CBMS Choice-Based Art Studio

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

Monday, October 31, 2011

Stitching and Stuffing

"S", a 6th grader, wanted to try quiltmaking. First he decided on the pattern (9-patch) and the size of each quilt square. I suggested he make a cardboard template so each piece he cut would be uniform in size. We reviewed a running stitch and how to tie a knot, discussed the fact that most quiltmakers sew with a ¼” seam, and he started in.
The first 9-patch was sewn by hand.
Next, I suggested he might want to try the sewing machine.  The next three 9-patches were sewn by machine and assembled into a group of four. The quilt started to look like a good size for a pillow, but time was quickly running out – the quarter was almost over.
I brought in my rotary cutter and cutting mat, and a transparent ruled guide so "S" could cut fabric patches more quickly.  The sewing machine provided its own kinds of lessons, like running out of bobbin thread, necessitating learning how to wind a bobbin.
There are only three more days before the end of the quarter – I’m not sure if the quilt/pillow will be done in time. We are negotiating now for afterschool/recess/study hall time when a few more seams can be sewn and stuffing can be stuffed.
Speaking of stuffing – I was not sure what "S" would use to fill this special pillow – it is quite large by classroom standards, and will take a lot of stuffing.
Last night I an email from a parent: “I am doing some cleanup and I have a bag of new pillow fill that I don't need… Before I throw that away, I thought I should ask you if you can use that fill. If so, I can send the bag to school…”
What luck!
Thanks to the parents who continue to stock the art larder, with all the things that are just what we need!



"L" works on a print edition

Printmakers are a certain type of artist - they need to be attentive to detail - keep a clean work area and have high standards for excellence. The goal here is to make a set of prints (called an edition) with the right amount of ink, to center the image on the page and to keep clean borders.
Relief print edition in blue, by "H", Grade 6

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Paper marbling turned spooky on Friday as thoughts turned to Halloween

In a learner-directed classroom, students  make art about their interests, life events and passions. When a holiday is near, students' work may reflect their excitement and understanding of family and community celebrations.
"M" and "N" (grade 6) lend a hand to "L" to help her finish a Halloween costume in time

The Art of Collaboration

Three sixth graders work together to create a papier mache robot

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills has identified collaboration as an important proficiency for today’s students to develop: “Students will work together effectively to share and accept responsibility, compromise respectfully to reconcile diverse ideas, and accomplish a common goal.” (Partnership for21st Century Skills, http://www.p21.org/). In the CBMS art studio, students may choose to work independently, with a partner or in small groups.
When students choose to work in a team, the collective energy of creating together is powerful and motivating.
This Pirate Ship is the product of five 6th grade artists working together with a shared vision and high standards.

Usually collaborative projects are confined to a single class and a single grade, but sometimes a project jumps across the contrived borders of the school day to be shared between students from different classes. In these cases, a sort of messaging system is devised so that the next group attending to the project will know “what’s next” or what has been accomplished already.
A note left by one group of artists to communicate with fellow collaborators:  "Dear Connor and Kyle, We like what you added. Please don't change the stuff me and Taylor made. The things made out of cups and black is a battle suit."

Art collaborations sometimes leak out of the regular school day and are worked on after school, checked on between classes, or attended to at recess.  Some of the most enthusiastic, creative middle school artists at CBMS are those who collaborate to make art.
By "K" and "T," Grade 6, (part one of a series).

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Expressive STICK figures

Art teachers have a long tradition of, well, let’s face it, looking down their noses at the drawing of stick figures – “how about adding some feet” we suggest, trying to be helpful. Or, “do you think you might want to put some clothes on that guy?”  
 By "C"  Grade 7

When art teachers transition away from assigned drawing exercises and allow students to choose their own subject matter and to develop their own style, stick figures often populate the resulting artwork.  Boys, in particular, employ stick figures when creating action scenes.  Like so many ants, these stick-guys can appear all over the place doing all kinds of funny, brave, dangerous, adventuresome or foolhardy things. 

In a recent online discussion among art educators, a middle school teacher from Massachusetts noted:
 “ I have observed that stick figures are a useful symbol. Most… kid
art is very narrative. The important bit is the story
, the drawing is just the forum for that story. This is why (I believe) boys will be perfectly capable of drawing intricate tanks and planes in a battle scene but the people are stick figures, they are there to tell the story, but not the most important part, they have no names or faces.”  - post #23077, TAB Yahoo group http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TAB-ChoiceArtEd/ 

 By "C" Grade 7
I observed a particularly expressive stick-figure-artist transition from two-dimensional stick figure depiction to a three-dimensional, sculptural interpretation of stick action figures using – sticks! Craft sticks are readily available in our studio-classroom. “C” started with these but then embellished with other found objects, aluminum foil, colored masking tape and minimal use of paint for emphasis. It is remarkable to me how “C’s” style and skill conveying action, story and expression carries through from the original drawings to his collection of sculptures. His color palette is consistent in both, as is the strong sense of movement. This young artist is developing a strong individual style.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Authentic Assessment

“Sam,” pastel drawing by "S", Grade 6
Artist’s statement:
“The pink is beauty
The purple is the darkness
The light blue is how far you can go
The dark blue is how short you can go
The green is how many stories you have!”

How do artists judge their own work? What do they have to say about their work when it is done? What do artists hope the viewer will know, or see or feel?
In the CBMS art studio, it is the artist who decides whether or not their work will be displayed. Artwork prepared for display is accompanied by an “Artist’s Statement,” which is created by the artist to “tell the viewer something they wouldn’t know just by looking.”

Artist statements provide an opportunity for young artists to reflect about their work and to further communicate with their viewers. Questions answered in artist’s statements might include: How did you make this piece? Why did you make it? What inspired it? What did it teach you? What inspired it? What does it mean? What “worked” What next? What if?
Sometimes artist’s statements are poems, or questions or challenges to the viewer. Next time you are at an art museum, fine art gallery or school hall display, look around for the artist’s statement, it can give you a window into the artist’s head and a new way to view their work.