April 19, 2015

ARTistic Pursuits: Introduction to Visual Arts {Curriculum Review}

We love arts and crafts, but I confess...I'm horrible about actually scheduling time to do it. I prefer the open and go style with minimum preparation, and first experienced this last year when we reviewed the preschool book from ARTistic Pursuits. Needless to say, when I had the chance to review a different one--geared towards Little Britches this time--I jumped on it and welcomed Early Elementary K-3, Book 1: Introduction to Visual Arts into my schedule.
ARTistic Pursuits~ Curriculum Review of Art Program for K-3

Product Summary

ARTistic Pursuits is an art curriculum company believing that all children are able to understand the concepts of art, and enjoy putting ideas and visual images on paper. They are committed to helping children become observant in our world and to be able to work creatively in it. They are determined to offer parents and children a quality art education presented in an easy to understand format for both the teacher and child and gear their books towards the homeschooling community.

Through their program, they encourage children to look at the expressive and technical aspects of art according to their age level. The goal is for the children to be able to be free to explore their world however they see it...not the way that adults think they should see it! There are no "rules" or "boundaries" in the art lessons--no small boxes or limitations. ARTistic Pursuits is all about letting them color outside the lines!

ARTistic Pursuits offer curriculum for Preschool to High School age making it easy for you to find a curriculum just right for your school age child.

Each book has a comb binding, is non-consumable and sells for $47.95. One set of all the books can serve your entire family--from ages 3-18! 

We reviewed Early Elementary K-3, Book 1: Introduction to Visual Arts with Little Britches though Baby Britches joined us when he could.

How Did We Use the Product?

I admit, I was very excited to have another chance to review one of the books from ARTistic Pursuits! We had a lovely time with it last year, and I hoped that it would bring as much joy this year, since Little Britches was going to get to do it this go around.

As soon we got the product, I found the materials list page so I could make sure I had a good collection of supplies that we would need to do this book. Unlike the preschool book which we reviewed last year, this one required a few more extras, but nothing that was super expensive.

 I really liked that if you just wanted to buy it all together you could buy the Early Elementary K-3, Book 1 Art Pack right off of ARTistic Pursuits website that has the complete collection of supplies you need for each book. I didn't need everything so I used a variety of sources to get the things I knew I wanted. I didn't buy the clay since it said you could use the recipe included in the book to make the clay. (That means free! LOL)

Some of the things I ended up purchasing: oil pastels, soft chalk pastels, watercolor crayons, ebony pencil, art tissue paper, and a nice new watercolor brush. I had some gift cards so though it cost about $50 or so, I ended paying out of pocket only about $11. We are a family into arts & crafts (my MIL is an art major!) and I knew we'd use all the things I invested in, so I didn't mind spending the money.

We get excited when art supplies come. We enjoyed looking through them and both boys were eager to get started with the book!

I felt it helpful to look over the Table of Contents to get a feel for how it was set up and what was going to be covered.

The next thing I did was flip through the book and mark what supplies were going to be needed for each lesson. I found that this made planning our art lessons a LOT easier because I could quickly determine what I wanted to do based on what materials were used without having to read each lesson. I wish I had done this last year--and plan to go through that book and do it because it was so much easier to find lessons this year.

Each lesson really is open and go once you get out the supplies you are going to need. Every lesson starts with a "lesson" relating to a piece of art work by the masters. Usually it's to introduce a concept (like what is discussed on the table of contents) and then it has observation questions relating to the piece of artwork to ask the student. This gets them engaged at really searching and looking closer at the artwork being discussed. 

Example of the Lesson portion
After the lesson, the student uses the principles discussed to do their artwork. With this lesson the concept was using a shape and outline and then filling it in. The medium they used was soft pastels.
They were to look at an animal in a photograph or picture and then replicate it on their own paper. We pulled out some great animal books from our stash for this:
He desired to do a polar bear. Baby Britches did rather well!

Little Britches did this cat...he loves doing cats in his art.
Each of the lessons continued in this manner. I am going to share with you some of the photos we took of the projects we did.

One of the first lessons we did...
 Did you notice that we did Lesson 34 as one of our first lessons? That's because you don't need to do them sequentially! You can jump around and do what works for you or maybe what you have on hand first! This is especially great if it works for you to match things up to other units you are studying in your homeschool.

Lesson 1: Artists Compose--watercolor crayons with every day life
 This one cracked me up. He did a picture of his brother sitting on the toilet in the bathroom. That green and blue is the shower curtain. Bwahahahha.
Lesson 22: Art in Caves--soft pastels (just 4 colors allowed) on crumpled up brown paper
 Baby Britches just loved doing art. Giraffes make appearances quite regularly in his pictures.
Lesson 24: Art in Palaces~Fresco Painting (using watercolor crayons and oil pastel)
 Little Britches also loves dogs. Lots of dogs in his artwork. You will see another one later.

