Friday, April 17, 2015

ARTistic Pursuits (A Schoolhouse Crew Review)

When it comes to homeschooling, most parents have the basics covered. We know to teach them the big subjects like Mathematics, Sciences, English and Grammar.  Many times, however, parents get a bit discombobulated when they start considering fine arts.  ARTistic Pursuits has made it very easy to jump right in and introduce visual arts to your students with their line of Art curriculum that can be started as early as Kindergarten and can be followed all the way through 12th grade. I was given the opportunity to use and review Early Elementary K-3, Book 1: Introduction to the Visual Arts  with my kids and was surprised with my results.

Designed and written by homeschooling mom Brenda Ellis, ARTistic Pursuits uses the theory that all children can learn artistic concepts and put them to use on paper.  Starting with the most basic of these concepts in Book 1, students progress each year until they are studying these concepts on a much deeper level of technique and application.  Students are introduced early on to various mediums such as watercolor crayons and oil pastels.  Books that cover Sculpture Techiques are also available.

Early Elementary K-3, Book 1: Introduction to the Visual Arts  is a spiral bound, 95 page soft cover book currently in its third edition. It consists of 36 Art lessons covering topics about  "What Artists Do", "What Artists See" and "Where We Find Art".  It is worded for students in Kindergarten thru Third Grade to understand (and a 3rd grader could probably read independently).  This particular book focuses more on getting the student involved in the creative processes through observation of other artwork.

How We Used It and What We Thought

I had no doubt that Ashleigh was going to enjoy this new addition to our homeschool schedule. Ash is the type to draw on everything and anything (as evident by the paint that I have had to buy because she drew cats all over her white walls in black sharpie). Garrett on the other hand, I knew was going to be a bit of a challenge. Garrett hates drawing and coloring - it's just not his forte. I've tried everything to engage Garrett into some form of art; I've tried to get him to draw Minecraft characters (Minecraft being huge with him right now).  I've tried clay.  I've tried coloring books with popular characters with boys - all to no avail.  Part of this is lack of confidence because Ashleigh tends to "overshine" him with her drawings.  So I went into this endeavor knowing that more than likely, Garrett wouldn't participate any more than he absolutely had to and even with that, it would be like pulling teeth.

We decided  to do one lesson per week.  On Tuesday we would read and discuss the lesson and begin our artwork.  On Thursdays the kids would sit and finish the project they had began.

Upon arrival of Book 1, Ashleigh wanted to start immediately.  I had bought most of the supplies needed to get us started early on, so after our studies we sat together and did the first lesson together.  Both kids were very involved in the lesson which I found to be short enough to hold their attention and had enough information for their grade level.  I've got to say, it's really neat to sit and have a discussion about art concepts with a 6 and 8 year old while looking at paintings by Edgar Degas, Marc Chegall and Pieter De Hooch.

IMG_1060 Of course, the real fun in this curriculum is the actual act of making their own art.. The first few lessons, Garrett balked and didn't want to draw anything..  He did, however, like using the watercolor crayons and making them turn to paint with water which made him want to draw more. Before I knew it, both of them were filling the pages with pictures and colors.  And in just the six weeks we have been using it, I have seen a real improvement in both Garrett's confidence and ability in his own artwork.    Just hearing him say “Look Mom” and the huge smile that beams as he shows off his latest “masterpiece” is worth it’s weight in gold and that is what ARTistic Pursuits has provided for us.

 Ashleigh of course LOVES everything about ARTistic Pursuits. It means she gets to draw "with fun stuff" twice a week as part of school.    We do struggle a bit with her as far as trying to get her to draw something beyond cats (and even then, she usually sneaks something regarding cats into the picture).  She loves trying the various mediums but like Garrett, she enjoys the watercolor crayons the best. 

All in all, ARTistic Pursuits was a HUGE hit in our house and I think it is something that we will continue with throughout their school adventures.  I would definitely recommend a spiral type watercolor pad so that they can keep all their work together for years to come :)

ARTistic Pursuits can be found on Facebook and on the web at

ARTistic Pursuits Review

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