Our Review of ARTistic Pursuits: An Art Curriculum

Teaching art is definitely not one of my strong points. We’ve tried lots of different art curricula with varying degrees of success. I think a good art program needs to be a balance of art appreciation and art technique. We had the opportunity to review ARTistic Pursuits, and we’ve found it to be a good fit. We received Elementary 4-5, Book 1: The Elements of Art and Composition. This is a paper back book that sells for $47.95. It is intended for ages 9 and up.
When we received our ARTistic Pursuits book I had to purchase some art supplies. I used the web page for The Elements of Art and Composition to find a supply list ahead of time, and I ordered from the site recommended by ARTistic Pursuits. ARTistic Pursuits also offers the supplies in packs to purchase with each of their curricula. And there is a supply list inside the front cover of the curriculum.
I used the curricula with Charles- 8th grade, Ashlyne- 4th grade, and Rachel- 3rd grade. Rachel is actually 8, but since they do many classes as a group, I included all three. Rachel didn’t have any trouble because she is one of my artistic children. But I think if an 8 year old were the oldest in the group, it would have been better to go with one of the lower aged curricula. (ARTistic Pursuits has curricula for preschool all the way through high school.)
The Elements of Art and Composition focuses on drawing, using ebony pencils as the main medium. We learned about such things as Space in a work of art and Contrast and Form and Value. It was all new to me also because I’m not an artsy person.
Each unit is broken down into four lessons. It is meant to be done two days a week, so a unit takes two weeks. The units are broken down into four parts. On the first day the students are introduced to some new art concept(s). Examples that the student will be familiar with are given and the student has a simple project to complete. On the second day there is a work of art from an American artist showing a scene from a time period in American history. The students are given details about the artist and his or her works and about the piece. They also look at how that piece uses the technique they’ve learned. On the third day the lesson focuses on using specific art tools to create with the technique they’ve learned. And the last day is an application day where the students create a bigger project demonstrating all they’ve learned in the lesson about the technique and the materials.
We did two or three lessons a week. I chose to skip around in the book because I wanted us to have a chance to experience a variety of lessons for the review period. The lessons are really meant to build on each other however. So it would be better to go through them in order.
One of the greatest things my kids enjoyed as we began this curriculum was using the sketch pads required in the materials list.

Many of the projects had kids doing a still life of sorts using an object that they could look at and draw using the techniques they had been learning.

One of our projects had us focusing on a light source. The kids had to look at an object using only one light source and sketch the object using form- the shape of the object and value- the shading of light and dark areas.

In another lesson we were looking at texture and the kids had the opportunity to feel the texture of different objects before sketching and using different art techniques to convey texture.

I liked to attempt the projects sometimes for myself because, although I’ve never been an artsy person, this was interesting to me. In this lesson we were looking at contrast and made these leaf rubbings and then filled in the “negative space.”

The one thing that the kids expressed displeasure in was that drawing was the only style of of art we were learning. They would have liked some variety. There are other curricula from ARTistic Pursuits that do focus on other styles of art. But the books tend to focus on one form so that the kids can learn it well.

I really liked the curricula. I thought it was a good balance between art appreciation and art techniques. I appreciated the fact that the supplies were so clearly laid out. I liked the hands on ways that the kids were introduced to new techniques. I liked the way the curriculum was laid out breaking the lesson into the four parts that all focused on different parts of a technique.
We will continue to use this particular book this year, and I’d like to choose the Elementary 4-5 Book 2 next when we finish. That book focuses on Color and Composition.
Curriculum Facts:
Age Range: 9 and up
Price: $47.95 (plus supplies)
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