Review: ArtAchieve

We recently had the privilege of using online art lessons by ArtAchieve, and Little Princess (age 7) is an especial fan.

ArtAchieve offers lesson in 5 different levels.  Every lesson is available individually for a small fee (and level 1 has at least 5 lessons that are free) or various discounted bundles.   We enjoyed the opportunity to explore the bundled plan Entire Level III

Level III has 13 lessons (at the time this post was published).  It's easy to what they are by clicking this link.  Once a lesson is purchased it is added to "Your Account" under "Your Lessons."

Each lesson title has a small "+" sign next to it, and clicking that shows what resources are available for each lesson.

My kids discovered quickly that they enjoyed the PowerPoint presentations more than the videos.  I think this was because they didn't have the sense of having to pause an activity that would otherwise move on without them. Rather they could rest at each slide, moving on to the next one when they were ready.

The warm up pages look like this:
Each square has a portion of the picture the student will draw, and the student draws lines from the picture in the empty square below it.  From what we understand, it is a way for the student to gain confidence in drawing the lines before the actual project is started.

Nature Angel found this activity pointless.

Little Princess loved it.

It is very easy to let a student choose to do the warm up or skip it.

Nature Angel and Little Princess enjoyed our very first experience with ArtAchieve.  They chose Lesson 11:  The Canada Goose.

The artistic concept taught through The Canada Goose is "Arranging a Composition."  After a list of how the lesson corresponded to various standards, Nature Angel and Little Princess were shown a variety of photographs of live geese and taught about their identifying features.  The photographs were accompanied by interesting natural history lessons that called the students' attention to the photographs and challenged them to look for Canada Geese (an easy thing for us because we live along their migratory path).

Then the lesson goals were outlined, and then the "Rule of Thirds" was presented as a means of arranging an attractive composition.

I really like how these lessons progress.  

So do my kids.

I was out running errands when Nature Angel and Little Princess worked on this lesson.  When I came home I found these pictures:

Little Princess
Nature Angel

And it was very clear to me that they learned and applied the concepts taught in the lesson.  In addition when I asked them about the lesson, they were able to define the rule of thirds and show me how they'd used it in their compositions.

I'm impressed.

After the introductory material, there's a section called "Preparing to draw."  This section includes the art supply list, the recommendation to complete the warm-up, and some suggestions for mentally and physically preparing to start an art project. 

Some of my kids liked them. 

Some of them didn't. :)

They all, however, liked the suggestion to play beautiful music in the background.

And this is my favorite page of each lesson:

For those that are interested in taking their art lessons a step further, there are "Suggestions for Cross-Curricular Connections." 

From the home page, if you click on the "ART LESSONS" tab, you can click on a lesson level.  Then a page of lesson pictures will open.

If you click on the lesson you're interested in, a description of the lesson, a supply list, estimated time to complete the lesson, and a list of suggestions will appear.

These descriptions are available to read and enjoy even before you purchase a lesson!

One afternoon, after studying an artist famous for his bird drawings, I gathered the 6 oldest kids (ages 7-17) and we did Level III Lesson 2:  The African Crowned Crane.

By Pixie (15)

By Super Star (14)

By Rose Red (17)

By Little Princess (7)

By Nature Angel (10)

By Belle (13)
In our experience, ArtAchieve lessons focus on confidence in drawing and in creativity of expression.  

John Hofland, the creator and teacher, encourages students to draw with a fine-tipped black marker instead of a pencil so that students are truly committed to their lines and don't get caught up in erasing and starting over--that's the confidence in drawing portion.  

(I will admit, that in spite of my best efforts to store them safely and well, our fine-tipped black markers seem to be missing more often than not, so my kids mostly used pencils to do their drawings.)

After the drawing part of the lesson is finished, the students are shown a variety of ways to color/finish their projects, and the students are free to find their inner joy in their outward expression.

Below are two examples of Little Princess' work on the same Level III lesson--Lesson 6: The Eastern European Firebird. 

This one was finished with watercolors and oil pastels.

This one was finished with markers and gel pens.
Same kid, same lesson, same day . . . totally different results.

I really appreciate this aspect of the ArtAchieve lessons.  Encouraging kids to experiment and find meaningful artistic expression is important to me.

The same variety can be seen in  Lesson 10:  The Russian Matryoshka.  These projects were completed by both Nature Angel and Little Princess over a the period of a week. 

Nature Angel

Nature Angel

Little Princess
These little dolls illustrate another feature of ArtAchieve lessons that I appreciate:  John teaches techniques and leaves the student free to employ the technique as they see fit.  In this lesson my girls learned to use medicine droppers dipped in paint to make circles.  We didn't have medicine droppers, so we used cotton swabs, but they had so much fun using the dots to decorate their art. 

And then the last lesson we were able to successfully complete before this post went live was Little Princess' Lesson 1:  The Hawaiian Frog.

She also tried to do Lesson 5: The Pacific Northwest Totem Pole, but she is younger than the recommended age for these lessons, and I was not home to supervise her.  She did the drawing just fine, but (I believe, due to her young age) she chose paint brushes that were too large for the fine work needed to finish this project, and she was not happy with the final result. 

However, she looks forward to trying again with smaller brushes.

We've had a good experience with ArtAchieve's John Hofland, and his stellar customer service.  We had a bit of a problem opening a lesson, and he had it fixed in a very short time, and he was kind and helpful in his responses to our needs.

Nature Angel has been watching over my shoulder as I've been writing, and she's seen projects that she really wants to do--like Lesson 9:  The Nine-Banded Armadillo.

"Cool!" she exclaimed.  "I really want to do that!"

I know we have tin foil . . . I'm pretty sure we have shoe polish. :)

Perhaps she'll spend a happy afternoon with ArtAchieve.

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  1. Holy Smokes Nature Angel has serious talent!

  2. Looks and sounds like a great art program! Thanks for sharing. Maybe we'll give it a try. :)

  3. Thank you for sharing this! I will look into it; my daughter loves art and I don't feel able to teach her very well.

  4. I really like what your two children have done with the Canada Goose! May I post them in ArtAchieve's Student Gallery?


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