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DVD Review: Art House, Volume 1: Basic Shapes and Animals

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Preschool-age children often long to draw recognizable characters, but are held back by a lack of technical skill. Perfectionists like my eldest daughter can find themselves reluctant to draw at all, afraid of disappointing results. Art House is a new series of how-to-draw educational DVDs aimed at young children ages three and up that uses four simple shapes – circles, squares, triangles, and ovals – to create lovable yet simple line drawings.

Volume 1: Basic Shapes and Animals features teacher Emily and a live class of four children (two boys, two girls). Starting with the basic shapes, Emily goes on to demonstrate drawing a fish, dog, bird, monkey, and dinosaur. Young viewers can grab crayons and paper and follow along with the class in real-time. Short, live-action music videos feature catchy tunes, children playing, and animals romping, follow each drawing segment and allow children to put the finishing touches on their drawings. You’ll need to pause the DVD if they wish to spend some time coloring.

A focus on diversity, drawing according to your ability and imagination, and dealing with mistakes is an integral part of the program. The camera cuts away regularly to show the progress of the young artists, as well as displaying their finished work. This is a great help in pointing out that new two drawings (or artistic visions) are alike, and that everyone draws a bit differently.

Our family enjoyed an extended drawing class with Art House, Volume 1. My six-year-old produced some great drawings despite her initial skepticism. The colorful DVD case design led her to expect the program to be boring for some reason, but she’s now a huge fan.

This was my three-year-old’s first attempt to draw recognizable animals, and her results were of course, quite different from her older sisters. Still, she had a great time, and is asking for a repeat session. My one-year-old on the other hand enjoyed dancing to the music videos, squealing at the antics of the animals, and scribbling on my drawings.

This 35-minute DVD features great navigation – it can be played through, selected by lesson chapter, or by music video chapter. A seven-page .pdf coloring book is also included on the disc, featuring the animals from the lessons. 35-minutes may not seem long, but when we got down to drawing, and took time to color, we spent well over an hour working on the first four animals and the basic shapes.

The DVD can easily be broken up into five short ‘lessons’ that work well both as introductory drawing lessons for young children in the home, as well as for anyone involved in early childhood work (daycares, preschools etc.)

We all had so much fun with the first offering in the Art House series that every member of our young family is eagerly anticipating future releases.

A sampling of the artwork created by young artists with the help of this DVD can be found at the Art House website.

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