Saturday, March 13, 2010

Artists at work

When I started experimenting with TAB at the beginning of this year, I had no idea it would take off as it has. And as I continue to learn, I'm sure there will be more things I will change as I adapt to the knowledge new experiences will bring.

As of this writing, I have 4 working studio centers. This posting reflects a on the very beginning of my TAB experience where there were three studio centers available: Painting, construction, and drawing.

One thing I have noticed about this teaching approach is how engaged students become (for the most part.) I still have students who need more guidance by me, but most are engaged in meaning art making. That's the part of teaching this way I love best.

Students working at the painting studio are creating works that are unique and very creative. I find this to be true more with the liquid paints (perhaps because they can mix them together and they are brighter) than with watercolors. My goal in the painting studio is to give the kids experiences with different types of paints and have them try different techniques.

The picture to the right was made by a student using liquid paints and a tongue depressor. I'll be posting a video of this process but basically you put down your liquid colors on the left side of the paper and "scrape" the paint toward the right. The large yellow moon (or sun - I didn't ask) is painted first using one's finger. When the paint is pulled through using the tongue depressor, the yellow shape stays.

The student in the above picture working at the painting table, was making a colorful pictures using different reds. I was intrigued watching her as she developed her picture. She used a brush and put on the paint one "blotch" at a time. Sometimes the kids keep adding paint until the painting turns very dark. But this young lady kept it consistent. The result was very interesting and visually satisfying. The only time I see this kind of work (true even before I started using TAB) is when I allow students to make choices for themselves on what they want to do and how they want to do it.

I'm finding this to be true in our other studio centers as well (although not to the same degree yet). However, in the drawing center, more and more students are getting out the fake fruit and trying their hand at a still life drawing. And while the step-by-step books are still a favorite, I'm seeing more and more draw from the heart or using the many different models they have available to them.

At the construction center I posted some models on the white board (next to the center itself) so that kids had some ideas to work with. Surprisingly most students opted for their own ideas. I liked that. I've since taken down the models and student continue to create imaginative creations (including some pretty interesting 3-d creations).

This past week we started our clay projects. As usual, my plans changed a bit as I began to see how the kids responded to using clay. Originally I planned on the 4th and 5th graders making pinch pot creatures. We had a workshop on using clay (a one-day "how to" on all aspect of using clay) and I found that many students had difficulty manipulating the clay in the way they needed to for a successful pinch pot. Not only that, but it occurred to me that we'd have a lot of "look alike" projects (not a bad thing in and of itself) and I wanted to see what they could come up with on their own.

I can't wait to show more of what we've been doing lately. The above pics are from January. My intentions are good it's my body that's tired. I can't seem to get the creative juices flowing to write. I should just do what I tell my students: Just start something and the rest will come.

Have a great week!

Just a quick afterthought: I use the terms "studio," "center," "station" and "studio centers" meaning the same thing. I'm trying to use only "studio center" because I've taught the students that a studio is where an artist goes to "study" art. And at the clay studio center we study and work with clay etc. I refer to my room as the Art Studio. I also tell my students that artists study art by doing art: experimenting, exploring, and expressing. Just so you know, for me the product isn't that that important (though it does matter). It's all about the process. When one finishes the art project, the "doing" is over. Time to display the finished project and get started on a new one.

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