Thursday, March 5, 2009
TOS Review: ARTisticPursuits
You've heard of ARTistic Pursuits. We all have. It's become something of a standard bearer in homeschool art programs.
I used the K-3 books one and two back when I first started homeschooling, and they were just what we needed. A guide to general art education. A little bit of art history. Some nice narrative introductions to the greats. Full-color reproductions of important pieces. Hands-on experiences in multiple media. I was thrilled with the program, and my children looked forward to seeing the big, comb-bound book being pulled from the shelf. That book, after all, meant art. And art was fun!
Right around the time that Logan became a real force to be reckoned with in our homeschool, I walked away from ARTistic Pursuits in favor of a more Classical Education-style art appreciation approach. There wasn't anything wrong with ARTistic Pursuits, per se. If anything, it was still a great fit for our family. But time had become a premium in our little homeschool, and giving it over for a full afternoon of art exploration was suddenly just not something that I felt I could muster.
Which was really silly, because I only had three kids, and they were 8, 5 and 3. Ahhhh... perspective. :-)
At any rate, I've still managed to produce not one, but three children who have more than a passing interest in art. You already know that Logan is my budding painter. But what I rarely mention is that Atticus is quite the cartoonist, and Jo longs to be able to draw with the same skill that she sees represented in the art all around her. The boys are happy to be left alone, stumbling through the early phases of their artistic development. Jo, however, has reached the point where her lack of output frustrates her. Short of signing her up for a drawing class, what's a homeschool mom to do?
It turns out that she can trust ARTistic Pursuits to fill the void once again.
Written directly to the student and requiring no teacher preparation (you read that correctly!) ARTistic Pursuits Junior High Book One, The Elements of Art and Composition is a basic, do-it-yourself instruction manual in the classical tradition. Students are led through the rudiments of drawing, from using the space on the page to sketching texture. With a basic set of supplies on hand, they can work at their own speed to develop and eye for drawing and a mind for composition that sets the stage for building on their newfound skills.
Jo--armed with pencils, ink and some wire--has been tackling the book solo. She raves about the presentation, and has already begun to improve the figures she produces in the corner of her math worksheets on a daily basis. In addition, I see her enjoying art more: digging a little deeper into the different media and wondering aloud what went into it. This, to me, is what art is all about.
The ARTistic Pursuits books are not cheap. At $42.95, they can feel like a big chunk out of a slim homeschool budget. For the price, however, they provide a well-rounded education in an extracurricular that truly ought to rank higher in most homeschools. Which, by the way, is a bit of advice I plan on taking to heart myself.