This might be one of my favorite product reviews of the year. My kids loved using ArtAchieve to gain drawing confidence and be exposed to other culture’s art and history.
I remember when I was in elementary school, being told I was not an artist because I only drew things I could see. I could copy anything in front of me but I was not good at imagining things or drawing from my minds-eye. Somewhere in the teasing and the comments about “real” artists, I decided I was not an artist after all. I like many other people I developed the belief that artistic skill was something your are born with, not learned. I stopped copying. I let myself stop working on my art.
It can be taught as readily as carpentry. I might never build a garage, but I can be taught how to measure, hammer and saw. The same goes for your child and art. ArtAchieve teaches the basic skill you need to observe, plan and execute simple drawing with tools you can easily obtain. There is no factor that will limit an individual from taking this course and creating real art from the first lesson.
We used ArtAchieve Entire Level II with a range of ages between 5 and 11. My older daughter easily managed the lessons on her own. The tool list is clear at the outset of every lesson, so I was able to set up an art box with the supplies she would need before hand. The lessons are in two formats; a Power Point slide show or a video. I liked having this choice of formats. If you have a child who is easily frustrated or overwhelmed by instructions that seem too fast or videos that move on too quickly, the power point would be a good choice. You can click through each instruction as you are ready for them.
With my younger children, we watched the video and I stayed nearby so I could pause when they needed time to transition between the warm up activities. My 7 and 9 year olds had no trouble following the instructions. We all enjoyed the instructor. John Hofmann is the guide for the series and the creator of the course and you can tell, he is doing what he loves to do. He is very warm and encouraging.
My favorite thing about the course was John’s constant encouragement to keep moving forward with your drawing. “If you don’t like it you can just do it again,” was a great thing John repeated throughout the lessons. There is little expectation for perfection or mastery, just a fun exploration of art with great instructions. Because the leadership is easy to follow and the instructions were broken down into workable bites, the kids made art they were all satisfied with.
If you are working exclusively with a 5 year old or this is your child’s first guided lesson I would probably choose Level I. My 5 year old was a little frustrated when he was working on his own in Level II. This was easily solved when I came along his side and helped him follow the instructions. The teacher constantly reassures the students that they are learning and they aren’t going to like every line they make. There is little pressure for perfection. It made it easy to reassure my son by just repeating what John was saying in the lesson.
We really enjoyed the Cross-Curricular Connections portion of the ArtAchieve site. This links the art project you are working on and adds additional cultural content. With embedded videos and educational links you can touch on Geography, Histroy, Music, Science and can round out your time with a writing project and literature selection to learn more about you chose culture.
ArtAchieve would be a great fit for our summer program or a day 5 supplement to add to a full curriculum. With a young child you could go far with ArtAchieve alone. There is plenty for your child to explore and really get some exposure to other cultures.You don’t have to be young to appreciate what you learn here. I loved learning about Korean Wedding Ducks and Dala Horses from our Level II lessons.