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Studio Art: Inspired by Art History Review by Jennifer Ladewig

Gena Ferguson Foster
The Master and His Apprentices

Providing art curriculum from a Christian perspective, The Master and His Apprentices offer a unique learning experience. Among the two courses, Studio Art: Inspired by Art History is the core curriculum. Studio Art: Inspired by Art History is a self-paced, independent course that begins with ten foundational principles of art and concludes with thirty-period projects. Students learn value, lighting, texture, composition, perspective, proportions & grids, transferring, color, and sculpture before diving into exploring the people, places, world events, and incredible art that has been left behind throughout time. Students will have the opportunity to explore a variety of mediums and artistic styles as well as develop their art technique and creative approach through Studio Art: Inspired by Art History. The students will create sea-inspired vases reminiscent of Aegean Art and manuscript illuminations from the Proto-Renaissance Art Period. These are just two examples of the period projects students will complete.  Studio Art: Inspired by Art History can be purchased digitally for $29.99 or in softcover format for $49.99.

As mentioned above, Studio Art: Inspired by Art History is an independent, self-paced study course. This curriculum is suitable for homeschooling, private schools, and colleges, as well as adults and budding artists. The Master and His Apprentices offers each group a curriculum bundle specifically designed to fit their needs.

The Master and His Apprentices also offers The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective. Besides providing students with a deeper understanding of art history, the two curricula were designed to complement each other. Studio Art: Inspired by Art History doesn’t require this book, but it can help students further ingrain the material learned and expand their thinking when creating art.  A Teacher’s Guide for The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective can also be purchased.

Studio Art: Inspired by Art History is primarily designed for high school students. This curriculum can be used for ages 12+, college-level, and adults. High school students can earn one full-credit elective. Combined with Art History from a Christian Perspective, students can earn two full credits. The course is written from a Christian perspective and does not contain nudity or other objectionable content.

 Studio Art: Inspired by Art History was designed for students of different skill levels because some students may not have any prior art background, and others may already have experience in the arts. This course is designed to accommodate students’ interests and skill levels. In addition to choosing a medium, style, and subject, students will also have the opportunity to add their own creative flair.

Guidance is also provided to parents. There is a Critique Form in The Master and His Apprentices in Studio Art: Inspired by Art History with ten questions for the parent to answer. A question on the form asks, “Do the medium and style fit the chosen subject matter, period inspiration, and/or theme?” If not, why? Due to the subjective nature of art, grading will also be subjective. Grading tips are provided in the section “Instructions for Classroom Teachers and Homeschool Parents.” Project length is also discussed. The project length will vary because this curriculum is self-paced, and each student has their own ability. Typically, projects take four to five hours to complete. Some projects take much less time, while others take much longer. In addition to this information, all necessary supplies, modifications, etc., are thoroughly outlined in the book.

Clear and easy-to-follow exercises are provided for students. As part of Foundational Principle #4: Textures, students will learn the difference between actual and implied texture. A definition of each texture is given, followed by examples and discussion. The book teaches students to differentiate between simulated and invented textures using definitions, examples, and pictures. This section discusses the importance of texture in defining who we are and how we perceive the world. All textures are drawable. In the section Creating Textures, the author discusses this exact topic. After learning about textures, students create six textures in at least two mediums, such as graphite, clay, or paint. A helpful hints section is provided.

After completing the Foundational Principles, students progress to the Period Projects. These begin with Photography & Creation and end with Calligraphy and Non-Western (Asian) Art. Upon completing the Period Projects, students will complete two final projects. 

One example of a Period Project is Chapter 13: Manuscript Illumination & Proto-Renaissance. Drawing is the medium, with painting as an option. Composition and detail in a small space are the focus. Students will need a drawing kit or, if panting, a painting kit. 

Exactly what are illuminations? Illuminations (hand-painted pictures) in manuscripts have a long and rich history. There is a page-long history of illuminations with color copies of manuscripts depicting illuminations. There are several foundational principles that students are instructed to reference for the project instructions. Students will create their own illuminated manuscript page using as many details as possible.

My upper high school age daughter is working through this curriculum. This is what she had to say about it:

Studio Art: Inspired by Art History is an art curriculum compatible with a wide range of age groups. The book begins by discussing a different art technique in each lesson with explanations of why it works the way it does, along with examples to give students visuals of what is being discussed. In many of these lessons, the instructions ask that a variety of tools are used when completing the assignment. These tools can be anything from graphite pencils to paint. The purpose of this is to help students get accustomed to using all different art supplies as well as the artistic methods that so many great artists have perfected. These lessons explain terms such as texture and perspective. Creating a drawing with realistic texture can be daunting. However, this curriculum teaches about techniques that are often used in a simple way that gives students the confidence to create art in a way that they previously would have doubted was possible for them. These lessons don’t just simply teach about art that can be created but also about the beauty that is all around us. Students are encouraged to take notice of the little things in life that typically go unnoticed. In the book’s second half, students are introduced to the art styles of different cultures. They are then asked to use the techniques from earlier lessons to create works of art like what is shown in the lesson. For example, students learn how to write their own name, along with anything else they might want to write out, in Egyptian hieroglyphics. Lessons like these are a beautiful way to learn about the history of different cultures while mastering techniques that will allow them to create their own art with ease. 

I am impressed with the lesson content and student projects in Studio Art: Inspired by Art History curriculum. Students are given choices of projects, which I appreciate. It is comprehensive, covering not only a wide range of art mediums but also art history. It is a curriculum I would recommend to other high school students looking to earn elective art credit.  I would not recommend this curriculum for younger students. I recommend that parents hold off until high school.

-Product review by Jennifer Ladewig, The Old Schoolhouse ®, August 2023.