We dug out our cheap pastels and some black construction paper and got to work. I did pass out rubber gloves, because I have two kids I think would not have liked smearing the chalk around while their fingers got messier and messier. When I think about it, it's almost hilarious because they *are* messy boys in all the other ways!
I was really pleased with how the projects came out. Everyone worked to their abilities and seemed to be enjoying the lesson. Mal was a little upset by the end because he didn't feel it was "as good" as the instructor's or mine. We worked through all three sessions to complete it at once and he really needed it broken down a bit more. That was entirely my fault. Since we mostly enjoyed that *fantastic* project, I really wanted to be on this review.
If you sign up for the free lesson, you can access a supply list for all of the masterpiece projects. I purchased two kinds of nice paper in black and in white, chalk pastels, pens, and a few other things. It felt a little pricey, but I can use many of the items I picked up for a ton of projects. We did have some decent supplies already, like my good colored pencils. I also have some oil paints, but I haven't ventured into that realm yet. (Scary.)
The online art program videos are taught by Sharon Hofer who also has a fine art school. She teaches all the techniques required to complete a lesson, offers tips on supplies to purchase, and walks you step by step through each lesson. The best part about the videos, is that you can easily pause at any time so each child (or mom) can catch up without feeling rushed. Once you learn the techniques, they can be used to create other projects of your own choosing. Instructions are very clear and Sharon is a very pleasant person to watch.
While there are 3D art lessons in balsa carving, glass mosaic, and sculpture, we stuck with two dimensional art during the review period. Our projects included soft pastels, colored pencil, and ink. I do not have an artistic bone in my body, but I found the lessons we completed to be fun, (mostly) stress-free, and relatively easy. The finished masterpieces look so nice. Each of the punks put their own twist on the assignments. I think they enjoyed the colored pencil: tropical clown fish lesson best. That one seemed to be the easiest one to adapt a bit. They added tiny fish in the background and things on the sea floor.
I'm a paper crafter myself, and as I was working on the lesson in ink: dragonfly, I was thinking about how much fun it would be to have the punks make small versions of art to place on card fronts. In fact, a wintry scene would be just right for a Christmas card. There happens to be a beginner level lesson in oil pastel: winter cabin that would look lovely. Stipple would *not* be the technique I would use for that! Well, maybe with sharpies, but certainly not with the micron pen I used. But wouldn't that be an amazingly sweet card to receive?
I really liked that these projects are *masterpieces* and not the usual arts and crafts type lessons younger children would be making. We still do plenty of those, two of my kids cannot be kept away from any scrap of construction paper and kid's version of art supplies. There is a marked difference between the quality of those projects that isn't explained just by the supplies. They really put forth an effort with the good supplies and the guidance of Sharon.
Here are our projects.
Colored Pencil Tropical Clown Fish - level 1
For this, I used my Faber-Castell pencils. These worked very nicely for the layering and blending this artwork required. Mal and Xav used Crayola *erasable* pencils which they love, but they weren't really suitable in this instance. Merrick started with crayon and I didn't bother arguing with him. Once he realized they didn't work the same as the pencils, he switched to some old Pedigree pencils I had. Any regular colored pencils you have should work fine. I learned that I can not put the paper on the table cloth because it left lines in my work.
Ink Dragonfly - level 2
I bought the micron pens recommended in the lesson. I also grabbed a pack of colored micron pens. I completed this project alone, but after watching the video, I think the boys might be able to do a decent job of it with a Sharpie. Stippling takes a long time with a micron pen! :) As I worked through the dragonfly with the black pen, I was wondering about adding colors to the picture. I told my husband I wanted to add some blue and green, but was afraid to ruin the whole thing. (See? I have no artistic talent at all.) At the end of the video lesson, Sharon did say it was fine to do that. I added some highlights, but I had so many dots in that dragonfly, I don't really think you can see them. I learned that it's OK to try any of the ideas that come to mind because it might even be mentioned as an option at the end of the video.
Ink Peacock Feathers - beginner
While this lesson was also in ink, it called for India ink, the kind you would use in a fountain pen. When I was deciding which projects to showcase in our review and making a list of supplies to order, I did not plan to do this one at this time. I actually bought a bunch of nice pastels, because we enjoyed the sample lesson so much. I wanted to feature different mediums and techniques, so I chose this one because it was so pretty. I thought about the Tombow pen that was needed for this project and realized I own some Tombow from my paper crafting past life. That reminded me that I had stamp pad refills (aka ink!) in my craft room as well. So that's exactly what I used. I love how it came out. I learned that sometimes you have exactly what you need in your stash!
Lessons come in six levels, beginner and 1-5. Each level includes similar media, but with progressively more challenging projects. Some of the techniques are:
- chalk pastels
- oil pastels
- colored pencil
- silk dying
- alcohol ink
- and glass mosaic.
There are three membership options for families. There is a monthly plan and a yearly plan with access to all of the lessons on the Creating a Masterpiece website and one year access to all of the projects in an individual level. They also offer group rates for multiple licenses. I know art lessons can be expensive, but just as an example Level 2 currently consists of nine projects (31 lessons of various lengths). For $169 you could access them for a full year. Our co-op offers real art lessons and students pay nearly that amount for 15-17 classes (every other week).
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