CBMS Choice-Based Art Studio

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

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Book Artists

Book by "H" - 7th grade

Shortly after our temporary paper marbling station closed, a bookmaking center sprang up as one way for students to make artistic use of the collection of beautiful papers they created.

Once the bookmaking center was up and running, it seemed like an apt time to introduce papermaking. Some students crafted handmade papers for use in handmade books, others used these papers as covers for their books.
5th grade
Learning about book construction became a passion for some, and several beautiful, functional unique books resulted.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Master and Apprentice

“E” realized the potential in clay almost immediately – in his mind’s eye he saw the characters from the Redwall book series stepping off the page and into the studio. “E” started with a strong little mouse and learned the importance of hollowing out sculptures in order to assure even thickness for safe firing in the kiln. He devised a base so the sturdy figure could stand without tipping over.

Once the sculpture was fired, “E” envisioned the colors, textures and details he would add to bring his character to life. He moved around the studio in a sort of treasure hunt, locating all the things he needed to make clothing and weaponry and to appoint the figure in style.

That was just the beginning. More and more figures sprang to life and a peer joined in, learning the tricks of the trade “E” and “K” worked side by side to produce a lively army of badgers, rats and mice. Each artist became more and more adept at manipulating clay to produce desired results.

What would make convincing chain mail to go under the armor? How big would a hole need to be in the figure’s hand to allow for shrinkage and end up the right size to hold a staff? Although the art teacher coveted the figures and imagined a display in the showcase down the hall, each figure was spirited away just as soon as they were completed, to join the troops at home and find their place in the hearts and minds of these competent, imaginative artists.

Paper-making Artist

After her very first attempt at crafting a sheet of handmade paper from scraps and recycled surplus, “N” saw artistic potential. She stepped into the studio the day after the paper-making center opened and announced that she planned to make a special paper about the night sky. She had it all worked out – how she would use black scraps for the sky and white ones to make specks representing stars. “N” said she was thinking about it at home, and came in ready to put her plan into action.
But that was really just the beginning – “N” went on to make a special paper capturing the essence of “ghosts,” one about bats, and another called “Werewolves.”  Many students enjoy mixing the gloppy paper pulp in a blender, pouring it into the deckle box and watching as a unique sheet of paper takes form.

But this artist quickly made the jump from craft to ART, employing a compelling process and medium to interpret and communicate personally relevant themes and ideas. This is sophisticated thinking.
The predictable nature of the CBMS Choice-Based Art studio enables “N” to think about and plan for her art outside of class. She knows that the studio will be set up and ready for her to bring her idea to life.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Solo Exhibit

Last week our display space was dedicated to our own “Dragonologist” and her impressive series of well-rendered drawings.
Sometimes students throw themselves into a series of work and produce several pieces around a theme of interest.  This authentic artistic behavior is an example of the Studio Habit Engage and Persist – exemplified by an artist who grabs hold of an idea and sticks with it, sometimes over many days or weeks or even longer (think Georgia O‘Keefe and her series of giant flower paintings). Most of “M’s” art is about dragons. She has taken great care with her recent series of large format dragon drawings - each with an accompanying hand written story fragment. I noticed her working on a drawing in the cafeteria over lunch one day, and observe her bringing her drawings back and forth from home to school. “M” works with dedication on each one, not stopping until she “gets it right.”

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Art of Collaboration

On day one of the school year, two seventh grade students arrived for art with a clear vision of what they wanted to do – provided that they were allowed to work together.

Together, over the summer, they planned to make a soccer stadium, since both are huge soccer fans and World Cup enthusiasts.
Before long, as these things go, the duo expanded to include as many as five other artists, bringing various opinions, ideas and expertise to the project.

Collaboration is among the skills delineated by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills for today's learners:
"Students will work together effectively to share and accept responsibility, compromise respectfully to reconcile diverse ideas, and accomplish a common goal." 

The finished soccer stadium, complete with outer village, is on display in the Trish Field Library. Check it out!

Monday, October 11, 2010


Blackware pot by Maria Martinez

“B” is a 5th grader. He settled in to work at the Clay Center earlier this quarter and noticed a large poster of an exquisite black pot made by Native American potter Maria Martinez. He remembered seeing a video about Maria and her work when he was an elementary school student and knew she built her pots using the coil method. “B” set out to make a pot like Maria Martinez.
"B" worked and worked on his project, starting with a wooden bowl to help form the base.
 As his pot grew he learned to shape it, bringing the form out and then back in again. He took care to smooth the coils and make the joints strong. Each day he had to wrap the pot carefully in plastic to keep it moist.

After several weeks work, the pot was done and ready to be fired.
"B" is proud of his work, and I am proud of him for selecting a difficult project of personal interest, and sticking with it from inception to completion. “B’s” work demonstrates the studio habit Engage and Persist - an essential trait for artistic growth. He also utilized the studio habit Develop Craft as he practiced the coil method for hand-building with clay, and embodied the habit Understand the Art World by referencing our most celebrated American potter. There are eight studio habits of mind (Hetland et al, 2007) students develop through their work as artists in the studio-classroom(Engage and Persist, Develop Craft, Understand the Art World, Envision, Stretch & Explore, Observe, Express & Reflect) for “B” to employ three of these in this one project is exemplary.

* For more information on the 8 Studio Habits of Mind, visit: