CBMS Choice-Based Art Studio

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

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tomorrow I am going to mix yellow and white 
and see what it makes - 
                                I've never done that before.”

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Art Machine


On my way to school I passed a yellow bike in a pile marked “FREE!”
I threw it in the car and brought it to school where I offered the bike to a small 5th grade class - “Anyone want to paint it?”
Before any paint would stick the bike needed a good washing-off - so buckets and sponges came out and 6 students started in on the task of cleaning off years of dirt.
CLICK to play
It was interesting to hear the ideas tumble out as the dirt was washed off:

We could paint polka-dots on it.”
We could paint the spokes rainbow-colors and watch them swirl when the wheels move.”
How about neon colors?
Nan could ride it all over town!
We could put a wagon behind it and Nan could pull us!”
We could put the 8th graders in the wagon!”

It was Friday morning - idea after idea practically exploded out of this group – like fireworks.
I can't wait til Monday so we can paint it!”

End DAY 1

Over the weekend, I spray-painted the bike white and presented it to the group on Monday.
It's like a blank canvas!”

Teacher:Who wants to work on it? How will you decide how to paint it?
Artists: Hands up if you want to paint the bike!
Teacher: Who will do what?
Artists: Let's make a list of ideas
Teacher: How many should paint at a time?
Artists: Two at a time seems like a good number
Teacher: Will you rotate after a certain number of minutes, or paint until you are done?
Artists: We should each paint until we are done and then switch
Teacher: Who goes first and how will you decide?

They decided – it was easy. And then the work began. Kids waiting for their turn mostly went on to their own work elsewhere in the class, checking in now and then to see how things were coming along.

It should have a name – like “The Art Machine.”
If we were driving it around town everyone would be so jealous!
They would crash into a tree if the saw it!


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Emergent Curriculum: Understanding the Art World

I watched a student take out a sheet of paper and begin to cover it all over with graphite from a pencil. It was slow going.
He wanted to create an all-over grey surface and then use an eraser to “draw” an image – Probably something he has done before somewhere else.
The paper he chose was too big.
Progress was too slow.
He abandoned the work and moved on to another project.
Test piece, made then recycled, by "A," Grade 5

But the work he started reminded me of a display I saw last Spring in NYC at the Museum of Art and Design in NYC: http://tinyurl.com/d7bm24u
The show was called: Swept Away: Dust, Ashes, and Dirt in Contemporary Art and Design. The work of guerrilla artist Alexandre Orion Ossario was included in the show. He is a street artist who goes into automobile tunnels and creates images by wiping clean the collected dirt and soot. Images of skulls emerge as he wipes away the toxins collected on the tunnel walls. (See youtube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwsBBIIXT0E)

All this to say that based on my student's work, class started today with a demonstration of different ways to cover a paper and prepare it for the subtractive, or reductive process my student attempted the day before. I showed students that we have dark, rich ebony pencils that will cover a paper quickly with a velvety layer of graphite. I had a box of charcoal at the ready, and we tried that to see how it would cover. We noticed that the newspaper I layered under the paper was leaving marks as the pencil passed over the joints in the layers – leaving behind tell-tale lines, so I brought out the rubbing plates and showed what they can do when placed under the paper before rubbing it pencil or charcoal. 
Charcoal, erased design with oil pastel added (By "A,"Grade 5)
Which goes on easiest?
Which erases off cleanest?
What size paper is best for this kind of work?
“It's just like scratchboard” one artist observed. 
Can we add oil pastel?
We talked briefly about additive and reductive processes and about positive and negative space – just in passing (this will be revisited later no doubt).
I showed the video.
We talked about the legality or illegality of graffiti art – is it illegal if the artist is cleaning the walls to reveal an image?
I wonder.

The World as Light Box

One holds the horse stead - the other draws
Some say art is about transformation.
That is how I am thinking about the activities of two 5th graders last week. On day two the Drawing Center “opened.” The various tools, materials, references and resources artists use when they draw were highlighted and a box of animal models was introduced. One artist decided she wanted to draw from the horse model and slipped out the door with a friend to use the sun for some help. Using the cast shadow as a reference, a drawing was made.
What this artist did was transform a three dimensional object into a two dimensional one that was easier to draw on a two dimensional sheet of drawing paper.
Pretty clever.
But it was very hard for her drawing assistant to hold the horse still enough to get a good shadow tracing, so - 
Looking at the shadow cast above, I think a lesson on Lascaux Cave paintings is next...
the next day they came to the studio, I had an old overhead projector set up, with the horse standing by. The two girls who initiated this project knew at once that this apparatus was for them, and began to experiment with it, producing several drawings before moving on to other work.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Planning for Art

 Our classroom, set up as a learning studio, offers opportunity and flexibility for diverse approaches to art to suit many different learning styles and preferences.
The predictability of the art studio facilitates advance planning; students know what materials, tools, time and space will be available for their artmaking.
Students plan for their work in the studio in different ways – some think about art at home and come in with sketches or blueprints to work from. 
Others settle into a corner of the studio and draw up plans or lists to guide their activities.
Some students bring in sketchbooks or journals where they have noted their plans or where previous drawings are stored and used for inspiration and a way forward. 

Each artist has to discover and develop their own creative routines and processes. Some students flourish through collaborative artmaking, others prefer to work alone. 

Some artists work intuitively, taking things as they come and noticing what “looks right” or what “feels right.” Others begin with a plan but allow for alterations depending on how things go or what materials are available.
Our classroom, set up as a learning studio, offers opportunity and flexibility for varied approaches to art to suit diverse learning styles.