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Art Class, Volumes 1-9 DVD Set Review by Brittney RutherfordPat Knepley
See the Light
Art Class, from See the Light, is a video based art curriculum. The lessons are taught by Master Artist Pat Knepley, and are designed to teach children incrementally from beginning art skills to advanced techniques. There are nine volumes (DVDs) that are titled The Basics, Shape & Space, Value & Color, Color Blending Techniques, Proportions for Composition, Texture & Form, Perspective for The Landscape, Balance & Foreshadowing and The Portrait. Each volume contains four primary lessons, so at 36 lessons, you have enough material for a traditional school year. Additionally, there are a few bonus lessons spread throughout the course that are taught by different See the Light artists, so you have more diversity in lessons.
The full course teaches the fundamentals of art and drawing, and the first DVD, The Basics, introduces the student to the basic art materials an artist needs. We spent time learning how to build our toolbox, and how the basic supplies worked, such as a kneaded eraser being preferred to the little pink eraser on a pencil. From there, we started with the foundational technique of drawing different types of lines. As the lessons progressed, we were learning how to draw contour lines, but also training our eyes and hand to work together, so we were looking at the object of our drawing, and not our paper. I think Knepley’s approach of starting simple helps younger children to see that it does take people time and practice to develop skills.
Each volume focuses on one concept, so as you move through the volumes, you are building your skills, but you are also given that time to practice. For example, Volume 3 is all about Value & Color, and teaches concepts of value, shading and shadowing, colors and the color wheel, and complements and intermediate colors. The color wheel made is used for future lessons. Then moving into Volume 4: Color Blending Techniques, there is more practice with color, with two lessons on blending with colored pencils, and two that focus on blending with chalk pastels. The entire course uses these incremental lessons, making it easy to build skill and confidence at the same time.
All of the lessons rely on fairly basic art supplies, and often we only need a pencil, paper and a good eraser. Most of the other art supplies are still common and easily obtained. Through the course, we’ll be given exposure to techniques with pen, charcoal, colored pencils, crayons and chalk pastels. Sometimes we have needed an item from around the house, such as an apple or a shoe, but even looking ahead through all of the lessons, there is nothing out of the ordinary to buy for the standard art lessons. There are a few unique items, like florescent pastels, but they appear to be be restricted to the bonus lessons, and the website does offer purchasing suggestions. I had a master supply list packaged with my set, but their website includes lists of the required supplies as well. There are no workbooks or textbooks though. You simply watch and draw!
Pat Knepley’s style is very warm and friendly. She teaches to the student, and her background working with children clearly shows in this respect. Although her tone and demeanor feel as if she is speaking to an elementary classroom, the lessons are suitable for all ages. The videos are high quality and professional. It is just Knepley and the supplies, so there are no distracting background noises like when a tutorial tries to demonstrate something with a live class. This makes it feels like a private art session. Occasionally there will be a close-up of her hands while she is drawing, or of the supplies, and sometimes we see a transition to a famous piece of art as she ties in some art history, but everything flows very well. The lessons average approximately 15 minutes, which is just enough for younger students, but I think there is enough detail and information for it to still feel worthwhile for older students. She also encourages the viewer to continue practicing the concept between lessons.
In addition to the art lessons, she weaves in Biblical truths, which is refreshing, as well as occasional art history. Knepley’s gentle approach and natural ability to teach art from a Biblical perspective is welcome from this parent with no background or training in art. In fact, I am enjoying going through the lessons with my kids and learning right alongside them. They are eight and ten, and I have found the length and format works great for all of us. We do an Art Class lesson once a week for our art instruction. It’s as easy as putting in the DVD, grabbing our toolbox and getting comfortable. Since the lessons are short, it’s easy to finish a lesson in approximately half an hour even if we pause the lesson to complete an exercise. Throughout the week, I encourage the kids to use their new skills in their other lessons as well. We have not watched the bonus lessons yet, but See the Light’s mission is drawing children to Him through Biblical principles and art, and I expect these lessons to be just as high quality as Art Class.
We lean towards the Charlotte Mason philosophy in our homeschool, and I feel that having a solid foundation in drawing and basic art skills will be useful not just for the pure beauty of drawing, but also for a Book of Centuries, nature journaling, notebooking assignments and other pursuits. However, I fully believe this video series can be beneficial to homeschool families of all philosophies, large and small. I would recommend Art Class for anyone who wants professional art lessons with a friendly Master Artist the comforts of their own home.
Product review by Brittney Rutherford, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, October 2017