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Artistic Pursuits Grades 4-6 Book Two: Color and Composition Review by Stacy Kalisz

Brenda Ellis
Artistic Pursuits, Inc
(303) 467-0504
2626 East 109th Avenue
Northglenn, Colorado 80233

Color and Composition is the second book in the 4-6 grade level of Artistic Pursuits. It is a comprehensive art program which provides instruction in art theory, art appreciation, art history, and technique. This particular title teaches students about color and composition. The first half of the text deals with color. Children learn about the color wheel, primary, secondary, and intermediate colors, tinting and shading, neutral colors, and values of colors. The second half instructs on composition. This section covers direction and movement, rhythm, front and back point of view, high and low point of view, buildings, figure, face, and interiors.

The book begins by briefly explaining the language and rules of color. The author, Brenda Ellis, does an excellent job of presenting detailed information in a way that is easy to understand. She also has a knack for encouraging children, and sets them up with a clear understanding of what to expect from the curriculum and how to approach each lesson. Color and Composition contains 16 units, seven in the color section and nine in the composition section. Each unit is broken into four lessons. Completing two lessons per week will make this a one year course. Each lesson takes approximately one hour (give or take a few minutes). The lessons in each unit build on one another, allowing students to develop a thorough understanding of the topic at hand. The four lessons within each unit are as follows:

  • Building a Visual Vocabulary - Explains the topic in words and pictures.
  • Art Appreciation and Art History - Shows how the topic is used in master works and gives historical information about the artists and the time they lived in. All master works are from American art.
  • Techniques - Provides very clear and specific how-to instructions for using art tools and materials.
  • Application - Incorporates all of the above into a final project.

Every lesson ends with an art project. The final project (in lesson four) is usually the most time intensive. Some of the projects include: painting, drawing, still life, portraiture (including a self-portrait), and landscapes. Projects always provide instruction and guidance but never include illustrations to copy. Students are able to express their own preferences within the guidelines given for each lesson. This method involves students in the creative process and develops observation skills as well as building confidence. This might take some adjusting for children who are used to copying pictures. Color and Composition is a non-consumable curriculum, as all projects are completed on paper on in sketch pads. The following supplies are needed: watercolor pencil set, color pencil set, watercolor brush, water color paper, sketch pad, construction paper, eraser, and metal sharpener.

This text is perfect for homeschool instruction, as it is written directly to the student which enables him or her to complete the lessons on their own. I would also find it helpful in a class setting and use it as a script to follow. Color and Composition is written for students in 4th to 6th grade, however, children who have had little to no art instruction will still find it useful.

Personally, I love this curriculum. Artistic Pursuits provide comprehensive art instruction in an easy-to-use, understandable format. I appreciate that there is no preparation time for me (besides gathering art supplies), and I enjoy seeing my children produce original art work that they have invested time and decision in creating. I recommend Artistic Pursuits, Grade 4-6 Book Two: Color and Composition to anyone who wants a high quality, comprehensive art curriculum that their children will enjoy.

Product Review by Stacy Kalisz, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January, 2012