Inside the Artist Studio



Students will participate in 13 whole group learning experiences (LE) that focus on skill building, Socratic Seminars, and class/project guidelines. Students will also participate in several self-guided workdays where the teacher supervises and guides the students through the artistic process. The end result is a portfolio of work that focuses around a central theme chosen by the student.

Colorado Standards:




This Workshop Session was tagged in Visual Arts

Overview and Context

Classroom Context:

  • K-8 public charter school that pulls students from Brighton and the surrounding area
  • Students have a wide selection of electives that they may take each quarter
  • Each student has two elective slots that they must fill each quarter
  • Each elective slot lasts one hour
  • In art, they have the option to select from three levels of:
    • Two dimensional art
    • Three dimensional art
    • Storytelling though art
      • Video production
      • Animation/board game design
      • Graphic novels
  • Class sizes range from 18-30 students, but typically average around 25

Process and Protocols

Learning Experience Outline

LE 1 – What makes great art Socratic Seminar? And 1 Idea 10 pictures Creativity Assessment:

  • Socratic Seminar Guiding Questions
    • What makes great art?
    • How does color guide mood?
    • How does size affect meaning?
    • How does different media affect overall meaning?
    • What sparks the creative process?
  • 1 Idea 10 pictures Creativity Assessment
    • Randomly select one idea
    • Create 10 small drawings that represent that idea in 10 different ways

LE 2 – Rules/Expectations/Cleaning Drawing Boot Camp (Value):

  • Rules/Expectations/Cleaning (Respect):
    • Plan, organize, and complete all projects on time
    • Take responsibility for your workspace, materials, and actions
      • Maintain appropriate interactions with staff and students
      • Maintain a high level of self-learning/initiative
  • Do good work and share it
    • Craftsmanship
    • Concept
    • Composition
  • Drawing boot camp
    • Value
      • Hatching, Cross Hatching, Stippling, Blending/Smudging
      • Value through pencil type and pressure

LE 3 – Drawing Boot Camp (Observation/composition):

  • Gesture Drawing
  • Rule of Thirds

LE 4 – Drawing Boot Camp Different Media:

  • Marker usage
  • Crayon usage
  • Colored Pencil usage
  • Pastel usage

LE 5 – Painting Boot Camp (Watercolor):

  • Wet on wet
  • Dry surface
  • Water on wet paint
  • Wet paint and tissue
  • Masking
  • Salt on wet paint
  • Modeling paste

LE 6 – Painting Boot Camp (Tempera):

  • Characteristics
    • Non-permanent
    • Flakes off easily
    • Chalky
    • Coverage
  • Double load
  • Scratch
  • Smooth
  • Thin

LE 7 – Painting Boot Camp (Acrylic):

  • Dry
  • Washing
  • Stippling
  • Flicking
  • Dabbing
  • Detailing
  • Under painting
  • Layering

LE 8 – Collage Boot Camp:

  • Layering
  • Using painted paper
  • “Junk”
  • Embroider
  • Stamp
  • Rip vs. cut
  • Weave

LE 9 – Intro to Inside the Artist's Studio.  Where do artist get ideas?/What is the process for making art?  Socratic Seminar:

  • Where do artists get their ideas?
  • Are all ideas good?
  • Is your first idea the best?
  • How do the materials available affect idea generation?
  • How does the world around you shape your ideas?
  • What are the 8 Studio Habits of Mind?

LE 10 – What is a Collection?

  • Show various collections

LE 11 – Appropriation, Copying, and Remixing:

  • Copy, Transform, Combine
  • Nothing is original
  • Take little bits from everywhere that speak directly to you
  • Keep a swipe file
  • Don’t pass others work off as your own
  • Copy your heroes, examine where you fall short, build from there

LE 12 – What does your portfolio look like? Socratic Seminar Pick Ideas (use 99 Concentration Topics if needed):

  • How do artist show their learning?
  • Do artist display their failures?
  • How can you communicate your ideas beyond your final piece?
  • How do you display your process?
  • Complete portfolio contract

LE 13- Work Days:

  • Students check Google Classroom for any reflection forms/assignments
  • Students work individually/in groups to fulfill their portfolio contracts
  • Teacher conferences, gives individual feedback, and shows individual demos, as needed
  • Students cleanup prior to end of class time
  • Students complete exit ticket.  Exit Tickets focus on the following, but are not limited to:
    • Areas of success for the day
    • Areas of growth for the day
    • Areas that need improvement
    • What do they need from the teacher to be successful the following day?
    • Whole group demo suggestions
    • Review of skills
    • General check-in

Tools and Artifacts

Lesson Planning Rationales:

  • Create an environment that helps students develop intrinsic motivation
  • Provide students with narrative feedback
  • Have students shift from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset
  • Have students create art that has personal value and meaning
  • Provide a safe work environment
  • Allow students to develop their own artistic style
  • Provide differentiated instruction


Workshop Session Files

Workshop Session Images

Reflections and Discoveries


What new insights were gained?

Areas of success:

  • Student engagement has increased/ classroom disruptions have decreased.
    • One student had no interest in art last year and had to be pulled from class.  This year he rushes to class to use 123D Design and the 3D Printer.  He works from the start of class to the end every day.  He is currently creating works of art for the staff members at school.
  • The majority of students are coming into class with ideas for their individualized work.
    • Tin ships powered by rubber bands and sails.
    • Tea sets including cups, plates, and a teapot.
    • Photoshop and photo manipulation
    • Backlit paper sculpture inspired by Hari and Deepti
  • Students became masters of specific areas and were able to teach other students.
  • Majority of students are able to problem find/solve.
  • Ownership of art has increased.  Students are excited to share their work with friends and family.
  • I am able to connect with my students at a deeper level.  I know what interests and drives their art making.
  • Risk taking has increased.  Students have learned and willingly retried to learn from their mistakes.
  • Students have a better understanding of the artistic process and the 8 Studio Habits of Mind.
  • Project uploading and reflection forms through Seesaw and Google Classroom works well.

If you could do this activity again, what would you do differently?

Areas that did not work as intended:

  • Several students struggled with sticking to a specific chosen theme.  I allowed them to step outside of their theme, as needed.
  • Clarification on what makes a collection was needed.
  • The process of collecting and storing of art for the art show needs revamped.  Students were eager to take their work home.
  • Written narrative feedback takes longer than expected.
  • Inconsistent building Wi-Fi hindered online submission of art and reflection.  I need to create a process for offline submission.
  • Some students still struggled with idea generation.
  • New/transferred students missed boot camps and valuable information.  Demos needed to be recorded and easily accessible for viewing.
  • One student struggled with ambiguity and idea generation.  I needed a system in place to help these students.
  • Chromebooks struggle to handle apps appropriate for an art room.
  • Meeting school grading requirements (two grades per week) into this system has proven difficult.  I’m currently using student reflection and portfolio progress check-in as the two assignments.
  • Socratic Seminar participation is low.


Possible revisions for next quarter:

  • Offer a teacher directed project for those that struggle with idea generation or need concrete direction.
  • Record and have easy access to boot camps.
  • Have offline mode for submitting reflections/finished work.
  • Encourage Students to work on multiple projects at one time.
This entry was posted in . Bookmark the permalink.