Friday, June 1, 2018

Second Daughter's Masterpieces: Early Elementary Artistic Pursuits

Artistic Pursuits
Early Elementary K-3, Book One
An Introduction to the Visual Arts

This book is not recommended in the Mater Amabilis™ curriculum but some others in the series are. After using one of the later books with First Son and First Daughter, I decided to try this one to make sure I was getting art time with Second Daughter and to provider her with an opportunity to use something besides crayons and markers.

I have 2013 edition. This is just a book. There is a new edition that includes a book and a DVD illustrating artistic techniques. See the new edition and video lessons here. I can see how the DVD might be nice, but Second Daughter didn't have any trouble trying out the techniques in her book and it's nice not to have to be always going over to the TV to watch something.

This book provided lots of opportunities for Second Daughter to focus on artistic skills with materials unfamiliar to me (water-soluble wax pastels) or ones I might have anticipated as too daunting on my own (like the sculpture). Every lesson provides some background and a connection to real artists and their work, including artists lost in antiquity whose work remains in archeological digs, and an example of student work that encouraged my daughter in an attempt that might not match what she sees in her mind's eye.

Each lesson follows a similar pattern:
  • A page on how and why artists make art,
  • A page showing a piece of art with a few guided discussion questions,
  • And a project page with a project for the student and a very few simple descriptions of artistic techniques or instructions for a new kind of media.
I read the pages with Second Daughter and then set her up for her art project. I think by the end of third grade, she probably could have read and worked without me.

There are 36 lessons in the book, enough for one lesson every week, but rarely have I done a full 36 weeks for a K-3 student. Plus, it's nice to have more flexibility with younger students to skip lessons during Advent or Lent, for example. So I spread Book One over two years for Second Daughter (second and third grade). We both enjoyed it so much, though, that I did purchase Book Two in the hopes that Second Son will be able to do even more. I probably wouldn't bother with a formal study like this in kindergarten, but it might be fun to start it in first grade as long as a student didn't get frustrated.

Second Son will use this book next year, in second grade. Second Daughter is going to move on to Elementary 4-5 Book One. First Daughter has completed the Elementary 4-5 book and we liked it, but I haven't written a full review on the blog.

This is an example of art produced by Second Daughter in lesson 5, when she was early in her second grade year. She was supposed to paint a picture from a photograph and chose a kangaroo rat.


Near the end of the book, Second Daughter (nearing the end of third grade) was able to create a handful of sculptures.


Above, we have Kansas Dad. Below is her rendition of her bearded dragon. (I nicked a bit of his tail off, but Kansas Dad fixed it later.)


The picture at the beginning of the post shows Second Son's art box almost ready for school. I bought four boxes like this, one for each student, and they work beautifully. Everything they need is right in the box (excluding things like water or newspaper, etc.) and they can carry it to the table or even outside. I labeled the sides with different washi tape to make it easy to see which one they need.

Here's the list of supplies with my notes:
  • ebony pencil - I bought this box of ebony pencils about three years ago and we've been using them ever since. The kids each have one in their art boxes and most of us have them in our nature study bags. They've held up really well and I still have extras in our art supplies.
  • vinyl eraser - We use this kind of eraser for everything. I've always bought them when back to school shopping in the fall at our local super-store. They each have one in their art boxes and in their pencil boxes and I keep one with my supplies.
  • set of soft pastels - I bought this set on Amazon. We've had success with this brand in the past. It is easy for pastels to get broken and smushed together so the colors are mussed, but this box stayed safely in Second Daughter's art box and survived the study quite well. (We have a larger communal set that's always with our art supplies for "whenever" use.) She used about a third of the black, but the others are all still nice and long, definitely plenty for another child or two. I'm just moving this set to Second Son's box.
  • sketch or drawing paper pad - I generally buy a few of these when they're on sale at our local Hobby Lobby. While the kids do most of their drawing on cheap printer paper, I like to have some nicer paper if they want to make a serious drawing or make a gift. Second Daughter didn't use her whole pad for this study, but she absconded with it for her own person use, so Second Son will need a new one.
  • a set of watercolor crayons - I bought this set of water-soluble wax pastels and they are fantastic. The colors are bright and blend well. After the course, they have barely any use so there is lots of life left in them for Second Son.
  • #8 round watercolor brush - I had trouble finding one at our local hobby store, so I bought this one on Amazon. I'm no expert on paintbrushes, but it seems nice. All three older kids have one and they have used them for the past two years on various projects; they just live in their art boxes.
  • watercolor paper pad - I bought this one, though at our local hobby store during a sale. Second Daughter used exactly 15 of the 30 pages, so I anticipate Second Son having enough paper for the study. However...these are such great pages for all watercolor work, I might get an extra one so they can make more than the minimum paintings.
  • heavyweight construction paper - I bought a assorted package at our local hobby store and have plenty left for Second Son. (I kept this stash separate for our "everyday" cheap construction paper.)
  • assorted tissue paper - I bought a package at our local super-store, which was kept with our gift wrap and had to be frequently replaced. If I had kept it separate, one package would probably have been sufficient for both Second Daughter and Second Son.
  • a pair of scissors - We have lots of these roaming around.
  • 4 or 5 lb of gray self-hardening clay - I bought this at our local hobby store, but I think it was the same as this one on Amazon. You could probably stretch this for two children if they were doing the study at the same time, and were satisfied with small sculptures. Second Daughter used it all and would happily have used more.
  • cotton cloth - The project for lesson 33 is an oil pastel painting on cotton cloth. We skipped this one because a piece of cotton cloth is the only supply I didn't buy and stock at the beginning of the study. It happens in the lesson talking about embroidery and I decided it was alright to skip it since Second Daughter does actual embroidery. I may try to figure something out for Second Son.
  • glue stick - This isn't listed with the official supplies, but there are a few lesson activities that require some kind of adhesive.
  • binding materials - The last activity is the making of a book that requires some kind of binding: stapler, hole punch, etc. I would imagine most homeschooling families would have something appropriate available.

I noticed a lot of art supplies go on sale during Amazon's Prime Day last summer (in 2017), so it might be worth checking to see if that happens in the future.

I purchased Artistic Pursuits Early Elementary K-3 Book One new and have received nothing in exchange for writing this post. All opinions are my own. Any links to Amazon are affiliate links. Links to the Artistic Pursuits site are not affiliate links.

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