The Old Schoolhouse® Product & Curriculum Reviews

With so many products available we often need a little help in making our curriculum choices. The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine family understands because we are in the same boat! Do you need more information on a product before you buy? With over 5,500 products listed in 52 easy-to-use categories, much of the information you need to know is only a click away! Let our reviewer-families help yours.
Do you want to get the word out about your product or service to the homeschool community? Email Jenny Higgins and share a little about what you´d like showcased, and we can help with that!

Barry Stebbing's God & the History of Art DVD Review by Jennifer Harrison

American Family Production with How Great Thou Art Publications
1.800.982.DRAW (3729)
Box 48
Mc Farlan, NC 28102

How Great Though Art is an art appreciation DVD series, that develops a better understanding of Art Appreciation with a Christian perspective. The series contains 12 lessons on three DVDs that cover:

  • What is Art?
  • The Second Commandment
  • Early Christian Art
  • Godly Periods of Art
  • Christian Artists
  • The Dark Ages
  • The Monasteries
  • The Gothic Period
  • The Renaissance
  • The Reformation
  • French Neo-Classical Art
  • American Artists and Other Artists and Styles.

Accompanying homework assignments are available online in PDF format, to go with each lesson. The DVD series, combined with the corresponding PDF assignments, and some artist study, would make an excellent Art Appreciation class.

Each lesson includes an amazing display of artwork throughout history, insightful lectures by Barry Stebbing, and beautiful classical music throughout. Each lesson is roughly 15 minutes long. Though certainly helpful for Art Appreciation, it flowed like a well-penned Art History. The evolution of style, corresponding with the history of the Church, was beautifully portrayed.

In the first Lesson, What is Art, Barry Stebbing introduces the meaning and purpose of art. At first, it seemed a bit slow and dry, with the classical music in the background creating a jarring overlap with the lectures. At times, it seemed as if Mr. Stebbing was raising his voice to be heard over the music, though of course that was not the case. However, as I previewed the DVDs before class time, my children seemed drawn to them. I told them we would be watching the same DVDs later, but they didn't care; they truly found them fascinating. I don't know if the quality improved, or if I adjusted, but it wasn't long at all before the music became a nice backdrop and the lectures became intriguing.

In the first lesson, two strong statements were made, though they seemed to balance out as the series progressed. In Lesson 1, he discounts art with nudity. Many, but not all, will agree with this stance. Stebbing referred to the Bible, saying our "nakedness is our shame". Those who disagree will be relieved to know that he quickly advises students not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Just because an artist has created some nude paintings, does not mean that the rest of his work should be ignored. Several examples of great art are shared to emphasize this point.

Stebbing makes another strong statement in this first lesson when he says, "Most of us feel that modern art is an abomination, and rightly so."   Though most of it isn't necessarily my personal taste, it seemed rather strange to have an entire genre declared an abomination. However, it is intended to be a summary statement, and Stebbing himself points out some Christian modern art to be admired. Some interesting background is shared about the Communist Manifesto and its reference to infiltrating and poisoning art. This topic is shared again in Lesson 12, but it comes across with more balance.

These are the only two statements that I found mildly questionable. The rest of Lesson One, and the subsequent lessons went on to make many excellent points. For instance, I never stopped to consider the "purpose" of art. For the artist, it is to express something. For the observer, it is to appreciate something. However, the series helps us to understand that the purpose of art is to touch the heart of man. In history, it has also been a beautiful witness to the illiterate. Another purpose is to edify believers. The series aptly describes God as The Great Artist. Through the ages, He has gifted many people with the ability to touch our hearts through art. I highly recommend this series to Christian families wanting to learn more about Art and Art History. It can be enjoyed by all ages. My children range in age from 6 to 14, and every one of them enjoyed this series.

Product Review by Jennifer Harrison, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January, 2012