ARTistic Pursuits K-3 (2018 Editions)

If you have previously been a fan of the ARTistic Pursuits program but felt hesitant about guiding your students through the art projects, you will appreciate this update to the curriculum, which now features video instruction of many of the projects. If you already loved the program and felt comfortable with the art projects, well, you will love the larger, crisper art reproductions, the improved photos and visuals, the lovely hardcover format, and the simplified text. The approach to teaching art is the same, and much of the content is similar when comparing the 3rd edition spiral-bound books to the new 64-page hardcover 2018 editions. Art instruction, art appreciation and art history is effortlessly blended together into a comprehensive art program that stands on its own, or, because of the more topical breakdown of topics, can be easily paired with any study of history that you choose. ARTistic Pursuits author, Brenda Ellis, plans to revise the entire program in the next several years, with the K-3 portion of the revised program available now, and new versions of the upper grade level books released in the next two years.

The 2018 series of ARTistic Pursuits for K-3 features 8 hardcover books in all, each packaged with both a Blu-ray and a DVD disc. Each volume contains 18 lessons (each with projects), designed for one semester. Twelve of the lessons feature masterpieces of art and six of the lessons feature video instruction. Although not every art project is featured on the accompanying DVD, the projects on video have been carefully chosen to introduce teacher and student to a new art medium and show techniques for working with that medium. For example, in Volume 2 the second video is on how to roll a clay slab and then create a human figure from the slab. Subsequent clay projects throughout the rest of the book utilize some of the same techniques that were taught in Lesson 3. If you need to go back to that video and relearn the technique, you can. If not, you are ready to apply the technique to the next project, especially with the helpful full-color photos of the steps of the project found in the book. Some fun additional content is also included on video, such as explanations of art terms or concepts and even visual field trips to places like clay mines (also from Volume 2). Brenda Ellis demonstrates the video projects and explains the steps as she works through them. In most of the video projects, you are looking over her shoulder to watch her hands at work. Brenda is joined by Ariel Holcomb, a fun and enthusiastic host who introduces the artistic concepts or materials at the beginning of each video.

Volume 1 lays the foundation for the K-3 program. Although examples of art masterpieces are included in this course, the emphasis is on learning to understand art and what artists do. Lessons in this volume introduce composition, color, understanding form and shape, drawing shapes, composing and drawing a still life, observation, drawing figures (people and animals), and portraits. Art media introduced includes watercolor crayons and oil pastels. Many of these lessons are similar to the first 21 lessons in the 3rd edition of ARTistic Pursuits K-3 Book One. Volumes 2-8 journey chronologically through art history from Art of the Ancients in Volume 2 to Art in America in Volume 8. Volume 8 features all new lessons and focuses on learning to draw. The title page of each volume recommends starting the course with Volume 1, then either continuing through the series in chronological order or selecting the historical time period that aligns with your other curriculum and working through the books in the order that you choose. Because each volume is designed for one semester, you may opt to complete two volumes per year, or work through the course more slowly.

A materials list is included at the beginning of each volume. Art supplies that are specific to that volume are listed first, followed by “Starter Pack Materials” which were required for Volume 1. The author assumes that you will likely still have these supplies in your art supply stash, so you may not necessarily need to purchase these again. The third category on this page is for “Household Items” like tape, paper towels, containers for water, yarn, paper tubes, hairspray, a plastic knife, and more. We have set up the art kits in a similar manner, with a Starter Art Supply Pack for Volume 1 and then specific volume supply packs to add on.

I have long been a fan of the ARTistic Pursuits program. I love the way that art instruction and appreciation are woven together and that the projects are not fluff; they give the student a feel for the art masterpieces studied, whether it is replicating an Egyptian pool and garden scene on pavement or making a “gold leaf” painting with gold origami paper and watercolor paints like early Medieval religious art. The variety of the projects and the art mediums used helps to keep the art instruction fresh and exciting, especially for young wiggly students. The addition of the video lessons will show young students how to use art supplies that may be new to them like watercolor crayons or air-dry clay. While at first I was surprised by the new hardcover format, I think it makes the books much more shareable with little ones. The art masterpieces featured in the lessons are much larger in this edition, which invites more observation and discussion of the painting. I could see children pulling these off the shelf and browsing through them on their own.

All eight volumes are currently available, and art supply packs for each are also available. The publisher also plans to keep the 3rd edition (2013 copyright) available for the time being, so you can select the format that you prefer. ~ Jess

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