The youngest of the giggly girls adores creating works of art and so when the opportunity came up to review one of the K-3rd Grade Level, Volumes 1-8 series from a beloved vendor – ARTistic Pursuits Inc. – she was very excited.
We were given the option to choose which of the eight levels we were most interested in. Volume 1 gives a solid art foundation with vocabulary and techniques and then volumes 2-8 go through the different historical periods in chronological order.
- Art for Children, Building a Visual Vocabulary, K-3 Vol. 1
- Art of the Ancients, K-3 Vol. 2
- Art of the Middle Ages, K-3 Vol. 3
- Artists that Shaped the Italian Renaissance, K-3 Vol. 4
- Art of the Northern Countries, Renaissance to Realism, K-3 Vol. 5
- Art of the Impressionists, K-3 Vol. 6
- Art of the Modern Age, K-3 Vol. 7
- Art in America, K-3 Vol. 8
Each of the volumes 2 – 8 also focus on a different medium. For example, we have been using volume 8 which focuses on techniques using graphite pencils and colored pencils. Other volumes work with chalk, clay, textiles, collage, sculpting, watercolor, and printmaking, to name just a few of the mediums and techniques this series addresses.
On the ARTistic Pursuits website, you will find an image that shows each of the volumes side-by-side. It puts the volume number, the title, the time period, and the art materials emphasis from the book in an easy to compare chart. There is also a sample video lesson for you to watch.
While the level of this series is listed at K-3, I have found that it is also a solid series for those a bit older because it is working on techniques. Each volume comes with a two discs – a DVD and a Blue-ray – that have video lessons. These lessons come up every few in the book and are clearly marked. This is the only place where an older student might feel like the series is below them as the videos are clearly made for students on the younger end of elementary ages. As I said though, there are so many good techniques and ideas taught, that this is a solid series for those a bit older who would benefit from this.
The beauty of the video lessons is that it is shown clearly how to use the materials. When discussing dark and light, the instruction is on a drawing a mountain goat and the darker and lighter portions are discussed on the video. Also, in talking about how to sharpen colored pencils, there is a visual to look at as the audio explains that there is wax in colored pencils and so after you have sharpened one or two, the sharpener doesn’t work as well. You need to sharpen your graphite pencil in between colored pencils so that the wax build-up on the blades is removed. I have gone 40+ years without knowing that, thinking I just wasn’t pressing the colored pencils into the sharpener hard enough. Yet, one minute in video lessons from Art in America, K-3 Vol. 8 got me information that has made a world of difference when using colored pencils!
So, why did we choose Art in America, K-3 Vol. 8? We have been studying American history this year and so I felt this volume would work well with our history studies. We are moving faster through the art book than the history periods but we are learning a lot and are able to correlate some of the artist studies with things we have studied or are going to study. One of the pieces of art work featured in the book is A Boy with a Flying Squirrel (Henry Pelham), 1765 by John Singleton Copley. The information that accompanies this artwork helps us see yet another way that some colonists showed their wealth, as portraits were for the wealthy in the American colonies. And in studying what he is wearing and what is around him, we see more of that wealth. This fell right in with some of the discussions we had about wealth vs poverty in the American colonies, especially after visiting Colonial Williamburg. We could imagine this piece of artwork hanging in the mansions we visited but no so much in the smaller homes and boarding houses. This is just one example of how this fits so well. The project to go along with this was for the student to create a portrait. So, I sat for a while as she drew me working.
All of the volumes in this series focus on a time period and a part of the world so I imagine all of them will fit in nicely with a historical study. I am thinking we will be studying world history next year so I may be getting the other volumes to accompany that study.
Another way this series is fabulous is that it is very adaptable to your schedule and your needs. We have been doing between 1 and 2 lessons a week. They are easy to do and, in our volume, we can take them with us easily if we are schooling away from home for some reason. We did more than one lesson at the dance studio, including one that looked at shape. She drew the shape of the windows on the building.
Each lesson includes a title and a listing of which lesson it is. Also, if it is a video lesson, it is stated at the top of the page. Then, there is a box under the title that lists the needed materials for the lesson so they can be gathered prior to starting the lesson.
The video lessons require watching the video to get the instruction on how to use the materials and how the assignment will work. Then, there is a recap in the book for the video lesson.
The written lessons begin with prep notes that the teacher might need to help get set up or grab, such as a photograph to work from or a plant to draw. They might need to take a walk outside or have you sit for your portrait. There is then a short study of an artist. We have read about Rembrandt Peale, John James Audubon, and have upcoming artist like Charles Demuth and Charles Burchfield. Next, there is a piece of artwork created by the artist and information about the piece. The pieces are reproduced in the book in full color. There are also questions for each piece to help the student really think about and focus on the piece.
After studying the artwork that illustrates the ideas of the lesson, the student has the lesson written out. Here is their list of materials in the written lesson, as well as what they are to do. There are examples of the steps drawn in the book and an example of student piece for that assignment. Then the student does their own piece.
In volume 8, their work includes light and dark
lines (drawing a favorite stuffed animal)
shape and details
or adding color.
One thing that I have always liked about ARTistic Pursuits is that they leave a lot of the decision making up to the student when it comes to exactly what the student’s artwork will feature. They give the assignment such as drawing strong lines but allow the student to choose what object they will draw. This allows the student to have choice and say in what their artwork will be about. This personalizes their work and helps create a connection to the piece.
Art in America, K-3 Vol. 8 works on techniques with graphite pencils and colored pencils. This includes creating lines, color, light and dark, shadow, layering color, and so much more. The 18 lessons cover a lot. At the end of the book, there is a list of the objectives for each of the 18 lessons. And at the end of the each lesson, the piece of artwork is something for the student to be proud about.
We were able to review Art for Children, Building a Visual Vocabulary, K-3 Vol. 1 last year. It was as enjoyable as volume 8 has been. The videos and the book work the same way in both volumes, though the first volume focuses on building vocabulary and multiple techniques rather than on a time period and a narrowed focus on materials. It was a good, solid foundation for the other volumes. I had some reservations after using just volume 1 last time. Having used another volume, I find I have grown to like the format and the focus on a time period. I feel like I understand the series as a whole better now and like that it starts with the foundation and then narrows focus. It is quite a monetary commitment to get the entire series but I do feel like the materials is quite well done and really adds quite a bit to our history study this year.
Miss J’s Opinion:
All of the lessons are very good. I like the book. I like that it is art and I think others would like that, too. I learned how to draw things more like they look, such as a circle light hanging.
Okay, so she didn’t have much to say this morning about the book but it is one of the first lessons she asks about each day. I think it is fair to say that she really likes this book and is more than happy to keep creating art with Art in America, K-3 Vol. 8, part of the series K-3rd Grade Level, Volumes 1-8 from ARTistic Pursuits Inc.
Lori, At Home.
The Homeschool Review Crew families have been using all eight volumes from this series. Be sure to visit the Crew blog to read the reviews of other families using the other volumes. Just click the banner below.