Thursday, May 1, 2014

A TOS Review: ARTistic Pursuits, Construct

My mama is an artist. As a result, I’ve been exposed to some pretty neat art techniques. She used to teach classes when I was younger and I always seem to be one of the participants. Whether I was a willing participant is another matter completely.  My own artistic abilities are not as natural or as finely honed. 

In that respect, I have failed Josiah as a teacher. I know. Homeschool mom guilt. We’ve all had it. Just because Josiah isn’t painting cherubs on the ceiling in the kitchen I think I’ve blown it. Thankfully, I have just enough sense to understand that I don’t have to be the expert. I can utilize the giftings and talents of others to help me. 

This is my first opportunity to review an art instruction book from ARTistic Pursuits. ARTistic Pursuits has just released a few new books. We were fortunate to be able to review one of those books called Sculpture Technique: Construct

What I Received

I had heard of ARTistic Pursuits before, but had never used one of their books. If you aren’t familiar with them yourself, I will start by telling you that it is an art instruction program designed for homeschools. The developers and teachers, Daniel and Brenda Ellis have oddles (I am so sophisticated) of teaching experience and are homeschool parents themselves.

The Sculpture Technique: Construct joins its cousin, Sculpture Technique: Model as brand new titles in the ARTistic Pursuits series of art instructions. Construct focuses on all things “construction.” The chapters in the book are:

1.     Creating Form in Papermaking
2.     Creating Planes in Cardboard
3.     Creating Motion with Papier-mache
4.     Creating Volume with Wire

There is also a course description, templates, evaluation answer sheets and a recommended classroom schedule. If you chose to follow the classroom schedule the course will last 36 weeks. 

The book itself is a soft cover comb bound book. It uses detailed project instructions with visuals (for us visual folks) as well as teaches elements of art and technique. Construct costs $47.95 and is intended for ages 11-18.  

How We Used It

I think my mama has every art supply known to man. I knew right away that one of the Units we would jump into was the paper-making unit. Simply because I had made paper before and I knew Mom had all the supplies I would need. I did purchase a few things from our local Arts and Crafts Store, but more on that in a minute. 

Josiah also wanted to try his hand at cardboard sculpture. 

Josiah started by making paper. A Boy and a Blender.

If you will please avert your eyes away from my sin of dirty dishes I would appreciate it. The Boy is having a good time.

Now just a word of wisdom. Handmade paper takes a long time to dry. Don’t except to have instant gratification. Thankfully, papermaking is fun stuff. 

This is one of Josiah's more (hmmm) interesting sheets of paper. 

But very pretty. No problem. It still worked just fine for Josiah's project.

The first project in Creating Form in Papermaking is a Low-relief Handmade Paper Form. The example given in the book of a wolf is gorgeous, but I felt probably a bit complicated for the first time out. The folks at ARTistic Pursuits encourage creativity and making a project one’s own. 

This is what Josiah came up with. Simple, but very Artsy…don’t you think? 

The 2nd project in this Unit is Methods of Forming Handmade Paper. This was all about flower making. 

Remember how I told you that the handmade paper takes forever to dry? For this project we used a few sheets of premade handmade paper. The nature of handmade paper allows it to hold shape. 
 Josiah was instructed to use the supplied templates to make some really pretty flowers. 

So not only did Josiah get to play with the blender. He got to spray a water bottle....inside!

He formed the petals as instructed.

Just lovely!

I see some more flower making in my future.

The other projects in the Papermaking Unit are more complicated.  They also involve armatures. Very exciting. However, I felt that we would save them for another day and for the purpose of this review move on to Josiah’s choice of Unit 2: Creating planes in Cardboard. 

I don’t know about how it is at your house, but here Cardboard is a valuable commodity. Josiah has had many great adventures with a simple cardboard box. 

The first project Josiah tried was to make 3D forms. 

This next project was Josiah’s  piece de resistance.  The assignment was to use all you had learned in making 3D shapes to Construct an Architectural Model. He decided he wanted to recreate his grandparents’ farm. 

I have to tell you that my finished picture is not as complete. I think the greenhouse and part of the barn Josiah created are now on a space craft heading for the Death Star. I don’t know what Darth Vader is going to do with Papa’s greenhouse…We probably should all be a little worried.

My Thoughts

These projects would have been too complicated for Josiah to complete on his own. He is 12. He is also dyslexic and dysgraphic and for some reason has always had issues with spatial concepts. But I have to say that the projects in Construct have been good for helping him develop and work on those very things. This being said, I think that the book has a great variety of challenging and easy projects.  I had fun learning about these sculpting techniques right along with Josiah. 

Another benefit of Construct is that many of the items for the projects needed can be found around the house. For example, the cardboard needed for Unit 2 can be found anywhere. The projects call for corrugated cardboard which can be found in the guts of many larger cardboard boxes. Strangely, the corrugated cardboard had disappeared into the night at our house and I had to purchase a few sheets at the Arts and Crafts Store.

On the ARTistic Pursuits website there is information about ordering supplies from Blick Art Supplies. This is helpful for those who can’t go shopping in their mother’s Art Closet.
Josiah had a lot of fun. I felt like he was learning not only about the elements of Sculpture, but he was encouraged to be creative and inspired. Construct didn’t leave anything out. We didn’t have to go search for further or more complete instructions. 

You can connect with ARTistic Pursuits on Facebook at
Brenda Ellis also has a Pinterest board for more sculpture ideas. There are some wonderful and inspiring projects to get your creative juices going.

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