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Drawing on History Review by Jennifer Ladewig

Deborah Swanson
KnoodleU Publishing

Drawing on History is an Interactive Approach to Art & World History for High School Students. I specifically reviewed the Pre-Civil War – Vietnam which covers many of the major art movements from Romanticism of the 1830s to Psychedelic art of the 1960s. The 64-page, spiral bound softbound book is part of the Drawing on History curriculum.

In addition to the book, students will find log-in information to which is an online Resource Center. Here students and teachers will find quizzes, exams, lesson plans, lessons, and many more resources such as purchasing books and art supplies.

In addition to the book, you have the choice of purchasing a digital download of the book. There are 16 lessons included in the book. At the beginning of the book, a Visual Timeline is given which gives a detailed visual of World Events, Art Events, Art Projects, and Beautiful Feet Books that correspond with each of the art projects in the book.

The cost of the Drawing on History book is $38.95. The cost of the Drawing on History Bundled with Digital Download Upgrade is $43.95. The cost of the Drawing on History Digital Download only is$22.95.

Drawing on History, Pre-Civil War – Vietnam was specifically written for the high school level student. Students should be prepared to spend an average of about 5 hours per lesson. This book would be appropriate for a school, co-op, or homeschool setting.

The main difference between the physical book and the PDF download version is that the downloadable version is hyperlinked for quick and easy access to all the recommended resources. This is a huge time saver. My daughter preferred using the digital version of the book over the actual physical book. This was not too surprising to me.

Let me walk you through a lesson. Lesson 3 is on Impressionism (1863-1900). First, the student is to read some pages in the DK ART Reference book. An overview is given of the Impressionism movement. A two-page write up is given on Impressionism. On the side margin, a Beautiful Feet book list is given to go along with the period. The suggested books are Across Five Aprils, Rifles for Watie, The Red Badge of Courage, Sojourner Truth, Ain’t I a Woman?, Virginia’s General, and Reconstruction: Binding the Wounds.

Web links are given with valuable information on the history of Impressionists, and an interactive component which allows students to visually interact and experience how Impressionist Artists organized light and coloring into their paintings. A Bio, True Story site that provides interactive biographies on all the main Impressionist painters. Students can also take interactive tours of paintings. Suggested books are all listed about Impressionism.

There are Guided Research Questions such as, “What was unique to the Impressionists’ way of painting?”

Learning Objectives are given that the student should be able to answer after completion of the lesson. One objective is, “Understand what was happening around the world during this time that caused the Impressionists to rebel against traditional painting methods.” Art supplies are listed for the art project activity that the student will create. For this lesson, the student is asked to make three painting of an outdoor subject such as a garden, landscape, rock, structure, or pond, etc. The student is supposed to paint the subject at three various times of the day or in different weather. The example given is of Claude Monet’s Stacks of Wheat (Snow Effect, Overcast Day), Stacks of Wheat (End of Summer), and Haystacks (Sunset). The book states:

Study the list and how it affects your subject. Look at how the light plays on leaves,

rocks, dirt, grass, etc. Make sure you show not only the light but the shadows, which the absence of light creates. This will give your painting dimension. Your painting style should reflect that of the Impressionists – short, quick brush strokes and ‘daubs’ of color. Remember, you are not painting every detail. You are just giving an ‘impression’ of the scene.

I love how this short paragraph brilliantly summarizes what the student needs to accomplish in their own paintings.

Student painting examples are given for reference. One of the Impressionist reference links, has a fun mnemonic, ELBOW: E – Everyday life, L – Light, B – Brush stroke, O – Outdoor setting, W – Weather and atmosphere.

From the Visual Timeline, students learn that Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President, the US was amid Reconstruction and the Industrial Revolution.

The following lessons are included in the Pre-Civil War – Vietnam (1830s-1970s):

  1. Romanticism
  2. African American SlaveArtisans
  3. Impressionism
  4. Neo- and Post-Impressionism(Pointillism)
  5. Art Nouveau andSymbolism
  6. Fauvism andExpressionism
  7. Modernism inPrint
  8. Cubism, Dada, andSurrealism
  9. The Great Depression: DocumentaryPhotography
  10. USA: WPA, Federal One Project, and theFAP
  11. Art and War – PabloPicasso
  12. WWII – Art of the Third Reich and DegenerateArt
  13. WWII – The Art of the Woodcut ofJapan
  14. AbstractExpressionism
  15. Pop Art
  16. Psychedelic Art, Tie Dye, andHippies

I really liked Drawing on History. Most art curricula just teach art with little or no background on the artist or period in history. This curriculum incorporates so much detail into each lesson giving the student a thorough background into not only the artist but the movement and period in art history. We use a literature-based curriculum for homeschooling, so this was a perfect fit for our family. My kiddos are also familiar with unit study type curriculums where they immerse themselves into a subject, period, person, or event.

Drawing on History is an art curriculum that I would have no qualms giving one year’s worth of fine arts credit towards high school graduation. My daughter found the lessons to be very intensive as far as the hours required to complete a lesson. With that said, she learned an immense amount of interesting and valuable information that she would have never learned if not for Drawing on History. To my daughter’s advantage, she is an avid reader so many of the suggested books she has already read. She did enjoy reading suggested books and those that she had read she saw how they connected with the period being studied. She really liked the hyperlinks and found them to be a fun addition to the art study. My daughter enjoys art and had fun working through eachproject.

I would most definitely recommend Drawing on History. KnoodleU defined: “a fictitious word meant to represent a place, an action, or an idea; primarily to use your brain (your noodle) in order to create art and express yourself without limits.”

Art is such an important part of education and this definition is the perfect way to sum up what Drawing on History is all about. Like Edgar Degas said, “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” Throughout history art has played such a significant role and Drawing on History will help guide your students in seeing just how artists used their talents to make other see stories, emotions, and statements through their own art.

-Product review by Jennifer Ladewig, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July 2019