Thursday, March 14, 2019

Art of the Ancients – a Review of ARTistic Pursuits Inc.

Looking for a fun and creative way to bring art into your homeschooling experience? ARTistic Pursuits Inc. is "the curriculum for creativity!" Choosing from several different volumes (K-3rd Grade Level, Volumes 1-8), families can easily bring art into their home even if they are not artistic or creative. Last year, our family reviewed the introductory volume, Art for Children, Building a Visual Vocabulary and this year we are using Art of the Ancients, K-3 Vol. 2 to learn about the ancient Mediterranean World and create art representative of the styles of Ancient Greece, Egypt, and other cultures of the time.

It is recommended that one starts with Art for Children, Building a Visual Vocabulary, K-3 Volume 1  and then you can either follow chronological order through volumes 2-8 or you can skip to any historical period that interests you or your children. These volumes from ARTistic Pursuits Inc. provide families with a four-year course from kindergarten to third grade with one art lesson a week planned for you with text and video lessons.

All the materials needed are laid out in the beginning of the book. I simply took the book with me to the arts and crafts store to purchase the items we required. While some of the suggested brands are not always found at your local store, we found what we needed on this trip so we could get started with the lessons.

What Do You Get?

One hard cover volume
2 discs (one blu-ray and one DVD)

Instructions for 18 projects
12 Text Lessons
6 Video Lessons

A list of materials needed from the art materials that we purchased (such as a soft pastel set, 5 lbs. of gray self-hardening clay, and a wire clay cutter) to household items like paper towels and hairspray.

Many of the text lessons also provide instructions for teaching the lesson outside of the home environment to a group of children.

How Much Time Does It Take?

"Each lesson is simple. It takes only ten minutes of your time, and yet your involvement is crucial to learning."

Reading through each lesson with your children and watching accompanying video lessons does not take a lot of time. The majority of the time will be while your children are creating their art. During this time, you can either observe, help, or join in like I have in the past.

Depending upon how much time and effort your child puts into each art project, the lessons can take from 15 minutes to an hour or more. Our five-year-old son usually spent about 30 minutes or so on each project from start to finish (not including the time we sat together and read the background history information). If your children are older, they might spend more time to perfect their art masterpieces.

How Did We Use Art of the Ancients in our Homeschool? 

Even though the lessons are geared for Kindergarten to Third Grade, our preschooler also joined in on the lessons as she likes to do everything her older brother does while homeschooling. The lessons themselves are not very difficult to adapt to complete with both our five-year-old and three-year-old. So, we focus upon the history-related information with our son and our daughter can join in with the drawing and sculpting.

The book is designed so you can do one lesson a week over the course of 18 weeks. We did not space it out in the same manner during our review period. There were some days where our children would happily do two lessons in one day – they were having so much fun!

As we had not used soft pastels in our home yet, we watched the first video lesson twice which instructed us on how to use them to draw pictures. This information would be invaluable for the next several lessons. Soft pastels were used in the lessons on European Cave Drawings, Minoan Fresco Painting, and Art in Pyramids (although we used regular crayons for this project) that we have completed so far.

Some of the kids' artwork using soft pastels 

Another art material we had not yet used in our home was the gray self-hardening clay. (The kids have played with play dough but not a more official art clay.) Our five-year-old son and my husband watched the video lesson together and then made their own hockey player as we love ice hockey (not football).

Art in Minoan Palaces lesson – our son chose a sheep to draw with the soft pastels.

What We Liked 

Just as with the review of the first volume, Art for Children, I really like that Art of the Ancients is a mix of video and text lessons. This provides a great way to meet the needs of a variety of learners. The video lessons are quite clear and both our five-year-old and three-year-old sat and watched the lessons together.

One of our son's favorite lessons was Clay: Slab Building. We watched the video and then with the help of Dad, he started creating his own figure – a hockey player. We had to make some adjustments as we did not have canvas or a rolling pin to use but everything still worked out okay. The only problem we had was that the arms and hockey stick did not adhere to the body figure. Perhaps they weren't scored properly as instructed in the video?

If we had used canvas as suggested in the video, our clay would not have stuck so badly.

Putting together the hockey player.

A finished project! 

The bright colors and images included with the text lessons make it easy to teach the lessons as if reading a story book. Our five-year-old son and I sat together on the couch and read through the history information before working on the art project. For example, before creating an Egyptian-inspired mural, we read the background information on art in pyramids and examined the mural Harvesting and Pressing Grapes using the questions provided in the book. Some of those questions include:

  • How do men carry grapes from the vineyard? 
  • Can you find jars used for storing the drink that was made from the grapes? 
After answering the questions, our son then made his own mural (inspired by a video game he has been playing lately).

Drawing one of the people on his wall mural.

Coloring in the first scene on the wall mural.

Working on the second scene on his wall mural.

The inclusion of objectives at the end of the book is a fantastic bonus for the homeschooling family. If you want to look for a particular art skill or history topic, you can review the 18 objectives and then pick the lesson to study. This would be beneficial in planning your homeschool schedule. 

I also like the inclusion of a bibliography and the fine art credits so if we wish to look for more information we have a starting point. 

How We Will Use Art of the Ancients in the Future 

As our two younger children get older and their art skills progress, we will be able to revisit the lessons in Art of the Ancients, K-3 Vol 2 as well as expand upon the history presented by doing additional research. Although I know the next project we will probably be doing is that of the Roman Portrait Paintings because our daughter has asked to draw pictures of ourselves. 

Our teen will be studying World History next homeschool year, so I will be able to incorporate some of the art projects into his lessons if he wishes to continue his pursuit of art. (He did join in the art projects last year when we reviewed Volume 1.) So even though the book is for grades K-3, we will be able to use the video lessons to review art techniques and then our teen son can create a clay relief as we study Mesopotamia or draw a portrait as we study Roman mummy portraits.

Art of the Ancients, K-3 Vol 2 is a wonderful hardcover book packed with 64 pages of great information and wonderful visuals! As each lesson includes a sample created image (either by Brenda Ellis or a student), children are sure to see that all art can be beautiful.

If you wish to learn more about ARTistic Pursuits Inc. and the other volumes in the series, you can visit the following sites including reviews by my fellow members of the Homeschool Review Crew.

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