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ArtAchieve, Level 4 Review by Melissa Batai

John Hofland

ArtAchieve, Level 4, is the fourth level available in John Hofland’s five levels of ArtAchieve. The course is entirely online; lessons can be viewed as Power Point slides or as an online video. Lessons can be completed at the student’s leisure though they expire one year after purchase. Level 4 has 10 lessons. Titles include The Ukrainian Face with Hidden Surprises, The Hawaiian Heliconia, The Stained Glass Nativity Window, and The Rooftops of Zagreb, to name a few. Lessons can be purchased individually at $9 each or $67.50 for all 10 lessons. Alternatively, customers can decide to purchase bundles of 3 lessons in Level 4 for $24 each. Level 4’s lessons are much more advanced than Levels 1 and 2, which I’ve been privileged to review. While the latter lessons are suitable for early elementary, Level 4’s lessons are for middle school and high school students through adults. A few lessons are appropriate for 5th grade and up. The subjects, techniques, and supplies used are more advanced, making this course perfect for older students and art enthusiasts. Level 4 uses watercolor colored pencils, water colors, acrylic paint, paint pens, charcoal pencils, oil pastels, and chalk pencils.

This program is ideal for homeschoolers or homeschool co-ops, though even students who attend traditional schools and would like art enrichment at home would benefit from these lessons. The Hoflands are a homeschooling family, and Mr. Hofland previously taught middle school art and language arts. Mr. Hofland’s experience in education shines through. Each lesson contains much more than just art instruction. For instance, in The Rooftops of Zagreb lesson, Mr. Hofland discusses where Zagreb is located geographically, gives a bit of history about the rooftops, and shows the designs on the various roofs. Since these lessons are multi-cultural and include extensive information on the area being covered, these lessons can also serve as social studies for homeschoolers. Because of the extensive background information that is given, these lessons would be appropriate for a unit study approach. Most types of learners will enjoy these lessons.

My 7th grader son tried out this program. (He also tried out Levels 1 and 2 for previous reviews.) He is both an art enthusiast, and now, an ArtAchieve enthusiast. He found that Level 4 challenged his artistic skills much more than the previous two levels we reviewed. More than ever, he appreciated that Mr. Hofland explained, step-by-step, how to draw a particular object, especially since the objects in this level are more complicated like a Chinese horse and a human figure. These lessons were longer than the previous two levels, so my son frequently broke up the lessons, working for 30 to 45 minutes at a time. Mr. Hofland makes this very easy to do by including natural breaks after the project has been drawn but before the detailing begins. My son enjoyed trying new mediums and techniques. As in the other levels, Mr. Hofland provides a warm-up, suggests that students listen to relaxing music while working, reminds students that there is no right or wrong way to create the picture and encourages them to keep working, even if they’re not happy with what they’re drawing. Often you can’t judge if a picture is to your liking until it is complete. As a parent, I appreciate this wisdom because it seems to help prevent frustration in students. Mr. Hofland has a section on his website that offers a chart listing each lesson and the art supplies required so parents or kids can gather them before the lesson begins. This is much appreciated!

While Level 4 has some lessons appropriate for 5th grade, my son felt the lessons were at a level more for upper middle school and high school. These lessons stretched his artistic abilities, which sometimes lead to frustration on his part. However, when he finished the lesson, he was immensely proud of his work and that he had created something that he didn’t initially believe he could create. Mr. Hofland is a gentle and encouraging teacher, perfect for this kind of artistic stretching.

I have been impressed with all three levels of ArtAchieve that I have reviewed. In fact, for my younger children, I intend to have them use ArtAchieve from Level 1 all the way up to Level 5. Mr. Hofland has much to teach your children, both artistically and globally. I highly recommend ArtAchieve.

--Product review by Melissa Batai, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January, 2017