CBMS Choice-Based Art Studio

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

Friday, August 30, 2013

Sketchbooks for 8th Graders

In 8th grade, the first five minutes of class are dedicated to drawing practice. It's a good thing too, because when surveyed, the overwhelming majority of students here say they want to improve in their ability to draw. Drawing well takes practice, so we set aside a few minutes at the start of class to transition into "Art-Think" and practice looking, because part of drawing well is learning how to see.

Collaged sketchbook cover 
Some students chose to laminate the cover 
To get ready for drawing practice, each student made a small sketchbook. 

This year a beautiful 110 year old book press has been added to the studio. This was used to encourage students' sketchbooks to lie flat after they were bound. 

We used a simple three-hole Japanese binding this year, because last year the staples we used kept falling out or stabbing us! The skills introduced through this simple bookmaking exercise will be expanded later this term when a book-making center is created. 

A Community of Artists

One of the strengths of our studio-learning art program is that students take ownership of their work. This means ideas can be generated outside of the school day and carried into the art studio in the form of: 

  • A sketchbook worked on over the summer
  • Several special stickers saved to customize an in-school sketchbook cover
  • A brown paper lunch bag filled with new sharpies, pencils and ballpoint pens to use in the drawing center
  • A water bottle that needs a face-lift
  • Plans for improving ideas started last year
    It's fun to see the drying rack starting to fill up again!
Drawing Center Grand Opening for Grade 5 - pastel resulting!
Today is the third day of school, and all but one of my classes are experienced in using the studio at CBMS. Once portfolios are designed and stowed, most students are eager to start right in, work in their favorite "Center" and get re-acquainted with their preferred materials and tools. Some students are already preparing art for display while others are warming up and discovering new possibilities. 

"How Do You Make Brown?"

This year, only primary colors, plus black and white, are available to start the year in the Painting Center. Students appear to be quite knowledgeable and happy to mix green, violet and orange. Brown is another matter however. Brown is very mysterious, and stumps students time and again.
"T" grade 6 designs her portfolio cover

It turns out, there are many formulas for making brown. "Mix all the colors together" one student suggests. "Use purple and yellow" coaches another." "Add black?" someone guesses.

Some students give up, some beg form premixed brown (they probably see it in the storage closet, mocking them). Most stick with it and struggle through puddles of army green and muddy purple until the magic happens and brown appears. There are as many shades of brown are there are ways to mix it. It feels like quite an accomplishment when a young artist can call up brown on command!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


The studio is ready! All we need now are the artists!
Our new classroom loom, purchased with a generous gift from Waterbury's Across Roads Center for the Arts (ARCA)

Until now, the Fabrics & Fibers Center was squeezed in between the Collage Center and the Sculpture Center - no place to call home. With a little reorganization, we have carved out a new home for fiber artists to sew and weave.  
A redesigned and reconfigured "Fabrics & Fibers" Center

The whole nine yards - sewing station, standing loom, Fabrics & Fibers Center
Sewing and weaving have increased in popularity at CBMS recently, the new center arrangement should better serve artists choosing fiber media for their work. 
NEEDED:Donations of spools of thread to keep us stitching