Art is a beloved past time in our house. When we were given a subscription to review the Monthly Plan for the company Creating a Masterpiece, I was pretty excited. The girls all had input on the interest level in this company and they all wanted to participate.
Creating a Masterpiece is a website with video instruction in creating artwork masterpieces using various media. Sharon Hofer is the instructor in the videos and she walks the students through the steps to create the artwork. She believes that, no matter the age of the student, everyone can create a masterpiece. The instruction is given clearly and is demonstrated at the same time. Since the instruction is on video, it can be paused and reviewed as many times as needed to understand. This combination makes it fairly easy to follow and recreate the steps given, resulting in artwork the student can be proud of.
The projects vary in difficulty and time required for completion. There are six levels of instruction (Beginners to Level 5), plus a series of Art In History lessons. The beginner level project can almost all be completed in one or two sittings. The Level 5 projects all seem to have 5 or more lessons. Each lesson can have several video segments.
The medium options are quite varied and can be run the gamut on cost. If you have an advanced art student, this would be well worth the cost of materials. Options for media include watercolors, watercolor pencils, acrylics, charcoal, woodburning, ink, carving, soft pastel, oil pastel, and more. The variety of media choices is extensive.
We started off with a mixed media project titled Candlelight. It was a Beginners level project and we were able to complete it in two lessons, though it would be easy enough to have done in a single session. All four of us (me and the three girls) worked on this. In this project, I appreciate the clear instruction with the ability to change what we were doing enough to have a finished product that was distinctly ours. It could have looked just like the one on the video but we all added our own touches to make it personal.
Miss J and I tackled the charcoal project titled Sailing Adventure, which is a Beginners level project. We followed the video and were able to complete the project in a single session. I would have appreciated a bit more information on how to use the kneadable eraser because that caused me a bit of an issue and Miss J got very frustrated. We did eventually figure it out though and were able to use it with reasonable success. We were very pleased with our final products, which we were able to personalize a bit and make our own.
Another project that we tackled was the Level 4 Puppy Love. This adorable puppy is done with watercolor pencils. We have found this one a lot more difficult. We have done three sessions with it so far and still have some more work to do to finish the projects. Miss E, Miss J, and I have been working on the puppy.
With Puppy Love, there have been several bits and pieces that have given us difficulty. Probably the hardest has been the difference in watercolor pencils themselves. Early in the instruction, it is stated that the brand of pencil doesn’t matter too much and the girls have decent sets. However, we found that shading “lightly” with the instructor’s pencils still gave a good color when she added water but with ours, it washed the color away when we painted it. We had to let the projects dry and then recolor them and try again. My suggestion for anyone trying a watercolor pencil project: play with your pencils and find out how much color you get when you shade lightly all the way through to shading darkly. Learn what yours do before beginning your watercolor project. It will avoid some frustration with it not working when following the shading instructions.
In the instructions, it is not unusual for the student to be given the opportunity to change it a bit, or to modify it in some way, to make the project personal. This is all well and good. However, you have to be able to ignore the things she says that you don’t want to do or don’t apply to your project. This caused some issues for us in Puppy Love.
After having drawn in the dog’s nose, the instructor chose to move it during the refining process. But she said, if you don’t want to move it, then don’t. So none of us did. But a lot of the way she described other parts of doing the face were dependent on you having moved it like she did! If you don’t have the ability to modify her instructions related to that change and fit what you do have, it can be hard. So, I hand-held a lot for this one.
I did a couple of the projects on my own, since I was interested in them but the girls were not. My favorite was probably the Level 1 Clown Fish. This was a 3 session project. I did not take three sessions; instead, I sat up late one night and just did it all. I really enjoyed it and was pleased with the result. I think it would have been a bit difficult for the girls to do because our colored pencils were not as soft as the ones recommended. Better colored pencils would definitely have resulted in a brighter finished project and would make it more enjoyable for the girls to do.
If you have a student who tries to follow every instruction to the tee and is fairly perfection oriented, this might not be a good program for them. We cannot get the results that the instructor does and this was really hard for one of the girls. She does much better with written instructions, where she can imagine and draw what she is thinking. Having the video before her made her feel like she had to copy exactly. She started two projects that never got very far because they were “too difficult” when her paper didn’t match the instructor’s.
We will continue to do some of the projects throughout the remainder of our subscription. I am looking forward to trying out some of the acrylic projects. The video instruction is clear and easy to follow most of the time. For an older student or an adult, there is no difficulty in figuring out what is required and how to follow the instructions. For the younger students, I think it was good that I was doing the projects alongside the girls. All in all, we have enjoyed Creating a Masterpiece quite a bit.
Head over to Creating a Masterpiece and sign up to try the sample lesson or to take a look at all of the projects available.
Visit the Homeschool Review Crew to take a look at projects created by other families who have been using Creating a Masterpiece.