Showing posts with label Art. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Art. Show all posts

Friday, April 22, 2011

TOS Crew Review: See the Light Art Series-Vol. I

Art Class DVD Volume 1
Art is something we are very familiar with in our homeschool, when the option came up to review this product, we jumped at the chance.

The See The Light Art Series provides 4 lessons with Pat Knepley [master artist] as the instructor, a bit of art history and a Bible verse/tie in, along with just enough "how to" steps, so one can  learn how to draw.  Best yet, each lesson is about 15 or so minutes, keeping the student's mind focused at the task at hand..

We were able to view the first of the nine part series.  It begins with very basic instruction on beginning drawing/art skills. Each DVD advances the student through a series of steps to help build their technique repertoire, and of course so they can create their own masterpieces there after. I particularly liked the fourth lesson focusing on the issue of how the student should draw what they see, not what they know.  I find that to be one of the more challenging hurdles for the children (mine and the ones I teach in our co-op) to get over.  I  was pleased when the lesson brought to focus the reasoning behind such a statement, then quickly showed them how to do just that. Because my kids have had a lot of basic instruction regarding drawing, the first few lessons only served as refreshers for them, but we all walked away with some snippets of useful info, and that deserves to be noted.  I found this to be a fun, gentle approach for elementary-aged students which, for a limited time, you can get the first DVD for free as well.

[I also was able to view the clips DVD, showing snippets from many of the other lessons-and from the look of things, it appears they follow the same layout and general instruction plan as the first DVD.  Because I was only able to see one ninth of the program, I can only make an educated guess about the over all program itself-so please keep that in mind here.]
I really like the short lessons.  Kids usually are mentally checked out (OK, adults too) after about 10-20 minutes, so this fits that attention span issue nicely.

The instruction only touches on the focused technique for that lesson.

Bible verse or subject matter from Bible brought into each lesson.

Instruction actually teaches something useful (this is important, since I have come across way too many programs that leave you scratching your head, and your art skills no better than when you started it).

Cheerful and engaging art instructor-way to go Mrs. Pat.

Supplies are readily available in most folks' homes, or are inexpensive to purchase.


Was only able to view one part of it-so I cannot give a complete review on the entire program, only the first DVD.

Cannot purchase the DVDs individually (now yes, it is an entire program that is sequential but due to my older child having had lots of experience in art, there were only a couple she would like to view-so being able to purchase those, would have been nice).  [**I noticed that I can search for individual ones and add them to the cart, but we were told that they will no longer offer the ability to buy as such. So if you see a  DVD that you'd really like, I suggest you purchase now, while you still can.  I truly hope the option to purchase individually will remain-if you cannot search and find it-then assume it is no longer available.]

Overall cost would prohibit me from buying the entire program-as I honestly do not budget that much for the art in our home [that sounds like I don't think art is important-au contraire! Actually it is very important-we simply must find our materials and supplies for a lot less due to our meager curriculum budget].
[**Now if you consider that it is an entire year's worth of art instruction, the price doesn't seem quite so bad. And you have the option of doing the monthly online classes, so it is doable. I prefer the DVD version myself, so this is something you will have to consider for your own family and your curriculum budget.]

I feel that this could be a great program for those who have little or no art ability in them, or are timid when it comes to teaching it to their children (since Mrs. Pat does the work for you and you just learn along with your children); and for those who are looking for a program to enhance and further their children's current art skills and techniques.  Being Bible based is always a good thing, as the Lord is the ultimate artist in the universe with a lot to say about it in his Word-thankfully, See the Light continually brings that into focus as well.  So if art is "not your thing"  or you want sequential lessons that teach (for real) then this program could be a blessing indeed.

You will need to collect a few goodies to do these lessons-therefore, the lady on the run is noted.

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See the Light Homepage
($14.99 value for the DVD I reviewed)
$99.99 for the one year set
Monthly online instruction for $10 per month

Ages:  First thru about 6th but those with no previous art lessons could also benefit

You can request a  free DVD of the Vol. I  for a limited time-check it out for yourself! 

*Don't forget to read up on what my TOS mates had to say about this and many other fine homeschool products, over on our TOS Review Crew homepage.

