See the Light Art Class DVDs
Joining the ranks of DVD or online-based art programs is See The Light, which will appeal especially to Christian families looking for a "pop-in-and-go," easy-to-use art program. The emphasis is on building art skills, particularly drawing skills, and the video lessons are presented in bite-size chunks - most are under 20 minutes. The instruction is all on video, presented by Master Artist Pat Knepley, an enthusiastic and energetic personality who seems quite natural in front of the camera.
Each DVD holds four related lessons focusing on one broad element of art. In each video, Pat speaks straight to the viewer, as if the children were gathered around right in front of her, and works primarily from a large easel in front of a black background. Pat introduces each concept by discussing it and drawing examples, often finishing with a project that students will be completing on their own. She ties scripture and Bible stories into each lesson, often opening her Bible to share an applicable verse. While some older students may find this distracting, or even maybe a bit predictable, I think younger children or those looking for a strongly Christian art program will appreciate this aspect. Some examples of art masterpieces are included, but overall, there is limited art appreciation (however, the "sister" series, Art Projects, does incorporate this). The emphasis is primarily on drawing, although several different mediums are explored, including colored pencils and chalk pastels. The first DVD starts off simply, looking at basic drawing supplies, types of lines, composing a picture, and doing a contour drawing of a shoe. The lessons are clear and well-presented, and the video production is professional. I think that parents will also appreciate that supplies are minimal and student-quality. In the first lesson, Pat begins by using a standard #2 pencil and has Crayola colored pencils and crayons lying nearby. There isn't a master supply list provided, so you would need to peek ahead at the next few lessons to make sure that you had everything. However, if you have drawing paper (9" x 12" and 12" x 18), regular or drawing pencils (HB or similar), a set of colored pencils, a set of crayons (16 or more), a white eraser, a kneaded eraser, a black permanent marker or felt-tip pen, and a set of chalk pastels available, you should be set to tackle most of the lessons. The first three DVDs also feature a bonus lesson featuring a different artist and medium and a specific project to be completed.
If your children are interested in learning to draw and you want them to have some exposure to the basic elements of art but aren't looking for a major investment, an art appreciation course or exposure to a variety of art forms and mediums, I think you'll be happy with See The Light. You can easily use it with children of different ages and abilities, and students will benefit from repeating the lessons in subsequent years. You could also easily tweak the suggested projects to feature different subject matter just to switch things up. You won't need to make much of an investment in art supplies, and you can definitely get by with inexpensive or beginner brands. Because the content isn't deep, if you have students that have a real talent or interest in art, you may want to continue with a meatier program, or one with more breadth like Artistic Pursuits, Atelier, Feed My Sheep or Book of Many Colors (HGTA). An additional option is adding one or more of Pat's Art Projects DVDs. Each of these focuses on one project based on the work of a famous master. This would add a dash of art appreciation as well as exposure to other mediums. - Jess