CBMS Choice-Based Art Studio

CBMS Choice-Based Art Studio
CBMS Choice-Based Art Studio

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Vermont Art Educator of the Year

Thank you to the Vermont Art Teachers Association (VATA) for naming me the 2015 Art Educator!
Tina Logan (VATA Secretary and Past President) presents me with the very special, ever growing art teacher award-statue at the Shelburne Museum last October. The deal is, I now have to add something to it before returning it for next year's lucky recipient! My students have more than a few ideas about what we should add, including: wings,  a feather tail, googly eyes, a flower garden...how will we decide on just one idea?

My Vermont colleagues surprised me last fall with this honor at the annual  VATA  state conference. Next, I was recognized along with fellow state recipients from the North East Region, at the National Art Education Association (NAEA) Conference in New Orleans. What a thrill!

Nan Hathaway with Becky Wright,VATA Treasurer, Peter Geisser, NAEA Eastern Region Vice President & June Krinsky-Rudder, NAEA Eastern Region Vice President Elect
This is so exciting for my students and I! My students signed their names all around the VATA award certificate before it went into a frame and up onto the studio wall, because we figure; if I am the Vermont Art Educator of the Year, they must be the Vermont Art Students of the Year!
Thank you VATA, and NAEA for this very special recognition, and to all my students, past and present, for teaching me so much.

Friday, April 10, 2015

How To Write An Artist's Statement

This, my friends, is how it's done.

Name: "B" Grade 6
Title: Color
Media: Oil Pastel, Sharpie
Studio Thinking Habit: Express
Artist's Statement: "This piece shows Creativity (color) being trapped by the Modern Mindset (Sharpie). There is a little piece of color that is trying to escape but getting cut off by the black arrow. The arrow symbolizes the normal/average path."

First artist statement of the year for this 6th grader, whose art class started Monday. He will have art for 9 weeks this year.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Pleasures of Printmaking

Brayer Party

Tools and materials are set up assembly-line style. Students start in the "ink zone" and move down the line to the "Clean zone" before pulling their print. Printmakers always wear aprons (to wipe their inky fingers on!)
 Printmaking is always available in our studio, but to drum up business, I set up our spare table in an inviting "Art Trap" (and then I wait for artists to fall into it.) The table space is divided in half: "Ink Side" & "Clean Side." Artists ink up at the left, and then carry their inked printing plate to the right side, wipe fingers, choose paper, and use either a baren or the etching press to apply pressure before pulling their print.

The main attraction at the printmaking center may be this Charles Brand press left in my care when my brother up and moved to Japan

First try by "A," Grade 5

Printmaking is process-rich and comes with its own vocabulary. 
And students find out that a lot can go wrong! Some years ago a helpful student gave me this sign(photo below) to help others avoid the common pitfalls printmakers encounter - it now lives in the Printmaking Center in the studio
"What Went Wrong?" sign by "MM" many years ago!

Monday, March 9, 2015

A Place to Experiment

The Art studio is a place of possibility. Encouraging learners to direct the course of their study means allowing for experimentation and exploration. These behaviors are foundational for artists. The Studio Habit: "Stretch & Explore" defines this creative disposition.
We know that hands-on learning is powerful, and that sometimes making a mistake is the best way to understand something.  But it can still take considerable restraint on the part of the teacher, to let students learn "the hard way."

Recently a cohort of eighth grade clay artists discovered my secret stash of marbles and began to spontaneously conduct all kinds of experiments firing the glass into and onto their clay objects Mostly they dropped the marbles into slab bowls, and observed how the glass slumped and melted to become its own glaze. 
When I found the clay bowl pictured below on the ware shelf, I knew this artist was in for a surprise. Rather than taking her aside and explaining what would happen at 1580 degrees, I prepared the kiln shelf for what I knew (and she did not know) was coming. I placed her bowl up on a stilt, and used a discarded bowl to protect the kiln shelf and neighboring objects from what was to come. 
I'm sorry I didn't get a picture of the result, but this clay artist learned a little about gravity and melting!
6th grade "J" has an unusually large collection of slab-built and wheel thrown objects to glaze. Right now, she is the only dedicated clay artist in her class. Others have tried clay and moved on to other centers.
Experiments in the art studio are "low stakes." If something is tried, and it fails, there is usually enough time to try again. It is by trying again that students make use of the knowledge they have acquired through experimentation. Each artwork is a teacher that provides insight for the next attempt. Students with the opportunity to return time and again to a favorite medium or process build their own repertoire of skills and information to inform their work.
"J's" finished giant bowl

