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Art Through the Eyes of the American Woman Course Review by Lori Hooten

Marrissa Raimonde
Yellow Spot: Sun

Art Through the Eyes of the American Woman is an online, video-based course from Yellow Spot:Sun. I have to start with how much the name of the company appeals to me. Just in the name you get a sense of the fact that art is subjective for each person and while it can be taught, the view each person has of it will vary. This comes through really well in the course and how the instructions are given. The student is given clear instructions and then works within a framework to create and develop their own artistic ideas.

Your instructor at Yellow Spot:Sun is Marrissa. She gently and creatively leads the students through the artistic creative process. The first video viewed is an encouragement for the student about the fact that art is not always perfect and not always beautiful. She shares a book titled Beautiful Oops and talks about how creating art is a process, how many things that are not “right” to begin with become exactly right with creativity and changing the idea that you have in your mind. An oops is not always a mistake and you shouldn’t give up. This is key for all creativity and that blends smoothly into the rest of the course.

Art Through the Eyes of the American Woman is a course that is designed to teach students about four American women, the artwork that they created, and the techniques they used. This is a four-week course, as designed, and each week addresses a different artist and the techniques used by that artist. During the four-week course, the artists studied are Kay Sage, Nancy Graves, Mary Blair, and Laurel Burch. Techniques studies include surrealism, animation, sculpture and design. The course includes videos, printable PDF files, art critique, sketching and planning, and creating works of art. Some of the lessons have multiple mini-projects that build up to the main projects for that lesson.

For example, during the animation lesson, we watched an introduction video and learned about storyboards. After creating a storyboard, there was a session on art history, Mary Blair, and critiquing artwork. Day three of this lesson has us working with thaumatropes and day four was phenakistiscopes. The main project for the week was a flip book based on the storyboard, which had influences all activities during the lesson.

The lessons are flexible. They are set up as a four-week course, working on part of the lesson every day. We were able to easily incorporate the lessons into our Friday learning and do one or two parts of a lesson each Friday. Once you have purchased the course, there is no expiration date on access. This means that you could easily use the course and in a couple of years, when your student is a more practiced artist, return to it again and see how differently their artwork turns out.

The access is easy. The website flows smoothly and it is an easy interface to work with in the lesson to access the videos, PDF, and other needed materials. There is a PDF with all materials needed at the start of the course.

There were two things I would change. First, the sound on the videos is somewhat contrary. The music is really loud, but the voiced instruction is relatively quiet. We had to turn our speakers up all the way and not have other things going on in the room to be able to hear her speaking at times. Then when the music would come on at the end, it would be painfully loud. Second, I would love to see the Art Notebook set up so that printing in black and white was an option. We do not have a color printer and we try not to print pages that are not going to be written on. I was able to pick and choose the pages to print as some of them were not necessary for the activities. For the art critiques,we needed the color images, so we pulled the art pieces up on the computer from the PDF and made it big enough that everyone could see it from the table.

These two minor things do not hamper the joy this course brings at all. I would highly recommend this course to anyone. It is easy to use, challenges all three of my girls, and is lots of fun. It is different than any art course I have used, and we are having great success with the art pieces we are creating. Yellow Spot:Sun has a great product that we have enjoyed a lot.

-Product review by Lori Hooten, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May, 2018