I have seen lots of art curriculum over the years, but I've never seen a sculpture course designed for homeschoolers - until this one! Written by Brenda Ellis, author of the Artistic Pursuits program, these sculpture courses will give students a chance to explore elements of art in sculpture and experiment with a variety of materials in a three-dimensional context. There are two courses in the series, Construct and Model. Construct lays the foundation, teaching students how to construct forms from handmade paper, papier-mch, cardboard and wire. Model builds on the concepts introduced in Construct, adding instruction in modeling from putty, clay and wool fiber. Each book holds 12 sculpture projects and is designed to take one year to complete. These courses in particular are very student-directed, with the text written to the student and asking the student to reflect on and evaluate each of their projects.
Each course holds three or four units, each focusing on one element of art studied through working with one particular material. For example, Unit 1 of Construct is "Creating Form in Papermaking," and Unit 2 of Model is "Creating Scale with Clay." The first page of each unit discusses the element of sculpture through illustrations and full-color photographs of modern sculpture. The second page gets into the properties of the material, including what tools are needed to work with it, safety concerns and some general instructions on working with it. The bulk of each unit is made up of the projects, each of which challenges the student to work with the material in a slightly different way. In Unit 1 of Construct, students will not only learn how to make their own paper, but also how to use that paper in a low-relief paper sculpture, a sculpture of a plant, a wet paper construction based around a wire armature and wet wrap construction (abstract or representative) around a wire frame. Projects begin with several photographic examples (Inspiration), followed by step-by-step general instructions paired with illustrations (Execution). While the objectives are clear as to the type of construction the student will make, the subject material is always up to them. The pace of project completion is up to the student as well; they are merely subject to the constraints of working with a particular material, which they are advised to leave alone at specific points so it can dry or set. Units close with a self-evaluation. Students are asked to respond to questions about the element of sculpture studied, specifics of working with the particular material, the technicalities of crafting the project, the artistic choices that were made, etc. I think that the self-evaluation is a valuable part of the course, as it gets students reflecting over the choices that they made and how the element of sculpture is used in their project. It should also make them a bit more comfortable presenting their work, as they will need to in college art classes. As you might imagine, the supplies needed for these courses are a little harder to find, but the author has a course supplies list on Dick Blick's website, or you can source materials at your local art supply and hardware stores.
This is a serious, but not intimidating sculpture course for students who have a real interest in sculpture. They will gain exposure to working with a wide variety of materials, gain confidence in choosing subject matter, and overcome struggles to replicate the sculptural vision in their mind using their hands, the material and their creativity. As the author states in the introduction, "You are the master as you work with your hands. In this book you are the creator. You are a sculptor!" Jess