Lesson 15: Artists See Shapes (using paper to make your picture)
 Baby Britches filled his paper with pink and blue roses. My flower loving boy.

Lesson 27: Art on City Walls~Making a Bas-Relief (This ended up being a dog)
I loved that with the clay/dough lessons I could make my own dough to use. It really is just a homemade playdough recipe--the only downfall is that it takes it almost a month to totally dry out, so not ideal for the "self drying" recipes where you need to let it dry and then paint it. I would use ACTUAL real self drying clay from the store to make this work next time. But the playdough brought a LOT of enjoyment for them both.
Recipe included in Lesson 23...
I think the lesson we took the MOST time and possibly enjoyed the most was when we had to use just paper to make a dimensional animal in Lesson 16: Artists See Form. This was challenging, but very creative and fun. 
An elephant. Out of all the animals, Baby Britches wanted an elephant. And guess who had to design it.
I am VERY proud of this elephant!!!!!

Little Britches designed his dog all by himself. Even added a "woof".
We also did several of the drawing lessons where Little Britches used the ebony pencil (which he thought was the best pencil ever). 

We ended up completing about 10 of the lessons from the book doing at least 2 per week.

Our Thoughts on the Product

Boys: LOVE!!!!

Me: LOVE!!!

LOL. Okay. So, why do we love it?

1. It guarantees us an art lesson/project.
I am not the best at scheduling in art. The boys both adore art. So having this simple book where I can pretty much open and go with it, makes it a great resource for us. I can simply block off a portion of time, pick a lesson and we can do it. Everyone is happy. Win-win.

2. It is EASY!
Once you have the supplies--even if you don't have them all--you can literally open and go. All the information you need is right there. Even examples of what is expected from the lesson--not professional examples, but examples done by children of all ages. If it's a new concept, they walk you through what they want you to try. A new medium? Same thing. They walk you through how to best use it. 

3. It's non-consumable.
This is a major deal for homeschoolers. We like books we can use over and over. This one is just that. An art book that lasts forever. You could pull it out for multiple children, you could save it and pull it out for the same child 2 years later. The lessons are still valuable and the projects still doable. How many other art programs can you do that with?

4. It's multi-age.
I love that with one art book, I can do BOTH boys. It doesn't matter what their skill level. I simply teach the lesson from the book, and then turn them loose! 

5. It's got comb binding.
I love comb bindings because this means I can easily keep it open. It seems minor, but for me it's a big deal.

6. It's art history!
They use paintings from the masters and ancient history! Vonnoh, Degas, Steen, Demuth--as well as ancient art like cave paintings, mosaics, cathedral windows, the Gate of Ishtar, and much more! My mother-in-law is an art history major and she was very happy to see this worked into the book. It's real world art photos!

7. It introduces a variety of mediums.
Forget the crayons! In this book, they explore oil pastels, chalk pastels, watercolor crayons, clay, ebony pencils and paper! The boys loved trying it out. They discovered they didn't really like clay pastels as it gets all over you. But they enjoyed the oil pastels and the paper. REALLY liked the tissue paper we used. I like that it doesn't just use the mediums one time for one lesson. They are used throughout the book--at least 3 times and some lessons had you mixing it up with more than one.

8. Did I mention it's just fun?
We all just loved doing it. I got my own hands "dirty" a few times and a family art time makes great memories. 

Will I keep using the product now that the review is over?
Absolutely! It's just so easy to work in! I will also be pulling back out our The Way They See It (Preschool) book we reviewed last year and giving it another go with Baby Britches.

Would I Recommend this Product?

Yes. Absolutely yes. ESPECIALLY if you are like me and just need it spelled out for you. It is a great resource and one that can keep coming back out over and over. It's almost $50 per book...but well worth it for a high quality art program that includes art history and can be used for multi-ages.

Want to Know More?

We reviewed ARTistic Pursuits Early Elementary K-3, Book 1: Introduction to the Visual Arts ($47.95). There were 11 other books reviewed by our team--ranging from preschool to high school AND sculpture! Make sure you check out what the rest of my crew thought about this excellent art program!
ARTistic Pursuits Review
Would you like to stay in touch with everything related to ARTistic Pursuits? You can find them on Facebook!
It was about this time last year that I reviewed the The Way They See It (Preschool) book with Baby Britches! Make sure you check that out too because we really loved the program!
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