Artist Barry Stebbing spent many years teaching in the public school system before starting How Great Thou Art Publications in the 1990’s, when he produced his first book on drawing for the homeschool community. Since then, fourteen more texts have been introduced, covering such topics as journaling, drawing, painting, and art appreciation for ages three through adult.
How Great Thou Art II is a teaching text for drawing instruction for students ages 13 and up. Its focus is on the fundamentals of drawing, starting with the basic lines and ellipses in lesson one. There are a total of seventy-nine lessons in addition to five included pen and ink cards on heavier cardstock with additional exercises. Each lesson is only a couple of pages long and focuses on one particular element. Approximately the last fifteen lessons are presented as independent studies and do not include additional instruction. For example, the student may be directed to draw a landscape or something as specific as a teapot in the independent study lessons. Students are encouraged in the lessons to practice often through observing and drawing everyday objects. Drawing exercises are completed right in the text in space provided. There are extra sketch pages provided in the back of the text. Several sample lessons can be viewed here. A one-page examination covering the concepts of the text is included.
How Great Thou Art II is a Christian curriculum and among inspirational quotes from artists included on the text's pages are Scripture references appropriate to the lesson. However most lessons do not have a Biblical theme or reference. Secular users and those with a variety of religious beliefs will find this text quite adaptable.
It should be noted that How Great Thou Art I and How Great Thou Art II are meant to be complementary texts. They both teach similar principles, but take a different approach to the subject matter. For example, when studying ellipses, students are instructed to draw jars in How Great Thou Art I, but to draw cups at varying angles in How Great Thou Art II. I felt How Great Thou Art II was set at a slightly more advanced level, building more on the introduced concepts. There are also lessons, such as Lettering and Calligraphy, which are not taught in How Great Thou Art I. However, students can start with either text and will not find the overlap boring when using both, just one as an expansion of the other.
When I originally selected this program, it was with my oldest in mind. She can turn out a pretty decent picture with instruction or by copying an existing picture, but has not necessarily mastered the fundamentals and thought a focused drawing program would help her. After exploring How Great Thou Art I and II, I completely agree. However, it was not my daughter who tried out the program for this review. My son, age 13, saw the books sitting out shortly after they arrived and demanded to give them a try. I was a bit surprised, given that my son’s drawing ability rather limited, and he is not always the most patient with new topics. I was concerned he might get frustrated with a drawing program that did not produce immediate results. In the end, I was pleasantly surprised and my son enjoyed How Great Thou ART I & II. Mr. Stebbing’s philosophy is that every student possesses a level of ability that can be improved upon with practice. His instruction is encouraging to all, regardless of talent. A strength of the program is that the instruction makes students feel as though everyone can be an artist.
As with How Great Thou Art I (please see related review), I think spiral binding and larger spaces for the exercises would be an improvement. I also found it a little difficult to cross reference the same concepts taught in How Great Art I with the lessons of How Great Thou Art II. Since they are meant as complementary texts, an index or some sort of notation would have been helpful when using both texts.
Supplemental DVDs and a Teacher Manual for both texts are available for those needing additional guidance.
Overall, I like the simplicity of this text, the focus on the study of everyday objects, the short and independent lessons, and the complete approachability of art this very reasonably priced text provides.
Editor's note: How Great Thou Art II is also available as a part of the How Great Thou I & II DVD Bundle, and as a downloadable e-book.