***Legacy for God Publishing/See the Light provided me with a free copy of the See the Light Art Series-Vol. I, so that I could view and use it with my children. I did not receive any financial compensation for this or for my honest opinion of this product.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

TOS Review Crew: Graphic Toolbox

My crafty side was itching to try out something like this.  Something where I can design, create and otherwise just play around with different techniques, and tools to make something of substance, something worth "writing home about".  Usually, I do this sort of thing with real paper, scissors, pens, pencils and tape (Velcro if I am making workbox goodies) and so this was a bit of a challenge for me-to go digital and all.  What am I talking about?

Well, I am yammering about  a software program called Graphics Toolbox, which is  designed to help you create personalized material for all your needs-not just for the homeschooling stuff either.  It can help you infuse visuals to create some really nice projects, in just about every subject matter.  You, or your child, can [because yes-it is very kid-friendly] create artwork, report covers, book reports that are professional looking, science/history/art fair displays and more. Actually, if you pop over to their education page, you can see what I am talking about. You will be able to glean more ideas regarding just how useful this can be in your daily homeschool acitivities.  You can design headers for blogs, create Christmas or other holiday cards, whip up some fun "can you spot the differences" pictures, create truly personalized announcements and on and on.  It runs along the lines of the MS Paint/Power Point/Publisher, Photoshop and other graphic design programs, but with more advanced features [from what you get with the MS programs],  and some slightly tweaked and different  options [like the larger workspace area] that you won't find in Photoshop. To be honest-I cannot list all of the features, so I have that link available for you to go to.  Take your time-as it is quite a lot of information to digest. Be sure to come back here though, to see what I was able to do with it so far-as I simply have not had nearly enough time to just mess around and come up with more, but I will try to continually post new projects as I get them made.

Here is an example of a typical situation in life. Take the subject of history. It is well, history-something that has already occurred.  So trying to get a child to become truly “involved” in it, can be a difficult challenge indeed.   By using Graphic Toolbox, and a bit of one’s  imagination-you can draw (quite literally) the child into any time in history, to create a memorable report cover, picture for a lapbook or notebooking page,  an entertaining picture for a scrapbook page,  or even a center piece for a history display board.

Last summer, we spent some time exploring George Washington’s estate, Mt. Vernon.  We could walk the grounds as our first President did some 2 centuries ago, but alas-without ole George to give the tour himself.  Using Graphic Toolbox's features/tools, I was able to create a unique photo which brings George right out of the museum, and out onto his front lawn-with my son saddled up with estate's owner/tour guide, and my husband meandering alongside. 

After watching the extremely helpful video tutorials, I was able to go into the program, pull up 3 specific pictures I felt would work, to which I  then meshed together (amazingly actually-never thought I could do this) to get the final masterpiece. I am pretty proud of this one-and had a lot of fun working on it too.  That would have made an adorable postcard that I could have sent out-too bad I didn't have the program then.  But not all is lost-I have it now, and will print this off in a smaller size for my son's history notebook (when we get to George and his contribution to our nation this spring) to make it much more personalized for him.

I have had only MS Word to play with in my creative endeavors, and frankly-it is extremely limiting after a certain point.  I was quite pleased to be able to use some “real” nitty gritty type of features to pull this project off.  The Irregular ShapeCopy/Resize/Move/Rotate, Clone, Text and Ribbon features afforded me the opportunity to put to “paper” what is in my head.   I have not even touched the tip of the iceberg here.  But what I can tell you, is that so many doors of possibilities beg to be opened with the use of the Graphic Toolbox program. I plan to continue to further explore this, so that I can create more personal lapbook components, history visuals, and especially to make creative workbox materials to use in our daily homeschool adventures.

 Don't be fooled, it took me some time to figure this massive program out.  Those tutorials made the difference from throwing my hands up in despair, to instead taking on the challenge of working through the "learning curve" to get it all figured out.  So I highly recommend that one spends time watching those, then practicing the techniques. And with the wealth of ideas on their featured projects section-which the Mt. Vernon picture will soon reside, you can find many applications that suit your needs.  I have to say, now that I have  the "hang of it", I am truly enjoying myself.  

