See the Light is a DVD based art curriculum for children ages 10 and up. There are a few different series available: Art Class, which teaches the basics of things like composition, shading, perspective and color and Art Projects, which covers history and technique of a particular artist as the students complete a project in the style of that artist. For the purpose of this review, I received a copy of one of the Art Projects lessons to try out with my kids.
About the Product:
Like I mentioned, the Art Projects series is made up of 9 DVDs, each covering a different artist, and will have the students complete a projects based on the style of that artist. We decided to try out the Sunflowers Project, in the style of Vincent Van Gogh. The DVD is set up with 4 lessons, each lasting about 25 minutes (running time). Each lesson combines elements of art history, art technique and other art education basics. Each lesson requires very basic supplies. For Sunflowers, all we needed was oil pastels, paper and a few towels. There was also a requirement of a bouquet of sunflowers, but since the ones in the garden were past bloom and I didn't want to purchase any, we went without and used pictures from online, and the lesson's bouquet as inspiration.
We sat down as a group- five kids ranging in age from 2 to 12 and myself- with Rylan's laptop centered for us all to see. The first lesson was all about drawing the basic form and adding the first layer of color. The kids each chose how many sunflowers they wanted to include, as well as the shape of the vase. The lesson really encouraged the kids to do what they wanted, which I really appreciate- even though they were doing the same project they could add their own elements and personalization.
We found that even though the lessons were only 25 minutes long, we had to pause often to allow each of the kids to finish each step and this stretched our daily art lesson to well over an hour. Half-way through the second lesson we decided to split each lesson into 2 sessions, so that we didn't feel as rushed.
The kids were pretty unimpressed (with their art, not the lessons), after the first couple lessons. They didn't see how it was going to come together to look like the completed project shown in the lesson. But once the negative space was filled in they really started to like what they saw.
Each lesson is also filled with a lot of history about the artist. We learned a great deal about Van Gogh and his life. I think the kids were especially interested in the fact that he didn't consider himself an artist and was very insecure about his abilities. One of my children in particular feels that he is NOT an artist and CAN'T draw. But hearing that fact and looking at his finished project he felt much better about his abilities.
Above are our final projects. I was amazed at the difference between the first day and the last. They all really came together and even the parts that they struggled with came together. I can also see the light bulb moment for the kids where they see that that techniques like layering colors, adding shadows and adding highlights make a huge difference in the finished project. These are lessons that they can bring into their own art creations for years to come.
The Bottom Line:
As you can probably tell, we all really enjoyed this Art Projects lesson. I asked the kids when we were finished what they thought and they unanimously agreed that they enjoyed these lessons better than ones we've done in the past. My oldest liked that she did the project along with them so they could SEE what each step was and not just be told what to do.
What I liked most:
- The lessons combine many visual elements- there is an artist's original print, a finished project, a vase of sunflowers, and the teacher completing a project along with you. All of these elements can really help the kids see what they are doing and what they are working toward.
- Although the lessons are for ages 10 and up, they are fully customizable to all ages. We tend to do electives such as art as a family, so this is a big plus!
- I like that the lesson include art history, while we have completed many projects and worked with a variety of mediums over the years, I have never done much on the history part of art even though I think it is very important.
- With high school on my mind, I like that this series can be used to satisfy the fine arts credit. You can even find a PDF download on how to use See the Light to satisfy a 1/2 or full credit for high school on their website.
The See the Light lessons are Christian based and do include elements of such. We are secular homeschoolers and although the religion-based parts of these lessons were not 100% in line with our beliefs, I would still recommend this product for its intended purpose of art history and instruction.
Product Facts:For more information about See the Light, or to purchase the lessons for yourself, you can visit their website- where you will find all the information you need plus tips, sample lessons and a blog.
The Art Projects DVDs can be purchased individually for $14.99, or as a boxed set for $99. You can also join a DVD of the Month Club for $12.99 per month.
Also available are the Art Class series, the art-based Bible Stories series and the Art Projects Cartooning DVD.