Creating a Masterpiece is an online art program taught by Sharon Hofer who believes any student can produce a masterpiece, even at a young age. Her method of teaching inspires students to not only learn technique, but also achieve outstanding results using a variety of media.
I first stumbled upon Creating a Masterpiece while looking for a Charlotte Mason inspired art program over at Simply Charlotte Mason and saw they recommended it. I can see why. Sharon Hofer's belief is that the teaching must be simple enough for a child to follow, and she offers short step-by-step lessons that produce beautiful work.
To create a masterpiece, you will, of course, need art supplies. We chose our first project, and I ordered supplies from Blick Art Materials as soon as I was chosen for this review. I put in a second order during the review and picked up a few supplies locally.
Tip: You will want high quality art supplies to create a successful masterpiece. Creating a Masterpiece makes that part easy, but the cost of supplies can add up quick.
Lessons are taught through a combination of video, helpful tips, step by step photos, and a high resolution image of the completed project.
The format for a Level 1 project and above includes anywhere from 3 to 7 lessons. Each lesson is broken down into 1-4 sessions that take 1-2 hours. Beginner lessons take an hour or less, but students are able to work at their own pace and slow down if needed. Sometimes we were excited to finish a project, but we should have slowed down and taken more time.
Our first project took 2 weeks with 4 lessons divided into 2 - 4 sessions each lesson.
Media that is taught:
- Acrylic Painting
- Soft Pastels
- Oil Pastels
- Block Printing
- Ink Silk Dyeing
- Bombay Ink
- Conte Crayon
- Colored Pencil
- Copper Tooling
- Glass Mosaic
- Watercolor Pencils
- Balsa Carving
I reviewed this program with three children ages 6, 10, and 12. To share our experience, I will walk you through our first project step by step and then share my thoughts and a few more projects we completed during the review period.
Our first project - The Turtle:
Lesson 1.1 Introduction - Video length 3:33 - Supplies and workspace
The Turtle supplies:
- 2 lbs. self hardening clay
- Kroma Crackle
- Acrylic paint: Raw Sienna, Mars Black, and Green Deep Permanent
- Acrylic Sealer (recommended, but not required)
- Pointed tool (can use pencil or pointed modeling stick - we used a toothpick)
- Tile piece (we covered a clipboard with plastic wrap)
- Plastic bag
- Paper towel
- Metal twisty tie
- Damp cloth
Lesson 1.3 - Video length 5:19 - Sculpting the arms and legs & crosshatching to attach them
Lesson 1.4 - Video length 2:52 - Shaping the head
Lesson 2.1 - Video length 4:18 - Forming the shell
Lesson 2.3 - Video length 3:35 - Adding texture on head, arms, and legs
During this lesson, we used a toothpick to add texture to the skin of the turtle (as seen pictured below).
Lesson 3.1 - Video length 4:43 - Adding texture to the shell
Lesson 3.2 - Video length 5:19 - Adding a design to the shell
Now we let our turtles dry for a week.
Lesson Skills and 4.1-4.4 - Painting our turtles and applying Kroma Crackle
Video lengths: 2:23 (Lesson Skills), 5:35 (Lesson 4.1) and 3:41 (Lesson 4.2), and 3:35 (Lesson 4.3).
Here we are applying the base coat of paint. Painting and applying the Kroma Crackle required my full attention, so I did not get any more pictures of these steps. (Plus, I was painting my own turtle!).
We let our turtles sit for about 4 days to allow them to completely dry and crackle.
Then we sprayed them with an acrylic sealer. Sealing the project must have been optional because it was not mentioned in the lesson, but an acrylic sealer was listed as a recommended item at Blick. It gave our turtles a nice finished look.
What is my opinion of the product?
My overall feeling is a positive one. The type and quality of the art appeals to me, and I feel like we are creating real masterpieces with high quality art supplies.
What did I find helpful?
The project is broken up into several lessons and include Helpful Tips for each lesson.
A list of supplies is included for each project that can be purchased at Blick with a click. At Blick, it was easy to add what I wanted to my cart.
