CBMS Choice-Based Art Studio

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

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

The Story of the Two Damiens

Ok. So here's the story:
The class started like this: "Class, please get out your recent work and photograph it for your digital portfolios. Remember that I will be asking you to let us know which of the 100 Artistic Behaviors you used while making, planning or reflecting on this piece."

Damien realized he didn't have a piece to photograph. But he did see a half-eaten bagel sitting there on the sculpture table...
The rest, as they say, is history. 
Art history that is. 
Because when Damien presented his piece, it reminded me of how artists sometimes employ ephemeral, real-world objects, and "elevate" them to capital-A Art. I asked Damien if he planned to display his work. He seemed surprised but jumped at the proposition. "It will mold!" someone warned. "Gross" offered another. 
Related image
Damien Hirst, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (1991)© Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved. DACS 2011. . Photo: Photographed by Prudence Cuming Associates Retrieved 1-8-19 from: art382001 https://www.culture24.org.uk/art/art382001 
I pulled up some of Damien Hirst's work to show Damien, and the crowd starting to form around the bagel sculpture. "Weird that his name is Damien too," observed Damien, something I am embarrassed to admit that I hadn't put together yet). Yes, weird. 

(Update: I just checked the display case, and Damien's Bagel Boi is currently mold-free. But some of Hirst's work is starting to decompose, I hear.)

Friday, January 4, 2019

FAQ about TAB

By "E", Grade 7 Colored Pencil and Watercolor wash. 
I am excited to report that my article: FAQ for TAB appears in Arts and Activities magazine this month. Which reminds me, there is a wealth of articles and essays about Teaching for Artistic Behavior (TAB), Choice-Based practice and learner-directed art education available on the TAB website
Art teachers contribute to the Choice-Based Art column in Arts and Activities every other month, and the collected resources there are invaluable. Go take a look!

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Controlling Materials

Due to considerable angst (on my part) surrounding the use (and abuse) of craft sticks in the studio, I have decided to eliminate them as staple in the Sculpture Center. In their place: Cardboard Sticks!
I wish I had taken some photos yesterday, to prove my case. Not only did I sweep up a heaping handful of perfectly good craft sticks at the end of the day, but I found many in the recycle bin (not recyclable), and more in the trash. This bothers me, but not as much at what was being made with them. Sticks were being sharpened to dangerous points, contraptions like crossbows, slingshots and other shooting mechanisms abounded. These are hard to justify as art. Even as "art," although students try to make a case for them (they can be very convincing). 
So - as art teacher and supreme commander, I have decreed the end of craft sticks in our studio. I eagerly await "what's next" in the sculpture center, as students integrate their new construction medium. 

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Calling Bob Ross!

In the Style of Bob Ross, By 8th Graders "L" & "A"
Look what happened in the studio yesterday. I didn't know our acrylic paints (or these two artists) could do that!

Friday, October 26, 2018


Grades 5-8 contribute if they choose
Every October, artists around the world are challenged to make a drawing a day for the month. 

Straw-blowing idea-starter, grade 7
A few years ago prompts were added, but only as suggestions (today's prompt is "stretch.")
Sumi-e, grade 5
CMBS students have taken up the challenge with gusto, so we started a display and add to it each day. It has already outgrown the first bulletin board, and reaches around the corner to an adjacent space!

Pen & Ink
INKTOBER makes now the perfect time to introduce ink drawing with feather quills and steel nibs, calligraphy, ink-straw-blowing a la Stefan Bucher's "Daily Monster," Sumi-e (Japanese brush painting), and all kinds of printmaking. 
1st try styrofoam print, grade 5

Sumi-e Grade 6

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Second Day of School

"Can we do printmaking?"
I'm not sure I ever had this question so early in the school year before. But after making portfolios yesterday, this 6th grade class was ready to return to their studio, and their important work as artists. 
So, "Yes! Do you remember how to set it up?"

Five printmakers

2 color print by "N"
Some in this group ended the year last year with printmaking, a center that was late to be introduced. It was so rewarding for me to observe the knowledge, enthusiasm and peer-teaching exhibited at this center today! Students set up a printmaking space, demonstrated good technique and correct use of tools and materials, remembered how to store and sign prints, helped teach new-comers and cleaned up with vigor. I guess this would be called a pre-assessment? Or is it a summative assessment, demonstrating what "stuck" from last years' instruction and experience? Teachers in learner-directed classrooms observe what students "know and are able to do" daily.  
Eight 3D artists
 Meanwhile, one step over, the Sculpture/Construction Center was up and running (one learner brought me a hot glue gun with a big grin on his face and announced: "I found them!") It was crowded at this spot, but artists here made it work amicably, and only needed one reminder to clean it up "all the way" before class was over. 
Two painters, and one finishing up his (complex) portfolio design
This is a big class at the very end of the day. We are under a heat advisement, and the studio is on the second floor - so I was even more amazed to see the focus and independence exhibited by this capable group of artists. 
Three for drawing (see later photo for #3)

Four for Fiber Arts (see next photo also): Two needle-felting, two embroidering

This one, inspired by finding an embroidery hoop, and then a Book of Stitches is learning to embroider a "chain stitch."
Welcome back to your studio artists!

Friday, June 15, 2018


Last day of school. Walk to the town pool (filled two days ago, to be ready for us), stop for a creamee, line up with all the teachers to wave the busses good-bye. Have a good summer!

The 6th-grader who said "I walked in with nothing planned, and I'm going to walk out with something creative," graduated from 8th grade last night.  His words inspire me each day, as I pass through that door. 

Time now to clean-up, weed-out, look back, plan ahead, and recharge.