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Homeschool Art Box Subscription Box Review by Sarah Roth

Sarah Harmeling at Homeschool Art Box
Homeschool Art Box
Waldo, Wisconsin

Art is a subject that I struggle to incorporate regularly in our homeschool. I know it is important, but I often skip it due to lacking materials, time, knowledge, or inspiration. So, I was excited to review a three-month art box subscription for three students from Homeschool Art Box. This sounded like a product designed for busy homeschool moms like me! Homeschool Art Box is a small family business started by a homeschool family who recognized that many families struggle to fit art into their schedule.

Before receiving our first box, I hoped it would make incorporating art and art history into our busy schedule easy. I was not disappointed. The art box subscription really is an open-and-go art curriculum. Right away, I could see that it was okay that I did not have an art or art history background. I also did not need to gather supplies or try to create an art project that went along with an artist or historical time. The Homeschool Art Box provided the information and materials I needed to enjoy learning and doing art along with my children. Each art box was also unique in the artist featured, the project, and the art techniques taught.

In every art box, a four-page newsletter features information about the artist, relevant history, and geography. In addition, the newsletter includes a description of the style of art being studied, a description of at least two works by the artist, and questions to consider while the art is studied; it also provides art terms with definitions. These newsletters are colorful, full of information, and enjoyable to read. We read these together, but older students could read them independently. In addition, every art box includes two full-page prints of works by the featured. These prints are high quality and on sturdy paper, making them easy to observe and display.

Each box also includes a unique project with step-by-step instructions and all the materials needed for the number of students the subscription is for. The only materials I needed were scissors, regular pencils, a ruler, a small dish of water, and a plastic tablecloth to protect our work surface.

Our first art box contained a newsletter about El Greco, the Italian Renaissance, and the Mannerism art style. The artwork featured included El Greco's paintings The Burial of the Count of Orgaz and View of Toledo. The project for this art box was an El Greco style landscape. The instructions list an estimated time to complete the project, one to two hours for this project, and note that parents should split it into several sessions to allow for drying between steps. This was helpful to know right from the beginning. However, we did take longer to complete this project, allowing more time for my children to add more detail. This project introduced us to bleeding tissue paper, something I had never even heard of, and we enjoyed creating with it. After completing the projects, each of my children had a wonderful piece of art to display. They also had some bleeding tissue paper, charcoal pencils, foam paint brushes, glue sticks, and templates for future artwork.

Our second box introduced us to Peter Paul Rubens, Baroque Art, and watercolor crayons. The artwork featured included Ruben's The Fall of Phaeton and Triumph of the Eucharist Over Idolatry. I appreciated the information in the newsletter that helped us identify features of Baroque Art. We were able to identify the use of color and lighting in these dramatic scenes. In the project, based on Triumph of the Eucharist Over Idolatry, students learn how to draw a figure using a template to guide proportions. The student also uses a ruler to measure and draw a stage. Each student's supplies bag contained a box of watercolor crayons, a paintbrush, a permanent marker, and yellow iridescent paint. The art box also had all the needed paper and three template sets. I appreciated how this project included practice paper, allowing students to practice drawing their person in various positions. The instructions guide the student to create a specific scene, but my children created unique scenes using the techniques taught.

Our third box featured Diego Velazquez and Spanish Baroque Art. This was our second exposure to Baroque Art, and it was fun to identify common features between the two artists' works. The artwork in this box included Las Meninas and Surrender of Breda. Again, the history and discussion of these works were delightful to read. We also enjoyed the fun discussion of Spanish mustaches! The project for this box was a mixed media paper and marker project based on Las Meninas. One of the skills taught in the project is depth. Students create a room with pictures on a wall. The project instructions teach the student how to draw the picture frame lines to match the room's depth. Once their room is complete, the student uses the provided variety of paper to create a princess in the room. I think an animal or a man with a Spanish mustache would be a good alternative for those not interested in making a princess.

We spread the lesson materials and project in each box to fit our schedule over three to four weeks. The first week, we focused on reading the newsletter. This was easy to incorporate just after a meal time. I enjoyed spreading this part out and learning about the artist and the style of art. While studying the works of art, we took the time to identify the features mentioned in the newsletter. Taking the time to explore these works of art helped us identify common characteristics in the featured styles. Over the next two to three weeks, we focused on the projects.

Homeschool Art Boxes are intended for students in first through eighth grade, but they are easily modified for a variety of ages. I used this product with my eight, eleven, and fourteen-year-old. It was easy to use together while still allowing each of my children to adjust the projects to suit their individual creativity and interests. After reading the project instructions together and discussing how to begin the project and use the supplies, my children worked at their own pace to complete their artwork over the following weeks. So, although we started the projects together, they each finished at different times.

Each year, Homeschool Art Box features artists from ancient through modern times, with no artists or projects repeated for four years. Three-month subscription prices begin at $108 for one student. Subscriptions are also available for 2, 3, and 4 students. Monthly subscriptions and individual boxes are other options. Homeschool Art Box also has art lesson packs for those who prefer to provide their own art supplies. Subscriptions can begin anytime, but subscriptions are unavailable for June, July, and August.

I like several features of the Homeschool Art Box subscription. First, Homeschool Art Box includes everything in each box. This made incorporating art and art history in our homeschool incredibly easy. When we received the first box, I took about a half hour to familiarize myself with the product by looking over the newsletter, the project instructions, and the materials for the project. I quickly saw that this really is a ready-to-use product. I did not need to prepare anything. And, with the subscription, I knew that another art box would arrive the next month.

Another feature that I like is the quality of the art supplies. All the paper and art supplies were good quality and easy to use. In addition, each box provides every student with their own project supplies to use for the project. This helps, especially if students do not want their supplies mixed, cut, torn, or dulled by another. In addition, many of the supplies are not entirely used up during the project, providing opportunities for future creativity.

I also appreciate the step-by-step project instructions, as well as the freedom to deviate from the instructions. For example, some of my children added more detail or used the technique and materials in a slightly different way than what was taught in the instructions.

These boxes are complete, and the only thing that might improve them is offering ideas for using the supplies that the students had not used up.

I would recommend this product to families looking for a ready-to-go art curriculum. The subscription option brings a beautiful art history lesson, an enjoyable art project, and quality art supplies each month. A Homeschool Art Box subscription helps busy homeschool families include art and art history in their children's education in a fun and meaningful way.

-Product review by Sarah Roth, The Old Schoolhouse®, February 2023