I think most kids love to do arts and crafts. Yet some seem to take a more serious interest in it, like my oldest, so this review of the program from ARTistic Pursuits, Inc. was timely. The ARTistic Pursuits Art Instruction Books with DVD and Blu-Ray series was already on my short list of non-Common Core aligned art programs for kids and combines a textbook with video lessons to switch things up. I’ve been using it with my oldest two children (almost 7 and almost 5) to give them their first glimpse into more formal art instruction.
The series is for kindergarten to grade 3, and we chose the first volume since we are total newbies to this and have not done any other volume yet. Volume 1 is called Art for Children, Building a Visual Vocabulary, and it features 18 lessons, including 6 video lessons. There are currently six volumes, with two more on the way. Each is intended to span one semester and the set will be sufficient for four years of early elementary art instruction at the pace of one lesson per week.
This article originally appeared on my old blog, Townsley Times. If you came here looking for this particular article but thought you were going to a different site, never fear, you’re actually in the right place. 🙂
My oldest daughter has taken a lot of interest in drawing and had been watching lessons via our streaming service because I’m really not gifted in this area. I don’t feel equipped to teach this at all, which is why I was looking into formal instruction for her in the first place. I’m really glad we were able to try this out because it was a great fit for both my oldest daughters.
There is a sample video lesson on the ARTistic Pursuits website, so we knew what to expect from the video lessons, but I didn’t know much about the book itself. Each lesson in the hardcover textbook includes:
- a blurb about the lesson and setup for the parent
- a short portion to read aloud to introduce the concept (such as “artists observe”)
- a full color piece of art that is relevant to the current lesson, with a little about its history along with some questions to ask the kids to get them thinking
- directions for what the child is to draw or create for that lesson
- sample and instructional images to help the child along
Each lesson is only a few pages in length and they pack just enough information into the lessons to help the child know what they’re doing but let them do it themselves, without handholding from the parent or too much specific instruction. It allows them to be creative, which is exactly what we want, but with some guidance on how to develop and hone their skills. The art history part wasn’t what I was after with this but it was a nice addition.
Video Art Lessons
The DVD did not work on our older DVD player but it was fine on our new one that we were just gifted. The Blu-Ray version is also included. There is a little pocket for each inside the front cover of the book so you don’t lose them, which I thought was a nice touch.
Each video lesson is short, maybe around 5 or 8 minutes long, and has a single page in the book containing a bit more instruction. The videos are good to show off techniques, like how to use watercolor crayons or blend colors.
How We Used It
The review period of ARTistic Pursuits spanned our cross-country move but we started with a couple of lessons before we left so they would have skills to practice for the drive (three days in the car, y’all). While I wasn’t about to let them have watercolors in the car, they did both draw quite a bit and put their observational skills to use in the sketch books I got them. My oldest filled about 50 pages on the way from Wisconsin to Florida.
We picked up the lessons again after we got settled and learned about color blending and adding some imagination to the pictures. Looking ahead, the next couple lessons will be looking at shapes and forms using construction paper, and later they add in oil pastels.
Speaking of supplies, you can order supplies needed for the lessons straight from ARTistic Pursuits. We had a lot already so I just ordered a few items (not from them) for review purposes but we may order the kit for future volumes.
I really like the simplicity of ARTistic Pursuits. It gives enough info for context, instruction, and examples for the lessons, but not too much direction that might stifle the child’s opportunity to find their own creative talents.
Volume 1 explores a range of media including
- watercolor crayons and brushes
- graphite pencils and erasers
- construction paper with scissors and glue
- oil pastels and tissue for blending
The children will learn art concepts like composition, observation, imagination, form, texture, shape, and figure, as well as types of art such as landscapes, still lifes, animals, and portraiture.
The book has objectives for each lesson listed in the back of the book so you can quickly look to see which lesson to go to if you want to teach a certain topic, or go back to one you already covered. It is intended that you’ll go in order, as earlier lessons build a foundation for later ones.
I like the video components as well. They help me teach what would be difficult for me to do myself. I just don’t have the talent for art (crafts, sure, and I am a hobby photographer so while I may have an eye for composition, picking up a pencil or paintbrush is not my strong suit!).
The children love doing their art lessons and we covered some lessons multiple times so they could practice. They enjoy learning but still expressing themselves in their own way.
Other Homeschool Review Crew moms have been using various volumes of the series from ARTistic Pursuits, and you can check them out here!