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!

Art This Year

I am so excited to have settled on our art plans for 2012-2013. We have used Artistic Pursuits for the past several years, but this year Grace just didn’t find the new level too exciting. She is my artsy one, so I had her very much in mind while looking at materials.

This year we will be using Art Lab for Kids. It actually reminds quite a bit of Artistic Pursuits, but it is way cheaper! There are 52 lessons, ranging from drawing to painting to mixed media. Lots of variety here! A helpful section in the beginning details what you should have on hand to start. In general, the supplies are easy to find. I went through the book in the beginning and added a few key items to my Rainbow Resource order, since they usually have good prices on art supplies.

I think this book will last us for at least two years of art. I confess that we don’t get to art every week, which is something I am aiming to change. From now on, I will be making a dedicated effort to start each Friday with picture study followed by an art project.