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The Atelier Master Study Online Art Class - van Gogh Review by Melanie Reynolds

Heather Wombacher
The Apprentice Art Studio
North Tacoma, WA

Atelier (from the French language) is defined as a workshop or studio, especially of an artist, artisan, or designer. In The Apprentice Art Studios, artist and teacher Heather Wombacher has created a unique and lovely place for students to learn and create art through online instruction viewed at home. Apprentice Masters Atelier – van Gogh is an exceptional online course taught by Ms. Wombacher on the masterworks and style of Vincent Van Gogh. The course cost is $75 and includes eight lessons, all of which emphasize different art materials, which will enable students to create truly remarkable art in the manner of van Gogh. All lessons are taught by Ms. Wombacher in video format. She includes lesson plans, teacher notes, printables for students, and three slideshows about van Gogh and his famous art. Students will provide their own art journals, and specific art supplies, as well as some materials that many homeschoolers will already have at home. Students from elementary school through high school can participate in this course and create the art assignments. Ms. Wombacher also provided extra ideas for us to use since my son is in high school. Apprentice Masters Atelier – van Gogh provides the opportunity for homeschool students to learn to enjoy and appreciate art while creating as Van Gogh did, in a vivid, beautiful, yet gentle instructional environment.

Most (if not all) of us have seen Vincent van Gogh’s famous works; most notably “The Starry Night,” “Sunflowers,” “Bedroom in Arles,” or some of his many self-portraits. His style, with its dramatic and visible brushstrokes and brilliant color, is very recognizable and loved by many art aficionados. Yet how exactly does one create art in the style of Van Gogh? Ms. Wombacher, over the course of eight lessons, teaches eight different art projects using the processes and techniques of the master artist. Students utilize a huge variety of mediums (drawing pencils, reed pen and ink, watercolors, acrylic paints, crayons, palette knife with impasto) to create drawings, still life paintings, a fabulous mixed media à la Van Gogh, and a huge painting with vivid textures. Each lesson teaches a skill or technique of Van Gogh and enables the student to create art in his particular style. The techniques begin with the simplest and end with the most complex, and students reapply everything they learn as they progress through the lessons.

Ms. Wombacher includes absolutely beautiful printables that students will print, cut out, and use in their own art journals. She includes worksheets that help the students learn van Gogh’s various marks and provides a place for them to practice these before they create each lesson’s artwork. She provides instruction on how to create an art box (so that students have all their art materials together in one spot) and adds teacher’s notes and a lesson plan with daily assignments for each week’s lesson.

The multiple teaching videos included in each lesson range from about three to fourteen minutes each, in length. Ms. Wombacher models each step of the process taught in each lesson in the videos. This is perfect because students can see exactly what they will be doing from the teacher’s example, and then they can repeat those motions on their own.

In our homeschool, we used the course approximately three days each week (although the lesson plan is written with five days’ worth of lessons for each week of an eight-week course). We spent from twenty to forty-five minutes on each lesson (obviously, these lessons could be shortened for younger children). In preparation, I watched the videos on my own and created our own lesson plan using the course suggestions. We already owned about one-third of the necessary art supplies and bought the rest of them at a local hobby store. My son prepared his art journal. Then, we watched the art videos together. We often paused them as my son followed the instructions step-by-step. The instructions were clear and easy to follow in some projects. Some projects were more challenging, but the results were well worth taking the time.

I can truthfully tell you that, in 14 years of my own homeschool experience, Heather Wombacher’s Apprentice Masters Atelier -Van Gogh is the curriculum we have loved the most. I loved every minute of every video, and my son was encouraged and invited to create beautiful art. Ms. Wombacher believes that we are all “Image Bearers” of God, the ultimate Creator; and therefore that we can all engage in the work of creating art. She encourages the students and viewers to learn and the art projects are accessible (although they do grow in difficulty) and beautiful. And, we learned so much that we had not known before! Neither of us had ever used a reed pen before. We had never used many of the watercolor techniques Ms. Wombacher taught. We learned two ways to use a palette knife. And we learned how to engage new skills to make lovely art in the style of a favorite, much-loved artist. It was just a pleasure to watch the instructor create in the videos; to learn to be kind and hopeful about our own art and abilities, and to complete the amazing projects.

I recommend Apprentice Masters Atelier -Van Gogh to you wholeheartedly. It is truly the most gorgeous, engaging, and inviting art course we have ever used in our homeschool. Ms. Wombacher’s teaching style is gracious and encouraging for both artists and non-artists alike. She engages her students and enables them to create beautiful, memorable art. We will never forget this, and we will enjoy the art created through this course for years to come. Also, you can visit to try five lessons for free, in the Free Kids Video Art Lesson. Do try it out!

-Product review by Melanie Reynolds, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, February 2020