CBMS Choice-Based Art Studio

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

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Printmaking in the art studio took a festive turn this week.

The drying rack has transformed into a card rack - with designs changing daily.

A 3-color print was attempted today by "S." a 6th grade artist who used green paper to add the third color to her holiday design.

 "Rainbow roll" print (the breyer is charged with more than one color ink at a time.)

Self-reflection with
artist's statement, featuring a nice edition of four cards (by "Z," grade 7)

 "A," grade 6, took his time with this image, drawing it one day and printing it the next.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Authentic Integration

A project must be due this week in Social Studies – the art studio has been abuzz with 8th graders bearing passes. The 8th grade doesn’t have art until next semester, but with a project due and a deadline looming, some find their way to the art room to beg materials or use the studio.

Giant Bowl with Kanji, by "S," Garde 8

The theme must be Japan – Some students remembered the Sumi-e (Japanese ink painting) that was set up last year, and ask to get that out. Some head to the sculpture center and become architects. Online sources are employed to translate names and words into kanji, which are then brushed onto clay bowls or scroll paintings. Last month the studio was alive with civil war themes: faded, discolored letters from the front, scrapbooks with stiched samplers, 3-D battle scenes and all kinds of weaponry.
Arts integration in school programs often is employed to make learning more vivid or to showcase cultural aspects of the material being studied. Students report that they learn best when they can learn about a topic through the arts. Usually, it is the teacher who “integrates”  art into core subject matter, so it is interesting from my point of view to observe students in the art studio doing the integrating for themselves – in effect, using visual art to “show what they know.”

As the teacher in the room facilitating this process, I have the opportunity to extend the learning by offering references and resources, suggesting areas for further inquiry or helping to make connections to both the artworld and world at large.
There is some question about the extent of transference of learning from art to other disciplines – a question that contemporary researchers are busy studying. I can attest that from my vantage point behind the art apron that the skills and content knowledge acquired in the art studio are synthesized and employed by this group of students as they investigate and assimilate new information in their other classes at school.


Bas relief in clay, By "D," grade 6
I cleaned the potter’s wheel – stacked the chairs, put fresh newspaper on the painting tables and headed for the door. Walking past the art showcase in the hall I glanced at an unusual piece, completed earlier this week – a “bas relief” clay landscape – painted with acrylic and embellished with real sand (it’s a beach at sunset).  On my way down the stairs I looked up at the bulletin board and noticed a lively marker drawing (a figure), made by tracing French curves.
 I realized these two pieces were made by the same 6th grade student – which prompted me to remember two other projects he completed in the last week or so – one a sewn, stuffed figure (in which he embedded some sort of sound making device), and the other a found-object sculpture (in which he re-introduced the sand-as-paint idea.)

Ninja Pig front view

Ninja Pig back view
This innovative artist goes about the business of making art with an open mind and a world of possibilities. His use of materials is non-conventional and playful. He moves easily from one medium to another, creating personally meaningful artworks and finding success and satisfaction in both process and product.
 Some artists in the CBMS studio work on a single artwork over many weeks, others, like this artist/inventor, make so many I can barely keep up with them all!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Expanding the CBMS Artist Community

Montpelier clay artist Mary Stone

There is a cluster of clay artists in the 7th grade interested in making clay whistles. Over the past two years, some of these students have made “the biggest clay whistle in the world” and many other smaller whistles. This group has explored how the size of the whistle affects the sound and how tone holes function. They have spent hours developing various methods for making the “fipple”  - the opening that makes the whistle “work,” and have strived for improving both form and function.

What good luck that I tuned in to a VPR radio program featuring Mary Stone, a local artist who specializes in clay whistles. Mary lives in Montpelier, and her work can be found at Artisan’s Hand gallery on Main Street next to The Skinny Pancake. We invited Mary to the CBMS art studio to share her knowledge and love of clay whistles. She described her own work and process, exchanged notes with fellow whistle makers, and left behind a tiny clay chickadee whistle, for us to fire in our own kiln. 
Click arrow to play

We often refer to the CBMS art studio as a “community of artists.” What a pleasure it was to welcome Mary Stone into that community!

How to make a bird whistle in three steps

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sculpture Center Innovations

The Sculpture Center is always a lively spot in the CBMS art studio. Here artists envision, experiment, discover, invent and collaborate, using a wide range of found and foraged materials.
Cardboard and craft stick sophistication - Go Man Go
Papier mache for first-timers

6th Grade collaboration - "Baby-faced Robot"
"A Single Straw" (AKA "Gangster Pants")
 Click arrow to play!

Artist caught “blue-handed”

“M” is making a collection of clay poker chips. Each group needs to be painted a different color – but there are SO MANY of them! It didn’t take long for “M” (5th grade) to invent a quicker, more direct painting method:
1. Paint hands
2. rub paint on poker chip
3. repeat


7th grade "A" loves wolves

Some artists have “passions” around a particular theme or subject. The art studio is a place where these persistent interests are explored, expanded and expressed.

