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Meet The Masters

by Mary Leppert

Beginning in the early 1970s when the institutional schooling world made budget cuts, the first programs to be phased out were art and music. It is possible that today’s pop art and pop music are not very sophisticated because by now, more than one generation of school children has never been exposed to the “finer” forms of art and music. The act of producing civilized children doesn’t just happen by accident; a sense of refinement and developed taste has to be nurtured and led by parents. Many homeschooling families are aware of the importance of teaching these two “higher” art forms and are always on the lookout for materials that will help them in this endeavor.

An excellent product to accomplish the instruction of art, art history and increase its appreciation is an art curriculum package called Meet the Masters.© (MTM) This beautifully-designed CD-ROM and hard-copy set provides instruction and information in three skill levels regarding six master painters at a time. In Level 1 they are: Van Gogh, Mary Cassatt, Piet Mondrian, Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet and Winslow Homer, and the course is designed to cover an entire year’s worth of instruction. In all, MTM covers 27 master artists. The creators of Meet The Masters suggest that by the time a student reaches the upper level of the course, an entire afternoon be set aside to complete each lesson.

A different element of painting is taught with each of the artists mentioned and each of the three levels contains different activities. In Level 1, your student pretends to be Van Gogh by putting on a beard and have him/her hold a brush, while the narrator on the CD discusses some elements of Vincent’s painting life. In Level 3, the song by Don McLean “Vincent” (Starry, Starry Night) plays while the student reads the printed lyrics and the narrator discusses how the words relate to Vincent’s life and work. The painting element taught in the Van Gogh section is texture. Each artist’s section is divided into these three levels, and is presented as an interactive program of sound bytes, CD slides, games, etc., so that it flows well and maintains interest.

At the beginning of each unit, the student and parent view a virtual assembly on the CD for each artist that provides an introduction of the subject artist. Then the portion of the curriculum called “Learning from the Masters” is used to help your student complete two to five pages of exercises related to the art element being highlighted in that unit. The course instructions state that the program is designed to be directed by the parent/teacher, but that upper level students can work on their own just fine. After an artist’s unit has been completed, the parent/teacher allots a one-hour art activity period and guides the student through the projects which serve as a review of the concepts covered in the previous unit. MTM also includes a supply list and thorough Teacher Guides so that you can stay one step ahead of your student while going through the program.

Our family especially enjoyed doing the Van Gogh section and the Picasso section and look forward to thoroughly working on the entire program. We recommend it to you wholeheartedly.

Copyright © 2006 Modern Media