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Art School with Beyond the Stick Figure ~ a Crew review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

art class

One thing I used to think was that art was only for the talented people, those who could do something magical with any medium they picked up. I have recently discovered that doesn’t have to stand true if it brings pleasure. Even more importantly, experience with has shown me that growth can happen in unexpected ways and I am not nearly as “bad” as I thought I was. Beyond the Stick Figure Art School is a program that has helped me see the joy in just creating, regardless of the outcome. And anyone can do it!

beyond the stick figure

We have been using Beyond the Stick Figure Complete Drawing Course PLUS 3 Bonus Courses for a few weeks now and I have found it a uniquely interesting experience. Beyond the Stick Figure Art School is taught by an art teacher with art teaching experience AND homeschooling experience. Sally is familiar with the challenges to teaching in both arenas and combines them together in a video subscription class for all ages that really is quite a bit of fun. The class includes the drawing course, pen and ink instruction, a watercolor course, an acrylics course, and a 3D sculpting course. These are definitely beginner level classes but I wouldn’t be surprised to see more advanced courses arrive on the website at some point.

This online subscription has a simple login and dashboard.

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Just click into the course and find where you are. If you are working through it in order (highly recommended), just go to the next area not marked complete. (The yellow circle with a check shows completed.) If not, you will need to have noted where you left off. Click on the lesson and get started on the next video.

Each video is short – often less than 5 minutes. Sally gives clear instructions on what to do and what materials to use. Each section of instruction includes a video on the specific materials needed for the set of lessons.

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We watched the video and then did the lesson. Sometimes, it was a simple line that needed completed. Sometimes, it was filling in a large space with crosshatches and it took a good bit of time. If needed, it was easy to pause the video to complete an instruction before moving on.

The drawing lessons were quite unique in the start (Drawing Part 1 – 17 topics), when we worked on circles, dots, curved lines, and straight lines. Some of the lessons had downloadable workbooks but we chose not to use those as they didn’t seem to fit the age of my students well. My 16 year old and my 11 year old both enjoyed working on these abstract-style pieces. The practice was helpful and yielded colorful, fun pieces.

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The next set of lessons (Drawing Part 2 – 33 topics) was similar but worked with different sets of lines and spacings. Each one had a template that needed downloaded and printed. Some of these were mixed up, as we found out after saying “this doesn’t quite match up but we can make it work.” The next one we needed to download – BINGO – that was what we had needed in the previous lesson. No worries, though. We did just fine.

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This series is intended to be the prep work for Drawing Part 3, which allows the student to use each of the different shapes from Drawing Part 2 to create a full-sized drawing of a flower. Honestly, we never got there. The lessons in Drawing Part 2 got tedious and we didn’t see a purpose to them as we didn’t know where they were leading. Once I knew that, it made sense but I had lost the girls at that point. So, I continued on without them and jumped to the Pen and Ink lessons.

The Pen and Ink lessons were tons of fun for me. I really enjoyed them. It started with a super small drawing (about 2 x 2 inches), just to get the feel of drawing with the pen. That small drawing had a watercolor wash over it. It was a fun little piece.

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Then, we worked on the tree. I adored this set of lessons and wish there were more like it. I felt like I was accomplishing something and I was fairly pleased with my finished product. I learned how to transfer images, how to use the pen in different ways to get different effects, and how to finish off a piece with a unique colorwash effect. This got the girls interested in the lessons again and we have it scheduled to work on soon.

 

I also started on the acrylics portion. I got the cloud painting done and would like to get a board to do the next part. I might splurge and get some paints, too.

 

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I skipped over the watercolor part because I didn’t love working with the watercolors we had (that I had used for the colorwashes on the pen and ink pieces) and I didn’t have a way to get a better quality. This was the only experience that I had with the quality of materials affecting my enjoyment of learning, where I think it made a difference. While I understand that an artist really feels the difference of the high-quality, expensive materials, it just is not something I am willing to spend the money on when my girls are still trying to figure out what is of long-term interest to them. So, we used the markers we had (often Sharpies), the watercolors we had (from the girls art sets that are not high quality), and the acrylics that we have on hand for craft projects. We used the mixed media pad of paper for some of the projects but the printer paper worked perfectly for the drawing lessons.

