You Are an Artist Chalk Pastels: A Little Review

Last week I shared a bit about the woodworking my boys are doing for their homeschool art this year. This week, I want to share about what my youngest Rose is doing. (In case you were wondering, my oldest daughter is planning to use Oak Meadow’s photography program for her art course this year, but with one thing and another she hasn’t quite started it yet).

Okay, on to the pastels! Rose (9) specifically requested to work with pastels this year and I was fortunate enough to stumble across an absolutely wonderful resource ~ Hodgepodge’s You Are An Artist. This site offers video art tutorials and art e-books. I chose to go with the e-books both for my budget and my sometimes spotty internet connection. Both of us have been so thrilled with this resource! So far, Rose has completed A Seasonal Start in Fall Chalk Pastels and has been working through Chalk Pastels Art At the Beach. Tomorrow she will begin A Simple Start in Christmas Chalk Pastels and she is very excited to get started creating some fun holiday art!

What’s included ~ When you order a chalk pastels e-book you receive a link to download your e-book, which you can either print out or use right from your device.  I save all of our e-books to a folder set aside specifically for our homeschool downloads so they are easy to find later. I print out each e-book, because pastels are messy and I think it’s easier to work from a printed page.  I print out just the cover and the project pages. To save ink, I don’t print the introductory material about how to work with pastels, though I definitely recommend reading through these, especially if you are new to working with pastels. There is a lot of good information in there.

What you’ll need ~ To use the chalk pastel e-books you’ll need pastel paper, pastels, and baby wipes. I order pastel paper from Amazon; it’s much cheaper than at the craft store.  For pastels, Rose uses the Prismacolor brand, which we have been happy with. FYI, if you are new to pastels, they will break and look all messy like ours do ~ but they still work just fine! Using baby wipes for clean-up is a trick I learned from the e-books and boy does it work well! I just bought a tub of inexpensive baby wipes and keep them right with our supplies. They clean up both hands and any lingering dust on the table easily.

How to do it ~ Rose usually does her pastels on Friday morning. I have her spread some newspaper over her work-surface before she begins. I keep all of her supplies together in a basket so she can  grab it and cart it out to the kitchen table. For reference, Rose is 9, and she can do these projects entirely on her own. The directions are written to the artist and have a lovely, chatty style that she really responds to and understands. There are plenty of illustrations as well, making it easy to follow along. I spray each finished pastel work lightly with hairspray to keep the pastels from smudging. After it’s dry Rose either hangs it up in her room – she has quite the gallery – or gives it away to a lucky recipient.

You Are An Artist Chalk Pastels are a huge hit in our homeschool this year! If you want to try it out,  there are free sample lessons at the website.

Woodworking for Homeschoolers

My boys (ages 14 and 12) requested woodworking for their art program this year. They are pretty handy with tools and loved the idea of building things for schoolwork. We researched several books and they eventually settled on The All-New Woodworking for Kids.

This book is the only resource ~ besides tools and wood ~ we need for this year’s woodworking. It lays out step-by-step, easy-to-follow instructions with plenty of photos, and my two have had no trouble completing their projects independently. I love that they can do this totally on their own!
 The book begins with a section covering different types of tools, safety measures to take, and technique. I had each of my boys read through this section before they started their first project. Here are a couple of the projects they have already completed:
A miter box

A toolbox (they each made their own)
They are currently working on making their own workbench ~ that one’s taking a while because it’s a bigger project and we’ve had a couple of Fridays off. Typically, they devote 2-3 hours on Fridays to their current project, which has been working well. We have a lighter day on Fridays, so the sawing and hammering aren’t as disruptive to the girls. They handle these projects mostly by themselves, with occasional input from their Dad. I failed woodshop (seriously) so I told them upfront I was not going to be much help. They have really taken off on their own with this, which has been nice to see.
We turned a corner of the basement over to them for their projects. I would post a photo of their work area, but our basement isn’t terribly photogenic;). They have an old workbench down there, plus a large folding table to lay out their tools. My rule for them after finishing each project is that they look ahead to the next one, decide what materials need to be purchased, and text their Dad a list. He picks up the supplies when he gets a chance, and they are ready to go for the following Friday.
Woodworking is a huge hit in our homeschool this year and I am looking forward to the other projects they will build this year! As for my other kiddos, Rose isn’t quite ready for woodworking and Grace had no interest, otherwise I would have loved to get them involved too. I’ll share what my girls are doing for art in a future post.

