Posted by: dbjaquith | August 30, 2015

Summer 2015

Mid-July garden

Mid-July garden

Once a year I post about my summer here on the Self-Directed Art blog. This has been a glorious summer! In spite of starting six days late (due to snow last February) it felt like a very long and full season. My summer started with the second annual TAB Institute Summer Teacher Institute which ran for a week in early July at Massachusetts College of Art & Design.

Forty eight teachers spent a week together in Boston learning about learner-directed pedagogy at the Teaching for Artistic Behavior Summer Institute.

Forty eight teachers spent a week together in Boston learning about learner-directed pedagogy at the Teaching for Artistic Behavior Summer Institute.

As director, I work with the college to plan a fulfilling week of graduate level professional development on the topic of choice-based teaching and learning. This year 42 teachers came from 20 different states along with faculty from Massachusetts, Indiana, Illinois and North Carolina. The week went fast, with in-depth discussions about curriculum, assessment, media and strategies to deepen learning for our PreK-12 students. This year’s participants are a hard-working and lively group of dedicated professionals. It was a fabulously fun week together!

The Tusket River in Nova Scotia is brownish and bubbly, due to all the peat under the water.

The Tusket River in Nova Scotia is brownish and bubbly, due to all the peat under the water.

Soon after my husband and I joined friends and set sail for Nova Scotia. We spent several foggy days on this remote and beautiful island, relaxing in “Bear Cottage” in the woods by a lake. We did not see any bears but a very cute porcupine came to visit us on the deck one afternoon. Whales, seals and pods of dolphins escorted us home on the ferry back to Portland.

A frequent visitor to the feeder!

A frequent visitor to the feeder

The rest of the summer was spent in Gloucester looking out on Ipswich Bay, where I had fully intended to get a lot of writing completed. That didn’t happen! Instead I found myself in the garden, tending to the ever-changing show of color. The humming- birds visited often and, though I tried to get some good photographs, my camera is too slow for their fast speed. Did you know that hummingbirds will buzz your head if you get too close to their feeder?

All of these artworks are still in-progress and will continue to evolve over time.

All of these artworks are still in-progress and will continue to evolve over time. Some are more realistic than others as you can see.

Oil sticks and paint sticks are great fun to work with on canvas!

Oil sticks and paint sticks are great fun to work with on canvas!

A week-long class at Montserrat College of Art with painter Dean Nimmer on abstract art has inspired me to create new artwork. I had been painting landscapes for a few years but want to become less realistic so Dean’s exercises have helped me to gradually start the transition to abstraction. One starting point I like is to trace shadows onto a canvas and then work off the shapes. This results in organic forms that can fill a composition. I also switched from oil paints to oil sticks, essentially oil paint in stick-form so I can draw with paint! Paint sticks feel less demanding than oil paints to me so I can work more freely, usually on 3-4 pieces at a time, and just play with color and form. As you can see, I have a ways to go as the work seems to naturally represent something recognizable.

Lots of creatures live in and around these rocks and are fun to discover.

Lots of creatures live in and around these rocks and are fun to discover.

My Gloucester neighborhood has been my summer home since childhood. The people, the landscape, the tides, water and sky are all familiar constants. An annual highlight is the Perseids meteor shower and this year, with the new moon, it was spectacular! Our coast is quite rocky with a sandbar that emerges at low tide. I like to walk the beach to see what creatures, textures and colors appear in my camera lens. We face west, toward Cranes Beach and Plum Island. My evening ritual includes photographing the sunset and I am often joined by my neighbors. For us, this is our fireworks, a beautiful light and color show provided daily by nature.

A July sunset captures summer's glow.

A July sunset captures summer’s glow.

Like many of you I am preparing for a new school year, full of children’s art making and the myriad of surprises that appear each day in our Creativity Studio. When students have autonomy to direct their learning, their teacher gets the joy of watching them to see what will happen next. Being an art teacher is a wonderful job and I am so proud to be a part of this amazing profession!

Posted by: dbjaquith | June 24, 2015

Stop-Motion Animation 2015

Fourth graders developed skills in storytelling, claymation, technology and, most importantly, collaboration as they worked in teams to plan and create their animations. There are many steps in the stop-motion process:

1. Sketch/write a storyboard showing characters, location and story arc

2. Make characters, props and backgrounds out of clay and paper

3. Photograph the characters against the backgrounds, step-by-step. Some animations have close to 200 photographs!

4. Upload photos to iMovie and edit the animation with timing, titles, sound and visual effects

5. Watch the animation and revise where needed

Watch these animations to see how well students understand the animation process!

Posted by: dbjaquith | June 7, 2015

Artists Observe!

A first grader's painting of iris and peonies.

A first grader’s painting of iris and peonies.

Artists are visual thinkers, constantly observing and recording images of their experiences each day. Observation includes all of the senses: sight, sound, taste, touch and smell. These senses alert artists to fine nuances that can inform their artistic practice. Observation is a Studio Habit of Mind (Studio Thinking, Hetland, et.al., 2007).

