A Review of ARTistic Pursuits, Elementary 4-5, Book 1 (The Elements of Art and Composition)

We were excited to have the opportunity to review Elementary 4-5, Book 1:The Elements of Art and Composition from ARTistic Pursuits.  
As a family, we naturally enjoy doing art together and working on different drawing projects in our homeschool.  The ARTistic Pursuits books are a full art curriculum and come in many levels from Preschool to High School.  I chose this particular level because I really wanted a book that would challenge our children’s developing art skills.

The Layout

What I love about the ARTistic Pursuits books is how in-depth and complete they are for art study.  If you have one of these books for your year, you will have a complete and comprehensive art curriculum.  This book in particular goes into great detail about composition and creative art processes while also encouraging creativity and observations skills.
The way Brenda Ellis writes these books makes them very conversational and friendly for children.  We have always worked on them together, as a family, but this book (Elementary 4-5, Book 1:The Elements of Art and Composition) could easily be followed independently by the student.  
The books are outlined incredibly well with full descriptions of goals, content, and scheduling.  Topics include things like: Space, Line and Shape, Texture, Value, Form, Contrast, The Shapes of Natural Forms, Edges, Balance, Rhythm, Depth, Proportion, Movement, etc.  The projects are challenging and definitely for 4th to 5th graders (and beyond!) in my opinion.   
The book is separated into units (1-16).  Each Unit has 4 Lessons.  These are broken into 4 focuses: Building a Visual Vocabulary, American Art Appreciation and History (picture study),  Techniques, and Application.  I show photos and descriptions of these lessons below.

A Peak at Unit 3

In Unit 3, we look at Texture.    

It took us about 2 weeks to accomplish all of Unit 3.  We did 2 lessons per week, which is the recommended speed in the guide.

The first part of Lesson 1 is the Vocabulary and Creative Exercise.  Here, we discussed how art gives us a chance to use all our senses, to slow down and appreciate the beauty around us (amen!).   We discussed the importance of the habit of attention is seeing the ‘textures’ in our world.

In the “TRY IT” section, children take a blind walk with a partner.  A partner leads the blindfolded child around the house to touch and feel different textures.  The blind folded child then must guess what they are touching.   After this activity, children are encouraged to draw some of the textures they found. Another idea is to put many types of textured objects in a bag to guess what they are by only feeling them with your hands.

The objective is to develop a deeper sensory awareness and vocabulary, which helps artists draw textured objects more affectively.

Lesson 2  is the Art Appreciation portion of the Unit.  Here we looked at a beautiful painting by Asher B. Durand called Kindred Spirits.  Using our observation skills, we identified various textures and surfaces in the painting.
There is a short biography of the artist as well as a narrative of “The Times”, which is a description of what life was like at the time when the artist painted the piece and how that might have influenced the art and played a role in the landscape.  
We also used the “Make an Observation Drawing” suggestion.  I asked the children to draw textures that they observed in the everyday world.  This is a lovely opportunity for us Charlotte Mason-ers to do some Nature Study sketching in our journals.

Lesson 3 is the Techniques section of the unit.  Here we looked at specific techniques that can be used to create certain types of textures.   I Children are encouraged to use pencil to draw several objects found outdoors.  For this step, I offered my help.  I got a blank sheet and showed, by example, how to use lines, groups of lines, blending and shapes to create texture.  We also tilted our pencils and used them in various ways to show different types of textures.
Lesson 4 leads us to the Final Project.  
Here I encouraged the children to gather their tools for drawing and sketching.  This included paper, Nature Journals, and a pencil case with various sketching pencils and erasers.  I encouraged the children to use all the skills they had learned in the unit to create a drawing.  Our children created landscape sketches using their imaginations.  They also played around with various textures and different ways to hold their pencil and create textures in their sketches.

Hope this review was helpful!  If you would like to read more of the Schoolhouse Review Crew’s reviews of various levels of ARTistic Pursuits, click the banner below!


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