Art Mindset means being creative and expressive, it means thinking VISUALLY- Most of all it means having a positive, “Growth Mindset” when it comes to making art. I believe that Art is for EVERYONE. Most everyone can walk or jog even though not everyone is an Olympic athlete. We learn to read and write even though few of us become professional authors. In the same way- even if you can’t draw a convincing stick-figure, you can still enjoy, make, use and share art.
So… What are you so Afraid of?
Oh you don’t think so? Well, maybe you’re just afraid to try. The fact is even the most successful professional artists feel insecure. Probably because art, by nature is something that others get to see. If other people get to see it, they’ll probably have opinions about it and might just tell you what they think. Let’s face it, that can be intimidating. But as Stanford Professor and Growth Mindset guru Carol Dweck will tell you, COURAGE is part of learning- for that matter, FAILURE is a part of learning.
THINK OF IT AS A THINKING TOOL
Maybe it will help if you stop thinking of “ART” as this high and mighty, holy, special, set-aside, mystical, miraculous and just think of it like reading, writing and executing mathematical functions. Think of it as a thinking tool. Drawing, doodling, sketching, diagraming, designing and making art are ways of working out your thoughts. It’s another way of working through ideas. If you can think, you can art.
Meanwhile (maybe because it’s visual/spacial and analogous instead of logical/linear/linguistic) Art can still be magical and mystical and mysterious- but at the same time approachable, practical and usable… for EVERYONE.
DARE TO ART!
Too often, we become paralyzed by our insecurity about how art will turn out. STOP. Don’t worry about how it will turn out- concentrate on what you can learn from the PROCESS of making art instead of whether or not you’re any “good” at art, okay? Be courageous.
So how can you nurture an “Art Mindset?” By developing positive attitudes about art and then repeating, rehearsing and practicing them over and over again until they become good habits. Education author and “Genius Hour” advocate Angela Maiers might even call some of these “Habbitudes;” positive habits built on positive attitudes which help you learn and grow.
Maybe the most important positive attitudes you can have to help you experience and create art is wonder. Call it curiosity, call it whatever you
want- You have to look more closely at things instead of merely glancing quickly and taking what you see for granted
DON’T JUST LOOK, EXPLORE
The next important thing is to process what you see. Look at it from different perspectives. Compare & contrast it to other things you’ve seen, COMBINE it with other things you’ve seen, and examine it so closely that you discover new things and begin seeing it in new ways.
FEED ART TO OTHERS!
Once you’ve seen what no one else sees- SHARE what you’ve seen. Help others see what you see. Don’t hoard it to yourself.
Four Art Disciplines; Art History, Aesthetics, Production, & Art Criticism
Those who STUDY art generally follow four basic strands; They look at what artists have done in the past, they analyze how images are composed and structured, they MAKE Art- of course and they apply critical thinking skills to examining, reflecting on and responding to Art.
These are great ways to learn about Art- but… on the one hand, these categories seem almost too specific to Art, stuff that non artists and not art experts aren’t gonna “get,” but at the same time- they’re waaay too broad, too vague; they’re not clear enough, specific enough or practical enough for non-art-experts to wrap their minds around, let alone use. Fair enough. So look at some habits you can really use that will help you develop as and artist AND will help you develop and “Art Mindset” that you can use for everything in life, not just art.
Studio Habits of Mind (SHoM)
In 2003 the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s “Project Zero” published a list of eight ways of thinking that student-artists learn while in the process of creating art.
THIS IS NOT A LIST
Because these eight ways of thinking all work together and influence each other and build on one-another, and because none of them leads to another and none is more important than another, they really shouldn’t be considered in a specific order.
These eight habits work TOGETHER to create what I’d consider an “Art Mindset.”
Check your Progress
How do you teach expectations about Studio Habits in school Art departments? That’s going to be different for every Art teacher. Here are three levels that might compare to “Got it,” “Almost got it,” and “Not yet.” Or- if you prefer teacher jargon: Proficient, Adequate and Inadequate. Too often, Art students blame poor products on a lack of talent. These three descriptions let students know when they haven’t invested enough in the PROCESS to be able to realistically expect successful finished products.
Like athletes, musicians, and STEM scholars, if you aren’t challenging yourself, you may plateau and not really improve. “Coasting” basically says that you’re doing okay, but you’re not really excelling or exceeding.
Generally, when you’re learning, growing, or improving, you know, but this description celebrates and shows gratitude for the effort students put toward their own learning. Combining Growth Mindset, Positive Behavior Initiatives and visual art learning nurtures an “Art Mindset.”
