By in Art

Let's Talk About Art: Double Dipping On Challenges

I have been challenged by tinamarie to write about Art for the and since I've just been to a student-teacher conference with MamaOzzy's art teacher, this is actually a subject for which I have a bit of inspiration this week. Lucky me! So as per Tina's suggestion, we're going to double dip on this one, and also apply it to Dawnwriter 's A-W Category Challenge .

(I really like that Tina suggested killing two birds with one stone on this one, because the combined mention of birds – animals – and the art teacher has suggested an Animal post too. But you'll have to watch for that in the near future!)

Taking a Risk

So as I was saying, we had a conference with the art teacher on Wednesday night. She showed us how MamaOzzy was doing in her projects thus far, and one of the projects stuck out for having much lower assessments than the rest. The teacher explained that it had been a challenging project, and MamaOzzy had really stepped outside her comfort zone in order to complete it. Despite some of the assessment being rather lower than usual for technical reasons, it was one that stood out for her willingness to take a risk and try something very different.


The project was a study in transformation . The idea was to show the same subject as it transformed over time, through at least three different stages of metamorphosis. The teacher had given the example of drawing a whole apple and then eating bites out of it and drawing it in different stages until all that remained was a core. And that's exactly what most students did.

I imagine some got very good evaluations for their technical skill and execution, but even though MamaOzzy's project wasn't as well executed, she was applauded for her creativity in choosing not only a very different subject – a paper that was first intact, but then crumpled and torn – but also for the medium she chose to use. Instead of sketching, she photographed the paper and then used an app to morph the photos into a drawing.

So she actually transformed the study in transformation! I quite appreciated that she took a novel approach, but that her method mirrored the goal of the project so nearly.

Life Lessons

They say that art imitates life, but sometimes instead taking an artistic risk can lead us to take risks in the broader context of our everyday lives. And that's one of the reasons it's so important to me that my daughters both have time to spend in arts classes, despite their special needs and my desire to see they get a strong grounding in the academic core.

The girls both excel in the arts – MamaOzzy in music but even more so in visual arts, and the Banana in music. Because they do well in these subjects and have a strong rapport with their arts teachers, they can take risks that sometimes lead them to discoveries about their abilities and about themselves as people. Taking a risk in a safe space, or rising to the challenge offered by a teacher who is a good mentor, can also lead them to build their self-confidence in other areas of life. For the Banana it might be discovering that she plays the clarinet better than her teacher. Or it might be learning that she can fairly easily take up a new instrument like trumpet, and still be one of the better musicians in her class.

For MamaOzzy, it can be realizing that despite her less than perfect execution, her teacher respects her work ethic and found her project more noteworthy than others that looked better. Or it might be the admiration of both her teacher and her peers, when she created a very ambitious and beautiful sculpted shoe.

The girls can take the sense of competence, as well as the realization that sometimes success isn't about perfection, to their other classes. Perhaps they'll risk more in their writing assignments. Or perhaps they'll be willing to follow up an odd lead in science class or social studies. They'll be less afraid to take a stab at answering a question they aren't quite sure of. And they'll know it's all right if the answer they give isn't correct. They'll also know, even if only intuitively at first, that we learn from both the successes and the failures.

And that's double dipping in school!

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Image credit: Black apple by SplitShire/Pixabay ( CC0 1.0 )

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Ellis wrote on November 1, 2014, 8:48 AM

To my mind, her project showed far more creativity than the students that just copied the example...

Feisty56 wrote on November 1, 2014, 10:31 AM

Kudos to MamaOzzy for showing that she is able to think outside the box. That is success in so many ways!

AngelSharum wrote on November 1, 2014, 1:15 PM

That was an interesting project for them and her's did show great creativity.

Isabella wrote on November 1, 2014, 1:46 PM

The apple didn't fall far from the tree... they where brought up well, coached in a constructive, positive and nurturing environment. They're great children and they will do great things in the future as well as go places, no doubt about that...

AliCanary wrote on November 1, 2014, 1:47 PM

This is the opposite of how my art teacher would have graded--she would have recognized the effort and the growth. I mean, seriously--everyone has a different level of proficiency, so you can hardly grade on that. I was always the best artist in the class, but I got a D on a project once for taking a very lazy approach, and I saw the point and agreed--even at the age of 14!

BarbRad wrote on November 1, 2014, 2:59 PM

I sounds like both girls are extremely talented in the arts. You must be very proud of them for not taking the easy way out, as so many students do.

BarbRad wrote on November 1, 2014, 3:01 PM

That's "It sounds like." Seems I'm always losing letters when I post.

Ruby3881 wrote on November 2, 2014, 5:29 AM

I definitely agree, and so did her teacher! And of course, now the teacher is continuing to encourage her in her risk taking. The last project they were assigned was a shoe sculpted from clay. MamaOzzy's was one of the most ambitious in the class, and her teacher was very excited about the intricacy and amount of detail she included.

Ruby3881 wrote on November 2, 2014, 5:30 AM

I agree, Deb! Just that ability to approach things from a novel angle will take her a long way in life :)

Ruby3881 wrote on November 2, 2014, 5:32 AM

They've been doing some pretty interesting work this year. I'm curious to see what the next project is! I know it's an acrylic painting, but I don't have the details yet.

Ruby3881 wrote on November 2, 2014, 5:57 PM

Thank you so much, Isabella! I know that you are a woman who knows about parenting, so your kind words mean all the more to me :)

Ruby3881 wrote on November 2, 2014, 6:02 PM

This is a senior class - Art 11/12 - and the assignments at this point aren't getting a letter grade. The teacher had the students decide the criteria upon which they wanted to be evaluated, and she designed a grading rubric based on the class discussion. Both the student and the teacher assess each piece using the rubric. Effort is just one item on the rubric, as is execution. She's not necessarily looking at proficiency, as much as she is at the student's attempt to apply the principles taught.

Ruby3881 wrote on November 2, 2014, 6:03 PM

I am very proud of all my kids! They are all bright and talented, and they are known for putting a great deal of effort into their schoolwork - whatever the subject :)

AliCanary wrote on November 3, 2014, 8:38 PM

It does seem as though she appreciated the creativity. I think Miss Ozzy's approach was very clever indeed. You must be very proud!