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Nature Drawing & Journaling with Barry Stebbing DVD Review by Charlotte Gochnauer

Barry Stebbing
How Great Thou ART Publications
1-800-982-DRAW (3729)
P.O. Box 48
McFarlan, NC 28102

God gave us a beautiful world. He put so many amazing things in it for us to enjoy, and being able to draw these works of art is a wonderful skill to have indeed. How Great Thou ART Publication’s instructional DVD helps young students to be able to capture some of that beauty.

This series is a three DVD disc series, with 6 lesson total. Each lesson is an hour long and is quite extensive. What makes this art DVD series unique is that it not only teaches the skill of sketching but also spends time talking about the art of journaling. These lessons can be watched in one sitting for older children and also could be split into a couple of sessions per lesson for younger learners. Mr. Barry Stebbing is the artist-instructor, and does a very good job of explaining the artistic methods.

At the very beginning of the lessons he explained the goals of the class and the supplies that are needed. This course can be completed with a sketchbook, colored pencils, black pens, and water soluble markers. Glossy paper and a brush round out the supplies that are needed.

Each lesson focuses on a different aspect of art. Flowers, landscapes, insects, and trees are some of the aspects covered. The beginning of the lessons introduce the art focus but instead of jumping right into the actual pencil drawing, Mr. Stebbing gives some background information on the subject matter. But the DVD did move quickly into the actual art instruction, and he does draw his examples right before your eyes, on his easel. He spends a good amount of the instruction time outlining, shading, and mixing, and giving verbal instruction to the student as he sketches. He does emphasize detail, shading, and making sure that the drawing is proportionate.

Mr. Stebbing highly suggests going out into nature to do your sketching, and because of this, journaling is a great way of verbally recording your experiences. Towards the end of each lesson he does spend time talking about writing and journaling. He gives examples of how you can use sketching on a journal page; as either a border, centerpiece, or decoration. He also gives great ideas for your writing, such as the weather, using quotes, and increasing your vocabulary to describe the area you are in.

Throughout the DVD he also showed art from master artists, including Da Vinci and Audubon. There are also quotes from scripture and great thinkers from history. At different segments in the DVD, there is pleasant music playing in the background.

I liked that he would focus on aspects of each subject - for instance, in the flower segment, he spent lots of time mixing greens to get very intricately colored leaves. And in the lesson on landscaping, he spent some time on forming clouds. I also really liked that his technique combined fine markers with colored pencils. These are tools that we have sitting in our school bookshelves, and to know that they can make such beautiful art is inspiring.

I had my two girls, ages 11 and 16, watch these 6 lessons over a 6 week period. It is almost mesmerizing to watch an artist work, and we all loved watching his drawings come to life on the screen. My girls had their pencils and sketchbooks ready, and sketched as he gave instruction. Now Mr. Stebbing is a wonderful artist so much of this comes easy to him, so at times I would pause the DVD so the girls could draw at their own pace. I also appreciated his attitude during the lessons; he truly gave God the glory for all of the beauty in our amazing world.

At the end of each lesson he did give some homework. Because his subject matter focused on nature, it was a very easy extension to find a spot outside where we could draw more of what we saw in the world. When we learned about insects and butterflies we did find them in a nature book at his suggestion; they can be hard to sketch since they won’t stay still that long!

We really enjoyed this DVD series! My girls learned so much more about sketching and mixing colors. They also both started nature journals and began recording their thoughts in them. And another added bonus that I noticed? They both really began to see and spend time observing God’s creation. One of the benefits to learning how to draw things in nature is that your attention is now drawn to the beautiful things around us, where before they went unnoticed. The patterns in a pinecone, the wings of a butterfly, are now observed and carefully copied into their notebooks. This series is the perfect addition to your homeschool art library and I am thankful that it added depth and beauty to our homeschooling.

-Product review by Charlotte Gochnauer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, April, 2017