Here is an example using one of their scrapbook choices (layout is pre-done, you just add the picture and text). I simply added the shot my daughter had taken, at sunset one fine summer evening, to fill the blank picture area.  I had to erase the lines that were in the text area, since I wanted to add the verse via the computer, not by hand. It didn't take long to create this at all.  G.T. stated they decided to not focus as much attention on the pre-done scrapbook pages (so that area is somewhat limited) since there were so many other digital scrapbook companies out there. I thought I would show an example of one though, for those digi-scrappers out there.  You obviously can create your own pages with all the gadgets this program offers, or utilize parts of it to add to other layouts. Again-it is a tool to use to create your own one-of-a-kind works of art.

I have told you of my experience, but what you should do is try the 30 day Free Trial, in order to see for yourself. Allow a few days of just "practice and play" before you yeah or nay this I stated above-it takes time to figure out. And if you have been using another type of program similar to this one-then you have to allow for that "difference" adjustment, as well.

Before I end this though, I cannot stress this enough-KNOW YOUR COMPUTER before installing this program.  Please refer to their system requirements before you test run this program, as it will not work for every application. It does take up space on your 'puter's hard drive-so carefully read those details ahead of time.

I am sure you are wondering now-would I have sought out and purchased this, had I not received it as a review item?  I have to say, that right now with our financial belt tightening, no-I would not have.  But that is because of finances, which I have pointed out in several reviews this year.  Things are tough right now-but that doesn't mean I wouldn't recommend it.  I do-if you are one needing a way to personalize and add flavor to your schooling, business and well-"whatever else" needs-give it some serious thought.  Is is on the spency side? Depends on what you decide you can afford.  I have made that very clear right from the beginning of my TOS crew adventure-I cannot even begin to know your financial needs/ I can only address our situation.  Do your research homework, read the other crew mates' reviews and try the 30 day free program. Then you will have a pretty good idea if it is right for you.  I am very, very happy that I have this to play around with and to enjoy.

Easy as in after you get the hang of it-I am sure the kids will pick it up far faster than the older generations-just allow for some adjustment time

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Graphics Toolbox Homepage

$149.00 - 1 user License with discount offered for up to 2 users (ie: uploaded on to another computer)

Don't forget to read what my TOS mates have to say about this, and many other fine homeschool products, over on our TOS Crew Review Homepage.

***Great Software Tools provided me with a free Graphic Toolbox Program for my computer system, so that I could tinker, create and utilize this to satisfy my creative needs, and in exchange for an honest opinion of their product. No financial compensation was exchanged for this review.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

TOS Crew Reivew: ARTistic Pursuits: High School Level, Book 1

Art has always been an interest to me, and have hope that some of my children would develop a taste for it as well. We have tried to incorporate the Charlotte Mason idea of studying a particular artist and their work, as often as possible, through out the years in our little homeschool setting. We have enjoyed it immensely; but I realize that studying art is not enough-one has to create their own master pieces to truly understand it.

Enter ARTistic Pursuits designed by a fellow homeschooling mom, Brenda Ellis. What you have here is a series dedicated to providing art instruction that is written to the student (upper levels) and includes full-color illustrations to be studied. I decided to try the Senior High School Book I (Second Edition) with my 14 year old daughter. She is naturally artsy and has developed a taste for drawing, so I knew this would be a good fit-as it covers the Elements of Art and Composition.

Each lesson is laid out in an organized fashion, sectioned into areas to cover the instructions and information needed. ARTistic Pursuits recommends that the student complete 2 pages per class, twice a week; giving the student 34 weeks worth of material. For high school, this would equal two semester's worth of credit to apply toward their needed elective choices. Now before you think about how one is to figure out how to give credit for it, Brenda also covers that at the end of the book. I found the process to be quite easy to understand and to implement. Furthermore, the ARTistic Pursuits guide begins by covering the list of needed materials; which is a big issue for me-so I was very, very pleased to find this right up front and center. I have run across many programs that do not offer this essential list of information which has really become a burr in my saddle. The next issue of concern, would be the procurement of said supplies; and one will not need to look any further than the A.P. website which offers them individually or in packs. They provide information for purchasing them at discount art supply stores as well, so finding them shouldn't be a problem.

