Artistic Pursuits - High School Book 1 {Review}

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

My eldest son has been drawing for almost as long as I can remember. He was one of those wild and adorable toddlers that never.slowed.down. I vividly remember the first day I realized this kid might take on art as his second nature. I was visiting a friend, both of us worn tired and surviving on much coffee. We had made it our habit of meeting up regularly just to get the kids together in hopes of a few moments of peace for us and fun for the kids. In her collection of toys strewn around her living room floor was the magical thing that would finally catch the attention of my inquisitive and incredibly energetic two year old. He had found the Doodle Pro: You know the thing, the plastic magnetic and mess free drawing tablet for kids. He dropped what he was doing, and he quietly drew, erased, and drew again that whole afternoon, blissfully ignoring the other fun to be had and his pudgy-cheeked little friends. Eureka!

A lot of time has passed since that afternoon so long ago. Since then I have invested in reams and reams of printer paper, miles of butcher paper, a thousand crayons boxes and markers, and now we have graduated to Prismacolors, micron pens, and art shows. I don't remember the last day that Aedan didn't give me a picture he had drawn that day. He has been mostly self taught, but I am always trying to add to his bag of art tricks where I can. As we enter high school I want to be even more intentional about helping him develop his skills as an artist.
We used Artistic Pursuits in the early years of our homeschool and really enjoyed it. As I was considering high school art I stumbled upon this program again at our homeschool convention. I remembered what it was I enjoyed about it. I was thrilled to see that there were several high school courses. Book One of the high school series covers the elements of art and composition as well as art appreciation and history. The course is designed to develop your student's observation skills as well as their own unique and personal style. I really appreciate that it is a non-consumable curriculum that I can re-use when my youngest gets to this stage.

There are 16 units in this course which could be completed over the course of the year 2 days a week. Completing this program would earn one full credit in Studio Art. The following topics are covered in Book One:

Unit 1 -Space
Unit 2 - Line
Unit 3 - Texture
Unit 4 - Shape
Unit 5 - Form
Unit 6 - Value
Unit 7 - Contrast & Unity
Unit 8 - Balance
Unit 9 - Rhythm
Unit 10 - Depth by Overlapping
Unit 11 - Depth by Position & Size
Unit 12 - One & Two Point Perspective
Unit 13 - Atmospheric Perspective
Unit 14 - Proportion, the Face
Unit 15 - Proportion, the Figure
Unit 16 - Clothing the Figure

One of the reasons I was drawn to this course was that it involves the use of art supplies we haven't used often. Aedan gravitates towards colored pencils and markers, but this course uses sketching pencils and charcoal. I want to expose him to as many different media as I can, so that he is confident to use anything if he so chooses. The book has an art supply list divided by semester. You may conveniently purchase the Art Supply Pack with everything you need on the Artistic Pursuits website. I am so excited to add these new supplies to our art cabinet!

These are the supplies for the First Semester:

Drawing pencil set - 2H to 4 B
Vinyl eraser
Metal handheld sharpener
Drawing pad

High quality supplies are a must for any artist's toolbox. We recently got a set of colored pencils that aren't the same quality that we are accustomed to using. The boys both noticed how much harder it was to use them. Great supplies are worth the money y'all!

We tested these pencils to show how each was a shade darker than the next.

Aedan was really happy that he gets the opportunity to learn how to use charcoal this year. The Second Semester introduces these elements to the course. You will need the following supplies:

6-12 - Sticks of vine charcoal
1 - Jumbo tree stick vine charcoal
1 - Package of compressed charcoal
1 - Charcoal paper pad
1 - Paper bleeding stump
1 - kneaded eraser
1 - Natural chamois leather

We won't officially start school again until August, but I wanted to give you a better picture of how the program works. I don't usually have to twist Aedan's arm too much to get him to do any kind of art. He was happy to try it out! Each unit has 4 lessons that cover a different topic. The first unit in the book covers the use of space by utilizing active and non-active space on the paper or canvas. The lessons in each unit rotate in this way:

First Lesson - Building a Visual Vocabulary
Second Lesson - Art Appreciation and Art History
Third Lesson - Techniques
Fourth Lesson - Application

Our first assignment was to draw a scene outdoors. Aedan chose to sit on the front porch to draw his first sketch.

He used the pencils for this exercise. The frame of the house acted like a non-active space, and the forest was mostly active.

It's always such a delight for me to see what he will come up with. He said that it was different drawing with pencils as he often uses a pen to outline much of his work, but it was great practice.

In the second lesson we observed the use of space in Vittore Carpaccio's Young Knight in a Landscape; Francesco della Rovere; 1510. I really love the art appreciation aspect of this course. What better way to learn art than from the masters?

The assignment for this lesson was to draw a face from a photograph. Aedan forbade me to include his picture in this review. Artists! Aedan is an excellent draftsman. His strength in art has always been in creating fantastical creatures from his own imagination. He isn't as much of a fan of drawing realistic faces, so I'm happy this course will give us some practice in the area of realistic drawing. I gave him a pass on this one if he would do one more lesson for me at the end.

The third lesson gave instruction on how to arrange a picture using space.

Of course Aedan's still life would never include fruit in a bowl, but rather all of his nerdy collection of favorite things.

Aedan has always been great at incorporating new ideas into his art. Learning to draw from a model is something I know he will use often.

This was the final picture from his arrangement.

The fourth lesson used the story of of St. George and the Dragon as a starting point for how to draw from the imagination using active and non-active spaces.

Dragons have always been a source of inspiration for this kid. He had no problem conjuring up the scariest dragon he could imagine for this battle scene.

The next unit in the book introduced the concept of line. He was instructed to draw several images using only the edges of each subject.

I've always found so much joy in seeing how effortlessly Aedan can whip something up on paper.

He chose to draw a handful of subjects from nature. I can already see him improving in his use of this medium from just a few lessons. I really look forward to seeing how far he will come with this course. I plan on buying Book 2 in the future as well. Book 2 covers the elements of painting, which might give some variety in between drawing lessons. Either way I fully intend to utilize these fantastic books in our homeschool over the next few years. I also noticed that there are two Sculpture books; one on Construct and another on Model. I am really looking forward to taking a closer look at those! I know Aedan and Silas both would enjoy the sculpture courses, as would I. I have made it a habit to work alongside the kids in art the past few years in a way I didn't in years prior. It's never too late to learn, in my opinion.

Thank you for walking through our lessons in Artistic Pursuits with us! I hope you will find it a fantastic and useful program for your homeschool as we have! 

Disclaimer: In exchange for my review, I received a free copy of the Artistic Pursuits Book 1 course. All of the opinions, however, are my own and are shared honestly.


  1. Thank you for another great review, Tara! I'm seriously considering using this for high school. Thank you for allowing me to see how you use this in your homeschool. Aedan sure has grown! ~ Julie

    1. I'm so glad you're considering it as well. It's a great program :)

  2. Mikaela will be using this book this year. I've been looking through it and decided that I may do it along with her!

    1. Oh that's fun to know! I am going to try to do as much art with them as I have time next year too :) I think it's way more fun for them and us if we do :)


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