Working beyond Modified TAB into Full Choice

16 11 2014

Halyee blue eyes etchI have been watching, learning, and researching choice based studio teaching for a year now.  I discovered, through the research that I have always been a modified choice art instructor and didn’t know it.  I always tried to do what I felt was best for my artists to learn and to challenge them.  It was a pretty natural transition for me.  There were days before I knew there was a name for TAB, I knew I wasn’t doing things the way I learned how to in my methods class.  I had moved away from strict formulaic lessons with an art history component, strong emphasis on elements and principles of design, and moved into what was happening now in the art world with a range of skills all mixed into one lesson.  I was allowing more freedom of choice in the size of the surface or the media for the lesson.  I was focusing more on the technique and skills, plus trying to have the artist connect to the artwork in a new way.  I wanted my students to be open to work in a way I may not have been able to teach them but could encourage them to explore.  I am more in tune with what my students want to know, teaching them how to do it, and demonstrating what skills or materials they want to learn more about.  I feel I am a modified TAB art specialists because I feel the need to continue to filter in art history in pieces and to push my students through specific skills and techniques.  I feel it is very  important to have building blocks of skill sets and artistic knowledge to be a better artist. I like teaching the beginning skills sets so my students are prepared to make good choices and have confidence to explore new media.

Yumi bridge color

My Printmaking class was given specific instructions on how to do a series of prints for the first quarter into the second quarter.  I wanted to establish a knowledge of what is Printmaking and what and how to do different print techniques. I wasn’t worried about anything while letting my students explore the printmaking processes, because I gave them the knowledge and experience for each process.  We repeated the process several times and added new techniques from process to process.  We explored monoprints: additive, reductive, layered, and stencil. We also created a collagraph plate to print and we just completed an etching print series. The students were getting more independent on what to do with each print.  So I made the decision to let them decide what print process they wanted to explore again.  They can pick the motif, scale, and process… full choice.  Since this class is only offered once a year for a semester and often is every other school year, I thought this was an opportunity to see what can these students do?

Sam colored etch

How will they respond to making choices?  Can they handle being given all of the choices?  I handed out a paper with a few questions on it to lead them to think, research, sketch, and plan a composition.  We discuss the concept and when I feel the student can handle it, I push them to do more research, dig deeper for a more meaningful connection to the motif.  So far I am pleased with the group…they are excited to do a print technique again with full control.  I will monitor the quality and I will push them to achieve their very best.  It’s going to be exciting to see what is the outcome.


My Painting II class is in the process of a full choice project, I have students who wanted to create a surface in three dimensions to paint on for the project and others who wanted to try a series of works and others who wanted to try different materials.  I am pleased with all of their choices,  the great thing is they were asking for the opportunity to be able choose. I figured I should give this a go.  Now is a good time to try it in my studio, I did my homework; I was on this pathway to make the adjustment.



My students filled out similar paper work to get approval for the materials and I staggered my students planning process so I could give one on one attention when they started each project.  I have two students exploring sculpture, two doing a series on canvas, one working with oils on metal, and one doing tempera resists with a twist.





So far the more traditional materials are going smoothly, while the sculpture in plaster is taking on a life of it’s own.  The artist had one sculpture in mind and it has turned into two sculptures. If you work in a artists studio the work often dictates the direction.  We need to follow the process to the end.  It will all work out in the end but it has been a much longer process.


It is enjoyable to witness each artist work through the process and to see them gauge if what they have completed so far is successful.  Since I do not have exemplars to share with them, we are reflecting on their past works or finding artists in our research to help guide our decisions.  We are also critiquing each other’s works in progress to propel our works forward.





I cannot say I have it all perfected but I am getting a handle on how I would take this full choice work for a full time option into my art studio.  I have been organizing my lessons, PowerPoint’s, handouts, and rubrics on Blendspace.  I have my materials organized for easy student access so I feel I am getting ready.  I need a new system for storing work for individuals, so I am sorting that all out.  I even proposed a new way to align my courses to best utilize my energy and benefit my artists in the studio more.  I am hoping I can get this all set for the next school year.  Meanwhile, I will keep modifying my course work and organizing, learning, and researching the best practices.





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