Artistic Pursuits is a comb-bound set of two art curriculum, non-consumable
books for junior high students. It includes art instruction,
plus art history and appreciation. Book One contains seven units
on the Elements of Art: space, line, texture, shape, form,
value, and line in three dimensions. Following that there are nine
units on composition: Visual Paths in Line, Center of Interest,
Symmetry and Asymmetry, Rhythm, Space With and Without Depth, Perspective,
Book Two, Color and Composition, has eight units on color: Hue
and Intensity, Primary and Secondary Colors, Monochrome, Complementary
Pairs, Neutrals, Analogous Colors, and Color Applications. The
units on composition cover: Balance, Parallel and Converging
Rhythm, Depth, High and Low Viewpoint, and Emphasis. This book,
with its focus on color, requires Nupastel colors (hard pastels)
and Sakura Cray Pas Oil Pastels, various papers, a paper stump
for blending, and a kneaded eraser. The lessons in each book follow
the same format.
Each unit is broken down into four lessons: Building a
Visual Vocabulary, Art Appreciation and Art History, Techniques,
and Application. This lesson format is repeated in each unit. As
explained on the "What Parents Want to Know" page, the suggested
schedule is two one-hour class sessions a week for thirty-two weeks.
So, the student would do one lesson per class, taking two weeks
to complete each unit. Accommodating the student, his work pace,
and allowing enough time for the creative process are considerations
to remember, so one will want to be flexible in scheduling this
To get a better understanding of Artistic Pursuits , here is what
Unit 4 in the first book, which covers shape, looks like. Lesson
1 begins with a simple definition and a visual example. Next there
is a creativity assignment to find, for example, a building, and
examine it more closely than the student has done previously, and
then he is to sketch the structure with its purpose in mind. The
lesson objective appears in a box at the bottom of the page: "to
see a common object in a new way and to encourage further development
of ideas and subject matter." A fun component of the lesson is "Creative
Cory," a little single-pane comic appearing on most of the first
lessons of each unit.
The second lesson tells the student to "Look at Shape in Art." A
full color--except where the original art was not done in color--photo
of art, carefully chosen for its illustration of the principle
being studied, is included for observation. The author's narration
under the art clearly explains what the student should notice,
with a helpful annotated sketch as needed. In this case, Katsushika
Hokusai's Beneath the Wave off Kanagawa is the art being
studied. The second page of Lesson Two is the art history component
of each unit, with a short section of text on the culture and one
on the artist (of the art studied on the previous page). This lesson
ends with a challenge, in this case to observe moving water and
draw it with exaggerated shape.
Next is the "How To" lesson. The one for this unit on shape is
how to draw a still life with a preliminary drawing to check for
variety of shape, a balance of positive and negative space, and
contrast. The final lesson of the unit is an application project
where you draw an animal from a photo, paying particular attention
to the shapes in the fore and background. A student example is
shown, with author commentary. A materials list for the assignment
is included. A reminder at the bottom of the page admonishes the
student to "Look Back" at his work and check to see that the assignment
was completed thoughtfully, with the intention in mind. Throughout
the unit, in each of the four lessons, all projects are printed
in a gold colored font (brown, in Book Two).
These books don't spend more space than necessary on the preliminaries.
One page is devoted to the table of contents and the art supply
list. In Book One, there are a couple out-of-the-ordinary
items besides basic drawing tools: light-weight wire, wire
cutters or pliers, and modeling clay. In addition to the already
mentioned parent page, there is a student page with a charge to
observe your surroundings intentionally, with a specific focus.
A "Getting Started" page explains the author's "Ready, Set, Go!" approach
to drawing and the two types of drawings students will be doing.
In the second book, these pages to the student are different: the
invitation here is to understand the principles of the color wheel,
to see the fullness of colors, and to exaggerate colors. The "Getting
Started" page talks about using color pastels, regarding types
There is an evaluation sheet with a grading rubric in the back
of each book, which helps parent teachers with their record keeping.
A short bibliography rounds out the book.
I wish these books contained at least a short author bio since
knowing something about the author helps you understand and appreciate
the curriculum or book more. There is a lengthy and interesting
one on the website, but having one right in the book would make
it immediately accessible to the parent and student. Perhaps some
sort of index of artists by name/country/time period/title of work
would be a useful addition, especially if you wanted to integrate
this course with history, geography, etc.
I really liked that the lessons are short and to the point, with
an emphasis on observing and drawing and trying out new things.
The books are written to the student, and a mature, self-directed
child should have no trouble using these books. Even though I could
find no information on prerequisites, I think someone with no drawing
experience or artistic inclination may possibly find these books
Overall, I think these Artistic Pursuits art curriculum books
are a high quality, user-friendly, fun product!