CBMS Choice-Based Art Studio

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

Thursday, February 21, 2013

An Artist's Reference

“E,” a 6th grader, was first through the door today. She came prepared for artmaking and carried with her a greeting card with a painting of a blossoming amaryllis plant on it. As soon as the whole-group “five-minute lesson” was completed, she went directly to the clay center  to begin sculpting a flower, using the painting on the card for reference and inspiration.

“E” has been working with the idea of flowers and clay over the last several classes. One single flower she crafted on a slender stem broke off at the base of the bloom. Yesterday she put the finishing touches on a decorated lidded jar (shown below), also featuring a flower theme.

The idea of lidded jars has also been repeated by “E” over several classes. After I observed that the first lid slid around on top of the jar, I showed “E” some ideas for creating a “gallery” inside the lid to help keep it in place.

‘E” is demonstrating many of the 8 studio habits we use to guide and describe our work as artists in the studio – Engage and Persist, certainly, as she returns to similar ideas and creates a body of work around a theme. ‘E” also employs the habits Observe:  demonstrating alertness to the flower reference from home that helped shape today’s work, and Envision, as she imagines what to make and how to go about it, seeing the project  “in her mind’s eye.”  

Flowers brought in for a sketching skill-builder became the perfect reference for "E" to continue her work. Now where can we get ladybugs and caterpillars this time of year I wonder...
Develop Craft is the habit “E” employs when she learns and practices new skills and techniques. Actually, it’s hard to name a “studio thinking habit” ‘E” is not demonstrating. Stretch and Explore comes into play when “E” takes a creative risk, or tests out new ideas. Reflect is a habit used throughout her work, to help guide needed adjustments as she goes along.  The last two habits are also in play – Express: Learning to create works that communicate an idea, a feeling, or a personal meaning and Understand Art World: Learning about art history and current practice, learning to work as an artist within a community of artists. “E” uses this habit when she learns about artistic conventions and  practices,  re-interprets and incorporates another artist’s painting into her clay sculpture.

The 8 Studio Thinking Habits of Mind have been on my mind a lot these days, since I am participating in an online conference with Lois Hetland, one of the originators of this framework, and art educators from around the country who are using Studio Thinking habits to inform their work with students.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Busy Studio

Second trimester ends on Friday - Third quarter is several weeks underway. 5th and 6th graders come for a quarter each this year, 7th and 8th graders stay for a trimester. There is a lot going on in the studio this week! In addition to their regular daily art classes, 7th and 8th graders have been using the studio during their study hall block to complete a social studies assignment. There are papier mache mummies and mountains and craft-stick villages sprouting up everywhere. 

5th and 6th graders are getting their first experience on the potter's wheel and enjoying clay exploration at the handbuilding table.  All the good tiles have been used up for mosaics.  An 8th grader commented during his final reflection today: "Nan suggested I try a mosaic, and I didn't think I wanted to, but now I really like it and I'm glad I tried one!"  Batik and encaustic have wound down a little at last, but promise to reprise next week when the classes change and I get a new group of 7th grade girls.
I paused on my way out of the studio the other day to take a photo and a deep breath. It is a busy art studio!

Do Not Feed the Trolls!

Trolls. These are somehow different from the rubbery, silky haired,  irresistibly ugly toys I remember making houses for in the bushes around my grandparent's house one summer. Mine had bright red hair. 
These trolls are different, and from what I gather from other middle school teachers, they are very "in" at the moment. 
8th grade boys started making them several weeks ago - at first it seemed they were doing it specifically to irritate their Language Arts teacher who banned trolls from her classroom. They learned to use the light table, so they could trace troll faces downloaded from web-searches. The trolls got bigger and bigger, until one became a giant mask - a wearable alter-ego of sorts, gleefully worn to Language Arts  class.
The paintings above were made when I was out sick last week - and the artists responsible could hardly wait to get these up on display when I got back- they were almost desperate! They had already mounted them onto cardboard mats, and just needed a place to tack them up. "Pleeeease!" This made me suspicious.
Is there some illicit meaning here I am too square to understand? Are the kids "getting away" with something? Am I being played? I asked a group of educators from around the country last night, during an online conference, and they conferred that trolls are very popular among their middle students too. Is that all there is to it? I wonder...