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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Stress-Free Way to Do Art, a review of ArtAchieve

Maybe your kids struggle with art and you feel like you haven’t got the know how to gently guide them towards success? Or maybe you have a house full of artistic perfectionists who lose it when the colors stray out of the lines or someone accidentally crumples a corner of their paper? Wouldn’t it be nice to have a fun, relaxing way to explore the creative side of life without stressing out about it? And how about throwing in some fun learning connections along the way?

The Stress-Free Way to Do Art, a review of ArtAchieve

We recently had the opportunity to try out and review the Entire Level I set from ArtAchieve, an online streaming art program inspired by artwork from around the world and  designed around the elements of art and design.

If you a looking for “open and go” art instruction, ArtAchieve might be the perfect fit.

Most lessons come in two different formats (video and power point), allowing you to use the one that works best for your needs. Many of the lessons in Level I use simple materials you might already have---fine point permanent markers and washable color markers on glossy paper (regular computer paper or cardstock can also be used). Additional materials used in Level I: watercolors, oil pastels, watercolor paper, construction paper, white charcoal, crayons, acrylic paints, and brushes.

Lessons can be purchased singly, by 3-lesson bundle, or by level, all for a year’s access. This makes it easy to choose a project for a rainy day, a bundle for a week of art, or a whole set for several weeks of art. Prices per single lesson range $4-$6 and bundle prices give you a discount for buying in bulk.

I chose Level I because my youngest child liked the looks of the projects in it and I didn’t want her to be overwhelmed by difficulty level, but all of my children (ages 8-17) have enjoyed the projects so far.

The number of lessons per level varies and each (with the exception of a few foundational lessons that are available for free) is a complete art project. Level I has 12 lessons and first two (Simple Lines and Czech Cat) are available as free sample lessons.  Most of the projects in this level can be completed in about an hour or so, though a couple of my kids like to spend more time (it turns out you can spend a few hours drawing scales on the back of a dragon). The more complicated lessons in the later levels vary in length.

Ease of Use:

When you purchase a lesson, you can access it from your account dashboard:

artachieve dashboard screenshot

Most lessons have multiple parts: a warm-up to print, a reference drawing to print, a PowerPoint version of the lesson, and a video version of the lesson. 

On the main site, you can also go to the lesson’s descriptive page:

 

artachieve project page screenshot 1

artachieve project page screenshot 2

artachieve project page screenshot 3

Here you will find your supply list, picture of the piece that inspired the project, picture of the finished project, estimated time to do the project, plus multiple Cross-Curricular Connections to add to your studies. As you can see from the screenshots above, the Dragonfly from Ecuador project lists links to music, literature, science, and social studies resources---it’s like having a little mini-unit study wrapped around your art lesson. The art lesson itself takes a little over an hour to complete.  You could easily use ArtAchieve for a fun summer learning experience or for a short break from your regular studies.

My kids all love ArtAchieve!

Yes, even the 17-year-old.

Dragonfly from Ecuador ArtachieveThings we love:

Before beginning the project, there is usually a warm-up and relaxation exercise.

There are drawing rules that are given before each project, including:

  • it’s ok to not like how your drawing turns out
  • if you don’t like a line, draw a line you do like
  • don’t decided whether you like your drawing until it is finished
  • my drawing isn’t better than yours, it’s just different
  • etc.

Those simple rules did a lot to help with the anxious perfectionism that some of my kids suffer from---I simply reminded them of the rules and they were (mostly) able to avoid getting stuck.

There are pictures of the handicraft that inspired the project, reference photos from life of the subject (of various dragonflies, for instance), and a printable drawing reference to refer to while working on your drawing.  We never feel lost.

The artist takes you step by step through a guided drawing lesson and the videos have clear pause points for stopping the video until you are ready to move on.  Once the guided part is over, you are encouraged to take as much time as you need to work on your project until it is finished. We never feel rushed and my kids know that it doesn’t matter if they don’t finish at the same time.

The projects are fun, low stress, low investment, and open ended. The coloring and composition is left up to you, and each of our pieces were completely different from each other. 

easy art for kids a review of ArtAchieveeasy art for kids a review of ArtAchieve 2

easy art for kids a review of ArtAchieve 3

Hungarian Insects, ArtAchieve

Here are our Haitian Gecko marker drawings. You can see that my 17-year-old decided to go for a more realistic lizard with claws and the 8-year-old decided to draw hers in a lake with a fish in its mouth:

Haitian Gecko 1Haitian Gecko 2Haitian Gecko 3Haitian Gecko 4

Haitian Gecko 5

Notice we used the glossy paper for the geckos and cardstock for the insects---we found the glossy paper is preferable (it doesn’t soak up the marker the way cardstock and regular paper do), but both worked fine.

I love the way Mary’s Chinese Dragon came out:

Chinese Dragon

I highly recommend trying out the free sample lessons!

There are 5 free lessons available at ArtAchieve. Most of these cover foundational skills and elements of art (like line, shading object, etc.) and are valuable resources to use before some of the other projects, but there is one sample project: The Czech Cat

Czech Cat

We recommend the Entire Level I of ArtAchieve for young artists.

ArtAchieve

If your kids are experienced artists, you may want to check out reviews of the other levels:

Art Lessons Inspired From Around the World {ArtAchieve Reviews}
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