One of our favorite homeschool subjects is always art! So, we were thrilled to be selected to review ARTistic Pursuits‘ Middle School 6-8, Book Two: Color and Composition. ARTistic Pursuits has an entire line of art curriculum books for the homeschooler, starting with preschool and going all the way to grade 12. We were particularly excited to use this book for middle schoolers as it teaches an entire scope and sequence on both color and composition, using hard (chalk) pastels and oil pastels.
ARTistic Pursuits does an excellent, organized job of teaching art through both concepts, history and projects that put both of those into play. This book provides enough lessons for the student to complete two per week over a 36-week period. Middle School 6-8, Book Two: Color and Composition emphasizes the color wheel, and teaches the student about:
- How colors combine
- Layering color
- Warm and cool colors
- Monochromatic art
- Composition and balance….and more!
In each lesson, students learn about a particular topic, an artist and his work, and specific techniques; and then they complete a project using what they’ve learned. And, it’s not only one art project per lesson that students can complete. Rather, each portion of the lesson has some artistic activity so that the child can immediately put to use what is being learned, and have the opportunity to do art on a very regular basis.
Of course, if you’re going to create art, you must have some art supplies! Middle School 6-8, Book Two: Color and Composition utilizes the following supplies, which can be purchased separately from the book:
- Hard (chalk) pastels in colors and neutrals
- Oil pastels
- Colored pastel paper
- White pastel paper
- Kneaded and vinyl erasers
- Sharpeners (for oil pastels)
- A paper stump
We actually owned the hard pastels already, and purchased everything else on the list. And the student really does use every single item listed above. The first 2/3 of the book teaches the student how to create various types of art, using the hard pastels. The last third covers oil pastels. And, as you might imagine, they are extremely different in use, application and result! Hard pastels are somewhat powdery, and a fixative (ARTistic Pursuits recommends hair spray as a safe one) must be added to “set” the work. They produce rich and vibrant colors, and blend easily. Oil pastels, on the other hand, must be sharpened but never need a fixative, as the oil in them helps adhere them to the paper.
Since there is an entire year’s worth of lessons in Middle School 6-8, Book Two: Color and Composition, we haven’t completed it yet. But both my son and I have learned so much about the use of pastels in art and how to create with them. Here’s a sampling of some of our projects:
- Smooth and Rough Surfaces (texture) in art (hard pastels)
- Color and Still Life (hard pastels)
- Landscape work with blending (hard pastels)
- Imaginary beach landscape (soft oil pastels)
Each week, we worked on art projects for 2-3 days. In the book’s lessons, some of the projects are for learning technique (cross-hatching, layering, balance and so on) and others are quick-draw outdoor activities. Still others put to work the different techniques and skills taught in the lessons.
I love ARTistic Pursuits books, and Middle School 6-8, Book Two: Color and Composition in particular, for many reasons. One of the best is that these books make it so easy for a parent, whether she’s artsy or not, to teach a well-rounded and fascinating art class to her children. The projects are both interesting and useful, and students learn crucial techniques in art, color, and composition.
Jackson (my 7th grader) and I worked on the art lessons together, each of us doing our own projects. And we both really enjoyed the curriculum; but we had opposite impressions of the art media involved! He didn’t really like working with the hard pastels but he loved the soft pastels; the vibrancy of the color, the feel of the pastel crayons moving against the paper. I, on the other hand, didn’t really like the soft pastels but really enjoyed the hard pastels. I loved how beautifully and easily the colors blended; the ease of use; and the finished products.
I especially loved how even unskilled students can create wonderful art using these lessons. The book’s instruction on how to use pastels safely and effectively was simple to follow and understand, and we were able to complete each lesson and project while growing in competence in the skills and techniques being presented.
I am happy to say that I can genuinely recommend ARTistic Pursuits‘ Middle School 6-8, Book Two: Color and Composition for your middle schooler. My son is in 7th grade, and the lessons were right on target for his age group. Parents will love the simplicity and ease of the lessons, as well as the amazing art their children will create!
You may purchase Middle School 6-8, Book Two: Color and Composition from ARTistic Pursuits. And, if your child isn’t a middle schooler, you’ll find books at their website for all the other grades!
Other reviewers utilized many different ARTistic Pursuits books with their children. You can read about their experiences at the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog. And, if you’d like to see another ARTistic Pursuits review that Jackson and I did last spring, you can click over to our ARTistic Pursuits’ Sculpture Technique: Construct review.