Till next time!

My Book Pile (and hopefully a smoother week ahead)

We had a fairly decent first week back to homeschooling, after a bit of a rocky start. No one – including me – really felt ready to get back into a routine.  It is always tough for me to find my groove after the holidays, so I did grumble a bit (mostly in my head), but once we got started I remembered that I actually do like homeschooling and our “old” routine. It took my boys most of the week to stop their grumbling…and the only reason I didn’t hear it on Friday is because Friday is for art projects and a documentary, instead of math and grammar. I expected it to be rough-going though, and somehow, going into it with that perspective made it manageable. 

Friday, my younger three did a fun lesson on form from Artistic Pursuits. The object of the lesson was to imitate an Audubon bird painting. The print was reproduced in the manual, but I have a beautiful old set of Audubon picture cards inherited from my grandfather, so I had them each pick one to copy. They spent quite a bit of time on this.

 Grace did the next lesson from the Artistic Pursuits pastels book. I am going to have to figure out a way to display all of the artwork the kids are making this year.

On Friday we also started watching Earth: The Biography (we watched the volcano episode).  We had been watching a Lewis and Clark documentary before the holidays, but when I suggested to the kids that we finish that up, James pointed out that it is mostly just “music and sunsets”. I had to agree that it is not the flashiest documentary out there! So that one is going back to Netflix, but Earth is a hit so far.

In other news, I just finished my first book of 2016. So I thought I’d share a photo of my current book pile.

Since I took this photo I finished If I Fall, If I Die. I really enjoyed the first half of this book.  It’s a story about a son living with a mother who is afraid to go outside, and what happens when he gets brave enough to go out into the world by himself. But the second half went off on a tangent that felt odd and disjointed to me, though I did like the characters enough to finish it.

Also in my book pile:

The Dog Stars
The Bone Clocks
In a Dark, Dark Wood
The Miniaturist

I am currently reading The Dog Stars, and enjoying it so far. Last year I set up an account on Goodreads, but never really used it. This year I am planning to track my reading progress there, as well as here on the blog.  I love that you can rate books on Goodreads to get recommendations, track your reading progress, and keep a reading list… all in one place. I have been bookmarking books I want to read, but my list is getting a bit long to have in my bookmarks folder.

Well, I must be off, but I’ll be back soon. Hoping for a smooth week ahead, for you and for me ;).

Mark Kistler’s Draw 3D Review

Last week was our first week back to homeschooling after our summer break, and while there were definitely some ups and downs and kinks that still need working out, overall it was a success. Everyone’s favorite part of last week? Our Mark Kislter Draw 3D subscription from Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op!

I waffled so much about ordering this. I had originally considered Atelier, then decided it was way out of our budget. At $40 for a year of art instruction, this program was much more reasonable. I had the kids watch the sample lesson on HSBC and they all enjoyed it, so I went for it. Every single one of the kids love it so far, which is a rarity around here! I had them take turns doing their art last Friday, rather than everyone doing it all together. They actually seemed to prefer it that way. I think they were able to focus more and felt more willing to experiment without other eyes peering over their shoulders and commenting.

With our subscription we can log in to multiple computers at one time, so Grace did her drawing lesson in the kitchen while Christopher did his in our library room. James enjoyed the lessons so much that he asked to do two when it was his turn-and he doesn’t usually love art projects. Rose and I did two lessons together and it was so much fun that I plan to continue my own lessons throughout the year, instead of frantically trying to catch up on dishes and laundry during art time. The equipment needed is very basic, just some paper and a set of drawing pencils. I was glad to have actual drawing pencils for shading and blending parts of the drawing.

