Tuesday, December 6, 2011

ARTistic Pursuits – Book 1, Grades 4-6 (TOS Review)


Jokingly, I tell my friends that if I had a creative bone in my body I’d have to buy it because I sure wasn’t born with it.  I say that in jest, but for the most part it’s true.



Artistic Pursuits consists of curriculum for five levels (click on the links below to see more details on each, including sample lessons):

Preschool, Ages 3, 4, and 5 
   The Way They See It

Understand your child's art
Help your child gain skills without drawing for him/her
Informative parent pages show how to encourage creativity
Art assignments designed for preschool exploration 
Markers, watercolor, finger paint, crayons, and more!

Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Grade 
   Book 1 - An Introduction to the Visual Arts

   Book 2 - Stories of Artists and Their Art
   Book 3 - Modern Painting and Sculpture

Books at the K-3 level introduce children to the visual arts and view art through history. Colorful illustrations, art appreciation, and projects designed for young hands and minds delight students and appeal to their interests. Non-consumable. One set serves your entire family!

Grades 4, 5, and 6
   The Elements of Art and Composition

   Color and Composition

Junior High, Grades 7-8
   The Elements of Art and Composition

   Color and Composition

Senior High, Grades 9-12
   The Elements of Art and Composition
   Color and Composition

4-6 Grade, Junior High, and Senior High students learn technical skills while creating original works of art. Book One at each level provides an overview of drawing, covering the elements of art and composition. Book Two at each level provides an overview of color theory and composition. These books are non-consumable. Each set serves your entire family

Each book is available for $42.95.


We were allowed to choose which book we’d like to review,and I chose Book 1 for Grades 4-6, The Elements of Art and Composition (click the link for lesson samples and explanations) – spiral-bound, 88-pages including evaluation and bibliography.

 ARTistic Pursuits

This book gives students their first in-depth look at the elements of art in a simply written text with illustrations in pencil, marker, and scratch art, the media they will be using. The elements of art and composition are explored through American art.  It is written directly to the student to encourage him/her to work independently.  There are 16 units (with 4 lessons each) covering:

1. Space 9. The Shapes of Natural Forms
2. Line and Shape 10. Edges
3. Texture 11. Balance
4. Value 12. Rhythm
5. Form 13. Overlap
6. Form using Value

14. Depth

7. Local Value

15. Proportion, The Face

8. Contrast

16. Movement

Each unit includes Visual Vocabulary (observation), American Art Appreciation and History (master works, artists, and the time period in which the artist lived),  Techniques, and Application.   While going through this book the girls will use various art media:  ebony pencils, white pencil, black markers with point and wide tip, scratch art paper and silhouette.

The girls were excited to start.  Since only the “front” of each page is used for the lesson (i.e., when the spiral-bound book is open only the  right-hand side of the book has the lesson), it was easy to have them share and read together.  They read the introduction, and then they were ready to start with the first lesson.

This lesson was supposed to just be an outline, but obviously Hannah did much more than that.

One of their favorite assignments, of course, was drawing something from their imagination – we keep going back to that lesson again and again.  But each time I ask them to incorporate what they’ve learned so far, so I view it as a great way to review. 

The girls will get this book out on their own and work.  One day Hannah skipped ahead to the unit on Form (which includes using shading to show the form).  She read the lesson, chose a couple of honey crisp apples from our fruit bowl and drew them, then decided to color them in.

Love it when a curriculum inspires them to take initiative!


I like (of course) that the girls like it.  We moved quickly through the first few lessons, but now we’re moving fairly slowly, because they’re enjoying being creative with each lesson (which is the point of art, right?).  They aren’t doing each lesson once – when they’re done with a lesson, they usually ask if they can do it again using a different drawing (i.e.,  a different  model  for their picture, a different imaginary picture,etc.).  What’s a homeschool mom supposed to say - “no, you have  to keep moving through the lessons?”  I don’t think so.  :)

It is written specifically for the student to work independently.

You don’t to be an art expert (or even talented in art) to teach art with this curriculum.

The books are non-consumable.  

Each book can serve as art instruction for an entire year – two classes per week, one hour each.

Required supplies are clearly set out on the contents page, and divided by unit. This makes it easy to spread out the supply purchases throughout the year if necessary.

Portability.  With this book and a way to carry the few supplies that are necessary, you can have art class on the go!

On the first lesson of each unit there is an “objective”, and on the last lesson of each unit there is a “look back”.  These were great reminders for the girls of what to think about while doing the unit.


I wish I had more pictures of their artwork to show you, but they’re quite proud of them and want to save them to submit it to the Artistic Pursuits gallery.


The “Add to Cart” button is somewhat small and easy to miss (at least I missed it at first) – it can be found at the very beginning of each page and at the bottom of each page describing the individual books.

Art supplies can be expensive .  My girls love art so I don’t mind investing in the supplies, and the kits are reasonably priced.


Read about the philosophy of the curriculum HERE.

View the FAQ HERE.  Be sure to read the author’s story HERE.

Ordering information for domestic and international purchases can be found HERE.  A paper order form can be found HERE.

Art  supply packs with all the necessary supplies are available HERE.

Sign up for the newsletter HERE.

Submit artwork made using this curriculum HERE!

Find out about conferences at which you can see Artistic Pursuits in person HERE.  (Note that since  homeschool conference is over all the dates shown on this page are out of date, but I suspect it will soon be  updated to show 2012 conferences.)

See the awards Artistic Pursuits has earned HERE.  Note the TOS crew award it earned last year!


Artistic Pursuits Inc.,
2626 East 109th Avenue
Northglenn, Colorado 80233
Phone: (303) 467-0504 
fax: (208) 567-4269



As with many products that we’ve reviewed through the crew, I wish I had started using this with the girls earlier.  The K-3 books look wonderful.   Now that we’ve started, I intend to have them keep going.  They are thoroughly enjoying it!


To see other reviews of this product, click HERE and look for the linky tools list at the bottom of the post. For giveaways, other product reviews and other fun things, follow the 2011-2012 TOS Homeschool Crew blog at:


**Disclaimer: As part of the 2011-2012 TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I received the product referenced in this review at no cost in exchange for my fair, honest and unbiased (and not necessarily positive) review. No other compensation was received.

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