This still life observation painting shows consideration of the background with designs and a border.

This still life observation painting shows consideration of the background with designs and a border.

In the spring I bring flowers from my garden into the classroom. Some children love the challenge of painting from observation and choose this activity. Last week we had blue iris and columbine; this week there were peonies and purple iris. The students discussed composition – that the vertical arrangement of the flowers suggested holding the paper “the up-and-down way.” Students enjoyed mixing their paints to get the just-right purples, greens and pinks. Some worked in tempera and others worked with watercolors.

Observation is not limited to objects that students can see. Some art is informed by observation done outside of school, retrieved later for artistic expression. Observation can also occur when a student learns by watching a peer. Students benefit by a wealth of resources, including  ideas, techniques and strategies, when they observe one another. Observation is how we experience the world around us and how we learn.

Students share tempera paints and mix colors in palettes.

Students share tempera paints and mix colors in palettes.

Posted by: dbjaquith | March 8, 2015

Marble Mazes

Marble Maze Design

About half of our fifth graders are designing marble mazes over a five-class period. Working in teams or by themselves, alongside others, students learn to plan, test hypotheses, revise, learn from each other and develop strategies. They are discovering many parallels between art and science, especially engineering. Students value their time in the 3D Design Studio because they have few other opportunities in or outside of school to build things. In the words of one boy: “I persisted because victory is VERY sweet and I know our maze will be awesome!”

Many hands are needed to build larges mazes!

Many hands are needed to build larges mazes!

Students Name the Parts of their Marble Mazes
Bumpers and walls
Drops
Flaps
Gaps
Hoops
Marble holder
Paths
Ramps
Shutes and shoots
Slopes and straight sections
Supporters
Swirl
Towers
Tunnels
Twists

Resources
“I looked at some pictures to get an idea for my maze.”
“The video gave us ideas for turns.”
“I learned by observing other people’s mazes.”

 

Marble mazes require lots of table and storage space!

Marble mazes require lots of table and storage space!

Strategies for teamwork (in students’ own words)
Trying different options and techniques
Changing the plan to make it better
Trial-and-error: Some of it worked and some of it didn’t
Combined my ideas with my partners
Repairing and adding to our maze
Working out every kink in our maze
Upgrading for better performance
“When our first plan didn’t work we came up with a new one on the spot.”
“I am engaged because I am having fun with my friend and that makes me persist, to continue working with him.”

Shutes and shoots

Shutes and shoots

Strategies for improved marble maze structures (in students’ own words)
Cutting paper rolls in a segmented way to make turns
Using tactics to make bumpers
Supporting a ramp with string
Elevating the ramp so it will run faster
Reinforcing parts of the maze
Using a pole to hold up another pole
Adding supports so it will not fall

Team Design Ideas (in students’ own words)
Causing one marble hit another into the end zone
Making pins for marble bowling
Adding higher levels
Figuring out how to make the marble fly through the air and land nicely in the cup
Designing a twist so the marble stops on the cardboard
Adjusting the speed by adjusting the ramps

 

Marble Maze Design connects naturally with Next Generation Science Standards for fifth grade:

5-PS2-1   Motion and Stability: Forces and Interaction
5-PS2-1. Support an argument that the gravitational force exerted by Earth on objects is directed down. [Clarification Statement: “Down” is a local description of the direction that points toward the center of the spherical Earth.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include mathematical representation of gravitational force.]

3-5-ETS1-1   Engineering Design

3-5-ETS1-1. Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.

Source: http://www.nextgenscience.org/next-generation-science-standards

Posted by: dbjaquith | March 8, 2015

Kindergarten Art

Children practice their design skills by constructing structures at the 3D studio.

Children practice their design skills by constructing structures at the 3D studio.

Franklin kindergarteners are enthusiastic artists!

Learning clay basics through trial-and-error.

Clay basics through trial-and-error.

They love to explore the art materials and tools, try new things and repeat what they have learned to gain mastery of their art skills. This year we have worked with drawing, painting, collage, cardboard / wood construction and clay. Now students can choose their art media to match their own art ideas. Typically kindergarten artwork shows us the things most important in a young child’s life: family, friends,

Drawing a birthday crown

Drawing a birthday crown

animals, houses, playgrounds, vehicles, toys and games. Last week a girl decided to make a drawing of her friend’s birthday crown and gave the drawing to her as a present. A boy repeated the previous lesson on clay birds nests to remember how to make a pinch pot. Painters used mixing palettes to create secondary colors from the primary colors, while children at the 3D Design Studio built mini-houses and other structures.

Color exploration!

Color exploration!

It is exciting to see what children choose to create each week during their 45-minute art class!

Posted by: dbjaquith | February 22, 2015

Snowmaggedon 2015

There is a baseball field hidden somewhere under that mountain of snow!