The study is broken down into a few different areas which are covered in each unit. Starting with a Visual Vocabulary, then moving to Art History and Appreciation, on to Techniques and finally, the Application of the topic. The student has a mini-tutorial to read before the first lesson begins, in order to understand the concept and overall goal of this program. That way, the student is better prepared to "get" what the author is trying to convey.

We dove in head first after receiving it and found it to be interesting, to say the least. At first, we didn't understand (click here to read the explanation concerning How they Teach A.P.) why there was not the typical drawing lessons one normally finds in art programs. I assumed (wrongly-as they suggest starting at the child's age/grade level-not below) that perhaps we missed something by not having used one of the younger grade books; so I contacted the author and after her response-it made sense. I asked why there didn't seem to be much in the way of basic "how to draw" instruction in the lessons. Brenda's response is as follows (I am quoting the essential information only, having removed the material not necesarily needed, hence the occassional breaks in thought):

"...For a moment eliminate the idea that we need to be shown step-by step how to draw various subjects such as face, tree, barn, etc. Those are the ideas that inhibit students from trying.... Let's start with lines; understanding that an outline follows the edges of objects. Anyone can do a line drawing, and in our books we only ask that they draw with line and consider fitting that line on the space of the page. ...but soon they are introduced to shapes and form with shading and shadows and the possibility of adding different kinds of lines to make textures. All this is within a context of using these ideas in ways that interest the student. The faces we ask them to draw in the last few units of the book with be far more advanced than the ones they created in the first few units. Why? Because now they are using all of the elements of art, where before they were only focused on one or two. ...Without realizing it they are learning to focus on specific elements of art no matter what kind of varied subject matter they choose or type of source. This is learning to see in the way all artists see. Students who do not know much about art in the beginning will certainly be challenged and have some fun and very quickly they are doing excellent work...."

I couldn't have said it better myself. We were in the wrong frame of mind! We were stumped, and then enlightened to "see" it differently. Once we broke through that wall, we began with a new outlook and decided to start the lessons over. We have been slowly working our way through it and so far, we are seeing the goal of the program blossom and change our perceptions (as I too am giving this the ole' college try and rekindling my love of drawing)concerning how to create art. This is proving to be a great study so far.

I must admit that the Art History/Appreciation is one of our favorite aspects of this program. The lessons have been informative; and we have both learned things we didn't see upon our initial viewing of the material. I also like how there are quotes which encourage, and provide thoughts to ponder as we work through the lesson. I also appreciate the organized lay out, which is very user friendly. Lastly, I like that the lessons contain the full-colored reprints of the art work to be studied, as having it in black and white would simply not do it justice.

Overall, we find this to be a very nice art program which offers high school students a great introduction to art, its history, and plenty of practice in a wide variety of skills. ARTistic Pursuits is definitely a keeper for us!

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Artistic Pursuits Homepage
All levels are $42.95
The parent help book, for the child aged 3-5 years, The Way They SEE It information here. $28.95
FAQ section

These are also available at the TOS Store

Don't forget to see what my crew mates had to say about their levels they reviewed (we all chose different ones) at our TOS Homepage.

**ARTistic Pursuits provided me with the free copy of theHigh School Level-Book 1 Art Program, in order to test and use it with my family, so I could write this review.

Monday, November 17, 2008

TOS Crew Review: Spears Art Studio K-8 and High School Art CD Program

The market is stuffed with all sorts of art programs. Some cover certain areas or techniques, others cover a wide gamut of mediums and styles. But finding one with a Christian emphasis can be quite difficult. Usually, what many homeschooling teachers look for is a well-designed, fully laid out program that requires little teacher prep. One that is designed with shorter lessons so the students will not loose interest, and is easy enough so that anyone can teach it (regardless of their art knowledge or skill level) to their children. Look no further, because Spears Art Studio has designed two programs that do just that.

Depending on your children's ages, you may only need one level, but for those of you with a wide age range-one of each may be appropriate. Both of the programs promote Spears Art Studio's mission, which is to give God the glory. The pages are presented in an orderly, and easy to follow daily lesson plan found within each month's section (high school level is a bit different as it is listed as units). It introduces the theme, the objective, scripture to discuss and copy, historical and visual extensions and teacher information. The supply list is also there, but you can download the entire list from the website for quick reference.