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Outstanding Teacher Award

Many thanks to Crossett Brook Principal Tom Drake for nominating me for the University of Vermont 2014 Outstanding Teacher Award.

From left: Fayneese Miller, Dean, College of Education & Social Services, Nan Hathaway,
Martha Allen, President, Vermont National Education Association, Luke Foley, 2014 Vermont Teacher of the Year 
 I am thrilled and humbled to receive this honor, and my mother, a retired art teacher is over the moon. For an Art teacher to receive this recognition, she notes, is worth an extra measure of celebration. Nationally and historically, Art often receives short shrift (one of Mom's favorite expressions); in budgets, in scheduling, and in recognition. Not so at Crossett Brook Middle School. Thank you to the Washington West Supervisory Union community: administration, fellow teachers, parents, community members, and students, for the strong and on-going support. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

TAB 2.0 Winter Gathering

It was cold, it was windy, it was Saturday...morning, and yet ten art teachers from as far away as Orleans county gathered in the CBMS art studio to talk TAB (Teaching for Artistic Behavior.) By meeting to share ideas, innovations, struggles, successes, and questions, these art teachers engage in creating their own professional development, targeted to their own needs. 

Although we met for 2 ½ hours, it was not enough time to cover all the topics raised. Follow-up happens after; in emails, through online posts to the  TAB Yahoo Group, on  TAB Facebook and among peers back at our own schools. Here is the list of topics that were raised:
  • Teach Concept or Content? What % of each?
  • Do you have to be an artist to be an art teacher?
  • Fostering imagination through play - what do you think?
  • Talk/Show and tell - Career Screen! Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS)
  • Managing getting work up on display regularly
  • Quantity over Quality
  • Challenging Self
  • Overcoming Teacher Aesthetic Elitism 
  • Persistance (or lack of) - How to influence students who give up too easily
  • Stuck Students - only do one thing over and over 
We called this meeting TAB 2.0 because this time, we focused on issues of teachers who already have a measure of experience teaching in a Choice-Based setting. Next time, we will again open the gathering to all who are interested in learning and sharing about TAB at all levels.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Sewing in the Studio

We have two sewing machines in the studio. I am happy to show students how to thread them, how to sew a seam and make a corner – how to back stitch. I teach about sewing “right sides together” so that the seam is hidden inside. And that's about it. In the context of a busy art studio, I can't really teach sewing lessons (how to put in a zipper, how to set a sleeve) – this would take too much of my attention away from everyone else. 
This 8th grader taught herself to design & sew clothes. She doesn't follow written directions, but instead researches & cuts her own patterns.

"L" wore the dress she made yesterday to school today!

Students use the sewing machine to craft simple objects (pillows and their many “art-pillow” variations, for instance), and those with more advanced sewing skills use them for fashion design or other sewing projects, like quilt-making, perhaps. 
Day-Night Bear
By "L," grade 7, made as a gift to replicate a childhood toy belonging to her mother
Designing stuffed animals is a favorite choice. We've also used the sewing machine to bind books and to add texture to small drawings.
One from a series of Hogwarts Pillows

Sometimes a student learn to use the machine here in the studio, and then go home and dig out their family's old machine. Others have asked for a sewing machine for a special gift at Christmas or birthday time.

 In this day and age when more and more attention is diverted by screen-time, it is rewarding to observe students drawn to this traditional, versatile technology.