ARTistic Pursuits

3/09/2010
ARTistic Pursuits, Junior High Book One, The Elements of Art and Composition is an art appreciation and art history program designed to promote creativity and observational skills through world art. The book is divided into 16 units that cover The Elements of Art (space, line, texture, shape, form, value, and line in 3 dimensions) and Composition (visual paths in line, center of interest, balance, rhythm, space, perspective, and proportion). Each unit has 4 projects to complete. No teacher preparation is needed and the book is written to to student.

The media introduced in this book include:
  • 2 grades of pencil (HB, 4B)
  • black ink applied with pen and brush
  • wire sculpture
Art supplies required include a vinyl eraser, metal pencil sharpener, sandpaper block, sketch pad, wire, pen, waterproof drawing ink, brush, pen nibs, pen holder as well as a few additional items like a drawing board, wire cutters and pliers.

You can read the table of contents, a detailed description of this book and samples of the projects here.

Price: $42.95

Artistic Pursuits has other products in the following levels:

You can also read the philosophy of teaching behind Artistic Pursuits. (A really neat aspect of this program.)

Our Experience:

I was thrilled to have the opportunity to review Artistic Pursuits, but I was a little hesitant to review the Jr. High level. I shared my concern with the author that Jordan, my 13 year old, is not confident in his abilities and she replied that this book was written with him in mind. She said that the book talks about what the drawing process looks like and how they can succeed and that it also includes drawings by other students so that he can see that his skills fit right in with others. She was especially interested in hearing if the book helps "him in the fun area" and if he begins to show increased confidence.

However, I had a hard time getting Jordan into this book. I had to sit him down and read the lessons with him and encourage him to give it a try.

Here he is working on his rough sketch assignment from Unit One.
We learned about the hardness and softness of the graphite pencils and the general rules for making a sketch. Jordan loved that the rough sketch in the book was a sheriff's car, so he tried to draw it. He made several attempts and was frustrated with the fact that he was struggling with drawing a 3-dimensional form.
I don't think he actually met the objective for this unit, which was learning to place objects within the space of his page. He was not interested in doing any of the other projects in Unit One.
In Unit Two, we read the lessons on looking at line in art. Jordan was not interested in doing The Challenge project, but he was interested in the lesson on how to use graphite pencils. He learned about thin and thick lines and how to use the sandpaper block to sharpen or flatten the tip. Then he made two drawings, one with the sharpened pencil and one with the broad tipped pencil and compared the results. He learned that he likes to draw with a fine tip pencil better.
Because this is written to the student and he did not have a real desire to do this on his own, I was not sure what to do. I did not want to squelch his love for drawing. (In other words, I did not want to make him do this especially if this was supposed to "help him in the fun area.") So, I read through the rest of the book and found a project that I thought would interest him: Unit 7, line in 3 dimensions. The objective: gain experience in sculpting a 3-dimensional form. This unit requires imagination and visualizing a form from all sides. I thought this would be perfect for him.
He read the unit on his own and did the projects with some encouragement.
Even after this, he was not interested in continuing with the program right now. But, he did have a few things to say about it.
What he liked about it:
  • good picture examples
  • really cool pictures
  • shows drawings that other kids did
What he did not like about it:
  • theme of the book was not appealing
  • project assignments were not interesting
  • not enough explanation
At this point, I am wondering if choosing the level before this one would have made a difference. But, I am more inclined to think that if the book's title included "Classic Cars" he would have buried himself in the book.
I think this is a quality program and I hope to encourage Jordan that artistic ability is, according to the Unit One objective, "a skill that any individual can learn." I hope that I can also encourage him to appreciate world art. He told me that he would willingly do the book if I required it, but this is not a book that he would pick up on his own. I am thinking that this will make a great art elective and plan to have him work through the book this coming school year. Life can't be all about classic cars, after all.


I received this product for the purpose of this review and no further compensation was received. I offer my honest opinion in exchange. Please see my disclosure policy for more information.

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