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"Mastering Art"

A review by Mary Pride, author of the Big Book of Home Schooling
A reprint of an article that appeared in the December '91/January '92 issue of The Teaching Home magazine.

"Here's another great new video program the whole family can use at once! Gordon School of Art has developed a "Young Masters" program that teaches children (and adults!) to produce art of the same quality as the Old Masters of the 16th century. Students learn and practice techniques, in contrast to the current fad of encouraging "self- expression" in place of technique.

In other words, Young Masters' students learn the building-blocks of creating art, just as 16th - century artists' apprentices used to.

Young Masters' program developer, John Gordon, has broken down artistic technique into a number of minute, sequential steps. Starting with the four basic hand positions for drawing, you move on to techniques for drawing clean and elegant lines. (Yes, you do learn how to draw a straight line!)

In the first course, which has been christened the "Foundation Course", you progress from simple dot-to-dot pictures with 1/4 inch intervals, to straight-line grid drawings, to drawings that include regular curves, to those with irregular lines, and finally to those with circular shapes. This sequence brings you from a difficulty level of 1 to 200 on the Gordon Art School's difficulty scale.

The highest line drawing difficulty level in the program is 1000, which will be reached in grid drawing on Level 7 and in freehand drawing on Level 8. In the Foundation Course you also learn basic line inking and pencil shading skills, and some basic color theory. The Foundation Course alone is supposed to take between four months and four years to complete depending on how fast you want to go and on your student's age and interest level. Though not specifically a Christian program, the Young Masters art program stresses character development in the areas of patience, concentration, and endurance, as parents are challenged to require mastery at each level before allowing the student to proceed to the next level.

At the moment, the Foundation Course and Level 5 are the only ones available in home-study format. Program author, John Gordon, expects to produce one new level each year. Advanced level programs will be sold only to graduates of the previous level and will cost the same or less than the Young Masters Foundation Course.

The Foundation Course package includes an excellent teacher training text, two full sets of Level 4 worksheets and related teaching materials, three video tapes (these include introductory info and demonstrations of all worksheets and projects), and two free mail consultations.

The introductory video, a very impressive presentation, both explains the program's philosophy and shows the actual work of all 140 students in John Gordon's studio class. Mr. Gordon is eager for you to know that his method does not just work with a few preselected superachievers--that's why he showed the entire classes' work. The students range in age from 7 to 16, and to say we were impressed by their progress is an understatement.

If you care enough about art to dedicate two to four hours per week of your family's time to it, the Young Masters program will do more for you than any other art course we have ever seen. Very highly recommended."

-- Mary Pride, author of The Big Book of Homeschooling