Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Create (and Study!) Art Based with Inspiration from the Italian Renaissance! {A Review}

Our family had never heard of 
ARTistic Pursuits Inc. until we were offered a chance to review one of their fantastic homeschool art curriculum books a few years ago, whereupon we became big fans of how author Brenda Ellis presents art for children and have since recommended ARTistic Pursuits Inc. to many folks in person and online.  Thus, we were delighted with an opportunity to review one of the books in ARTistic Pursuits Inc. new series: ARTistic Pursuits Art Instruction Books with DVD and Blu-RayVolume 4: Artists that Shaped the Italian Renaissance.

What is Artists that Shaped the Italian Renaissance? 

Artists that Shaped the Italian Renaissance
is Volume 4 of a grades K-3 art curriculum that comes as a beautiful 64-page, hardcover book with two pockets in the inside front cover to house a DVD and a Blu-Ray disc with video lessons on them.  

The book contains 18 projects that feature master works in 12 text lessons and 6 video lessons.  It also includes:
  • a list of all materials you will need for included projects (all of which many homschoolers already have at home or can easily get at an arts-n-crafts store)
  • some words about "Teaching Simply", which this book truly allows parents - even parents without an art background - to do
  • a brief introduction of the Italian Renaissance
  • clearly written objectives for each lesson
  • a bibliograpy and art credits for those who would like to dig deeper

Artists featured in the book are:

  • Cimabue
  • Giotti
  • Limbourg
  • Van Eyck
  • Ghirlandaio
  • Leonardo da Vinci
  • Botticelli
  • Michelangelo
  • Raphael
  • Sofonisba
  • Bachiacca
  • Parmigianino

Art skills practiced include:

  • handling a watercolor brush and paint
  • using elements of gold in paintings
  • featuring physical gestures in art
  • communicating through symbols
  • using wash and lift techniques
  • using of foreground and background
  • making resists with oil pastels and watercolor washes
  • creating an a fresco painting
  • using the rubbing technique to explore textures
  • creating collagraphs
  • making scratch art
  • creating portraits and landscapes
  • engraving

Throughout Artists that Shaped the Italian Renaissance, teacher Brenda Ellis guides children (and parents!) in both text and video lessons to handle art media, study art masters and their artworks, and get creative making original artworks.  

In the video lessons, Ariel Holcomb, an engaging video host, helps draw students into projects, while Brenda Ellis' hands are shown demonstrating how to create art.

Together, the text and video serve as a complete art curriculum which includes:

  • art history
  • picture study
  • colorful illutations
  • artworks by great Italian Masters
  • visual instruction for projects - either on the DVD/Blue-Ray discs or with text and images in the book
  • and, best of all, ease and engagement!  

Seriously, I am not art-gifted and this curriculum makes teaching and learning art alongside my children so easy!

How We Used Artists that Shaped the Italian Renaissance

Because the format of Artists that Shaped the Italian Renaissance is so inviting, before I even presented any of the lessons in it to my children, I found them paging through the beautiful hardcover book, browsing illustrations and artwork in it, doing informal picture studies, and even "reading ahead".  This became one of the ways we continued to use the book - as pleasure reading and informal study - a perfect dovetail to prior history lessons and invitation to focus on beauty!

The second way we used the curriculum, of course, as as intended: by gathering together to read, watch the DVD, complete readings and picture studies, and create art.

As we have an existing Art-Music-Poetry club, we also invited friends to join us in doing some of the introductory projects since my children asked if they could tart the book with friends, and these projects became our favorites - because, of course, everything is better with friends (in my children's minds, at least.)

Our friends told me they enjoyed the lessons they did with us, too, and, after talking about them with another local homeschool mom, I saw her Facebook post online about her curriculum for next year and guess what is included?  
ARTistic Pursuits!  People that I know who have used or just seen the ARTistic Pursuits curriculum agree it is of high quality!

What My Children Thought

My daughter, at almost 11, is above the intended age group for Artists that Shaped the Italian Renaissance, still quite enjoys it.   She said:

I like how big the picture study pictures are, because you can really get a feel for the art work in them.  I also like how the author tells a story before asking questions.  It helps me understand the pictures better.
I also liked the video lessons. They are not too long, but not too short.  They give you tips.
I also like the projects.  They are not too similar, but not too different.  Each one helps me focus on specific skill.
I would recommend this book for family classes.

I agree with everything my daughter said and would like to highlight how wonderful the picture studies in this book are.  Prior curricula we've reviewed for ARTistic Pursuits Inc. had wonderful picture study, too, but, the format of these books makes picture study even better - the large reproductions are so inviting!

My youngest son, at almost 8 and "ideal age" for this K-3 curriculum, is not as much of an art lover as his sister and I am, but still likes 
Artists that Shaped the Italian Renaissance.  He said:

We have been using Artists that Shaped the Italian Renaissance.  We have not done the fresco yet, but I like the picture of the plane on page 38 and want to do it.

I also like the picture study on page 47.  It is of St. George killing the dragon. 

So far, I liked the "gold leaf" project the best.  I liked using the metallic colors in my artwork.  It was easy to do. 
I remember that the artist tilted head in the picture study to make the figures look more lifelike. 
I would recommend this book to young artists!

I just love how 
Artists that Shaped the Italian Renaissance has invited him in with engaging picture studies and illustrations and has him looking forward to more projects!

My oldest, at 12, is obviously "old" for Artists that Shaped the Italian Renaissance, but still happily joined us in lessons.  He said:

I liked this book and video lesson set, especially when we used it with our friends at our Art, Music, and Poetry club.  The book includes art projects, stories about Renaissance artists, and examples of fine art and children's projects.  The DVD contains video art lessons, but not of every project. 

My favorite project so far was the "gold leaf" one.  I liked how the artwork came out - especially my sister's!
During the first lesson, I practiced taking off color when painting with water colors.  That was interesting. 
I also like the picture studies on pages 31, 32, and 34.  They look realistic. 

I would recommend this book to people who want to learn about the Italian Renaissance artwork.

Obviously, all three of my children and I like Artists that Shaped the Italian Renaissance quite well.  So far, in using the book and video lessons I have had no complaints save one: The way the plastic disc pockets on the inside cover are designed, we often find when we are carrying the book from one place to another, the top disc falls out. Worried that the falling disc would be ruined, we finally just made sure the top disc is the Blu-ray one since we have no way to play that, keeping our DVD disc safe and sound for use!

Overall, we are quite pleased with Artists that Shaped the Italian Renaissance and have and will continue to recommend it to others as a stand-alone art curriculum or as an excellent, hands-on supplement to history studies!

We would also love to see the rest of this 8 volume 
ARTistic Pursuits Art Instruction Books with DVD and Blu-Ray which includes four volumes that were reviewed by 60 Homeschool Crew Review families:

Find all the reviews!

Learn More

 ARTistic Pursuits

You can learn more about:

  • Art for Children, Building a Visual Vocabulary
  • Art of the Ancients
  • Art of the Middle Ages
  • Artists that Shaped the Italian Renaissance

in the Crew’s reviews and follow ARTistic Pursuits Inc. on Facebook.

You might also enjoy our prior reviews:

An Open-and-Go Art Curriculum We're Thoroughly Enjoying {A Review}

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

Sculpture Made Easy


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