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Friday, April 22, 2011

See The Light Art Class Review

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My oldest 3 children have all benefited from some fabulous art classes when they were younger.  But the medium they used was pastels, and while their artwork is amazing, the techniques used with chalks you can blend are different from those you use to make a pencil drawing, so we were very excited to have the chance to take a look at See The Light.

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See The Light is a Christian art curriculum that features Master Artist Pat Knepley giving relatively short, detailed instruction on art fundamentals with a goal of "Drawing children to Him".  The DVD we received to review featured the first four lessons:
Lesson One covers the Tools of the Trade
Lesson Two is called It All Starts with a Line and covers the basics of line drawing
Lesson Three covers Contours and Composition-how to draw an accurate outline of something and then how to place it (compose it) in a pleasing way that conveys where the object is in space.
Lesson Four instructs students to Draw What You See-not what you know.
There is also a bonus lesson on chalk pastel drawing taught by Gloria Kohlmann.  She takes students through drawing a scene from their "The Crossmaker" DVD.  Being pastels, my daughter was immediately drawn to trying it.  Here is her finished product:

The total curriculum for See The Light art lessons covers 36 lessons for one year (with year two in the planning phase).  The DVDs are available for $99, or an online subscription is available for $10 a month (with four new lessons- plus all the previous ones- available each month).  You can find a list of what the rest of the lessons cover HERE.
Mimi's shoe drawing

The Pros:  Lessons are short-roughly 15 minutes- and include very specific and easy to follow instruction.  Students are taught what they need to know to be successful, but the content is definitely geared to students aged 1st grade and up.  The instructors are positive and encouraging and my kids enjoyed the lessons- even my "just turned 6" year old.  The supplies you need to begin are basic-pencil, paper, colored pencils, etc.  A charcoal pencil, a kneadable eraser, and some art paper is about as specific as it gets-at least in the beginning.  There is no workbook, no specific practice exercises-just watch the video and do what she does.

The cons:  Call me old fashioned, but for as "relaxed" a homeschooler as I tend to be, I would think art education would do better with some practice in between the lessons.  And I'm sure in theory the See The Light folks expect that the students will practice, but without specific assignments, art instruction challenged parents might find themselves like me-without a clue what to do next-except watch the next lesson.  And one 15 minute lesson a week does not make for much in the way of art instruction.  At least not compared to the 1 1/2 hour weekly lessons my kids took.  On the other hand, this is a really, really easy way to do art since it does not take much from the parent to make it happen.
TJ's shoe drawing

The bottom line:  I'm very conflicted on this one.  I really like the lessons, and I really love the heart of the company.  Really.  And the future lessons that I wasn't given to look at seem to carry forward all the things I like so much about the lessons I DID get to see.  But the lessons are very short compared to "in person" instruction and there is no opportunity for individual instruction since the teacher is a DVD.  The lack of practice lessons (i.e. homework or additional things to do to practice the concepts taught) bothers me because I am not an artist at all, and one reason for buying an art curriculum would be for them (the art  curriculum people) to do the work in terms of coming up with assignments.  Price wise, $99 seems like a lot to me, but it is for a whole year.  My children's art classes were $60/month (each), so comparatively the DVDs are a good deal.  I guess the bottom line is to see for yourself.  The first few lessons (the ones I reviewed) are available free to watch on the See The Light website or you can even sign up for them to send you the same DVD I got for FREE.  That's probably the best way for you to decide if this curriculum is right for you.    In closing, I'll share MY picture with you because I am NOT an artist, and I was able to draw this just following their instruction!



To check out See The Light and view your free lessons or order your DVD, go HERE.  To see what other members of the TOS Crew had to say, go HERE.

Legal Disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Crew, I received a free DVD of the first 4 lessons to watch in order to give my unbiased opinion.  That DVD was the only compensation I received.
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