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ARTistic Pursuits, Grades 4-6 Book One: The Elements of Art and Composition Review by Stacy Kalisz

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

The Elements of Art and Composition is the first book in the 4-6 grade level of Artistic Pursuits curriculum. It provides practical art instruction, as well as art history and appreciation. This non-consumable text focuses on the elements of art and the principles of design. The first half of the book deals with the elements of art, such as space, texture, value, form, contrast, edges, and so on. The second half provides instruction in the art of composition, such as balance, rhythm, overlap, depth, etc. This curriculum is made up of 16 units. Each unit is broken into four sections. The four sections are as follows:

  • Building a Visual Vocabulary
    This section introduces the main topic. Pictures and words are used to explain technical terms, and show the student exactly what to look for. The lesson ends with a creative assignment that enables students to connect what they are learning with the real world.
  • American Art Appreciation and History
    Here, students observe how the topic is used in master works, and then apply this knowledge as they create art of their own. Also included is historical information about the artists, and the time in which they lived. All examples are from American Art.
  • Techniques
    In this how-to section, students are shown very specific drawing techniques, and instructed in using different art tools.
  • Application
    In the final lesson of each unit, children apply their observations and newly acquired skills by creating an original art work. Some of the projects include: still life, portraiture, landscapes, and silhouettes.

This curriculum does not include pictures for children to copy or imitate, but instead it encourages children to choose something to draw, that fits within the scope of the lesson. I like this and I feel that it develops thinking and decision making skills, as well as providing a true sense of ownership over each artwork a child produces.

The text is written to the students (not the teacher). It is interesting and easy to understand. Plenty of instruction and visual examples are given, making this curriculum one that requires very little parental involvement. Completing two lessons per week will provide one year's worth of instruction. Each lesson takes about an hour, with some requiring more or less time. The Elements of Art and Composition is intended for 4th to 6th grade. After viewing the book I feel this is an accurate age range, however, older students with little to no previous art instruction will still find this text helpful. To be honest, I like it for myself, and I left 6th grade a long time ago!

In order to complete the lessons in this book, you will need to purchase a few art supplies. All the necessary tools are listed beside the table of contents. The main items needed are: ebony pencils, paper, two graphic markers, and a white colored pencil.

My family enjoys this curriculum. We find that it provides thorough instruction without confining the student. Children can express their own interests and personal taste in every lesson. It is also wonderful that very little preparation is required on my part! I highly recommend The Elements of Art and Composition to anyone who wants their child to develop skills in art. If you are looking for an easy-to-use program that teaches comprehensively, this is the one for you.  

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