Tuesday, April 29, 2014

ARTistic Pursuits Sculpture Technique

One of our favorite publishers, ARTistic Pursuits, recently released a couple of brand new titles in their series of art instruction books.We were delighted to have the chance to review one of these new books, so for the past few weeks, Kennady has been working on a unit from Sculpture Technique: Construct.
Spelling You See Review
ARTistic Pursuits is an art instruction program designed for homeschoolers, with emphasis on involving children in the creative process and developing observation skills. All components of a fine art education are included - building visual vocabulary; using critical thinking skills; art history and appreciation; and expressive and technical aspects of art. Author Brenda Ellis has over 25 years of experience teaching K-12 art, and is also a homeschool mom. Her husband Daniel Ellis has more the 30 years of experience in the fine arts, including teaching Grades 1-12 art, photography, and history.   
Sculpture Technique: Construct and Sculpture Technique: Model are the two new members of the ARTistic Pursuits family of art instruction materials. They are designed to guide students in upper elementary through high school in creating three-dimensional art. Construct focuses on the processes and concepts of construction methods in paper-making, papier-mache, cardboard sculpture, and wire sculpture. The book includes instruction about the materials and techniques used, teaches elements of art, and features examples of sculpture from contemporary artists. Materials and project instructions are given in detail, but the student is always encouraged to create their own artwork based on their own ideas and interests.
ARTistic Pursuits review

How did we use it? I invited both Landon (Grade 9) and Kennady (Grade 7) to look through the units in Construct and give me their feedback on what they wanted to try. They both expressed an interest in wire sculpture, and Kennady really wanted to try paper-making and the cardboard sculpture. We decided to start with cardboard sculpture, which happens to be Unit 2 in the book. We found that it wasn't necessary to do the units in the order presented in the book, although I did encourage Kennady to read the lesson material in the first unit. 
Each unit first introduces an art concept and the terminology, then presents an example of contemporary artwork in that medium. Using cardboard in sculpture involves using planes (flat and level surfaces) to build forms. The technique is used in architectural models and in set design for theatre, film and television. The materials and tools needed for the project are described, and then the instructions are given for the projects. This unit had three different projects. First was a project exploring the relationship of planes, in which Kennady sketched designs with different arrangements of basic shapes. She practiced drawing planes and cutting them out of corrugated cardboard, and selected one of her sketch designs to construct using the cardboard shapes in different colors or textures.
ARTistic Pursuits review

ARTistic Pursuits review

ARTistic Pursuits review

ARTistic Pursuits review

In the second project, she learned how arrangements of forms are used in models, and practiced creating 3-D forms from corrugated cardboard. Detailed instructions and templates are given to create a cube and a pyramid, and instructions to create a cylinder. The cylinder was a real challenge - she had to calculate the circumference of her circle in order to cut out the piece correctly! (See, Kennady? You DO need to know math to be an artist!)

ARTistic Pursuits review

The final project in this unit was an architectural model. Kennady learned how architects use models to help their clients visualize a finished landscape or building project. She then created her own model from start to finish. She imagined what her fictional client wanted, then developed and sketched the project site. After working out the plans on paper, she developed further by laying out the design in two dimensions using the cardboard. And finally, she cut out and constructed the necessary forms from cardboard, fine-tuned her layout, and glued everything in place to create her own version of an architectural model.

ARTistic Pursuits review

ARTistic Pursuits review

The final section of the unit encourages the student to review the elements of sculpture used in the project and explain how they were used and evaluate their work. There are 8-10 evaluation questions at the end of each unit, and although I didn't require Kennady to write down her responses to the questions this time, I would expect that written work from her if she was doing this for high school credit (which she will do in a couple years!). Kennady explained the elements of her design to me and to her dad, and was very proud of her work. She even went on to use up some of the leftover corrugated cardboard to create a couple of miniature stage sets inspired by her discovery that this technique is used in creating scenery and sets for theatre.

ARTistic Pursuits review

I should also mention that while Landon didn't actively work on the cardboard model unit, he will be considering this book for himself for next year. He is one of those students that isn't very interested in drawing or painting, but would be willing to have a go with wire sculpture, papier-mache, and architectural modeling - making this a good option for that required Fine Arts high school credit for the kids that don't think of themselves as 'artsy' or 'musical'.
What we liked best:
  • very clear instructions, with plenty of information about the properties of the materials to be used
  • Kennady really enjoyed doing the projects, and especially liked the freedom she had to figure out the elements of her architectural model the way she wanted them to look, combining the use of templates and detailed instruction from the book and construction ideas of her own.
  • thorough and comprehensive art instruction that doesn't require the parent to have all the skills and knowledge to figure it out - all the instruction is in the book! 
  • the student works at their own pace, and in this particular book, the units can be done in any order.
  • ARTistic Pursuits invites students to submit their artwork for display in their online student gallery. I believe that it's very encouraging for students to see the artwork of others in their age range. It challenges them to produce their own best work, and it gives them a realistic view of what kids their age can do, rather than only measuring their work against that of the great masters. It's also a motivator - we submitted a picture of Kennady's architectural model and look forward to seeing it featured in the gallery later this year after the next update!
What I need to mention:
  • you may or may not be able to find all the materials and tools in your local arts and crafts store. We had pretty good luck finding supplies for all the units except paper-making. However, I spent way too much time searching the store, and then staring in confusion at the wire wondering if I was getting the right thing, etc. It's arguably more convenient (and less confusing!) to purchase the Art Supply Packs online. Go to the Art Supply Packs page on the ARTistic Pursuits website for instructions on finding the correct list of supplies to purchase from the Blick Art Materials website. I didn't take advantage of this, but in hindsight I wish I had!
Our bottom line: I admit we went into this review already knowing we would love it, because we've used several books from ARTistic Pursuits in the past, but even with such high expectations we were not disappointed! The addition of the Sculpture Technique books to the ARTistic Pursuits gallery of art instruction books is a welcome one, and widens the options for studying art technique beyond sketching and painting. I confidently recommend ARTistic Pursuits materials to homeschoolers wishing to include quality art education for all ages, and we're enthusiastic about our recommendation of the books for middle school students and up, particularly the new Sculpture Technique books. (See our review of Middle School Book 2)
Spelling You See Review
Would you like to pursue the arts in your homeschool? Here's what you need to know:
Visit the website: http://www.ARTisticPursuits.com
Also see the ARTistic Pursuits Art Supply Pack page; and the Art Gallery page.
Pricing:  Sculpture Technique: Construct is available for $47.95.  ARTistic Pursuits offers art instruction materials for all ages - see the entire list of ARTistic Pursuits books for further information and pricing.
Recommended Ages: Ages 11-18 for Sculpture Technique: Construct. Other books are offered for students from preschool through high school age.
Follow ARTistic Pursuits on Facebook.
Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog for more information and to read other Crew member reviews.
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Lisa M. (aka. Lisa @ Farm Fresh) said...

Bravo, Kennady! Her scene looks fabulous! It sounds like she enjoyed the projects. Great review.

April said...

That 3D model is awesome! We did this same book, and had a lot of fun!

Jenn H. said...

Fun stuff!!!

martianne said...

Love the sculpture your kids created. I have no doubt my children will enjoy this book in time as they are loving the k-3 book now!

Stefanie said...

That looks like such fun!!! I might have to pick that up for Mackenzie.

Debbie said...

I love your projects! We did the paper making unit and plan to do this one next.

Jennifer said...

Math! I want my kids to see how useful is for actual tasks like this. Her project is impressive, even more so because of the math in her head to complete it.

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