Here we are at the start of the ’18-’19 school year, the beginning of our 5th year using the Teaching for Artistic Behaviors pedagogy coupled with full choice for Kindergarten- 8th grade artists, and the last year in our trusty art room. That is right, we are getting a new art space next year as Trinity Episcopal School plans to open the new Fine Arts Complex (what I have named it….) in a brand-new building. The new building will be on the land adjacent to the main school building and the many windows in our current art room give us the best view of the construction.
The first day the “diggers” arrived, the Kindergarten artists were in the studio. These little peanuts are just learning about art at Trinity but let’s face it, Kindergarteners are naturals when it comes to Artistic Behaviors. The behavior of observation is HUGE for them and that first day of construction could not have been more interesting for them to witness . The conversations, cheers and questions around what was happening were beyond measure. There were a few drawings inspired by the observation but for many, it was just a fascinating process to watch. Some may say that we should have closed the blinds and pushed them to create work that was tangible but we did not close the blinds. Rather we gave these young artists time and space to simply observe what was happening.
Then everything kinda coalesced when the 3rd graders came to art later that day. These students have been learning Artistic Behaviors for 4 years now and their process is inspiring to watch. They took “Artists Observe” to new levels. The pictured artists is working from direct observation, siting at the window sill and drawing the machinery as it was working. This artist is using his observation to choose colors, create lines and capture movement. This artist was not instructed by the teacher to draw the machine nor were they told what materials to use. This artist created authentic work by practicing the habit of observation.
This artist is observing a peer build a telescope. As she watched, she asked questions and gave suggestions. Finally, she decided that she wanted to build a telescope as well but started by asking her peer if it was OK. Artists inspire artists!
This middle school artist creates from observing their Koinonia time (our version of MS advisory). He observed a friend with snacks, a friend (sadly) without snacks, a dog that wants the snacks, a basketball and hoop, a box of donuts and a water bottle that is being flipped. This piece couldn’t happen if this artist had not been a keen observer of a moment in time.
Each of the above captured examples of “Artists Observe” happened because the artists were given two essential things that every artist needs: Time and Space. Each artist at Trinity is gifted time to observe and space to create. In between that time and space, the students employ other habits like persistence and engagement, development of craft, envisioning, stretching and exploring, and expressing themselves. These artists are entrenched in what it means to be an artist on a daily basis and we could not be more inspired by them if we tried.
Go out and observe your world,
Jen and Mary Ann