Recent Posts by Andrew Vaughan

Nudes vs. Prudes

Discussions, and what is 'acceptable' I recently had a conversation that reminded me that even in my school, which I considered to be fairly enlightened and progressive, there are corners of old-fashioned, conservative and conformist thought. The discussion was about our regular figure drawing workshops for DP visual arts students, and it clearly made this person uncomfortable. Of course, if my school was located in a more conservative culture, this attitude would be predictable and understandable. But my school is located just outside ...

I Know about Assessment…But What’s ‘Best Fit’?

Assessment At the time of writing this, I’m moderating some work uploaded for the IA (visual arts exhibition) component for the November examination session, which means spending a lot of time scrutinizing artworks on multiple large screen monitors and also scrutinizing the words of the visual arts assessment descriptors (which I probably know by heart by now). Sometimes I very quickly come to a decision about the most appropriate mark, but quite often I see a range of achievement in different ...

What Price Freedom of Expression?

It would be stretching things to call me a rebel, or subversive, or even a dissident, but I have recently had my words censored! Well, OK, maybe not 'my' words exactly, but the words of a student in two pages of a book I co-authored together with S. Poppy and J. Paterson, The Visual Arts Course Companion (Oxford University Press, 2017). What happened? Large sections of two pages were obscured by what looks like brown paper, because the Chinese authorities clearly took exception ...

The Visual Arts Exhibition: Is Contemporary Art Penalized?

Conceptual Qualities? I was recently in conversation with the DP Visual Arts Chief Examiner, Subject Manager and Principal Examiner for Exhibition SL. The Subject Manager was interested in particular in our interpretation of the 'Conceptual Qualities' Exhibition criterion. A teacher had suggested that students who focused on styles and formats of contemporary art in their final art exhibition may not do as well as students who worked in more traditional forms (e.g. painting and drawing); in effect the suggestion was that contemporary art ...

New Art Teacher? 5 Visual Arts Starting Points!

5 visual arts starting points It's September and in art rooms all over the world DP visual arts teachers are starting to teach this two year course. I recently received an email from an old friend who is now Associate Head of School at an IB school in North America. He wrote: 'We have an extremely talented art teacher who was new to the IB last year and, understandably, had some moderation issues.  She needs some guidance and I immediately thought of ...

PP Reminders: Pictures and Process

Two PP points! 1. Show me pictures (“visual evidence”) There must be visual as well as written/text documentation of process. It should be obvious - but of course just writing comments and explanations is not enough: is there visual evidence of what has been happening? Don’t just write about it; you must also show what has been considered, explored, etc. (Just saying that you did something is easy and lazy and open to question: how does the examiner know that you actually did ...

Collaboration? Huh! What is it Good For?

Do you have your students work collaboratively on art-making projects? In December 2015 I posted a blog about collaboration (To collaborate, or not to collaborate – that is the question!) But the issue has come up again, this time with some questions from teachers in a visual arts workshop I am running. My usual caveat is to do with problems with assessment of collaborative works, but to be honest that may not be the only problem. There is a general assumption ...

Life Drawing: Is Nudity a Problem?

Does your school offer life-drawing? By this I mean do you, as a visual arts student, have the opportunity to spend time drawing and/or painting a naked human being who is posing so that you can make these artworks while he/she stands (or sits etc) in front of you? This opportunity seems not to be offered in many schools. Would you like to have this opportunity? In a recent IB workshop that I facilitated, a teacher asked the question “is nudity a problem?” He was ...

The Art of Protest

'Raising awareness' Art can do many things, and recently – certainly since the 1980s – we’ve seen a lot of artists focus on one thing in particular: the art of protest (or ‘raising awareness’). With seemingly more and more things to protest about and the ever-growing reach and power of social media to inform etc, ‘art’ has become the go-to vehicle to express angst, anger, frustration etc. and to ‘raise awareness’. We are more familiar now with a whole range of ecological and ...

Six Comparative Study Questions from Students (with Answers)

I have received some questions about the Comparative Study from visual arts students. I can obviously answer them individually, but it might be more useful to others if I share the questions – and my answers – more publicly, in this blog… 1 What does function and purpose mean? Is it the purpose of the artist or the artwork? The focus of the Comparative Study is the ARTWORK. However, having said that, since the artist makes the artwork there will be overlaps, so ...