Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Mark Kistler's Draw Squad

We have used Mark Kistler's Draw Squad very sporadically over the past year to year and a half.  (Sorry, Mr. Kistler!  I know you emphasize daily practice.)  The results in my children's drawing skills have improved dramatically despite the fact that we've only completed 6 of the 30 lessons.  Yes, we've only done six lessons in over a year; it's pathetic; I know!  But, we also do color art projects with another program and have a full schedule in other ways.  Some is better than none.  Right?

Anyway, I thought I'd share more about this wonderful resource.  I love the book and the improvements in my children's ability to draw.  The Homeschool Buyer's Co-op is featuring Mark Kistler's online art curriculum right now.  You'll get a 3 year subscription for as low as $39.60, depending on how much interest there is in the program.  I have never been tempted by anything offered by the Homeschool Buyer's Co-op...until now.  The offer is good through June 30th. Unfortunately, their website is down or I'd provide a link.  Whether you go with the book or the online lessons, I think you can't miss with this one.

Here are some examples of my children's progress over time, starting with Samuel's drawings:

The book starts by asking readers to draw a house and an airplane.  These photos serve as examples of readers' drawing skill before instruction.  The above two photos are Samuel's house and airplane.

Sam's drawing of a gift box allowed him to practice quite a few drawing skills.  First, you start with what is called a foreshortened square; that is a distorted/squashed square that makes one part of the square appear closer than the rest of it.  Then you add in a thing called surface.  That's where you draw part of the object lower on the page to make it appear closer to you (see bottom front corner of the box).  Finally, you add in some shading and shadow to show the direction of the light source.

Foreshortening, surface, shading, and shadow were all used on Sam's drawing of a cylinder.  It's a bit different on a round object than on a square object, but not much.

Here is Sam's drawing of a pencil that used all of the above mentioned skills but also included contour and hovering shadow below the tip of the pencil.

This is Mikaela's house drawing from before our Draw Squad lessons started.  You can see that she tried to add some perspective on the side.

Compare her first house to this house drawn more recently.  She used foreshortening, surface, shading, cast shadow, overhang shadow, and cast shadow in this drawing.

Even her drawings in other areas are improving.  This crab and lobster were draw and labeled for science.  She used photos in her science text book as a guide, but she didn't trace them or have step-by-step directions to follow.

She also recently completed a timeline of the American Revolution and decorated it with a couple of appropriate drawings.  One of them was this Declaration of Independence.  In the picture, I recognize foreshortening in the folds of the document (we used a similar technique to draw banners in the book).  There is also evidence of overhang shadow and density (items closer have more detail than those further away).  The drawing looks better in person; my camera blurred the photo because I had to zoom in too much due to it being a small illustration.

I think you'll agree that Draw Squad teaches real art and real drawing techniques.  The improvement in my children's drawing abilities have undoubtedly improved; I have no doubt they'll continue to improve as we continue to move through the book (even if it takes another two years).  And finally, what they have learned as been applied beyond simply following step-by-step directions in a book.  I've very pleased with the book.

** I am in no way affiliated with Mark Kistler, nor was I asked to review his book.  It's a great program that I'm happy with.  The link to Amazon is to my affiliate account; if you buy the book through the link, I'll get a few pennies from Amazon.  I derive no other benefit from this review, from you buying the book through another source, or from the purchase of the online curriculum from the Homeschool Buyer's Co-op.

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Risa said...

Thanks for your detailed review--the pics were great! I've put Draw Squad on hold and am leaning towards getting his program at Homeschool Buyers Coop. I mean, at that price, how can you go wrong? :-)