CBMS Choice-Based Art Studio

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

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Graph Paper at the Kitchen Table

 A 7th grader wandered in the other day to show me his collection of “wallpapers.” From a two-pocket folder he began to produce drawing after drawing, all made on graph paper – I think there were 100 of them. They looked like tessellations, or fractal designs. He told me he has been doing these since he was 5 years old, with his mother, at the kitchen table. His mother learned how from her mother, and when he has kids, he told me, he would teach them.
I was so impressed by these intricate, carefully constructed geometric designs that I asked “C” to come and show my 8th grade class, because they were sure to be impressed and might even become inspired to try to make some of their own. “C” commanded the attention of my first block class like I never have. He said that between his mother and him, they have over 900 designs. When they get to 1000, they are going to make a book. Three books, actually, one with his designs, one with hers and a third of their combined efforts.

“C” came back at the end of the day to present his work to another group of 8th graders, and offered to stick around and get them started, if they wanted to practice a little. He came back the next day too, leaving a starter design for me to try (I think it was a test – he chose the tiniest graph paper and a tricky design).

Some of the designs are pure pattern – others are geometric abstractions inspired by objects or ideas that surround “C” - a vase in has kitchen, his father's military insignia, a video game character. Older designs are on larger grid graph paper, many of these he colored in – newer ones are on smaller grids and drawn in pencil but finished in ink. He uses a special pen, one that doesn't bleed through the paper, and he prefers a mechanical pencil – the quality of the line is more uniform.

After looking at these beautiful drawings, trying to grasp how they were made, and listening to “C's" story, I had many questions, but my last one was “do you have a T.V.?” I'm sure you can guess the answer.