My children love art, and they really loved learning with Sharon Hofer’s Creating a Masterpiece a couple of years ago (see our review here), so they couldn’t wait to get started reviewing her online art Drawing Program.
This Drawing Program requires very little in way of supplies and we already had most of them in our art cupboard: charcoal pencils, vines, and sticks, paper (drawing, Bristol, artigan, vellum), pencil crayons, erasers (the kind on a mechanical pencil and a kneading eraser). Pretty simple, and very versatile. I only needed to purchase the charcoal pencils and we were ready to get started! I will mention that Sharon really encourages her students to use the best quality supplies they can afford (she provides direct links to where you can purchase them if you’re in the USA) so that students can learn how to use them correctly, have the full effect of them, and I think it also makes children feel important and respected to have access to quality products. This particular course requires fewer supplies than the other courses, and drawing is a great place to start when it comes to art, so let’s get started.
We received a one-year subscription to access all of the 29 projects are online, and divided into four levels of difficulty from beginner to level 3. Each lesson is broken down into about 4-6 short videos that are easy to follow. We watched them on a laptop at the kitchen table so that we could pause the videos as needed for us to be able to follow along and work on our projects at the same time as Sharon. We could back up and replay anything so really catch what Sharon was doing so that we could also emulate her techniques on our own work.
What We Learned
The main artistic techniques learned (so far) have been values, shapes, shadows, and perspective. All of these skills are transferable to future art projects. In addition to this, my children have been learning attention to detail, perseverance, and waiting for the final outcome before becoming frustrated (this is an ongoing lesson aspect).
Online Art Program Projects
The children started off by doing the Giraffe in Cartoon to get them started. Tristan wasn’t so keen on doing a cartoon character, but he soon got into it and I could hear giggles of laughter emanating from the kitchen…and no wonder…Kallista had a little splodge on her paper and she ever so appropriately turned it into a call of nature and added to it. I wasn’t sure about showing that drawing, but sometimes kids are funny, and this might be a scene you’d see in nature or a zoo.
Animals are much easier than people, in my small art experience, and the cute creatures Sharon uses as subjects work very well. Each animal takes on a personality of its own.
For the projects that followed, I joined in with Tristan and Kallista as spending relaxing time with them being artistic is one of my favourite things. We worked on an average of one project a week and it was time that we all looked forward to…mostly. Kallista always complains that she doesn’t like what she’s done while she’s working on a project, but at the end she is happy with it. I do think that she is slowly learning that the first step is only the rough draft and that as you follow the videos and refine and re-refine the drawings, they become better and take on a life of their own.
Kallista is good at knowing when to stop and not add more to her drawings ‘just because.’ In fact, there are some that she has enjoyed so much that she has then gone on and recreated them again on her own without the videos and you can tell that she’s internalised the procedures and was applying them with care because these later drawings were just as good (and sometimes better) than the originals!
Owls are such interesting creatures and their eyes are so knowing. Shapes are emphasized in this project with ovals, circles, and triangles the focus here. Then there is lots of shading and adding of texture. This was quite an easy project, but turns out so well.
Landscapes are always my favourite, and these were the first projects the children and I did together; Simplicity and Polar Exploration. Simplicity was drawn with pencils and was very relaxing and a good way to start. Perspective, shading, and the use of light and shadow are practised. And these trees are quickly losing their leaves, just like the ones outside our window.
Polar Exploration was a bit different as it was done on black artigan paper using a white pencil crayon. The trees were fun and taught the children that evergreens aren’t always shaped one way. Kallista liked this project so much she made another one to use as a gift for a family member.
Reverse Drawing with Charcoal
The two most difficult projects we have done so far were Angling for Trout and Field of Daisies; both of them were using the same technique of applying charcoal to paper or vellum and then removing the colour to create the subject. I think our problem was with our kneading eraser as it was too flimsy and didn’t work well. However, the final result was Tristan’s favourite project to date.
This project in particular aggravated Kallista so she and Phil sat down together one evening and worked on it together with much better results.
These trout took on lives of their own; Tristan calls his a shark, while mine looks like a drunk goldfish. But they’re quirky and all ours.
Online Art Program Final Word
The techniques learned in this online art program could very easily be transferred to other areas of arts and crafts as well as understanding more about how others have created masterpieces in art galleries, offices, and homes. It will give children (and adults) a better appreciation for the work others have put into their art, as well as give them the skills to take with them into their own future.
I really like how this online art program isn’t just for children, but that us adults can also join in and learn new skills alongside our children. This special time together is precious, and something that we’ll be continuing to do on a weekly basis.
Click here to read 70 more reviews about the Drawing Program by the Homeschool Review Crew. If you’d like to know more or would like to follow Creating a Masterpiece , you can connect with Sharon through her website, and Facebook.