Questions About Students

What do you have for Preschoolers? I don't want to get started in a direction that will be contrary to what you teach at the K-3 grade levels.

The Way They SEE It, A Book for EVERY PARENT about the Art Children Make will get you and your child off to a great start. This is a book for parents, loaded with information that will start your child on the path to creative expression through direct observation. By using it your child will enter the K-3 level books with confidence and enthusiasm.

I have no training in art and don't even like it much, but I want my children to have it. How would ARTistic Pursuits work for us?

ARTistic Pursuits is a great fit because it does not require the parent to absorb information and then figure out how to give it to children, as so many books do. I'm a homeschool Mom and I know I didn't have time to absorb an entirely new subject well enough to then modify it for my children. In subjects I was unfamiliar with I needed something that I could just open up and read to my children and that's how I designed AP books. Artistic Pursuits books are written to the students. In K-3 grades you simply read the text and look at the artwork while you ask your children the questions typed under the work. (5-10 minutes) They learn to observe. You learn the language - words you can use to compliment them when you see them use those things in their work. They make the art. One parent writes that they "discuss the project and then he completes it on his own - with pleasure." Your children can enjoy making art and all that is required of you is to add praise and encouragement when they show you the final product. You can be assured that this is a well thought out series and your children will get the basics and techniques necessary for a good art education in the appropriate time frame.

My child was frustrated by another art program we used. How will this one be different?

ARTistic Pursuits values the art produced by children and we believe that skills in art do not need to be forced upon the child but introduced in an age-appropriate way and time. Many programs do not consider childhood development when designing their programs. Children are asked to sketch in ways that are too advanced for their skills. Children are motivated to use ARTistic Pursuits because, with childhood development considered at every level, it meets their needs for making art as they grow.

My child's work looks so different from that of other children. Should I really leave him to it or should I get involved to help him make his work look more realistic?

Children's work is fascinating when it truly comes from them. Unusual looking art usually points to a specific strength in the child that becomes obvious, as they grow older. We encourage you to help your child SEE by pointing out specific things in the world around you. Teach them to see, but allow them to put what they see on paper in their own way. Technical skills will develop if they enjoy drawing and continue to do it. In dealing with older children, when a part of the drawing is obviously drawn incorrectly, I always point out the area in the object itself, describe how I see it and ask them if they see it that way. Remember that unless your head is directly in front of theirs, you are seeing a different angle. I never draw for them. This does not help the observation skills of the student. Sometimes I draw with them on my own piece of paper. We should never have to assist him with the actual drawing, unless our expectations are that he draw like a professional.

I have an advanced 7-year-old. Can she start the Grades 4-6 Book?

When a child has been allowed to enjoy creative freedom in their art, as experienced in the Early Elementary K-3 books, and then expresses a desire to learn how to make objects look more realistic, that is the time to begin teaching about the elements of art (Elementary 4-5 Book One). This can happen for very young people who love making art. Yes, begin the book. Introduce her to each element. Let her try it within the context of the unit. If she likes a certain element, like value, and begins using it in her regular drawing, wonderful! If she doesn't use it, don't insist that she does. We caution against insisting that children use all that is in the book in the art they make on their own. By doing so, we may be pushing them to use something they are not yet aware of in the world that they see. Be happy in knowing that they have gained the vocabulary and are able to point elements out in other works and that is more education than most children have.

My 5th grader isn't using value in his work, although he understands it after the lessons on value. Should I insist that he use it?

No, by insisting that all of the elements be used one stunts the child's ability to use his own judgment. Confidence in his own judgment when it comes to art, is a necessary part of being creative (something we highly encourage in our books). He will pick up and use value at a later age if he continues to make art because he enjoys it.

My daughter won't draw anything but horses. She's gone through all the how-to-draw horses books. What can we do?

Interest plays a vital part in the art making process. We encourage you to let your child be passionate. Buy the ARTistic Pursuits book at the age level appropriate to the student and modify the assignments to include horses. Yes, only horses! She will learn a lot as she draws horses considering the elements of line and shape while adding value and form. She can draw real horses, horses in landscapes, horses from photos, or a still life from toy models of horses. She can always go through the book later and explore the subject matter suggested in the book.

My older student has not made much art and feels a bit intimidated about taking an art course, but I want her to have some knowledge of art as a source of general education. Should she start in a book at her age level or at a lower level?

