Category Archives: art

Creating A Masterpiece ~ a Crew review

Creating a Masterpiece
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
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.

Candle Light Project

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.

Sailing Adventure

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.

Puppy Love

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.

clown fish

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.

Creating a Masterpiece

This image was provided by Creating a Masterpiece as an example of how anyone, of any age, can be an artist!

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.

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Visit the Homeschool Review Crew to take a look at projects created by other families who have been using Creating a Masterpiece.

Creating Beautiful Art at Home {Creating A Masterpiece Reviews} 

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Origami Paper Dolls


As Miss L continues in her exploration of all things Asian, especially with an origin in China, she has experienced some new and different things. Recently, she was given this origami kit and she LOVES it.


She works diligently on each paper doll until she has folded and fitted and decorated each doll just right.


The results are stunning and absolutely beautiful.


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D – Degas books


Since we had visited the Degas exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston in late December, I have kept a few books on the artist in our book basket. I have often noticed the girls reading through them or thumbing through and looking at the pictures. Both indicate learning is going on and that they were interested, at least a little bit.

The books that I have had are the following three:

  • Dancing with Degas by Julie Merberg
  • Degas and the Dance: the painter and the petits rats, perfecting their art by Susan Goldman Rubin
  • Degas and the Little Dancer: a story about Edgar Degas by Laurence Anholt

All three of the books are interesting, and while not all are non-fiction, the information is well researched so that the fictional story still imparts a large amount of knowledge to the reader.d-dancing-with-degas

Dancing with Degas by Julie Merberg

This board book has the lovely paintings of Degas couple with rhyming text for little ones. This is a simple introduction to the world of art and the world where Degas went to get inspiration for his art.

d-degas-and-the-danceDegas and the Dance: the painter and the petits rats, perfecting their art by Susan Goldman Rubin

This is an interesting book that focuses on Degas and his inspiration for the dance paintings and statues he created. This picture book biography of Degas includes about 30 of his works from the early stages of a ballerina’s training to the final curtain call. Showcasing the ballerinas that so many have come to love in Degas’ work, this book teaches us much about Degas’ himself and the works of beauty he created.

d-degas-and-the-little-dancerDegas and the Little Dancer: a story about Edgar Degas by Laurence Anholt

This is a picture book story based on true life. Focusing on the story of the young lady who posed for Degas’ famous statue “The Little Dancer”, Marie is touching as a young woman who comes to know so much about the artist who sculpts her image. This biography of Degas teaches us about the artist through the eyes of a young girl whose greatest desire is to be a famous ballerina.

All three of these books are interesting and have lovely pictures. They all share some about the artist, who is a very interesting man. Having seen the paintings and sculptures and sketches in person makes these books even more alive. And isn’t that what learning is all about?

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D – Degas books

Degas – Middle School Monday

Middle Schoolers benefit greatly, as do all students, from putting real life together with book learning. When this happens with art, it is a surprising and fun experience.

After Christmas, we were able to take a trip to Houston to see a wonderful exhibit – Degas! Approximately 200 of Degas’ works were on display at The Museum of Fine Arts. The exhibit was titled Degas: A New Vision and included examples of all of the media he worked with throughout his career. The following video is their promotional video for the exhibit.

(warning: this video does have one image from Degas’ bathers series)

Degas: A New Vision from Museum of Fine Arts, Houston on Vimeo.

Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas (1834–1917) had a long a varied career. His work spanned the mid-1800s into the early 1900s. He is often known for his ballet dancers (which we definitely some of my favorites that we saw). However, he focused on many other themes throughout his career – horses, jockeys, portraits, bathers, milliners, and more. From drawing to sculpture to photography (I had no idea!), the depth of Degas’ work was extraordinary to view.

Degas also had a strong influence on other artists. From the way he used various media to working with new ways of printing, Degas was a leader.

It was really quite interesting to see all of the sketches and early work Degas did on some of these works of art. There were some where a number of sketches to work out the plan for the piece we displayed next to the final work. Also, there were many works that Degas did multiple variations of and seeing those next to each other with the changes that were made was interesting. It was almost as if we were looking at a Find The Differences game page.

We were allowed to take a few photographs and so I did take just a few for the purpose of sharing some of the amazement we felt walking among these works of art.

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This was a unique and unparalleled experience. We were very blessed to be able to take the girls to see these marvelous works of art. This was a joy and we hope to be able to find other wonderful art exhibits to take the girls to see over the years.

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Tomorrow, I will share a couple of books about Degas that were very good. So tune in for the D post in Blogging Through The Alphabet.

2 Electronic Art Resources – Middle School Monday


I know most people would think we are soooo behind the times. However, we love our Wii game system. Yes, the original. I don’t even have a clue how many new versions have been released since this one was created but there is so much that we enjoy on the Wiielectronic-art.

One of the girls’ favorites is Wii Draw. Miss E has recently been using it a bit more. You can create or color or . . . I honestly don’t even know what all you can do on it but she sure does enjoy it. Art is a favorite for her so any new or varied way of creating art is a joy. She sat here the other day for quite a while working on several different pieces.

Another favorite recently has been the snowflake maker on the Google Santa Tracker games. It is simple coding (drag and drop sort of stuff) and makes lovely snowflake designs. All three of the giggly girls have absolutely adored it and spent hours creating and recreating snowflakes. The only thing is – we have no idea how long they will leave this activity active! We are hoping for a long time because the girls sure do enjoy it.

Do you have any favorite art programs?

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Linking up with the Virtual Refrigerator Blog Hop! Join in with your art posts!

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Christmas Tree Art


The blog has been a bit quiet for the last week and a half because we took a trip to see family. I’ll share some pictures from that in a couple of days. Trying to catch up here at home has taken a couple of days and with Christmas on the immediate horizon, our focus is on thankfulness and family.


In that vein, today Miss J was feeling a bit lonely after some trying times in the last couple of days. So, she and I took some time to do something, just the two of us, that she really enjoys – making art with chalk pastels.


We pulled out the Christmas Tree tutorial from Hodgepodge and made some lovely, glowing Christmas trees. They are currently drying after getting a good spray (with hair spray) to set the chalk. I think they turned out adorable.

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Linking up at the Virtual Refrigerator Blog Hop! Join in with your art posts!

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Edvard Munch Inspiration – Middle School Monday


A couple of weeks ago at Cookies and Coloring, the girls studied Edvard Munch. Munch was a Norwegian artist who lived between about 1860 and 1940. He experienced many changes in his lifetime and was highly influenced by both the Symbolism movement and the Expressionism art movement. His works reflect both.

The piece of artwork that they studied is titled The Scream. Munch made several versions of it and the story of his inspiration for the coloration of the background is interesting. Especially if you know about the volcano at Krakatoa. Scientists believe, based on what Munch wrote about the inspiration, that he very possibly saw the atmosphere changes rendered when the volcano at Krakatoa, Indonesia, erupted.

Have you ever read The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene du Bois? If not, you should. Especially after looking at this image. This book is set on this island volcano and is a very interesting, imagined life there, away from the influences of the world.

Anyway, back to the artwork. Miss E, our middle school student, really takes these art classes to heart and works diligently at the recommended project inspired by the artist. This assignment was to create your own “scream” picture with colored pencils. It was to be something that makes you scream. So, here is her image. Mostly. It was already in her notebook so the left edge is slightly cut off.


And outside the gallery this time, the staff had created a picture place where the students could have their pictures taken IN the picture The Scream by Munch (as rendered by the staff). The girls had fun with it.


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Linking up at The Virtual Refrigerator. Head over for more art inspirations.


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