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Fine Art Adventures: 36 Creative, Hands-On Project Inspired by Classic Masterpieces Review by Jennifer Ladewig

Maja Pitamic and Jill Laidlaw
Chicago Review Press
(312) 568-5472
814 North Franklin Street
Chicago, Illinois 60610

Fine Art Adventures: 36 Creative, Hands-On Projects Inspired by Classic Masterpieces brings art to life for students as they learn about various artistic movements or categories in art history while at the same time letting the student try their hand at creating art of their own. Each of the 8 chapters covers a different category such as: color, black & white, shape, animals, portraits, landscapes, myths & legends, and light & shade. This 144-page book retails for $19.99.

This book is intended for ages 6 and up. Each chapter students will learn about several works of art, the artist behind the art, and a brief synopsis of the work. After learning about a given work of art, the student is then encouraged to complete his or her own art projects that are inspired by the art piece. For example, A Couple of Foxhounds, by artist George Stubbs was painted in 1792. This piece of art depicts two dogs. We learn about Stubbs unique ability to paint animals and his use of an imaginary landscape in order to show off the beauty of the dogs. Students are then given two separate art projects. The first is a salt-dough wall plaque. Students will make salt clay and use it to create their artwork. After crafting stencils of dogs the student will cut out the dogs using the salt clay, and the canvas will also be made of salt clay. After baking, the student will paint the dogs and background. The second project is painting on a smooth stone to create a stone paperweight. If your child is into myths & legends, they may like to create a mosaic dragon after learning about St. George and the Dragon, by artist Paolo Uccello in 1470. If you have a budding architect on your hands, your child can learn about Theo van Doesburg’s, Composition in Gray. Doesburg utilizes various shades of gray to bring out the form of shapes and to give his artwork a three-dimensional quality. One of the projects to go along with this particular artwork is creating a dramatic sculpture. Using common household items, your child assembles, glues, and paints their own unique sculpture with white and black acrylic paint, utilizing shading to show shadow.

My 9-year-old daughter had so much fun creating her own sculpture. She ran around the house collecting various boxes, cups, plates, and toilet and paper towel tubes to create her art. The hardest part was waiting for the glue to dry so that she could paint her sculpture. My 11-year-old daughter enjoyed making a salt-dough plaque, a jungle box, Medusa’s mask, and a buffalo painting.

My 11-year-old loves animals and loved learning about Jakob van der Schley’s Buffel, Buffle. For centuries, art was only affordable for the wealthy. Jakob was not a well-known artist, but his use of engraving was popular because it allowed images to be copied in fine detail and reproduced so that merchant class people could own and enjoy art too. What made this engraving so unique? The buffalo represented the New World, yet the landscape was Dutch. The buffalo resembled a minotaur, the monster of Greek legend. All of these details represented aspects of Classical education that was so essential for a person of taste and refinement.

I originally thought that my very artistic 17-year-old daughter would be the one to utilize this book. I couldn’t have been more wrong. My younger children literally ask to learn about the art presented in this book so that they can do the art projects. I have enjoyed learning too. My older daughter teaches art privately and has used some of the projects in this book in her teaching.

Learning about various artists and the stories behind their works was fascinating. My children showed great interest into learning about artists and their art. Each work of art also includes a highlighted section entitledThink about . . .. In this section, the student gets insight into the artwork, and questions that one has about the artwork is often answered in this section. For example, Paul Cezanne’s Mont Sainte-Victoireis a painting that looks blurred. The question is posed, “The colors seem blurred together. Was this intentional?” The answer, “Yes, for Cezanne colors were a unifying force that help all other elements in a painting together.” This added insight really gives the student greater appreciation and insight into the artist’s thinking.

I really enjoyed learning along with my children with Fine Art Adventures. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in art for educational or leisure purposes. This book would be perfect for the home educator wanting to bring art into their child’s educational experience. Likewise, this book definitely has benefit for all ages with projects for young artists to more detailed projects for the older student. Fine Art Adventures: 36 Creative, Hands-On Projects Inspired by Classic Masterpieces is definitely a masterpiece of its own. 

-Product review by Jennifer Ladewig, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, June 2017