Even when textbooks are designed to be used as a stand-alone teaching aid, I almost always consider any DVD supplemental materials that are available. I find the benefits of having the additional help far outweighs the additional cost. I am not always available to immediately sit down and explain lessons, and having a ready-to-go explanation moves things along without my student waiting for me. Furthermore, it is helpful to have the lesson presented from another perspective, and in the case of art, a perspective with much more talent that I could provide myself! Having reviewed the How Great Thou Art I and How Great Thou Art II drawing texts, I definitely was interested to see how the supplemental DVDs worked with the texts.
The How Great Thou Art I & II DVD is a three DVD set covering 4½ hours of instruction. There are over 100 lessons in all. Each DVD lesson features Mr. Barry Stebbing, the author and artist of the texts, briefly explaining the concept taught in the lesson and then demonstrating the exercise.
The lessons are often started off with an inspirational quote of some sort or perhaps with still images related to the lesson. Next, Mr. Stebbing explains the lesson using the pages from the text. Mr. Stebbing then explains the sketching exercises detailed in the lesson and performs a few examples for the student to watch. While each DVD lesson is only two to three minutes long, the instruction is clear and sufficient.
The very first thing my son said when asked what he liked about the program was that Mr. Stebbing “is a very good teacher.” My son appreciated the very thorough instruction. He said the concepts were explained well and slowly. This gave him confidence that he could accomplish the objectives of the lesson, even though he is not particularly artistic.
It is important to note that the DVD lessons incorporate both texts and intermingle lessons between the two. A single DVD lesson usually includes lessons from both How Great Thou Art I and How Great Thou Art II. If you do not have both texts, the DVD lessons will be more difficult to follow.
While I usually focus on the quality of instruction, I felt the DVDs could use a little improvement in presentation. I am not one for a lot of bells and whistles, but the mid-1990’s feel took a bit away from the DVDs. However, a more pressing issue calling for an update was that in most cases, the page numbers given in each DVD lesson did not follow the actual page numbers in the texts. It is clear that the texts were revised and updated at some point, changing the page numbers, and the DVDs are using the older texts. Adding to this issue, the DVD lesson numbers do not match the text lesson numbers, since the DVDs combine the lessons of the two texts. For example, “Lesson 10” in the DVD is not Lesson 10 in the texts, causing some additional confusion. Sometimes Mr. Stebbing would say something like, “See Lesson 30 in text II” to clarify, or the text’s lesson number at the top of the page would be visible in the DVD. However, this was not the case for every DVD lesson.
My very linear thinker already had difficultly jumping back and forth between books, even though the same concept was being taught. Having incorrect pages numbers did not make this task any easier. He would have much preferred a single text with lessons that followed the DVDs exactly.
Even with some of these issues, I still felt the DVDs were definitely worth using; it just took some getting used to the format and organization of the lesson. Also, it would be best to purchase the DVD set when you are just starting out the drawing program, rather than upon completion of one text, since both texts are incorporated into the lessons and essentially making one program out of the two texts.
Overall, I felt the How Great Thou Art I & II DVD set was definitely a worthwhile supplement to the textbooks. The DVD lessons helped keep some consistency in our homeschool’s art instruction, and having the additional explanation was appreciated by this art-challenged mom.