My hope is to create eight more videos explaining each of the eight Studio Habits in more detail, one at a time. Please, watch them, like them, share them, link to them, use them, comment on them, and of course, consider subscribing. I’m not looking for fame or fortune, I want to share these ideas and the more views, likes and share these videos get- the easier they are to find in search engines.
I say it’s “my hope”- but I’m gonna spend ‘School Art Month’ (March), preparing for my school to host a conference Art show in April. But not only do I need to re-tool how I overtly teach, and integrate and implement the Studio Habits in my own classroom- I genuinely want to share the Studio Habits with not just other Art teachers and artists, but with EVERYONE, because I believe this Art Mindset can help anyone see different adt think more visually and creatively.
So if/when I find time, I’d like to; write blog posts like this, create graphics and slideshows, perhaps even videos and podcasts concerning the Studio Habits.
WHY AM I DOING THIS?
Partly because the articles and videos already out there are mostly aimed at K-5 & K-12 Art teachers. I have 6-12 Art students and like I just mentioned, everyone else. Parents, art hobbyists, novice artists, non-artists, business people, teachers in other disciplines, coaches, people who’ve always assumed that they’re art-impared!
- YouTube Video; “Hungry Eye, Art Mindset”
- GoogleSlides Show; Art Mindset
- MORE: https://naea.digication.com/maldog/ART_MINDSET
- Podcast; https://anchor.fm/ted-mallory/episodes/Episode-5-Art-Mindset-e3bo64
TALK TO ME/WITH ME/AT ME
Have you used the Studio Habits in your own art (or Art classroom?) what have your experiences with it been? Do you use them in grading art works? How do you teach them? Please share your ideas and experiences below in the comment section.
Hoping to show #Drawing students (@bvartdogs) how to use gesture to improve figure drawing ✍️ in sketchbooks, not just large scale classroom sketches. The idea is to encourage them to use their #sketchbooks more- to draw “on the fly,” if you will. I tell them that “this is something you can do anywhere, anyWHEN, as long as you have paper and pen (or pencil ✏️).”
You don’t have to have special tools like charcoal or conté or 18”x24” newsprint- an average pen and a little 5×8 sketchbook are fine. A model is great, but unwitting strangers (or in this case a photo) are fine for practicing drawing.
Drawing isn’t a magical gift. It is a tool for thinking and communicating like reading and writing. It is therapeutic like music or exercise. Anyone can learn it. It takes practice, persistence, patience, and observation and it strengthens each of those four critical thinking skills.
To anyone who feels dumb or inadequate, I encourage you to read, write & draw. Even if you think you can’t or don’t like to. The more you do these 3 things, the easier they’ll get and the better you’ll get at them. You’ll find eventually that you’ll dislike them less. Eventually, you’ll fall in love with them. Each of them help you think, reflect, envision, & grow. You’ll feel more confident. Try making them habits. Draw every day.
Read, Write, Draw.
This year I have begun introducing a new way of combining pictures with words.
¡Viva La (Doodle) Revolución!
Sixth graders work on visual-literacy exercises. They think that it’s just fun doodling or maybe at most cartooning- but really, they’re learning how to communicate effectively, quickly and economically with images.
The principle is that drawing is a thinking tool, a means to an end, not just an end in itself. Ideally, this will build their confidence and lower their inhibitions about learning to draw, paint and design later in middle school and high school. Meanwhile these skills will help them be able to analyze, conceptualize, organize, interpret and visualize their learning. It will also help them better be able to communicate visually.
This year I’ve also begun having 6th, 7th & 8th graders use inexpensive composition books. In these books students are encouraged to doodle and sketch, but this is also where they could practice art exercises and of course- take notes.
Instead of spending $6-10 per student from the Art Dept. budget, each student spends maybe 50 cents to $2 on their own composition book. My hope is to have them use these as a composition notebook, sketchbook, “smash-book,” scrap book, “bullet-journal,” organizer, and diary. Ideally, kids will recognize that they don’t have to spend huge amounts of money for special tools, but instead they can create their own very inexspesively.
Graphic Organization + Diagrams & Illustration
+ Annotation = BETTER NOTES
I introduced ALL my art classes, 6-12 to visual note-taking. Many teachers may cringe at the idea of letting students draw on their notes. I sympathize, that simple, spartan notes may be easier for teachers to grade, if they require students to turn them in. But I wanted to tackle several problems. 1) Integrating art into student’s everyday lives and other subjects. 2) Helping students notes be more meaningful and useful to them. 3) the fact that kids either don’t bother taking notes or complain about having to take them.
