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ARTistic Pursuits (CORE ART Program) Review by Erika Leaf

Brenda Ellis
Artistic Pursuits Inc.
Northglenn, Colorado 80233

My daughter is the art queen of our family. As someone who crafts daily, she is always looking for new skills, supplies, and ideas. The books from Artistic Pursuits Inc. are some of her favorites and have been well-used over the years. We have learned about artists, art characteristics and styles during various time periods, and different approaches. She has recently been learning various drawing techniques with ARTistic Pursuits CORE ART Program.

Daniel and Brenda Ellis developed artistic Pursuits in 1999. What began as a single drawing book for high schoolers has evolved into complete curricula from preschool through high school. Their goal is to "develop experiences in the visual arts that allow children to create original works of art." They designed their program to help students understand art concepts and enjoy the process of putting their own ideas and visual images on paper.

The CORE ART Program currently includes four levels of difficulty. The beginner levels are geared toward fourth-sixth graders. Level one, Drawing with Graphite Pencils, teaches the basic elements of art, while level two, Painting with Watercolor Pencils, focuses on color theory and watercolor techniques. Middle schoolers will gain a broader experience with art concepts in intermediate level three, Drawing with Graded Graphite Pencils. Finally, the advanced level, Drawing with Water-soluble and Graphite Pencils, helps high school students discover their own creative strengths and fulfills an art course credit.

The program uses a combination of video and text lessons. Each level has a lesson book, DVD, and Blu-ray discs and includes nine units with four lessons each. The four types of lessons repeat throughout the entire course. For example, lesson one explains how to use the chosen art materials and what objects students need to gather for the project. Lesson two is a creative exercise to see the element of art in real-world experiences and the artist's personal observations and ideas. Lesson three focuses on the art of the masters and teaches facts about them and other historical events. Finally, in lesson four, the master lesson, the student will apply all the steps of the topic to create their own masterpiece. 

The lessons are designed to be done independently by the student. He watches the video explanations and then uses the guidance in the book for the drawing assignment. My high school daughter easily completes the lessons independently, but I think even an upper elementary-aged child would have no problems using their specified levels. Brenda, the art teacher, does a fantastic job guiding the students through the skills. Her calming voice and encouraging nature make even a non-artsy person like me believe I could draw anything.

One aspect of this program that I love is that the student is not told exactly what to draw but is encouraged to choose his own subject based on interest and choice and apply the lessons. This freedom keeps the learner engaged and helps him to look for art everywhere. I love seeing what my daughter finds inspirational. Some days it has been various fall decorations around the house, such as a small scarecrow or ceramic pumpkin, while other times, it has been something as common as a mechanical pencil. She can take the concepts she is learning and apply them to anything she decides. Also, Brenda teaches that no line drawn is bad or wrong but that it just might not look exactly how the student envisions it. She suggests erasing the line and trying again. Throughout the lessons, she is encouraging and motivational.

The ARTistic Pursuits CORE ART Program is a fantastic resource for anyone wanting to further their drawing skills. The concepts are built upon one another throughout the lessons to produce a

complete art education. The text and video lessons complement each other perfectly and keep the student interested, challenged, and progressing in their abilities. I cannot wait to see what my daughter will create next with the help of the CORE ART Program.

Product review by Erika Leaf, The Old Schoolhouse® November 2022