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 ...

Questions about the Comparative Study

I have received some questions from students about the Comparative Study, mostly – but not all – about making connections to the students’ own art-making practice. The last one dropped in as a comment on a blog posted way back in February 2018 (from Antonella). Here they are, together with my answers. 1. Hi, I figured I’d like combine my three artworks to show the connections. Can I make a painting that has bits of each to show how they have influenced ...

Are You “Critical, Informed and Discerning”‘?

Great new art… Much new, contemporary and recent art is fantastic – intelligent, thought-provoking, sometimes perplexing and mysterious, frequently posing deep and/or unsettling questions. But of course, it’s not all fantastic. How could it be? Some of it is conceptually vacuous and says nothing new, or superficial, pretentious and takes itself a little too seriously. Not so great new art I don’t want to be sued by anyone, so I’m not mentioning names, but check out this and this – online reviews of two 2017 ...

Students Can Take 2 IBDP Arts Subjects!

It's February, and grade 10 students in my school are starting to consider and possibly start selecting the subjects they would like to study in grade 11 as part of their Diploma Programme courses. My school is a ‘full’ IB school: we offer all four IB Programmes: CP, PYP, MYP and DP. Occasionally one or two students start grade 11 just taking three or four subjects with the ‘certificates only’ option, but everyone else takes the full Diploma – six subjects plus ...

Exploring the World Around You

The senior examining and assessment teams have been looking through examples of work submitted in the recent visual arts examination sessions (May and November 2017 and 2018) in order to find helpful samples for teachers. It has become clear that occasionally art teachers award marks for the exhibition component that do not really reflect the quality of the work submitted. When this happens, the marks are usually too generous, although in a few cases they are too harsh. Either way it’s not ...

The Best Primary Source – Talk to the Artist!

Research into art The Comparative Study and the Process Portfolio both involve some level of research into and review of artworks. Inevitably, for many students a lot of this research is ‘second-hand’, e.g. looking for information on the Internet. There is nothing wrong with this (providing everything is correctly referenced and all sources are acknowledged!). Better still is to actually see the real thing, for example, by visiting an art gallery. The horse's mouse However, for information gathering and the answers to specific questions ...

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 ...

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 ...