Saturday, April 18, 2015

One Resource that Will Help You Enjoy Art Anywhere {A Review}

Do you want an easy-to-implement art program that you can pick up and go almost anywhere with?  We've found just such a resource with Early Elementary K-3, Book 2: Stories of Artists and Their Art by ARTistic Pursuits!

Last year, we fell in love with ARTistic Pursuits' open-and-go resource: Book 1: Introduction to the Visual Arts.    In fact, I was so impressed by ARTistic Pursuits' fun, easy-to-implement approach that I have since found myself recommending it to homeschooler after homeschooler, and even some traditionally schooled friends.  

Last Year
Last Year

Why I Love ARTistic Pursuits

Image Credit: ARTistic Pursuits

ARTistic Pursuits comprehensive books blend art appreciation, history, and techniques together into one all-in-one art curriculum.  Each book on the ARTistic Pursuits Book List is targeted to a different age range and, together, provide an art program that spans from preschool through high school and beyond.  For in our family's experience, even the books meant for young children can be enjoyed by adults, too!

Each book in the collection encourage students to observe and explore through experimenting with such things as:

  • drawing 
  • mixed media
  • painting
  • pastels
  • printmaking
  • sculpting

...and more.  They also, as I have already mentioned, include art appreciation and art history.  What more could anyone want?

Stories of Artists and Their Art in a Nutshell

ARTistic Pursuits Review

Stories of Artists and Their Art has been around since 2003 and is in its third, expanded and revised printing. Its opening pages contain parent/teaching information in the form of a materials list and tips on teaching observational skills.

Then, the 36 lessons in the book start with Cimabue, an artist from the Gothic period and progress through Millet, an artist from the Realist Period.  Units of work include:

  • stories about specific artists that can be enjoyed as read togethers
  • art appreciation pages with full color reproductions of famous artworks
  • project ideas that use a variety of media and connect to artist biographies and reproductions
  • full color examples of art works created by other children
  • special projects, such as creating a color wheel
  • technique tips

The book concludes with a complete bibliography for further research, study and exploration.
How We Used Stories of Artists and Their Art

When our review copy of
Stories of Artists and Their Art came in, I immediately turned to the handy materials list page to see what supplies we already had on hand and what I needed to use discount coupons at our local art supply store to pick up.  

Shortly thereafter, the children began selecting which readings and projects we wanted to experience first.  For while the book is organized into 36 consecutive lessons to take students through an entire year's worth of art curriculum, our family prefers to pick and choose which lessons interest us on a given day.

Typically, we began the lessons we chose by gathering supplies and then reading (or re-reading) the corresponding artist biography together.  

I loved the way these biographies were preceded by introductions written to draw children in and connect them immediately to the artist to be studied.  For example, one introduction said:

What kind of job do you dream of having when you grew up?  Anguissola may have dreamed that she would travel to another county to work for a queen.  That is just what she did all because of her love for painting.

From there, we went on to read the clear project information and instructions and began creating our own works.

Some of our favorite experiences were:

... having "girl time" when, upon the suggestions included in project 1, my daughter and I went for a walk to look for inspiration and then experimented with watercolor paints.

...when we brought some simple supplies and the book to a friend's house to share a project together.  The mixed media collages from Project 13 ended up taking new directions as toddlers to preteens enjoyed art together.

...when we gathered as a family around the kitchen table to read about Giotti, play with expressions (since Giotti was "well known for his skill panting people with expressions and emotions") and, then, enjoy creating scratch art together as described in Project 3.

Often, we found ourselves inside or outside learning about art history, appreciating great works and experimenting with specific techniques!

Final Thoughts

Obviously, I love ARTistic Pursuits and am thrilled to have added Early Elementary K-3, Book 2: Stories of Artists and Their Art to our homeschool endeavors this year!  Among the things I most appreciate about the curriculum are:
  • how thorough it is!  As I move through it with my children, we all learn more about artists, art history and art technique!
  • how open-ended the projects are.  The children learn and experiment with techniques but never come out with "cookie cutter" art.
  • how portable it is.  More than once, I have simply grabbed the book and a few supplies and been able to take art outside or to a friend's home.
  • how easy connect to other learning it is.  The book focuses on Gothic, Renaissance and 18th Century Academic Art, making it easy to tie into history studies.  It also includes open-ended projects which can be adapted to connect to almost anything you are studying.

As for the kids, when I asked them for their thoughts about the book, my seven-year-old immediately shouted with delight, "I LOVED the scratch art!" 

My nine-year-old added, "I like learning about the artists."

My four-year-old concluded with, "I like doing all the art and artists."

And, then, my seven- and four-year-olds went and grabbed supplies to do a scratch art reprise.  

I would say their enthusiasm to revisit a lesson sums it up: Early Elementary K-3, Book 2: Stories of Artists and Their Art by ARTistic Pursuits is a complete art program with high appeal that inspires kids and can be used almost anywhere as long as you have a few materials handy!

Find Out More

ARTistic Pursuits Review

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