Friday, April 22, 2011

Review: Art Class

You know how some parents panic about homeschooling because they could never teach Chemistry?  Or because they never understood Algebra?  I'd love to be able to laugh at them and tell them that they can "hire" those subjects out.  But I can't.  Because I'm intimidated by the idea of teaching art.

Oh, I've tried some art programs.  But almost all of them fail me.  Either I can't understand how a person is supposed to do whatever is being done, or it focuses almost completely on art history (I can do that!), or it is just so simplistic that my kids roll their eyes, or I would have to spend a fortune to get just the right supplies on hand.

See the Light is a new possibility for moms like me.

This video-based art curriculum teaches art techniques using fairly inexpensive supplies, along with some art history.  Their Art Class consists of 36 lessons on 9 DVDs taught by Pat Knepley.  There are three additional bonus lessons, one on each of the first three DVDs, led by other artists. 

Pat loves art, and has been drawing ever since she was able to hold a crayon.  She has a degree in Art Education and loves working with kids.  Her enthusiasm for art, for kids, and for the Bible come through loud and clear in each and every lesson.

This Art Class series teaches skills in a progressive manner, starting with The Basics of what should be in your toolkit and drawing a line, and ending at lesson 36 with drawing the human figure.  This series is appropriate for children from 1st grade and up, and it could be appropriate for a middle school or high school student with little drawing experience.

My family received Volume 1: The Basics to review.  This volume includes the following lessons:
  1. Tools of the Trade: what do you need to have on hand to be ready to draw -- I'll confess, my big kids especially really rolled my eyes at a lot of this one.  Connor's (nearly 14) statement was that with just a couple of word changes, he wouldn't feel so patronized.  He admitted that this DVD course had potential, and he was willing to overlook the fact that it is clearly meant for little kids.  I started noticing a difference already in their drawings, particularly in the use of shading.
  2. It All Starts with a Line: where you learn different qualities of a line and about contour drawing.  This lesson is the first where you do anything that looks at all like "art" and while Connor still felt that Ms. Pat was patronizing, it was easier to get past it since you were actually doing something.  After this lesson, Richard (7) and Thomas (10) -- who are both within the target age range for this program -- were begging me to purchase the whole thing.  Connor and William (12) were trying to put on the brakes and suggesting we finish this DVD before making any decisions.
  3. Contours & Composition: where you start training your eyes and hands to be synchronized and work on a composition.  I didn't really hear any complaints after this one.  The younger boys still said they wanted the whole thing.  The older two really didn't say anything.
  4. Draw What You See: where you complete a contour drawing of a shoe.  Okay, so this lesson resulted in a lot of complaints that this art thing is just too hard.  But they practiced, and watched the lesson again, and practiced some more... and at this point I think all the boys are seeing the value in this program.
  5. Bonus Lesson: Chalk Artist Gloria Kohlmann teaches how to draw "Cross Hill," the art shown on The Crossmaker.  We own this DVD, and the kids loved the chance to see another approach to this drawing.  My guys love the fluorescent chalks (crayons/pencils) and the black light.  I reviewed The Crossmaker a couple weeks ago.
The entire course can be purchased for $99.99, and there is also an online option, where you can sign up for a free trial and check out the first couple of lessons at no cost.  You can also go here to learn more about each individual DVD and request a free DVD.  And last week, TOS and See the Light had a webinar.  You can watch the recording and learn a lot more about the scope of the course... and get a discount code too!

Pat is planning Year 2 of the Art Class, where the skills and techniques taught in year 1 will be used to draw a masterpiece each month/DVD.

See the Light also has created Bible Story DVDs, each containing a Bible story told through art, and three art lessons -- a creative lettering lesson, a chalk pastel lesson, and a mixed media lesson.  These include:
  1. The Christmas story (The Gift of Love)
  2. An Easter story (The Crossmaker)
  3. Moses (God's Special Surprise -- available soon)
  4. Paul (Shipwrecked -- available soon)
  5. Jonah (God's Runaway -- available soon)
So what did we think? I love the step-by-step instruction.  I love Pat's enthusiasm for what she is doing.  I don't particularly like how so many of the Bible "lessons" just seem tacked on and forced, but that isn't a big deal.

I wish they had some other purchasing options.  Since they give away the first DVD, it would be nice if I could purchase a "completer" set of DVDs 2-9.  It would be nice if I could get it in parts -- say Volumes 2-5, and Volumes 6-9.  It bugs me to have to get the first DVD again, and it isn't just the money part of it.  I'm not sure how to explain it, but I guess it just has that used-car salesman feel to it somehow.

That being said, with the webinar coupon, I am contemplating purchasing the entire set.  Because this is the first art program that I've ever looked at or tried that really made me feel like we could successfully "do" art in this homeschool.

You can check out what some of my fellow crewmates had to say at:

Any questions? I'd love to know what you would want to know in deciding whether or not this is something you want to purchase.
Disclaimer:  As part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I did receive Volume 1 of the Art Class DVD set in exchange for my review of the product.  For more about my take on reviews, visit my blog post here.

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