An Excellent and Thorough Art Program: A Schoolhouse Crew Review (ARTistic Pursuits)

I’ve confessed before that art is a subject area in which I am sadly lacking skills. Although I enjoy looking at art, I’m not well versed on great artists and their works. And I’m definitely not an expert in any art processes. I’ve tried the picture study format where I had the children study works of art and then try to recreate them. But my children didn’t go for it because they love to create their own. And then we found ARTistic Pursuits.

We first had the opportunity to review ARTistic Pursuits last year when we received the first book in the older elementary level for review. You can read my review here. This year I was very excited to find out we were going to review for ARTistic Pursuits again. This time we received Elementary 4-5, Book 2: Color and Composition. I used the book with Ashlyne (grade 5) and Rachel (grade 4). The book sells for $47.95 on the site.

We received the book, a comb bound paper book with a plastic cover. There are additional art supplies required for the curriculum. These can be purchased directly from ARTistic Pursuits or from any outside resource. The ARTistic Pursuits site lists the materials needed for each book on the website as one of the sample pages they present of the book. This makes it very nice because you can know what is required before you purchase a book.

For the Elementary 4-5, Book 2, the focus is on color. So the girls each needed:

  • a watercolor pencil set
  • a watercolor brush
  • a watercolor paper pad
  • a sketch pad for drawing
  • a vinyl eraser
  • a metal handheld pencil sharpener
We had a few of these things, so there were only a few we needed. I chose to get each girl a complete set of supplies so that there weren’t so many things to try to share. The most interesting supply to me was the watercolor pencils. My oldest daughter had actually used these earlier in the year when she was working in the high school ARTistic Pursuits book, so I had seen them. But since she did most of her work independently, I didn’t get a good look at how they worked.

We were all excited to get the curriculum in the mail and begin. I used it with the girls three to four times a week. We often used it more than this- especially at the beginning- because the girls begged to do art first every day. The book is divided into units. Each unit has four lessons. The last lesson of each unit is a final project.
In each unit, the curriculum introduces a new art concept. Related to this concept, a new technique or style is introduced in each lesson. Each lesson then has a project so students can practice. In the second lesson of each unit, a work of art from a well-known artist is introduced. The students read about the work, the time period associated with it, the artist, and the techniques and style used. Their project for that lesson will involve something related to the work of art they studied.

As we used the curriculum, I did the reading aloud. This was just a convenient way to do it since both girls were using the curriculum. Most upper elementary students could probably read it just fine. I think that some of the project descriptions were easier because I was reading them aloud, and we could figure out together exactly what was being described.

The curriculum began by introducing the girls to the idea of color- the color wheel, primary colors, secondary colors. There are units dealing with perspective and points of view. There are units that deal with blending colors. Towards the end of the curriculum, the girls will look at drawing buildings, figures, faces and interiors. There are a total of sixteen units throughout the curriculum. If you need to have a grade for art, there is also an evaluation sheet at the end of the book. You can use the guidelines to assign grades for each project.

The girls- and I – have loved this! Creating color with the watercolor pencils has been fun for them. And it’s been so interesting to watch their skills develop even over the weeks we’ve had so far. Although we stick to the main theme of the projects assigned, I let the girls have some freedom in choosing what to draw or paint. And they have been excited about the techniques they are learning and chosen to do some works independently.

In the beginning, it was interesting to see how the watercolor pencils worked and blended and the kinds of color they produced.

In one assignment, the girls were asked to draw their favorite thing using the techniques about which we’d been reading. (I was really happy Ashlyne chose me!)

Some of the things we read talked about landscape paintings. This tied in beautifully with our science readings about mountains and volcanoes that we happened to be reading at the time.The girls chose to illustrate some of these for the landscape paintings.

In one assignment they were asked to illustrate a story scene that they had read about. I also let them choose to illustrate an imaginary scene that they had made up.

We’ve had so many paintings, we’ve had to think of creative ways to display them. I strung this yarn display last year, and I rotate the girls drawings and paintings clipped to the string.

ARTistic Pursuits has definitely become a favorite here. Here are just a few things I really like:

  • I love the balance between teaching children to appreciate different works of art and styles and teaching them actual techniques so that they can create original works. 
  • I also love how well written it is. Even though I have no art background, I have no difficulty understanding the explanations and instructions.
  • The projects are simple enough that it’s reasonable for the kids to attempt them. Sometimes if the expectation is too high, they become frustrated and won’t even try. But the assignments here are “reachable.”
  • I also like that the book has pictures of real kids’ art. If every picture were beautifully and professionally done, the kids would feel as if theirs wasn’t going to measure up. But because they see that real kids drew and painted some of these assignments, they are challenged to try.

ARTistic Pursuits is a curriculum that we’ll probably continue using throughout our homeschooling. It’s affordable, simple to use, and complete in its instruction.

The Facts:
Age Range– ages 9+
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Check out the other Crew reviews for ARTistic Pursuits. Some members reviewed other levels or some of the special topic books for middle/high school.

ARTistic Pursuits Review

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