And I was so impressed with the drawings! Grace is the one in our family that I consider “the artist”, but everyone’s work really impressed me! Even I was able to draw something more than a stick figure, which made me very happy.

Rose (6) “Dinosaur in Volcano”

Christopher (11) “Venus Fly Trap”

James (9) “Venus Fly Trap”

James “Shark”

Grace (13) “Caterpillar”
And my flying marshmallows!

The Venus flytrap and shark lessons are available for free at Mark Kistler Draw 3D. Subscribing gives you many more options for lessons. There are step-by-step animated lessons and videos for beginners through advanced. There are also “mini-marshmallow” lessons for kids four and up. Rose and I are starting with those! For each video lesson, Mark shows you exactly what to do to get fantastic results. In the video that Rose and I watched he went over foreshortened circles, shadows, and shading while we drew our flying marshmallows and dinosaur in a volcano. I learned a lot about drawing in just 30 minutes.

The one concern I had about this program is that the drawing tends to be very “cartoony” and I wasn’t sure Grace would be into that, but she doesn’t mind at all. The techniques learned could obviously be applied to any style of drawing. 

We all love this program and are looking forward to our next lesson!

Art This Year

We are kind of winding down art for the year, I think. This has been our most successful art year so far! We have actually done an art project each week and are way ahead of where I thought we would be in our chosen project book, Art Lab for Kids. This book was such a great buy. It is inexpensive, great for a wide range of ages, and has more than enough projects for a whole year. I talk about it a little more here. We did not do every project in the book, but we did a great deal of them. Lately, I think the kids have been getting a bit burnt-out on art, so we have just been picking and choosing between the remaining projects rather than trying to do them all.
 Last week, the boys made paper masks.

With the nicer weather, I plan to start doing nature study and nature journals again on Fridays instead of art projects, at least for awhile.

 I am also looking at some of the other books in the series, specifically Drawing Lab, Paint Lab & Art Lab for Little Kids to use for next year.

Painting Flowers

We just wrapped up our Georgia O’Keeffe picture study. She has been a wonderful artist to study on these gray winter days! The kids’ albums now include six very springy and very lovely flower prints by our artist. To finish up, we completed the Georgia O’Keefe project in Discovering Great Artists

Next up, we are planning to study some of John Audubon’s work. I am very excited about this- I think bird paintings will be perfect for springtime!

Art around here lately

I think I just need to resign myself to the fact that I am never going to do weekly reports. I always intend to, but the end of the week comes so quickly that I don’t seem to find the time to write one up. And even if I did find the time to write one up, I would have a hard time remembering all the things we did. My memory is terrible. Instead, I am going to try for a weekly subject report, alternating through all of our different subjects. And this week I have a couple of art pictures, so how about an art update?
We are still using Art Lab for Kids and enjoying it. Art day is usually Friday and we simply do the next lesson in our book. We skipped over the self-portrait lesson because no one was interested, but usually most of the kids want to try the project of the week. If there are one or two who don’t feel up to it, I suggest that they just paint or draw instead. I never make art mandatory. If they would rather do their reading or other work, that is totally fine by me.

One of Rose’s latest creations
An Art Lab for Kids Project by Grace
The kids have also been doing some origami, inspired by our Sonlight Core F studies. We have been using  Fun and Easy Origami for this.  I like this book because it includes lots of different projects for all levels, plus it includes the origami paper.
It can feel a bit tricky at first, but anyone can learn!

Origami penguins for the piano

We have also been continuing with our picture study, usually once a week. Right now our artist is Georgia O’Keeffe. The kids take turns choosing a picture each week to discuss and then add to their binders.

Maybe next week I will do an update on our music studies. Have a wonderful weekend!