Overall, this was a very different style program. It has it’s high points, for sure. If you are looking for a fairly low-prep art class for the home, this is an interesting one to take a look at.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Be sure to visit the Homeschool Review Crew and read what other families thought about Beyond the Stick Figure Art School, viewing their completed projects.

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I Need Tissue Paper!

I Need Tissue Paper!

Have you ever needed tissue paper for an art project? I had tons of tissue paper but none the colors needed. We were making a southwest desert sunset for our Let’s Go Geography program and so we needed sunset colors. Guess what? I had tons of pink, purple, dark blue, and white. No sunset colors. So, we improvised and I LOVE how it turned out.

tissue paper collage or desert southwest US

tissue paper collage of desert southwest US

Our improvisation? I spread out a white piece of tissue paper and we used markers to color it the colors needed for the sunset. It worked beautifully.

color your own tissue paper

color your own tissue paper

So, the next time you are in a quandry and don’t want to make the run up to the store to buy a particular color of tissue paper, try coloring some.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Part of the round up at the Homeschool Review Crew. Click on the image below.

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Drawing Lessons from Creating a Masterpiece ~ a Crew review

Learn to draw with the Drawing Program from Creating a Masterpiece

Never have I felt like an artist yet a niggling thought has stuck in my head for several years – maybe I just need the right kind of guidance. Enter Creating a Masterpiece and the series of instructional pieces in their newly released Drawing Program, with lessons from Beginning Drawing to Level 3.

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Creating a Masterpiece has been around for a while and has had video instruction for several levels of various media, including watercolor, inks, acrylics, and more. Recently, the company has expanded their offerings to include drawing lessons. This is what I have been using for the past few weeks and have come to enjoy a lot.

I have been working on at least one drawing a week, hoping to improve my abilities and enjoyment of the process of creating through drawing and sketching. Well, so far so good. I look forward to finding time to work through another of the drawing lessons. I have progressed from the beginning level through most of level 1. That is a total of 15 drawings, from a giraffe to a fish to an egg, each one stretches my abilities and learning.

The drawing lessons use various media for drawing. These include pencil, charcoal, colored pencil, and eraser (yes, you read that right!). Papers used have included regular sketching paper, vellum, black paper, and charcoal paper. Additionally, I have learned about using a kneading eraser, a pencil eraser, vellum paper, a tortillon, and techniques for using the pencils.

The lessons are simple enough to get into and get started on. Log into the Creating a Masterpiece site and then click on projects, at the top.

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From there, you scroll down to the Drawing Lessons. You then select the lesson you want. You will be taken to a page where you can look at the materials needed. This page also has a link to a site where you can order the materials if you do not have a local art or hobby store to visit. One the page that has the materials link, there is also a sample of the completed project and the link needed to enter the video portions of the lesson. Click on that and head into the instruction.

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Each project is broken down into several short video sections. This allows the instruction to be given in small, manageable segments. They have ranged from 2 video sections to 6 sections, I believe. Each video segment ranges from about 2 minutes to almost 10. The segments show Sharon walking the student through each step of creating the artwork, explaining the process and choices made.

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While she is demonstrating each step, we are able to view her hands working from above. This makes is really easy to feel confident in the way to proceed with each step.

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penguin drawing in progress

The language of drawing is explained along the way with different projects touching on different art vocabulary. In the lake drawing, Sharon talked about words like gradient, contrast and values. With the owl, she discussed the basic shapes and the value of light and dark, particularly how different colors have those different values. While working on the turtle drawing, the instruction included gradation, repetition, and variation within the context of drawing. I liked how that instruction was woven seamlessly into the demonstration of each drawing.

