Have you ever used an ARTistic Pursuits book? ARTistic Pursuits is a fantastic series of books by Brenda Ellis which helps you to effectively teach art to children of all ages–even if you are not an artist yourself! TOS Crew members received a variety of ARTistic Pursuits books to use and review, and we were blessed to receive one of their newest ones: ARTistic Pursuits’ Sculpture Technique: Construct. (There’s also another new book called Sculpture Technique: Model.) Jackson and I always love creating art together, and this book provided more fun and fascinating art time for us, as well as stretching us in an area we’ve not had a lot of experience with.
ARTistic Pursuits’ Sculpture Technique: Construct introduces children to the basic principles of sculpture construction, building and even real-life geometry, using a variety of media and projects to highlight each term and definition. The book familiarizes students, ages 11-18, to the following four units of the foundations of sculpture in the following areas:
- Unit 1: Creating Form in Papermaking
- Unit 2: Creating Planes in Cardboard
- Unit 3: Creating Motion with Papier-mache’
- Unit 4: Creating Volume with Wire
For the purposes of the review, we selected one unit to work on, as well as overviewing the entire book together. Jackson was very interested in sculpting with cardboard, so we chose Unit 2.
Each unit has several projects and includes a list of materials needed for each one. You can purchase the items on the project lists easily at a local craft store, or you can find online stores through ARTistic Pursuits, under the Art Supply Packs link. We had most of the necessary items for the cardboard unit, although we did purchase some extremely cool corrugated paper locally. At our craft store, we found the corrugated paper in both white and medium brown, so we went with those colors. We also needed cardboard, a bone folder, good scissors, a compass, Tacky Glue and a ruler for this unit. (Other units, of course, required some of the same and some different materials.)
Each unit provides the student with a range of projects from the very elementary to more advanced ones; and the projects provide not only understanding of basic principles of sculpture and construction but are also extremely interesting and fun to produce. They challenge the student in both creativity and ability.
Unit 2’s first lesson is “Creating Planes in Cardboard.” We were introduced to planes and the ways they can connect to one another in either two dimensions or three dimensions. Brenda Elllis also includes a segment on the materials used in cardboard sculpting and construction, and gives basic safety tips and instructions on how to work with cardboard, corrugated board and foam core.
The second lesson in Unit 2 is “Explore Relationships of Planes.” We learned a bit more about the ways architects and artists use models, or small-scale views, of construction sites or sculptures to help them envision the final product. They also can see if plans need any alteration by first designing and creating models. Jackson’s project was to create a 2-D arrangement of shapes like triangles, circles, squares and rectangles. We measured and traced those shapes, cut them out, then he arranged them in a variety of ways. Here’s one way that our arrangements looked:
Unit 2’s third lesson is entitled “From Planes to Forms.” Brenda Ellis teaches about what an artist wants to communicate with shape, from mystery, to formality, to unity, to a bold statement. The ways that 3-D shapes are combined will communicate these things, and others, to the viewers. We learned about how to connect shapes together (with glue, tabs, a hinge or slits). Jackson also used templates to create 3-D shapes:
Jackson traced templates (provided in the book) to construct both cubes and pyramids. Our cardboard, which was from shipping boxes, was so difficult to fold that we decided to use the cardboard from cereal boxes instead. That was actually a fantastic medium; it was easy to score (you can see the dotted lines for scoring on the cardboard shape above) and very easy to bend. Once you have your shape scored and folded, you can glue the edges together to make the shape permanent. (I have to confess that we cheated and used tape, though!) We made a couple of cubes and one pyramid from the cereal boxes (although the lesson also teaches how to create a cylinder):
The fourth (and last) lesson in Unit 2 is also the one your child will be able to express the most creativity in: “Construct an Architectural Model.” In this lesson, the student first imagines a constructed space, then draws both a 2-D and a 3-D plan on paper. And then the fun begins, when he’s able to build and construct what he’s imagined! Jackson created a futuristic museum space; very clean and open but with interesting shapes both inside, outside and bisecting the entire building. (You can only see part of the finished product here.)
Unit 2 closes with an evaluation, or test, if you choose to administer it in that way. It asks questions that ensure that the student has completed the unit with a true understanding of the elements of sculpture, the art he created and the methods used to do so.
Here’s what my son thought about the curriculum: “I really loved this sculpture thing. It was very fun to create some of the projects. And to create 3-D models out of cardboard. It was good curriculum and I would definitely recommend it to a friend!”
As I said earlier, we’ve always enjoyed studying art. The ARTistic Pursuits books are curricula that we’ve used with great appreciation in the past. Brenda Ellis does several things really well in her art books. First, she creates clear and succinct lessons that stretch the student and build his understanding of art and its creation. Second, she provides fun and fascinating projects that the students (AND their parents) truly love doing. I don’t think you can ask more from an art curriculum than that!
All of Brenda Ellis’ art instruction books can be purchased at ARTistic Pursuits either individually or combined together as sets. Sculpture Technique: Construct is available at ARTistic Pursuits for $47.95.
If you’re looking for an art curriculum that provides instruction not only on creativity but on artistic methods….and if you’re looking for one that your whole family can enjoy—-ARTistic Pursuits may be just right for you!
Other Schoolhouse Review Crew members reviewed a variety of ARTistic Pursuits curricula, with books starting for preschoolers and going right up to high school-aged students. You can read about their experiences on the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.