Documenting temporary artworks

Fire, Water and Decay Emma - one of my 2nd year visual arts students -  is interested in the process of decomposition and destruction by fire. She’s interested in the way things change as they end their existence, the visual qualities and the nature of change. She has been burning things and watching/filming natural objects decay and decompose as time passes. She has also been filming ripples in water, (” the impact of a splash”) as well using ‘ripple’ photos as the ...

A Story of Cheating

In a recent visual arts workshop, we had a lot of discussions about academic honesty and how to detect plagiarism, and one of the teachers described this encounter: One of his students returned to school after the summer break with an absolutely outstanding artwork – big, colourful, complex, clever and thought-provoking. …and completely unlike (and better than) anything the student created in the entire first year. Academic honesty alarm bells started ringing loudly for our teacher. He asked the student to show the ...

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 ...

Process Portfolio (PP) Questions

8 PP questions from new teachers Here are some Process Portfolio questions I have been asked in recent visual arts workshops. I’m posting them here on the visual arts blog because I suspect that some teachers may also be wondering about some of the issues raised. I have a doubt and want to know if the single art teacher for Visual Arts must be perfect in all the skills mentioned in the art-making forms table. I am not technology savvy ...

Blast from the Past

Thirty Years Ago In December I thought I’d dig a little into some IBDP visual arts memories and look at the course as it was 30 years ago, when I was a young and eager art teacher (not so young now but still eager!). I confess I have a slight tendency to hoard, and up in the loft there are many boxes of ‘old stuff’. Some of it dates from the 1980s – a period when computers were primitive by today’s standards ...

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 ...

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 ...

Selectivity and Distillation: the Process Portfolio is NOT a Diary

Diaries. Journals. Sketchbooks. They serve a range of purposes; diaries document the momentous and the mundane, the day-to-day detritus, and the sporadic moments of joy and/or despair. Artists’ diaries can give a good insight into the creative processes. (See the illustrations included here.) Tate website “A diary is a record of events or experiences. From sketchbooks to video diaries; and from the mundane and everyday to big life events and how these make us feel… We have pulled together a selection of art to ...

“When NOT to…” (Visual Arts Exhibition No Nos)

By now I expect that many of you (students) are on holiday – so I’m pleased to see that you have spared a moment to check on the visual arts blog! If you have graduated I’m happy to see you and good luck on July 6th (RESULTS day!) If, on the other hand, you are in between the first and second year of the course, some of this blog may prove useful. I’m reflecting on more things seen during the last visual arts ...

Your PP needs mistakes! (its GOOD to make mistakes)

It’s obvious. It’s probably so obvious that it doesn’t need saying. But I sometimes encounter students who are perfectionists - or at least try to delete/hide all evidence of mistakes in their visual arts journal and/or Process Portfolio. It’s not that they hate making mistakes, its more that they don’t like to leave any evidence behind. I get it – why reveal your “weaknesses” when you are up to your neck in assessment worries? You want to impress the examiner with the consistently high ...