Confidence is built along the way by the small steps that Sharon asks the student to make in each drawing. There is seldom a large section that is covered or a jump in instruction made. The step-by-step examples and instruction allow every student to have success with every drawing. While every drawing may not be the student’s favorite, it is still a masterpiece of creation and growth demonstrated. What a wonderful thing!

I am still hoping the girls will find interest in the program and join me some. While they have not yet, I have absolutely adored having access to this program and plan to continue using it. I have finished about half of the drawings and feel much more confident in my drawing abilities through the process. I have learned much about the different types of materials that are available and how to use them.

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My favorite project? Well, it depends on the day. I really enjoyed doing the colored pencil harvest drawing on vellum paper. I also have really enjoyed the while on black drawings where you work with negative values to create the images. But then again, I have had fun creating the various animals – penguins, turtles, and giraffe.

In case you can’t tell, I do recommend this program. I do think it would work well for older elementary students on up. I believe there could be a quick frustration level for lower elementary. I don’t think I would plan on my 10 year old attempting these unless she wanted to on her own. But I can easily see high school students getting a solid drawing education from these lessons.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Drawing Program from Creating a Masterpiece)

Many other families have been using Creating a Masterpiece, most with their students. Visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog to read other reviews. You can get there by clicking the image below.

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Bronze Statues at the Library

Bronze Statues at the library

We went to the library a couple of weeks ago and stumbled upon an amazing – and fabulous – thing. The library was hosting an art showing of bronze work by various artists. From a life-sized statue of a warrior to a chair that can be sat on to a day to a number of smaller statues of less than about a foot high. We spent a good bit of time that day studying the statues and have enjoyed looking at them briefly again each time we go now.

You can see a video of the smaller statues by visiting my Instagram feed.

I think our absolute favorite was the chair, though.

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Each of the letters is textured. The texturing is something that starts with that letter. For example, the z is textured by zippers. It was so much fun to go through and try to figure out what each one was. There is a list on the back of the page that tells about the chair so we were able to find out what all of them were.

This was tons of fun and I hope everyone in Waco is able to get a chance to go by and see them. The work of each of the pieces is beautiful and it was interesting to read about each of the pieces and the artist that created it.

A visit to an art show is always a great stop. We are so pleased to be able to see these beautiful pieces of art for a while.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

 

 

More Murals

Last week, At Home Dad and I took a short trip to Jefferson, TX. Jefferson is close to the Louisiana border and has a beautiful bayou. It is close to Caddo Lake, if you know where that is.

While we were walking around Jefferson the first night, looking for a place to eat, we saw a beautiful mural on the side of a building. It was really beautiful. So I took a picture.

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The next day, while we were walking around the downtown area, we started noticing how many murals there were. I didn’t take pictures of all of them because some of them were harder to get pictures of, what with cars parked in front of them and whatnot. But these murals are often used a signs for the businesses, which is really neat.

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Some of them are huge and take up the whole side of a building. Some are small and compact. Some are clearly older while some seem to be very new. They are all unique and individual.

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Oh, and I can’t forget to share the neat VB bus sitting on an empty lot. Just another example of art to be found.

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Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Finding Art – Waco Mural Hunt

Waco Mural Hunt finds

I know that the word art evokes different thoughts for different people. But we got to have a fun art day a couple of days ago when my niece was here. She loves artwork of all sorts and found a listing of the murals around Waco. I had totally forgotten about the murals so we had never gone mural hunting. My niece picked out several she wanted to go see and we went on a trek. Some of them were walking distance from each other. Many were not. Take a look at what we found.

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We sure did have fun looking for these murals. Some of the murals were just fantastic. Some I did not care for. Some we didn’t have the ability to stop and get a picture of.

Do you have murals in your area? They sure do showcase some amazing talents, don’t they?

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

ARTistic Pursuits Inc. ~ a Crew review

ARTistic Pursuits art instruction

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.

art video lesson

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.

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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.

artwork 8

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

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lines (drawing a favorite stuffed animal)

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shape

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shape and details

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or adding color.

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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.

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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.

Blessings,
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.

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