ARTistic Pursuits {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

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Art for Elementary Students

What is ARTistic Pursuits?

ARTistic Pursuits is a book based art program that teaches the elements of art, art history, and techniques, all at the same time. For this review, we were sent Elementary 4-5, Book 2, Color and Composition. This is a truly complete art program which covers everything your child needs to know for a year of art study.

ARTistic Pursuits covers everything from Preschool Art, 5 levels of Elementary Art, middle school and high school art, and two sculpture books, which can be used for older students. Each book covers a different skill set or period of art history, so take a close look at all of them! 

ARTistic Pursuits Review
How do the Lessons Work?

Color and Composition is broken down into 16 units, each of which has 4 lessons. This program is meant to be used twice a week, two lessons per week, which last about an hour each (this breaks down to 32 weeks of material). The majority of this time is spent working on art projects, so it doesn’t require all of the parent’s time. I found that it takes me maybe 10-15 minutes to discuss the material, and then Bug would work for as long as his attention would allow.

Each unit’s 4 lessons follow the same format. The first lesson focuses on making observations about the world around them, and helps students build a “visual vocabulary” and expand on their knowledge of art terms. The second lesson is in Art History and Appreciation, and shares a work of art that highlights the concept taught in the first lesson of the unit. In the third lesson, the child is taught a new art technique, and in the forth lesson, all information from the unit is brought together into a “Application” project which ties together all the information from the first three lessons.

These lessons are very easy to just “Open and Go.” The information presented is just a couple paragraphs long, and depending on how much instruction your child needs (I found technique based lessons required more of me to demonstrate skills) don’t take much time to actually teach. Much of the time spent is your child exploring art on their own with the tools given from the book.

Elementary Art- Artistic Pursuits

Our Experience

I would have liked to see more guidance in the “how” to make art. The instructions provided are good, but I still needed to sit down with Bug, and elaborate on what he needed to do. I also would have preferred the instructions to be for use with watercolor paint, rather than the water color pencils. Bug’s inability to draw realistically (it’s just not his talent, bless his heart) hindered his enjoyment of the book, and pencils before water make the project twice as long, and add a whole different layer of talent required (such as the forethought to know how colors will blend, and if they will blend).

The lessons can be taught with straight watercolor paint instead of the pencils, so we switched and adapted the lessons to fit this medium, with much better success. This of course, was a personal problem, rather than a problem with the curriculum itself (many people enjoy water color pencils), but I wanted to mention it in case your child is a perfectionist like mine- paints are more forgiving then pencils, and low quality water color pencils are especially problematic.

I feel like we needed a course in drawing before we could use this book successfully, because poor Bug just really struggled with the draw before you paint aspect of the book. I did appreciate that student works are also featured in the book, so when he really struggled with his self-esteem from his drawings, I could show him works other students did, so he knew that no one was exactly perfect (like the author examples). I would be sure that your student has an interest in drawing before selecting this particular level, and if they don’t, go with one of the many other levels.

artistic pursuits

With the exception of this bump in the road, we really enjoyed the lessons. I liked how the program incorporated so much together, we got a good dose of theory, art history and appreciation, and skills together in a tidy package. The lessons are easy to follow, but a tad brief when it comes to actual instruction.

The art history and appreciation is a real strength of the program. The works chosen to be featured are shown in beautiful full color, and it includes information about the artist and their life and times, as well as discussing the art and techniques used within it. Over the course of the year, you’ll child will learn 16 different well-chosen works.  This book focuses on American Art, and included some works that were even “new” to me, a self-professed art junkie.

ARTistic Pursuits Review

Purchasing Information

Elementary Grades 4-5, Book 2, Color and Composition is 47.95. Art supply packs are available.

These books are non-consumable, so your purchase is good to teach all of your children, for years to come. They are printed on heavy paper, in full color. The binding is a little weak, and doesn’t turn smoothly (my pages bent on the inside of the spiral binding) but because the paper is nice and thick, they did not rip, thank goodness. With care, these should hold up well to many years of use.

Read more reviews!

If you are interested in hearing more, head on over to the Schoolhouse Crew Page, where you’ll find lots more reviews. ARTistic Pursuits is a Crew favorite, so you’ll find lots of detailed reviews from families of every kind. Many reviewers have more information on the brand new Sculpture books too!

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  1. We have had the opposite experience with water color pencils. 🙂 My children like the control they have with them, and that they can easily transform their pictures into watercolor paintings with a little water on a brush.

    Your review is wonderful! Your pictures always draw me in and are so beautifully done. I think I would like a product just for your pictures. 🙂

    I reviewed Elements of Art and Their Composition previously with my then 13 yo and it was focused on drawing as well – not something he was skilled at so our experience was similar. This time, I really enjoyed the book we reviewed. 🙂

    1. It’s funny how each child has a different preference. It’s strange, because he likes to draw, but these assignments just didn’t sing to him. I think he was just trying too hard to get his work to look like the book’s samples, and the perfectionist in him couldn’t handle it. When I switched him to a watercolor pallet (which he has had more experience with) he really lightened up, and started enjoying the lessons.

  2. I am glad to know your experience with the water color pencils. I asked for Book 1 and then had been sort of wishing for Book 2 because Book 1 is so much drawing and no painting. But I think it will probably be good that they focused on the drawing for a while. 🙂

    1. Drawing is such a good skill to have. I don’t think you need to draw in order to paint, in my mind, these are two separate skill sets, which is why I struggled with the idea of the water color pencils myself. But- I am going to set this book aside for a couple months, and bring back out our drawing books, and just have him draw, draw, draw for a while until he gets more comfortable drawing what he sees (as opposed to drawing from a drawing book sample, like he currently does)…. and THEN we can bring back this book with the watercolor pencils and see how it goes.
      I *love* the set up, and the art history, I just need to get Bug’s skill level to where he will be comfortable with it.

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