Year ago when I attended the Iowa Writer’s Workshop at Morningside College, Professor Marty Nepper helped me discover a powerful idea. Writing is not just about sharing or publishing what you’ve written, it’s tool for thinking, a way of processing and organizing ideas and experiences. Therefore, writing isn’t just for professional authors or reporters- it’s for EVERYBODY. I remembered that one of my Art professors at Concordia College often insisted that art was for EVERYONE, not just for professional artists. Connect the dots and it’s easy to see that while not everyone may paint like Michelangelo or draw like Leonardo- anyone who can make marks can use those marks to help them think. Drawing (Doodling, Sketching, Juxtaposing, Arranging/Designing) is a thinking tool!
I had experimented with the Cornell method of note taking for my middle school Civics classes with mixed results, so I began researching visual-note taking or “sketch-noting.” Some students are so used to traditional note taking that they need to be coached and coaxed (or at least reminded) to include doodles, illustrations or diagrams in their notes. A little “scaffolding” may be necessary from teachers, to help with this, I developed a rubric for scoring text-notes so that students know what’s expected.
It’s ironic that students would have to be encouraged to do something so fun and relatively easy, but some students are apprehensive about personalizing their notes rather than something more traditional that they expect will please their parents and teachers. Remind them that there’s not an absolute right and wrong way of doing things and that THEY control what’s emphasized and how things are organized with their text, images, and structure. Only the content is from another source.
Anecdotally I’ve noticed that Sixth and Seventh graders adapted to sketchnoting more naturally than Eighth graders and high school students, probably because they’re newer to note taking in general and therefore haven’t developed habits yet. My hope is that as I continue training middle school art students in this practice, it will permeate up through our grade levels.
Admittedly, this may require my persuading or even cajoling teachers to permit, let alone encourage students to draw on their notes. Since research suggests that even if imagery is not directly tied to the content, comprehension and retention is enhanced, I hope that students will adopt this practice and that teachers and parents will encourage them. Remember, some of the advantages will be being occupied with non disruptive behavior, personalizing and processing learning, and ideally, motivating students to connect with the content.
Benefits of Sketch-Noting
- Enhances what you remember by over 25%
- Improves your understanding
- By combining visual and verbal cues, you are simultaneously using different parts of your brain to process the information
- Students find it more entertaining and engaging than traditional note-taking alone
- Students will be occupied by non-disruptive behavior
- Student feel like they have a greater sense of ownership/stake in the learning
Elements of Sketch-Noting
- Text; Typography/Fonts/Typestyle
- Images, Symbols & Icons; Doodles/Cartoons/Simple Diagrams & Charts- NOT necessarily photographically realistic depictions
- Structure/Organization; Shape, Colors, Lines & Cues to help direct attention, information flow, hierarchy, identification and emphasis.
Visit http://dogart.wikispaces.com/SKETCHNOTING to view a video about visual note taking and see my rubric for scoring student sketch-notes.
- Brown, Sunni. Doodle Revolution: Unlock the Power to Think Differently. Portfolio Penguin, 2015.
- Delfin, Claudine. “Tutorial.” Sketcho Frenzy, 7 Jan. 2012, sketcho-frenzy.weebly.com/tutorials.html.
- Knezel, Sherrill. “The Power of Visual Notetaking.” Education Week Teacher, 27 Dec. 2017, www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2016/12/28/the-power-of-visual-notetaking.html.
- Rohde, Mike. The Sketchnote Handbook: the Illustrated Guide to Visual Note Taking. Peachpit Press, 2013.
This year something I’ve adopted with all of my classes is “Mindset Mondays.” We learn about the concept of having a growth mindset in order to develop attitudes, build habits and practice skills which help us learn better. Usually this involves a short video and some discussion or a brain-teaser or activity meant to encourage becoming a life-long learner.
In Art classes at Boyer Valley this has meant taking notes on and learning about the “Studio Habits of Mind” developed a few years ago by educators at Harvard.
I really believe in these. I think that they’re not only things that artists genuinely do even without thinking about it, but very real reasons why art education is meaningful and important and not just “enrichment.” These are critical thinking activities which are valuable in the work place, in academic disciplines other than art and in everyday life.
I encourage everyone to practice them, not just my art students. I encourage parents and other teachers to talk about them with your students. Have conversations about what they mean, how to use them, and how they help.
