color wheel

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Artistic Behaviors - Persistence

Masking tape requires serious concentration.Masking tape requires serious concentration.So...... what are the underpinnings of this method of teaching art? We call it "Teaching for Artistic Behavior." Identifying just what those behaviors are is an important part of setting up the studios for our work. We spend lots of time, especially when a new studio is set up, talking about what artists do there and how to use, clean, and It's part balance, part scissor work, and part sticky.It's part balance, part scissor work, and part sticky.store the tools that are specific to that media. With nearly 500 students using the studios over the course of our eight day rotation, the logistics of keeping things in order is important shared work.

We can almost hear the wheels turning.We can almost hear the wheels turning.As important as organization is, though, other artistic traits are just as essential for successful learning. The physical mindfulness is the bedrock upon which we base the rest of our exploration. "Doing" art the way that studio artists do is very physical but includes many cognitive processes, too. What are the behaviors that we cultivate in our art journey? How will we know them when we see them? This post is intended to be the first in a series that will give you a picture of the specific trait that make our studio experience so rich. Knowing the author as well as I do, it's likely that we'll do a little birdwalking along the way, but that's how learning works.Four whole art sessions were devoted to this mosaic collage of a volcano and plume of ash.Four whole art sessions were devoted to this mosaic collage of a volcano and plume of ash.

Persistence is important to artists because of the way we learn. Children are instinctive artists and those of us who are fortunate enough to spend our days with them appreciate the attitudes they bring to their art. Following a project through to its natural conclusion might result in a product of some sort - like Jose's giant black whale that's crafted from several scissor-cut pieces of black construction paper.Another sign of persistence is standing to work.  An artist has to be fast on his feet to get the right effect.Another sign of persistence is standing to work. An artist has to be fast on his feet to get the right effect.

Persistence also shows up in other kinds of mindful practice that young artists choose. I was a little worried about the kindergärtner who slowly and purposefully filled an entire 11x14 sheet of white paper with black watercolor strokes. When I asked her about her painting she said, "I like the shine before it dries." When I nodded to show I understood, she added, "And I'm practicing my outlines." A volunteer confided that she takes all the black pots out of the watercolor sets in her kindergarten Sunday school class. Each picture was selected with care.  "See my farm?"Each picture was selected with care. "See my farm?" I pondered doing the same thing for a short time and decided that painters needed to see what a large puddle of black looked like. It's along this pathway that shades of gray are discovered, too, both in the rinse water as it darkens and on paper when the pigment is diluted to just a whisper of color. Many painters spend whole sessions mixing, painting, and re-mixing colors. One question that is guaranteed to *never* receive an adult answer is, "What do I mix to get ____?" (Insert color here.) Even if one of the three primaries is the color in the blank, I always try to ask, Meet the world's most carefully constructed bear - pattern first, fleece cut with care, whip stitching, buttons, twine, and pride.Meet the world's most carefully constructed bear - pattern first, fleece cut with care, whip stitching, buttons, twine, and pride."What will you need to find out?" Yes - color wheels are available, as is a gorgeous hard-board copy of Mouse Paint, so there are a few other ways to get the information, but oftentimes the advice from a peer - cross checked with appropriate puddles of paint - is more valuable than the words of an adult.

Persistence shows up in the folder of a child who's in the middle of a grand project of collecting as many magazine photos of baby heads. "I'm going to make a collage, Ms. J. All these babies will be smiling, I think. I don't know why they don't take pictures of babies when they cry, which is most of the time." Good question. Unhappy babies don't sell disposable diapers?Valentines make sense this late in February if an artist has just now perfected them.Valentines make sense this late in February if an artist has just now perfected them.

Persistence shows up in the patient practice of a favorite car shape, repeated renditions of faerie queens in long, flowing dresses, and the fifth pony bead bracelet in a series. ("Today is the day for green, Ms. J. It's my mom's favorite color.")"Don't do cleanup yet - she's almost a princess.""Don't do cleanup yet - she's almost a princess."Princess detail-note the blur in the fast coloring right handPrincess detail-note the blur in the fast coloring right handA certain sign of intense persistence?  A set lip with the tip of a tongue peeking out.A certain sign of intense persistence? A set lip with the tip of a tongue peeking out.

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