There is a baseball field hidden somewhere under that mountain of snow!

This past month in eastern Massachusetts has indeed been challenging! It has snowed every weekend, with over 6 feet of snow on the ground and below-zero temperatures that prevent any melting. We have missed 6 days of school, 2 days per week for 3 weeks, and then left for a week of vacation. Monday and Tuesday kindergarten classes are 3 weeks behind the other kindergartens and I haven’t seen Tuesday’s first and second graders in a month. At least one kindergartener enjoyed our massive snow storms, as illustrated in his enthusiastic drawing below!Snow Man

Posted by: dbjaquith | February 16, 2015

Drawing Boot Camp

1DrawingBootCamp6_editedFifth graders are challenging their drawing abilities with a series of exercises aimed at skill development. Drawing Boot Camp is one among five WOW (Wonderful Original Work) choices that students could make for a 5-class intensive study. These students draw frequently and have shown interest in expanding their skills to bring more realism to their drawings.

Contour drawing of armatures

Contour drawing of armatures

In the first class we discussed line quality and students practiced contour line drawing. This involves a single line to describe an object–the artist looks only at the object, not the

A variety of animal objects are available for contour drawing.

A variety of animal objects are available for contour drawing.

paper—and results in a gestural representation of the object’s form. This is difficult to do without looking and requires tremendous self-discipline. Students observed both the object and shapes defined by negative space around the object in order to describe the object in contour line.

Side-lit objects display their geometric forms through highlights and shadows.

Side-lit objects display their geometric forms through highlights and shadows.

The following class highlighted shading. An arrangement of geometric forms, including spheres, cones, cylinders, cubes and rectangular prisms was lit from the side for contrast in tone. Students selected a small section to draw, focusing on nuances to distinguish lighter and darker areas. They also observed the shapes and directions of shadows to portray them accurately. Gummy erasers and blending stumps were added to the arsenal of drawing tools for shading.

What’s next? One-point perspective!

2DrawingBootCamp5_edited

Posted by: dbjaquith | January 29, 2015

Observation

Observe1Artists observe their environment to get ideas for their artmaking.  The book, Studio Thinking (Hetland, et. al., 2007) includes Observation as one of the eight Studio Habits of Mind that artists regularly employ in their work. During class we talked about observation as a means of noticing, what Hetland calls “alertness.”

I ask students, “What did you observe in art class today?” They respond:  I observed…

…that it’s cold outside so I made a hot chocolate mug.

…how the marble went through the maze.

…a bent piece of cardboard that gave me the idea to build a bench.

…that the paint on my sculpture doesn’t always fill the holes so I repainted some parts.

…that the hot glue did not always do what we wanted.

…a stack of stools that became the top of a building in my drawing.

…that water makes the clay feel smoother.

Developing awareness of one’s environment helps young artists to utilize all available tools in service to art making.

Posted by: dbjaquith | January 25, 2015

Photography Revisited

The bubbler is working!

The bubbler is working!

Photos of still lifes were taken indoors on a rainy day.

Photos of still lifes were taken indoors on a rainy day.

After several months of waiting, third graders have finally gotten onto laptops to edit their photographs! Students each get an entire class to play with iPhoto, to crop and manipulate color and add vignettes. They are coached by those who last used the same laptop. Peer coaching reinforces skills and helps to consolidate understandings.

What does digital photography teach? First of all, technology skills. Learning to use a digital camera and laptop are life skills, ones students can practice both in school and at home. Digital photography also teaches students about artistic behaviors. By collecting a folder of digital images, students learn that art making does not have to be immediate. Artists pace themselves, knowing what they can do now and what can wait for later. These image collections can be accessed

A leaf becomes abstracted in iPhoto.

A leaf becomes abstracted in iPhoto.

and added to, providing future opportunities for photo editing. Third, students learn that it’s OK to make mistakes! Photo editing involves decision making, and no decision has to be permanent. By duplicating images, do-overs are possible and encouraged.

Digital photography is one of many art media available to students at Franklin School. For some, it may be the media through which they best express their ideas, beliefs and emotions.

Color expectations change in iPhoto!

Color expectations change in iPhoto!

Posted by: dbjaquith | January 19, 2015

Secret Sketchbooks

A 4th grader is working from his sketchbook.

A 4th grader is working from his sketchbook.

Some students have sketchbooks that travel back and forth to school. They are typically tiny, fit easily in a pocket, and sometimes are hand-made. The sketchbook appears while students are working at studio centers but, quite often, no one but the artist sees the sketchbook. So it is a magical moment when I come across one, as happened the other day. A boy was drawing fish with tremendous focus. He had his tiny sketchbook as reference. He had filled out about 12 pages since New Years, when he started this sketchbook. When asked why he decided to use a sketchbook he replied, “I like having reference material when I draw.” In addition to many fish, labeled with their names, this boy’s sketchbook contains drawings of reptiles.

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