Recent Posts by Andrew Vaughan

Working from Observation (“direct observation”)

In September, for many schools it’s the start of another school year, and if you are a DP visual arts student, you will be either returning for your 2nd year or starting your first. Where to Start? Of course, your teacher will probably suggest some initial directions that your art might follow to start with, but – depending on how much freedom you have – you might want to explore one of the most traditional routes in art-making: working from observation. I have ...

Five Years of the process portfolio

By Friday, August 16, 2019 No tags 0

We have now had FIVE full years of the ‘new’ visual arts course. It was started in 2014, with first examinations in 2016, so for those of us who have been riding this particular horse from the start, the annual hurdles (aka annual examination sessions) should be getting less daunting and more familiar. Even if the first time round your students’ results were not what you expected, hopefully by now it’s getting easier. I’ve devoted recent blogs to aspects of the ...

Cindy Sherman

By Monday, August 12, 2019 No tags 0

Wow! I have just seen the Cindy Sherman Retrospective at the National Portrait Gallery, London. Click the link for a quick video of the works from the exhibition. “This major new retrospective explores the development of Sherman’s work from the mid-1970s to the present day, and features around 150 works from international public and private collections as well as new work never before displayed in a public gallery. Focusing on the artist’s manipulation of her own appearance and her deployment of material derived ...

“Raising awareness of world issues” – The pitfalls (Concepts and Exhibition)

Conceptually speaking, the trouble with 'raising awareness' of world issues in your visual arts exhibition is that in most cases, awareness has already been raised, and examiners will probably have seen your video of ice melting - or a person swimming with plastic bottles, or a collage made of rubbish, or a Photoshopped photo of chimneys belching smoke, or cars polluting with their exhaust fumes, or oil pouring into the ocean etc - many times before. Conceptual qualities mean you ...

Why so generous? – IA predictions

By Wednesday, July 3, 2019 No tags 0

(i.e. why are the marks awarded by teachers for the visual arts IA component – the Exhibition – sometimes wildly unrealistic?) A group of IA moderators were chatting about their experiences in the last examination session. One moderator posed the question: why are some teachers so generous with their marks? Here are some of the ideas that surfaced relating to the different issues involved. 1 MISUNDERSTANDING GLOBAL STANDARDS This is probably the biggest cause of inaccurate teacher marks. Some teachers may not understand what the ...

Two issues with curatorial rationales

As an IA (Exhibition) moderator I very often read a) eloquent and frequently passionate curatorial rationales that do not achieve the mark that perhaps the student expected, and  b) rationales that are not eloquent, but instead tend to be convoluted, frustrating and impenetrable. Here are some tips in relation to these two issues that you might want to pass on to your students when they go about writing their curatorial rationales: a) rationales that do not achieve the mark that perhaps the student expected This is about assessment: ...

Photography (only?) in the Exhibition

Let’s be clear: unlike the Process Portfolio, there are no requirements that students explore a range of media/processes in the Exhibition. A successful exhibition could consist of, say, ten artworks that all explore the same technique, or ten artworks that explore ten different techniques/ processes, or anything in between. Its May so – as an IA moderator - I’m enjoying looking at student exhibitions from all over the world.  Its always an exciting and often inspirational glimpse into the minds, concerns, ...

See Real Art: Visit an Art Gallery!

Student question:“It’s 2019. What is the point of looking at art that was made in 1520, five hundred years ago? How is that relevant to me?” We were at the Royal Academy (London) and looking at “Venus Rising from the Sea”, by Titian (1520) The Renaissance Nude exhibition runs at the Royal Academy of Arts 3 March — 2 June 2019 The Renaissance Nude I can understand the context of this question. The student who asked it is interested in videogame ...

Seven Questions about Starting to Teach the Course

In recent category 1 visual arts workshops I have been asked some great questions about our subject; for example, what to teach, how to balance the things we teach, how much time we should have to teach in, how to connect to other subjects, etc. Here are the questions with my answers. If you would like to attend an IB authorized teacher training professional development workshop, go here. There are 36 visual arts workshops between now and December. 1. “Do I teach about techniques ...

COHERENCE? (‘Here is your theme. Stick to it for the next two years’)

Reconsider the theme: is it always a bad idea? There are many things wrong with these two sentences, as uttered by a visual arts teacher to one of his students. First of all, you don’t need to have a ‘theme’. Second, if you – the student – want a theme, it should NOT be selected and ‘enforced’ by your teacher. I've been told that some teachers give their students a 'theme' that has to be followed for two years. If ...