It may be too soon to gauge what effect ‘Mindset Mondays’ has had on my classes, but it has definitely helped me to get students to consider their process more and not get so hung up on their finished products. This is immeasurably important in art because as any experienced artist will tell you, if you fall in love with the process, more successful products will be a natural outcome.
I have incorporated studio habits into a portion of students’ self-assessments for every assignment and occasionally will include an extended reflection/assessment for a given project that emphasizes the 8 habits, not just the usual rubric objectives.
One of the best things about these is that it provides a deeply researched, legitimate means of both teaching and evaluating what was once considered subjective or intangible, namely; inspiration, motivation, effort and participation.
Hetland, Lois. Studio Thinking: The Real Benefits of Visual Arts Education. New York: Teachers College, 2007. Print.
- “A Look at Lois Hetland’s Eight Studio Habits.” Edited by Kate Thomas, Every Art, Every Child | Studio Habits, Northeastern Illinois University, 20 Oct. 2010, 3:55 PM, www.everyarteverychild.org/assessment/studiohabits.html.
- Veon, Raymond. “Reconnecting to the Artist Within.” IgniteArt, igniteart.weebly.com/reconnecting-to-the-artist-within.html.
8 Studio Habits of Mind – Drawing and Painting
(Adapted from artiseducation.org, with my commentary in orange)
- Become an Artist: Learning to use tools, materials, artistic conventions (the traditional Elements & Principles of Design, which I’ve had college Art educators tell me are a priority to them) and learning to care for tools, materials, and space (teaching procedures, a perennial headache for Middle School Art teachers!).
- Engage and Persist: Learning to embrace problems of relevance within the art world and/or of personal importance, to develop focus conducive to working and persevering at tasks. (This habit hits on things vital for MS/HS students; Attention, Focus, Concentration, Mindfulness, Perseverance, Endurance, Grit, etc. etc.)
- Envision: Learning to picture mentally what cannot be directly observed and imagine possible next steps in making a piece. (Initially this is about planning, many athletic coaches and trainers have written about “imaging” and “visualization,” this puts a name and a deliberate methodology to the creative, imaginative process that most artists and some students already use intuitively and ties perfectly with national core standards. Mid-process it becomes about awareness, inference decision making, flexibility and adaptation- also aligning with national core standards, 1 &2 ).
- Express: Learning to create works that convey an idea, a feeling, or a personal meaning – all within the context of drawing and painting. (A few years ago I realized that while students were claiming that this was the most important aspect of art to them, they didn’t know how to do it. So, taking a cue from Language Arts teachers, I began emphasizing how students could invoke mood using the elements of design, evoke associations using symbols and imagery and how to deliberately provoke discussion and/or reaction with a combination of composition and style. This aligns with national standards 3, 9, 10 & 11 and simultaneously makes art more personal, but also improves student’s communication and critical thinking skills by challenging them to plan, analyze and interpret.)
- Observe: Learning to attend to visual contexts more closely than ordinary “looking” requires and thereby see things that otherwise might not be seen; viewing with a critical eye. (This is the difference between Sherlock Holmes and John Watson- well, this and being a “high-functioning sociopath.” Point being, this is something that scientists and engineers and anyone who works with other people, animals or machinery all need and it’s something that art education gives kids, observation skills.)
- Reflect: Learning to think and talk with others about an aspect of one’s work or working process and learning to judge one’s own work and working process as well as the work of others. ( I really can’t say anything about this better than my colleague at artwithmrdexter.wordpress.com did, except to point out that it aligns with national standards 4, 6, 7, 8, & 10.)
- Stretch & Explore: Learning to reach beyond one’s capacities, to explore playfully without a preconceived plan, and to embrace the opportunity to learn from mistakes – all within the context of drawing and painting. (This not only teaches conceptual ambivalence, an important part of being an abstract thinker- but it increases both curiosity and pushing and challenging yourself. Taking risks in art is eminently safer than in other areas of life!)
- 8. Understand Arts Community: Learning to interact as an artist with other artists in the classroom, local arts organizations, and beyond (By posting student artworks on Artsonia.com and conducting regular class critique-sessions, I help students learn how to interact as members of an artist community. After discussing one habit a week for the first eight weeks, I switch to introducing students to other artistic concepts or to contemporary working artists on my ‘Mindset Mondays.’ By doing this, they see that art isn’t just about historical figures like DiVinci, Rembrandt, VanGogh and Picasso but a real, continuing, active thing. It also shows them that there are people who use the 8 studio habits today in the real world. Finally I model for them that when you learn something, adapt it or master it, it’s natural then to share it and contribute to other people’s learning. Not only do I utilize Artsonia for this, but we also post student artworks on Instagram with @BVArtdogs, which they in turn can share on other social media.)
