“I really wanted my artwork to be original…” (btw…NOTHING is original)

As a visual arts examiner, I regularly see the results of student attempts at originality and I have to tell you, it’s not pretty. And it’s not even original. Quite often it’s the opposite of original, it’s a cliché. If it was being presented as a Post Modern, ironic look at clichés and stereotypes, that might be OK – sort of – but in almost all cases I’m looking at a genuinely predictable, obvious image. I’ve seen it many times before. ...

CONCEPTUAL QUALITIES (and experimentation, cliché, objet trouvé & the senses)

Conceptual art can be stimulating, provocative and even fun, so it’s no surprise that DP visual arts students occasionally upload files for their final assessment  that have an emphasis on idea and concept rather than, say, technical skill. They are often in the form of a found object – a feather, a glove, a light-bulb, a chess piece, rubbish, a clock, a computer circuit board, dead flowers - not forgetting, of course, Barbie (etc.) They all represent something and - given the ...

THE SHOCK OF THE NUDE (in school) (2015 update)

Life-drawing fits very well in any or all of the three components in the new DP visual arts course, so I’m re-visiting the concept and suggesting some possible links to the new course As a comparative study - artists of course have been working from the human form for hundreds if not thousands of years, so for example students could examine and compare artworks, objects or artefacts with the theme of the human figure “at least two of which need ...

Making your examiner happy

It’s May, which means that most IBDP schools in the northern hemisphere will not have to worry about the visual arts course that started in 2009 ever again! It’s over, ladies and gentlemen!  Well done for persevering with those somewhat convoluted assessment criteria, containing multiple ideas and issues. They were always a little too complex, and I sympathise with all teachers and students who struggled to understand them. Now we have a new set of components - but I think that this time ...

Visual arts examiner training and qualification (…and the introduction video)

A couple of weeks ago I travelled through the Spring sunshine to the hallowed halls of the IB Assessment Centre (Cardiff, Wales). The Subject Manager for visual arts met me there. The purpose of my visit was to film a video for examiners, so we spent the morning discussing, amending and finalizing the things that would be said. Although of course examiners have been going through a pre-examination qualification process for years, this is the first examiner qualification video, and all examiners ...

PROCESS vs IDEAS (making art rather than buying objects?)

It’s easy to come across mirrors in art – they certainly feature in many well-known paintings, including the  Arnolfini Wedding, Las Meninas and the Rokeby Venus, both by Velazquez, Rubens’ “Venus at the Mirror”, Picasso’s “Girl Before a Mirror”, Manet’s Bar at the Folies-Bergere, Patrick Caufield’s “Bathroom Mirror”, Lichtenstein’s “Mirror  – and many others. And since that cheeky chap Marcel Duchamp we also have real mirrors in artworks – the found object. Which brings me to the subject of this post. As ...

Say YES to discrimination!

Discrimination IS great - and the more people discriminate, the better! I have regular discussions with my grade 12 IBDP visual arts students about a variety of issues, and the other day I said how important it is to be able to discriminate, that discrimination involves some higher level thinking skills and for artists was a key skill. There was a moment of shock, then one of them said, “you can’t be serious. Discrimination is a terrible thing. It starts arguments, fights ...

OCC – as simple as one, two, three

As I struggle through the assessment and moderation period, I am constantly reminded about how easy it is to improve student performance. This post explores the use of the IB’s Online Curriculum Centre (OCC) to boost your students' grades. There are, of course, a huge number of variables that affect student performance, including the student’s motivation, the teacher’s abilities, peer group support and the school environment. However, there are also a number of constants in the process, such as the nature ...

The FINAL VERSION of the Visual Arts Guide is here!

Hello teachers! Well, the final version of our new visual arts guide has finally been published, and can be found on the OCC. To save you the trouble of carefully reading and comparing the ‘Pre-publication’ version and the new final version to see if there are any changes, I can tell you that there is one significant difference between the pre-pub and the final: in the assessment critereia, to be precise the EXHIBITION CRITERIA In the OLD Pre-publication guide Part 3: Exhibition OLD VERSION SL ...

Happy New Year (and farewell Option B – so long & thank you!)

Happy New year everyone! And yes – it’s a new start and a new year, but it’s also the end for some things, including the current visual arts course (final exams 2015) and in particular the B option, which does not figure in the new course. If you are a student now in your first year of DP visual arts, you are also among the last students to have the A or B choice. (The only choice in the new course will ...