I’m a big fan of ARTistic Pursuits curriculum and was very happy to have the chance to review High School 9-12, Book 1: The Elements of Art and Composition. We’ve previously used ARTistic Pursuits Sculpture Technique: Construct and some of the elementary level books and have really enjoyed them. Emily has recently shown more interest in drawing, so this particular book was the perfect choice for her.
The Elements of Art and Composition is written directly to the student and requires no adult instruction. I did skim through the lessons she was working on and as she worked on each assignment, I would ask her about it and about what concepts from the lesson she was including.
Each of the 16 units has 4 parts: Building a Visual Vocabulary, Art Appreciation and Art History, Techniques, and Application. Each of these lessons includes both instruction and a drawing assignment for a total of 64 assignments in the course. The suggested schedule for the course is completion of 2 1-hour lessons per week for a full school year. The course teaches the use of both drawing pencils and charcoal.
Each unit focuses on one concept, such as space, line, texture, shape, or proportion. The concept is explained and illustrated and the student is given a “challenge your vision” assignment that helps the student see the world in a different way. The assignments include tasks like taking a walk to look for particular shapes or colors, crawling in the grass looking for and drawing different shapes of leaves, and drawing random squiggles on a page and shading them.
A lesson from each unit includes technical instruction and opportunity for students to practice using techniques like shading, drawing with perspective, and drawing shadows.
The third and fourth lessons of the unit give assignments at allow the student to further practice the unit concept and to produce a more “finished” piece.
One of the features that I love with Artistic Pursuits program is that it includes not only art instruction, but art history. European art is the focus for this particular volume. Within each unit is a print of a work of art that is used as an example of the technical focus for the unit. The use of active vs. passive space is analyzed in this medieval painting. Da Vinci’s horse drawings are used to demonstrate the use of light and heavy lines in a drawing.
Lessons also include biographical information about artists. The student will learn about Leonardo da Vinci, Renoir, Durer, and many more artists.
The works of art in the book include masterpieces, professional examples, and student art. I like that the student art is included because it gives the user of the program examples of what might be accomplished and examples of art that are not perfect, but still show the concepts and give the user a realistic idea of what a teen might be able to produce.
Emily tells me that she likes that the program is teaching her techniques like shading and drawing texture. It doesn’t teach step-by-step how to draw something, but directs her to incorporate different concepts into her drawings. It’s helping her think about how objects feel (texturally) when she draws them.
She thinks it is improving her drawing and helping it to look more realistic by using lighter and darker shades as she draws.
I am happy to have this Artistic Pursuits volume for Emily to learn from because drawing and art are definitely not an area I have much expertise in, so it is wonderful to have a self-directed program that doesn’t require me to teach the subject. I know she will continue to use and to enjoy this program through the upcoming year.
High School 9-12, Book 1: The Elements of Art and Composition sells for $47.95.