It seems I have a VERY happy art student in our house lately. Now art isn’t something I’ve been confident in teaching in our homeschool over the years as I have had pretty much no exposure to fine arts, nor do I have any particular skill myself in the practical application. But have you ever met a child who didn’t like to draw, scribble, or paint? Such a child certainly doesn’t exist in my home, and so I have made it a point to seek out excellent resources to use in our homeschool.
We were very impressed with our most recent exploration of art resources using ArtAchieve, an online subscription based drawing and painting website. ArtAchieve is distinct in that it offers art lessons combined with culture, history, literature, and geography connections. We reviewed the Entire Level II bundle which consists of a full year’s access to the 14 Level II lessons (offered both in video and power point format) as well as the printable warm-up exercises and images. Lessons can be purchased individually or bundled.
We began by doing the introductory lessons from Level I (which are free on the site), Simple Lines and The Czech Cat, to help us chose a suitable level. My 8 year old completed the lessons with ease, and enjoyed them, while my 5 year old did well enough but experienced some frustration. I decided to make my choice based on my 8 year old’s needs as she is much more interested in purposeful art activities than her younger sister. I chose Level II because I wanted her to not only enjoy the program, but to be challenged and expand her skills. The introduction to the videos do state that Level II is suitable for grades 3 to adult.
Before beginning each lesson, I printed the warm-ups and gathered our supplies, paper, drawing markers (we used Sharpies), and paint, brushes, markers, etc. as required. We usually worked alongside each other, pausing the video as required and discussing and admiring each other’s work as we went along. She did complete some of the lessons independently, and was occasionally accompanied by her younger sister for part of a lesson as well. She is quite proud of her work and has been showing her projects off to her grandparents and making plans to include some of them in letters to her friends.
What I like about ArtAchieve:
- The guided drawing format. They also use the same descriptive terms that we have used in the past (curved line, straight line, angled line, etc)
- There are two options for viewing the lessons. My daughter greatly prefers the video format, but the PowerPoint version would probably be preferable for teaching a class in a co-op setting.
- Each lesson is preceded by warm-up exercises and drawing.
- Several options are given when adding details to the art, and students are encouraged to personalize their work.
- The required supplies are all simple and relatively inexpensive. You can probably complete all of the lessons with materials you already have on hand, or find some acceptable substitution. The materials are also listed in a chart for easy reference.
- I love the philosophy of the creators. They believe that art is not a talent that you either have or don’t, but a skill that can (and should!) be learned.
- I love that anyone can use this resource. You can teach art regardless of your own personal experience. Even children can use it with a little supervision.
- There is a gallery where you can view the work of other students, and submit your own! It’s great to see the variety of ways others have personalized their finished work.
- There are lots of great tips on teaching art — from how to talk to the student about their work to what to do if a child breaks down in tears over their work (which is a regular occurrence when my 5 year old participates in art lessons)
- The art lessons are rich, including images from around the world (collected from the author’s travels). The introductory information provides connections to cultural, geographical, and historical context. This program is not filled with cartoons and branded characters that may appeal to children but provide little depth.
What I didn’t like:
- I’m not sure that I’m crazy about the price. The Level II bundle isn’t that steep at $53, but this only provides you with one year’s access. I’m a big fan of re-usable curricula in my homeschool and I prefer to spend my money on materials and resources that I will be able to use with my up and coming students. I might be willing to spend more for a lifetime membership or something of that sort.
I’m very impressed both with the enjoyment we received while completing these lessons, as well as the challenges they presented. I would definitely recommend (and already have!) ArtAchieve to fellow homeschoolers looking for quality art resources for their homeschools and co-ops.