Start in Book One at the student's age level. Each book is written to the specific age level according to interests and ability to see and understand, without regard to technical proficiency (artistic skills). A high school student sees the world in a much different way than a 4-5 grader can and we therefore approach the teaching of value, shape and form in a different manner. Technical skill, which people tend to focus on, is not a good determiner of which concepts to teach or how to teach them. Technical proficiency develops according to how much time is spent in the pursuit of drawing and will naturally improve as the student continues to draw, no matter what age they start. Improvement comes very quickly for an older student when given the solid kind of information found in Artistic Pursuits books. Students whose talents and interests lay in other areas gain confidence through our course, become conversant about the subject of art, and are not afraid to pick up pencil and paper in situations where they need to communicate through visual means.

My kids will be in 5th and 7th grade. In reading the FAQs I didn't see any questions dealing with kids who can scarcely hold a pencil! Or moms in the same boat :). We want to work together, but I'm concerned that the 4-5th Grade book one might start too quickly.

I think your choice to start them both in Elementary 4-5 Book One is a good one. Keep in mind that this book will not tell them how to draw specific items to begin with. We will present them with opportunities to observe from real life and draw while focusing on only one element of art at a time. You may or may not be impressed with the first drawings, but as they apply each element of art (those found within the first 8 units) they will begin to know what to look for as they draw and you will then begin to see improvement in their works from observation. We want them to draw things they are interested in and so we do not have them copy things from the book. Keep them engaged and focused on the element and in seeing it in what they've chosen to draw. Don't worry about how realistic the work looks. Kids do not realize that drawing skill does not come from some magical talent, but from practice. Kids who like art practice it more than others. You can apply this idea to the first time one hits a baseball or any other pursuit. With practice, no matter the age one starts, one improves! With practice your children will be able to draw too. Remember that the first lessons are very open and that might feel uncomfortable for students who are insecure in their skills. Encourage them to try and keep those first drawings in order to compare them to what they will be producing by the middle of the book. I think they will be pleasantly surprised by their progress!

My child has had some other drawing courses. Should he start with Book 1 or go on to Book 2 which deals with color?

We suggest beginning with Book 1 for the following reasons: Terms such as shape, form and value have specific meanings in art that may not be clear in the student's mind. Books 1 at each level introduce the elements of art and composition related to drawing while clearly defining the terms. Some of the elements may have been missing in the previous drawing course. ARTistic Pursuits books give a complete list of those elements. The element of color (found in Book 2) is like a layer put over the other elements which are all still at work. The ability to work with color theory is greatly enhanced once the concepts of the other elements are clearly understood. Students having gone through Book 1 and 2 at any level, have a complete overview of the subject of art. Students who do not may still have gaps in their understanding of the foundational elements.

My child is very advanced and plans to go to art school. How will this curriculum be of value?

All students who enter art colleges are excellent at doing the thing they do, just as your student is. They tend to have a lot of confidence in their ability and are unaware of how much more there is to learn. ARTistic Pursuits prepares the student for the college experience by expanding what they do. Most students, who have advanced art skills technically, are stuck on drawing from the same reference source (from photos only or from imagination only) or the same subject matter (faces only, or seascapes only). In the ARTistic Pursuits books students learn to use a variety of references. Drawing from real life is especially important. If students prefer to work from photos we encourage them to take their own, thus gaining skill in arranging their own compositions. But most important is the development of personal expression in their work. The assignments in ARTistic Pursuits are unique in that they encourage the student to think about personal preferences. The lessons are designed to teach the necessary technical skills within the context of creativity. This allows the student to grow into mature artistic expression which will continue at the college level and beyond.

What are art colleges looking for in a student and how can my student prepare?

Art colleges are looking for students that show flexibility in their thinking and approach to making art. They want to see variety in the work, not 15 drawings or paintings of the same type of thing, no matter how proficient they might be. The Fine Arts Department at The Art Institute of Boston at Lesley College includes this statement on their web site, "We demand of our students an understanding of the continuum of art history, fluency in the language of artist's materials, and a spirit of inquiry." The Kansas City Art Institute Admissions Committee "looks for serious and motivated students, those who are willing to work hard and take creative risks," and states that the Committee " knows each student's level of imagination, innovation, and academic achievement is highly individual." The National Association of Schools of Art and Design site at, contains articles well worth reading: Preparing to Enter an Art/Design School, College, or University as an Art/Design Major and Giftedness, Arts Study, and Work . Your student can best prepare by spending time daily on their art, working through the ARTistic Pursuits Books 1 and 2 to lay a solid foundation, gaining more depth in areas they are particularly interested in by researching the subject in numerous other books, taking classes in a variety of mediums that interest the student such as pottery, printmaking, sculpture, oil painting, etc. Look for classes and books that not only offer technical information, but encourage the creative aspect so that the student is building a body of work that is their own and that will be a positive part of their entrance portfolio.

More Frequently Asked Questions

Copyright © 2000-2011 Brenda Ellis
Designed by MotleyMince ™ Productions