The additional Lesson Skills video was helpful. Not being a master artist myself, I needed the additional lesson.
What did I like or dislike?
High quality art supplies can be expensive, but that's what you need to create a masterpiece! I put in two Blick orders during my review, but I could have easily ordered more. I loved how easy it was to order directly from Blick and that the supplies we received were enough to do several projects.
I tried the Sunflower pencil drawing, but I'm not a good drawer, so I had a hard time following the lesson and at times did not understand what she was asking me to do. For example, I couldn't see what she was drawing when she drew the leaves. For a moment, the camera wasn't pointed where she was drawing, and at times, the pencil drawing was so light I could barely see it. I realized the importance of having the high resolution image of the sunflower in front of you while you draw (and maybe have some drawing skills, too).
I loved the format of the lessons, but it would be nice to have an idea of how long the lessons are because one time I devoted an hour to art and we were done in 5 minutes. We also needed an hour for our projects to dry before we could proceed with the next lesson. If I knew it was going to be so short, I would have started it in between subjects instead of waiting until we were done with school for the day. (So maybe preview the lesson first!).
During our gouache project (pictured below), the instructions to apply the fixative was in the Helpful Tips section but not in the video, so we forgot to use it. It would be nice to be told when and how to apply it in the video lesson itself. After that, we were more careful to read the tips before each lesson. Furthermore, I would have loved to see a tip on how to cut the illustration board. (I ended up cutting it like I would fabric with my rotary trimmer.)
During our Sailing Adventure project (pictured below), I kept telling my daughter that this was just a practice run, but we were happy with the results! For other projects, a practice run might have been a good idea.
The quality and beauty of each project is amazing and very doable! See for yourself, and try the free sample project!
Did my children like it?
They loved it. They asked to do more projects that I could afford supplies for and often pulled up a lesson to do on their own with regular art supplies. Bo initiated Lessons in Watercolor: Floral Medly using Prang watercolors, and Eliana initiated Lessons in Pencil: Sunflower, using a regular pencil. I picked out a few projects on my own too. Eliana (10) really wants to do the Giraffe sculpture next, and Malachi (12) wants to do the gouache Knight, while I can't wait to do the soft pastel Country Rooster. Bo (6) would be happy to do any of the projects!
How did this benefit my homeschool?
It was nice to have real art lessons lessons right in my home, and I loved learning alongside my children while we watched the videos together. We've made some wonderful art that we never could have on our own! While it wasn't unusual to have a child experience a lack of confidence during the process, when I asked if they could have done that well on their own, their reply was no, they couldn't. So, Creating a Masterpiece has greatly benefited our homeschool, and as mentioned above, it has inspired us to want to do more art.
Here are a few more projects we did during the review period:
Eliana's sailboat is on the left, mine is in the middle, and on the right is the high resolution image from the lesson so you can see how our work compares.
Granny's Crab Apples
This is my project. I didn't think my kid's projects were at all close to being a masterpiece (pictured below), but it was still a wonderful experience!
See step by step photos of the process of Granny's Crabapples in our row of Little Nino's Pizzeria. The illustrator of the book uses gouache with watercolor for its illustrations, so it was a perfect tie in to our "row" of the book!
Would I recommend it?
Yes! But since it's a monthly subscription, make sure you have your supplies on hand before you purchase a monthly subscription for $39.99. All supplies lists are available before purchasing! Shipping from Blick took about 7-9 days, and that could eat up a bit of your subscription time. As it was, our first month flew by!
Depending on maturity level, a student as young as 4 or 5 can create a masterpiece, but they may need some coaching. For all projects in this review, my help was very minimal and our results reflect that. I wanted to see if my children could really produce a masterpiece on their own, but they really needed a lot more help than I gave them. Be prepared to help your child unless they are high school age or above. Your students are challenged and expected to do more than they think they are capable of doing, but they can create a masterpiece!
Click here to read more reviews and see the beautiful masterpieces created by other homeschoolers!
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