3D Art: Slow Down and Enjoy the Process

In 3D Art, we are working with the concept of memories as we make Altered Books (check out Artist of the Week: Brian Dettmar). I have been more reflective and introspective about the way that I teach this year. I am moving into my 4th year as an art educator. I am still learning about art, education, teaching, and learning. I spent a lot of time observing my students as they worked on their Paper Cube Challenge. I watched as some students struggled with motor skills while others found creative ways of “following the instructions.” The Altered Book is a lesson/project that I have taught every year for the past four years. However, I have modified the way I teach it each time. This year, in particular, I took a different approach.

At the start of this project I reminded myself of one thing,

s l o w    d o w n

If I wanted my students to slow down and take their time with the project then I would have to do the same. Over the years I saw students rushing to finish their work. Taking short-cuts and saying a piece was finished when I believed that they had skipped over integral steps. In the words of Kanye West,

You need to pump your brakes and drive slow homie

I started by taking a full week to introduce the topic and concept. Here is a breakdown of the first week of the project. Upper School (9-12 grade) art electives meet every day for 40 minutes.

Day One: Intro to Altered Books 

  • Students take notes as I showed a Prezi of Altered Books
  • We discussed some of the techniques and concepts that we saw
  • At the end of the period I told students to start thinking about memories as the concept of their book would be based on one. At first I asked them to think about “childhood memories,” a concept that they struggled with. We decided as a group that “memories” would be a better starting point

Day Two: Research

  • Students joined me in the Digital Art Lab to research Altered Books
  • I shared this links with students for some examples
  • They took notes and started to fill in a worksheet (pdf download: AlteredBookProposals)


    Altered Book Proposals

Day Three: More Research 

  • Students were encouraged to research imagery related to their memory, concept, idea, etc
  • What did they need to look at?
  • What would they need to learn to be able to make their book?

Day Four: Sketching

  • Students used at least 5 pages in their sketchbook as they entered the sketch-phase
  • 1 sketchbook page per idea minimum
  • It is important for students to use a full page or more to take notes, sketch loosely, and develop a thought
  • During this class period I went around and asked students, “What three things do you need to LEARN to start your book?”

Day Five: Brainstorming Session

2013-09-25 09.44.55-1

Whole class brainstorming session on the white board

  • I consolidated the techniques and processes from the “three things” question down to about 10 items that I found to be overlapping themes
  • With these 10 items on the white board in our room I facilitated a student led discussion of ideas, “how-to” instructions, and answers to the questions on the list
  • I worked as a scribe and wrote down all the ideas on the board and asked that the students take notes for techniques relating to their books

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