Beyond the Stick Figure
Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.
Our family recently had the opportunity to try Beyond the Stick Figure Complete Drawing Course PLUS 3 Bonus Courses, from Beyond the Stick Figure Art School. The program includes the following courses:
- Beyond the Stick Figure Complete Drawing Course
- Watercolor and Pen & Ink Course
- Introduction to Acrylic Painting Course
- Introduction to 3 D Design Course
The program is available as a one-time purchase (or through a series of 10 payments), giving your entire household lifetime access to the four courses. It’s designed to be a year-long program but it can be adapted to fit your family’s schedule, such as doing just one or two lessons per week, rather than one lesson each weekday.
Beyond the Stick Figure is taught by Sally, a graduate of Loughborough College of Art and Design in England, and homeschooling mom of eight. She designed this program after taking her own children to an art class and seeing their work harshly criticized. She hoped to create a more encouraging environment for anyone to learn art, without fear of failure. Through her gentle voice and “have fun” attitude, I think she’s definitely achieved that in her classes.
Due to the way the program is set up, students have to mark each lesson complete before going to the next one. This makes sense within each course, but it was frustrating to have to skip through and mark each of the 55 drawing lessons complete in order to reach next course. Because those steps were so time-consuming, I didn’t make it to the acrylics or sculpting courses yet, though I did take some time to poke around the pen & ink and watercolors section. We focused mainly on the drawing course.
There is a materials guide for the program, so we started with just the markers (about $24) and paper recommended for the drawing portion (plus scissors and a printer), and will add to our supplies if we continue through the remainder of the courses. Be aware that you’ll need to have a quiet environment to hear the videos. I had to turn up the volume on my computer all the way in order to hear decently.
The first module is 17 lessons that cover some of the very basics of drawing and art. Assignments include looking for shapes around you, drawing the shapes, and filling in negative spaces. Sally talks about colors and color mixing, and reminds students how to properly care for their markers. She also recommends that students use just a quarter of a piece of printer paper for each assignment, so they aren’t overwhelmed with a giant, blank sheet. So simple, and so smart! This was by far our favorite section of the course. I wish the whole program had been more like this.
After that first section however, the lessons make a shift. Students are given a specific set of lines or shapes to draw, first tracing the design, then practicing with a dotted template. Finally, they draw it freehand, and color it in with the specified colors.
A few lessons into this, I decided to just skip forward to see what the purpose was, and if there was anything else at the end. These tiny segments are all a piece of a larger picture, which you put together at the end of the course. It’s a fascinating way to see how big pictures are made of small shapes, but also a tedious, and potentially frustrating process that may feel discouraging to many students (more than one in my household included), especially young ones. I can see the benefit in this exercise, but it wasn’t what I had expected when I started the program, and not something I would recommend for most elementary-age children.
My kids and I enjoyed and will probably re-visit the first module a few more times, but I will probably work my way through the rest of the program on my own. There were many other families who were also selected to review Beyond the Stick Figure Art School, including some with teens, or who decided to skip the drawing and go straight to one of the other courses. You can check out more of the reviews at the link below.