The K-8 art program is a welcomed relief to those of us, who tend to let the arts and music slip a bit due to all we have to accomplish each day. I am guilty of letting a lot of the "fun" and artistic things go to the wayside and sorely miss them. I made a promise to the children, and myself to add more art, music and field trips back into our homeschool activities. I was very excited to have the opportunity to do so by using Diane Spear's curriculum.

The elementary grades offer seasonal and holiday related projects, plus activities that teach basic art knowledge (such as the color wheel). All grades have a lesson for each week and month. The lessons are similar enough, but the degree of difficulty and additional technique discussed, increases with each grade. That way, if you are teaching several children, you are still covering the same subject (in other words, you will not be teaching on the Pilgrims to one and hearts to another). You can print just the lessons you need for that week and gather your supplies. Spear's website has free lessons to look over, so you can see for yourself how nicely done this program is. You only need this one CD for all your children who are in grades K-8.

I thought you may want to see just a sampling of the cute projects my son has already done since we started the art lessons. What I like the most, is how the Lord is brought into each lesson. After all, He is the Greatest Artist in the Universe!

Your pictures and fotos in a slideshow on MySpace, eBay, Facebook or your website!view all pictures of this slideshow

The High School Level program is more than just a simple lesson. The student is asked to keep a journal to write their verses in, to sketch frequently, and to keep track of their progress by taking tests. This is a full art curriculum which you can give your student a high school credit for. Even if your child is not "artsie" or shows little interest in it; I believe this would be an excellent elective for them to take. Art is not just doodling on paper, or creating some huge master piece. It is about stretching your ability to notice the details sprinkled everywhere. The Lord has splashed this world with such vivid colors, amazing angles and shapes and magnificent beauty that everyone should learn to train their mind and eyes to notice it. After all, it is very hard to deny His presence when you really take in the glory that surrounds us. The Spears Art Studio High School Art Survey is a great place to begin your student's study of the arts.

Starting with sketching lessons, the student will progress through seven themes and several activities that coorolate to the subject matter. The best part is the addition of vocabulary words, scripture memory, and a notebook/sketchbook that they can reflect upon for years to come. There are 36 weeks worth of material, but for some, extending it out over a longer period time should not be a problem. You can make it work for your life and schedule-which is one of the best advantages of homeschooling.

Just for fun, I decided to break the cost down. Say I have 2 children in the elementary grades. I purchase the CD for K-8 and currently have a first and third grader. If I were to split the cost between the two, I would have an expenditure of $19.97 per student. But, this can be used every year from K-8, so in reality for the 1st grade student, I have spent $2.49 per year for this art program, if I use it for all 8 years. But wait! I can teach from the same CD for my 3rd grader, until the 8th grade. That means for the 3rd grader I will have spent $3.32 a year on art instruction. Now that is frugal! Therefore, I am giving the Spears Art Studio for K-8 a big ole piggybank!

Of course, there are your supplies that are not included. Most of what I have seen are readily available, and I am sure you already have some of it laying around the house. My super-duper savings advice: stock up during the onslaught of Back-to-School Sales that flood the stores mid-July to September every year. I always check local sales, buy in major quantities and have a special cabinet for all these goodies. You can get paints, scissors, glue, papers of all types, markers and crayons and so forth at very low prices. Be sure to check the master supply list on her website or review ahead of time on the CD to be sure you have those needed things handy. K-8 list and HS list
I also highly recommend buying two 1-2" three-ring binders (one for K-8 and HS) and large supply of page protectors to keep all of your pages in, nice and tidy like. I also suggest using those tab stickers to organize the sections by month or lesson.

This product will certainly be useful for homeschool co-ops and group activities as well. There will be plenty of activities for each class and some to spare!

Actually, I want to give this 2 1/2 rafts, but do not have a 1/2 ring icon...but it is very close to a 3 for me. The mom icon is for the K-8 level, and the student is for the HS level, as they can do most work independently.

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Spears Art Studio

K-8 $39.95 High School $29.95
You can purchase the CD with a hardcopy of the Teacher's Guide as well. The CDs contain everything you need, but if you have a hard time making copies, this may be the way to go. For more info-go here for HS and and here for K-8

Visit our TOS Crew Review page for more info on this and many other great products.