CBMS Choice-Based Art Studio

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

Saturday, October 19, 2019


October 18 Prompt: Misfit

Oh how I love this drawing! 
In the spirit of Inktober, this 5th grader has made an ink drawing each (school) day since October 1. I think this is my favorite.

During the month of October, artists from all around the world commit to making 31 drawings in 31 days. Or one drawing a week, or a drawing now and then. There really are no rules, except that the drawings are made in ink and posted. We post ours on the bulletin board. Others post at #Inktober. Prompts are offered, but not required. 
 Inktober is really just a nudge to “get drawing” and a fun way to encourage each other to practice and get better. It is also a celebration of drawing and sharing, artist to artist. 
Visit Inktober.com for more information and to get involved. 

Friday, October 18, 2019

Bill Ding

Remember these?

Fifth graders invent design-challenge games and compete for most creative arrangements while working with this classic building toy. The structures they create are marvels of balance, line, form, symmetry and asymmetry. I’m glad I’m not the judge! 

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Working in Series

Sometimes artists get an idea that is "grabby" for them, one that sticks and is worth pursuing, sometimes over and over. Think Georgia O'Keefe's enlarged flowers, for example, or Monet's bridge.   When this happens, it is said that the artist is "working in series." A series is a group or continuum of artwork, each sharing something in common. The collection of work might share a theme, a subject, or a technique. 

Working in a studio-setting, learners are free to explore themes and interests, and build a related body of work. We recently hung a series of paintings that "M," grade 8, worked on over several weeks. 

"M" has been pursuing faces, large and small, for some time now. Many of his earlier faces were made with marker. 

Sometimes he paints faces on and in magazines, creating a variation on the idea of "altered books."

For this series, "M" mostly used acrylic paint on 18" X 24" paper, although the one below is mixed-media; permanent marker and white gel pen over acrylic paint. 

And the first one in this series, the one above with the yellow hair, is double-sided, with a marker-face on the reverse. Here is the reverse side of that painting: 
Finally, "M" wrote a simple artist statement to accompany his work. The statement give a little glimpse of this artist's process. 

Friday, May 17, 2019

Infinity and Beyond

The Infinity Gauntlet

My students keep trying to make it. 
“Do we have any gems? Do we have any jewels? Do we have any gems or any jewels?” 

They try making it out of clay, papier mâché and paper bags wrapped in masking tape. Some even tried casting their hand in plaster, first one side, then the other. But when assembled, the hand won't fit back into the thing. 

Individual, articulated fingers with Infinity Stones in place. Ready for assembly.
It seems that function is lagging somewhat, and the function (you know, to control the universe...) is key. 
Nothing works. 
Until now. 
5th grader “A” is engineering an articulated glove by manipulating paper “art straws.”  The Infinity Stones are made by arranging the right color pony beads into the correct shapes. This is the first glove created in our studio that can be worn, taken on and off, and has moving fingers. “A’s” one complaint is that he still can’t snap his fingers with it on. 
And, spoiler alert: snapping your fingers when wearing the Infinity Gauntlet, is pretty important.
Finished, articulated gauntlet. Fits like a ...glove!

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Closing Centers

It’s mid-May.
I stood in the empty studio this morning and started thinking that maybe it’s time to close the sculpture center. 

But then I had another think coming. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Tom Sawyer Moment

This chair. 
I saved it in case someone needed something to paint. 
And saved it, and saved it, and saved it...
and tripped over it, and stacked things on top of it, and started to regret saving it. 
FINALLY, there are several student who keep pleading for “something else to paint.” 
So I gifted the chair to an artist in need. 
And then that Tom Sawyer thing happened. So fun to watch friends come by to see what going on only to end up with a paintbrush in their hands. 
Aunt Polly would be amused. 

Monday, February 11, 2019


Monday can be the hardest day of the week around here. I think it is a combination of my impulse to roll out something new to start off the week, and the kids getting readjusted to how to do school after two days off. 
Once plastering is complete, our custom is to read a story while the plaster sets up. We prefer Edward Gorey and Maurice Sendak for this purpose. 
But today, during my very large combination 7th & 8th grade class, I looked around and was absolutely overcome (read: horrified) with the variety of goings-on. Ready for a list? We had:
  • Face plastering (plaster gauze on live face)
  • Paper making (day one) (see what I mean?)
  • Mural making (with some sort of complex math calculations going on involving a tape measure, a circle and a circumference?)
  • Mono-printing on gelli plates
  • Glazing clay
  • Valentine making
  • and the usual drawing, painting, needle felting, sewing and cardboard sculpture
Papermaking station ready for business
The thing is, while there was an impossible number of specialized processes out that usually only appear one at a time, it was all working. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

heART Trap

I just set an art trap in the spirit of the season. 

Who will fall in?

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

The Story of the Two Damiens

Ok. So here's the story:
The class started like this: "Class, please get out your recent work and photograph it for your digital portfolios. Remember that I will be asking you to let us know which of the 100 Artistic Behaviors you used while making, planning or reflecting on this piece."

Damien realized he didn't have a piece to photograph. But he did see a half-eaten bagel sitting there on the sculpture table...
The rest, as they say, is history. 
Art history that is. 
Because when Damien presented his piece, it reminded me of how artists sometimes employ ephemeral, real-world objects, and "elevate" them to capital-A Art. I asked Damien if he planned to display his work. He seemed surprised but jumped at the proposition. "It will mold!" someone warned. "Gross" offered another. 
Related image
Damien Hirst, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (1991)© Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved. DACS 2011. . Photo: Photographed by Prudence Cuming Associates Retrieved 1-8-19 from: art382001 https://www.culture24.org.uk/art/art382001 
I pulled up some of Damien Hirst's work to show Damien, and the crowd starting to form around the bagel sculpture. "Weird that his name is Damien too," observed Damien, something I am embarrassed to admit that I hadn't put together yet). Yes, weird. 

(Update: I just checked the display case, and Damien's Bagel Boi is currently mold-free. But some of Hirst's work is starting to decompose, I hear.)

Friday, January 4, 2019

FAQ about TAB

By "E", Grade 7 Colored Pencil and Watercolor wash. 
I am excited to report that my article: FAQ for TAB appears in Arts and Activities magazine this month. Which reminds me, there is a wealth of articles and essays about Teaching for Artistic Behavior (TAB), Choice-Based practice and learner-directed art education available on the TAB website
Art teachers contribute to the Choice-Based Art column in Arts and Activities every other month, and the collected resources there are invaluable. Go take a look!