Sketchbook Progress

This year I have moved from teaching Foundations of Studio Art to teaching all levels of studio art including our AP level studio classes. As a result of this and the virtual then hybrid format this year, I was excited to start more in-depth sketchbook work, especially with my advanced students. Sketchbook work is an opportunity for students to really experiment. They can also pursue personal interests and gain confidence while feeling safe to take risks or just be OK with failure. It’s just a sketchbook after-all! Below I have picked out a few examples of responses to my prompts from 10th through 12th grade students.

The students are given a list of propmts and they share progress periodically throughout the school year, but only as photographs. I do not want to physically take their sketchbooks. One, because germs, but two, because I want the sketchbooks to feel like their own personal journals, and a safe place to experiment. I have explained to students that in my prompts a “spread” refers to a design taking up or happening across two pages in their sketchbook. Each assignment asks them to complete either a spread or a page. I have also said that it is also acceptable to glue in drawings on other pieces of paper with the hope that some awesome doodles from science or math might come live in the sketchbook, too! My goal is for them to fall in love with this sketchbook, make it awesome, and make it theirs! I want them bursting at the seams by the end of the year!!

Here are some of the prompts so far:

  1. Read the following article ( on black women painters and in your sketchbook. You will choose just one artist from this list. Then you will research this artist and either paste two images of their artwork onto a spread in your sketchbook or recreate them yourself. You will also include important information such as their birth/death dates, place of origin, 5 other interesting facts about your artist. Then decorate the page in a way that’s inspired by your artist or mimics their style. Please include an abbreviated bibliography for example or (NOT Wikipedia!!)
  1. Read the following article by your teacher’s favorite Washington Post writer Sebastian Smee: You will then further research this artistic movement, Impressionism. Then, you can either paste two images of impressionist artwork onto a spread in your sketchbook or recreate them yourself. You will also include 10 interesting facts about impressionism. Please include an abbreviated bibliography for example or (NOT Wikipedia!!)
  1. Check out a “virtual tour” at the National Gallery of Art in DC (or go on a timed visit with your family if you can) and dedicate an entire page (one page) in your sketchbook to recreating one of the works of art. It should be fully rendered, and represent about 1 hour of drawing. One the opposite page, complete the spread by adding the details of the work of art: Artist, Date, Medium, Size, Exhibition, and 5 facts about the piece or the artist, along with a small detail you really enjoy or a recreation of the color palette, or some other kind of visual note on this work of art. 
  1. Take a piece of writing you are reading for class right now, or read last year. Find a significant quote from this work and copy it onto a spread, and then illustrate this quote in whatever style you would like. 
  1. Take BEAUTIFUL notes in your science or math class and fill an entire spread with them. This should be colorful, with illustrations that demonstrate your understanding of this subject matter. 

Here are some of the results:

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