 Redwall-inspired clay figure by "E," grade 7. This is the latest in a series of clay figures started last year.
...the latest

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.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Week One: Drawing Center Open

Flower Power!
Artmaking in the CBMS art studio is back in action. After first putting systems in place (creating portfolios and sketchbooks, reviewing studio norms), the “Drawing Center” is open! In the Drawing Center, students are introduced to a variety of materials, tools and resources artists use to produce drawings. Pictured here are two individual approaches to similar subject matter. One artist chose to draw flowers from a still life, while another found the information and inspiration she needed in a book about flowers. Welcome back artists!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Blog Gone Wild

It has been a while since I looked in on our art blog, being on summer vacation and all – So it was quite a surprise when I checked it today and found that the CBMS Art Blog has been visited by people in 46 states and 48 foreign countries! I guess it’s time to step things up and get some new posts going! Scroll down to find the visitor map on the left side of the page.
Those in our school community are invited to look at the wish list at the left side of the blog page, and see if there is anything there you are able to donate to the art program. Our need is ongoing - you can contribute all throughout the school year.

Friday, May 20, 2011

ENGAGE AND PERSIST: Collagraph Printmaking

One of the 8 “Studio Habits” (Hetland et el, 2007) artists practice in the Choice-Based art studio is Engage and Persist.”  This is what artists do when they grab hold of an idea and stuck with it.
Collagraph Print by "A," Grade 5
Recently I  observed a 5th grade student demonstrating this habit. He was learning to make a collagraph and print it on our etching press. There were many steps to practice and his first try did not produce satisfactory results.
The student who made the handsome edition of prints pictured above worked independently to master this new technique over a three day period. He stuck with it until he could control all aspects of the process and produce a good, clean image.

The Class that Loved Clay

With four weeks left in school, the Clay Center’s days are numbered. Clay artists are intent on making the most of the few days that are left.
One class in particular is especially prolific, as evidenced by our new style of graph: The "Team Box-top Graph."
As you can see, the DREAM team is outdistancing the other teams hands down.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Finding an idea then finding the “right stuff”

A small cohort of papier mâché artists have been working for several days now on various animal forms. The mâché was layered over balloon armatures – a process these students had experience with from past years.
"C's" Bee, Grade 5
Once the sculptures were hard, the decorating began: paint was employed as a surface treatment and then the search began for just the right thing to use for finer details, in this case, wire for wings, antennae and stinger. The final touch for this sculpture was to add a string so the bee could be installed in the artist's bedroom when it gets home.

The Marvelous Thing

Work in Progress by "M" Grade 8
What I know:
It started out as grey cardboard strips, woven together into an elegant mat.
It was disassembled in order to paint the strips blue.
It was reassembled and then green strips were added too.
Blue and Green are the artist’s favorite colors.
It is held together by weaving and by string.
It can be rolled into a sculptural object.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Ambitious Artists

"Noah's Ark" by "C," "B" & "S," Grade 5

It was “C’s” vision, but he couldn’t do it alone. “C” collaborated with two peers to complete his version of “Noah’s Ark” in time for the end of 3rd Quarter.  The ark itself seemed to come together fairly quickly, but then there was the matter of designing a way to show the flood, and the houses deep below the water. And the animals – what is a good way to make the animals?  “B” and “S” pitched in and helped craft the animals and apply brown tape to the solid side of the ark. The other side, they were proud to show, is open, so you can see inside. Noah stands on the prow and feathered birds perch up on the top.
And one more cool thing? The ark fits inside the flood, for easy transport.

Trickle Up

In a previous post, “C,” who makes graph paper designs was featured. I asked “C,” who is in 7th grade, to show his work to some 8th graders who I thought might be inspired by both his skill and devotion  to his art. Since then, “C” has dropped in several times to mentor these older students, offering to “get them started” and lending his expertise to those intrigued by his body of work.  Here is one of the resulting designs.
Graph Paper Design by "K" grade 8
Although "C" does not often use color in  his designs, "K," an 8th grade artist, found that colored pencils really brought out the pattern she designed.

From Papermaker to Collage Artist

Papermaking has been a popular choice in the studio recently. It is magical to concoct mixtures of pulp and turn it into customized paper, each with a unique color, texture, thickness and character. Some papermakers make sheet after sheet, blending rainbows of papers. Some try for the thinners paper, others for the thickest.  
When the blenders finally stop, paper artists are faced with the question: “What will I do with my handmade papers?” Many are turned into handmade books, sometimes becoming pages, other times adorning covers.  
"Me" by "G," grade 5
This 5th grader used her collection to make this collage depicting summer/winter, day/night and featuring her favorite paper, the one with a little flower embedded, right in the middle.