recommend allowing them to experiment with different media. This gives
them the opportunity to discover what
they enjoy doing artistically and which
media they like to work with best. However, rather than a scattershot approach,
where you are trying something different each week, I suggest choosing a specific medium and focusing on that for a
time. For example, you might decide to
work with watercolor in the fall semester and colored pencils in the spring.
This approach will enable you to control
Another advantage of the single medium approach is that it will enable
your children to develop the specific
skills required by that medium. Each
medium requires techniques unique to
that medium. Thus, what works with
one may not work with another. For
example, with oils and pastels you layer
color from dark to light; with watercolor, it is the opposite: light to dark.
By focusing on one medium, your children will be able to master that medium more quickly than if they were
trying to learn several at the same time.
4. Purchase Your Art Supplies Online
If you are on a tight budget but want to
use quality art supplies, consider buying them online. Many online art supply houses such as Dick Blick, Jerry’s
Artarama, and Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff
sell painting and drawing materials
at deep discounts. Some also sell supplies in bulk, which can be helpful if
you have a large family or are teaching
art at a co-op. You might also want to
look for used art supplies on EBay or
5. Buy Student Grade Pigments
If you look at the prices on some items,
such as oils and watercolors, you might
get a case of sticker shock. The first
time you see a 5ml tube of watercolor
going for twenty to thirty dollars, you
might wonder if the paint is made of
gold. Actually, the difference in price is
between professional and student grade
pigments. Professional grade pigments
give better results; however, student
grade pigments will keep your budget intact. How do you know the difference? Professional grade pigments
are sometimes identified as such. In
any case, there are occasions when it’s
worth paying a bit more.
When You Shouldn’t Skimp
Although I normally recommend keeping your art supply costs as low as possible, sometimes it is better to get the best
you can afford. Different artists will have
different opinions on this, but I can think
of at least two situations where I recommend spending extra money for quality.
1. Watercolor Paper
If your children are learning how to paint
with watercolor, invest in good watercolor
paper. I do a lot of work with watercolor,
and my experience has been that cheap
paper leads to poor results and frustration.
I use 100% cotton rag paper that comes in
22”x30” sheets. Depending on where you
buy it, it can cost between five and ten dollars for a single sheet, but it is worth every
penny. In addition, you can cut the paper
into quite a few smaller sheets. I can get
sixteen 5. 5” x 7. 5” painting surfaces from
one sheet of watercolor paper.
Good brushes are expensive; no question about it. However, if you take care
of them, they will last for years. I have
brushes in my collection that I’ve been
using for over thirty years. They serve me
just as well now as they did then. Synthetic brushes have come a long way, but
I still prefer natural hair. It is tempting to
cut corners when buying paintbrushes;
however, if you have a serious artist in
your family, and she has learned how to
clean and care for her brushes properly,
I recommend spending the extra money.
These tools can last a long time.
Adding art to your homeschool program does not need to be confusing or
expensive. By keeping your program
simple and focused, you can open up the
joy of artistic expression without breaking your budget.
James H. (Jim) Pence is a man of many
talents. He is a former homeschooling dad,
a published author, an accomplished singer and speaker, a performance chalk artist, and in his spare time he teaches karate,
writing, and art to homeschooled children.
You can learn more about Jim at his website: jamespence.com. James also represents and blogs for See the Light (www
www.TheOldSchoolhouse.com The Artistic Homeschooler • Winter 2015 107
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