Just after sunrise the light has a golden quality like it’s shining through a jar of honey
The sky in the West is “Advent blue,” the color of hope and optimism
The curves of the prairie are amber and warm beige like blessings and peace
Driving to work one morning I was struck by the colors. I didn’t have my Cannon camera with me and wasn’t going to try to capture the landscape with my phone camera while driving, but I’m an occasional amateur poet, so I thought about what I’d write to describe the scene. Since I’ve been teaching Commercial Art students about using both the vector graphics app “youidraw.com” (like Adobe illustrator, but free) and the layout design app “Lucidpress.com” (essentially a free online imitation of Adobe InDesign) I developed a simple abstract design of colors and placed the poem over it.
Graphite & pencil on 18×24 newsprint, 2017
Students had 5 days to work on their final self portraits. Between helping them and getting piles of grading for other other classes done I had to force my self to spend a class and a half to work on one myself. I kinda like the funky angle. What did we do before cell phones? Maybe I need to back off of telling them they should use mirrors instead of phones.
Below are my responses to some of the “self-critique” reflection questions that I assigned to my students for their semester final self portraits.
PRODUCT: What do you like most about your drawing? What are you most displeased with or disappointed in about your drawing?
I like this one much more than the one I did first semester with the mirror. That one is much less realistic, not to mention more static and flat. I love the from-above angle and the 3/4 view. I think that the shading helps it have a sense of form. While I kind of like the contrast between the linear texture of the hair and the shape/pattern of the flannel shirt, I think that without legs or hands, the shirt kind of becomes just an amorphic blob holding up my head.
PROCESS: What did you enjoy most about making this drawing?What was the most difficult challenge you faced in making this drawing?
It was an escape from the pressure of entering grades at the end of the semester and the chaos of eighth graders who are so excited about the end of the school year. If anything, I wish I’d been working on this with the rest of the Drawing class for the whole five days, and not just a day and a half.
PROCESS & PRODUCT: If you were the Art teacher, what grade (A, B, C, D, F) would you give to this drawing. Please explain or defend your choice. Why does it deserve that grade? What about it earned the grade you’d give?
I guess I’d give myself an A-/B+ It’s accurate an engaging, but just imagine how much better it could’ve been had I given it my full attention and commitment.
DEVELOPMENT & GROWTH; How do you think this drawing demonstrates that your drawing skills &/or perceptual skills are improving? In what ways have your skills advances since the beginning of the year?
I’m not sure it’s fair for me to answer this question since I’m not a student and I’ve been an Art teacher for 24 years now, but I am always amazed at how I can continue to learn and improve no matter how old I get. I also think sometimes that the less I think about what I’m doing and just do it, the better my results. I’ve heard baseball/softball coaches talk about this for pitchers- some thinks are mechanical rather than cerebral and you just have to “trust the process, don’t over-think.” Obviously my expression reveals how weary and cynical I’ve become in middle age. I had hoped that the unique angle, besides being thinning, might counter the curmudgeon with dynamic, even energetic angles and eye-flow.
EXIT SURVEY: What do you think are the biggest breakthroughs in your perceptual skills this year? How did your drawing skills improve? What are some things you feel like you learned this semester or will be able to take away from this class?
While I do feel like I’ve had some breakthroughs this year, I’m having trouble putting them into words.
But I have to say that I am very grateful for my high school Drawing, Painting, and Photography classes this year. I’ve been blessed with students who engage, participate and learn- not to mention many who have enormous amounts of talent! The icing is that almost all of them are just great people that are fun to be with. I feel like they’ve allowed me not only to continue to grow as an artist along with them, but to grow as an educator. I think many of them have taught me a few things, or at least reminded me of some things that teachers need to keep in mind while they’re teaching. There have been many very difficult and discouraging things about being in this profession this year, but none of them have come from the kids in my high school Art classes.
I truly hope and pray that many of them can continue to take Art classes the next year or two. Even if they can’t, I hope to use what they’ve taught me and the momentum they’ve given me for teaching 6-12th graders NEXT year. Thanks Drawing 2 Class- have a great Summer!
I’m excited to share my new NAEA online portfolio. Come take a look at what I teach in my art classes and check out some of my own artwork while you’re at it. Please feel free to leave comments, either here, or on the portfolio itself. Thanks.