visual Arts, which is suitable for grades K-3. The softcover, spiral bound book is available through the Artistic Pursuits website, and retails for $42.95. It includes many colored photos, and is a concise 88 pages long. It's essentially a non-consumable book, which means it could be used for several of your children. (There is one certificate to fill out in the back, upon completion of the course. Otherwise, there's no need to write in it.)

There are, as you would expect, some additional supplies that need to be purchased in order to use this curriculum. (If you're an artsy craftsy family, you may have some of these items already in the house. We had a few of them.) If you need or want to purchase a full set of supplies, there are several different avenues you can take. You can buy a pre-assembled supply kit for this book directly from the Artistic Pursuits site for $85+shipping. The Artistic Pursuits site also links to another site where you pick up a supply package for $55.94+shipping. If you want, (or need,) to take a thriftier approach, you can always buy the supplies as needed, instead of in a bundle, and take advantage of the weekly 40-50% off coupons from your favorite craft stores.

I was really impressed with the customer service this company provides. Since they knew we'd want to dive right into the books as soon as we got them, they sent a letter about a week before the book shipped that included a supply list, and had the items we'd need immediately highlighted. How cool is that?

The book includes 32 lessons, one per week, broken into to three subject areas: What Artists Do, What Artists See, and Where We Find Art.

Each lesson is essentially broken down into three components.

  1. A discussion of what you'll be learning about and working on, a theme for the week, if you will.
  2. A photo of, some background information about, and discussion prompts for a piece of art that exemplifies the theme.
  3. Third, the actual assignment.

(You can check out sample pages from lesson one here.)

The actual assignments are just what you'd hope for. They include open ended prompts, which allow for actual creativity, while also providing practical instruction on technique.

The book requires no advance preparation for the the teacher, other than gathering appropriate materials, and it doesn't assume any previous knowledge on the part of the student or teacher. In short, it was perfect for us.

The kids are super excited to be making "real" art. (Three and a half year old V is working along with us, to the best of her abilities.) L is developing new skills, like how to properly use a paint brush, (as opposed to grinding it roughly across the page,) and learning to appreciate things like perspective.

Three and a half year old V's kitty cat, drawn for week one's assignment.

I'm really excited to finally have a workable, systematic way to teach art to the kids, even though I'm not particularly gifted in that area. I like that the course covers art appreciation, art history, and actual technique. I'd recommend it to anyone looking to incorporate art into their homeschool.

Artistic Pursuits offers art curriculum for students of all ages, from preschool to high school. All of the books cost $42.95. (Obviously the supply kits will vary from year to year.) To find out more about what other homeschoolers thought about this, and other Artistic Pursuits products, check out the TOS Homeschool Crew Blog.


Disclosure: I was provided with a copy of Artistic Pursuits in order to facilitate this review. No other compensation was provided, and all opinions are my own.

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