Humble High School International BaccalaureateHow to achieve the highest score onyour IB Visual Arts examination By Raymundo Delgadillo. HHS IB Class of 2010
Art is easy.... right?INCORRECT.Actually, according to statistics, it is one of the IB subjects with the lowest scores...but why? I mean, art is supposed to be easy isnt it? Welllllll.... in short, no. A lot more work goes into good art than you might think. More than the skills that go into a piece, it is the research and vision behind it that make art fantastic in the eyes of a critic.
And by critics I dont mean your classmates...We mean educated adults who are knowledgeable in the field of fine arts. Yes, your classmates might be a great source of ideas, but remember, youre in IB art, you need more than simply ideas...you need concepts, visions, series, themes. You need to be able to develop and transform ideas into something much deeper, you need to be able to transform thoughts into visuals, emotions into colors, and actions into shapes.
That is all of course, if you want a high grade on your exam....If you dont....then you can just stay with ideas.
And how do I develop concepts?Well....that is the not-so-easy part.First you have to figure out what the focus of your art will be. You need to come up with a theme that ALL of your work will somehow incorporate. Yes, I just said ALL of your work. “Omg, how am I gonna do that?” is what youre probably thinking, but it is actually easier than you think. Figuring out the theme of your art is what will take you some time.
And...what is a theme?Well a theme is a broad idea or a message that all of your art will convey. Notice I said “broad”. Your theme should allow flexibility, it should not be something restricting but simply an idea to focus your work. The IB examiner doesnt want to see a circus, she wants to see a Paris fashion show. She wants something deep, something focused, something visually appealing.
I still dont get it.Well you must be special.Just kidding, it is actually not an easy concept to grasp. So let me give you some examples of themes:• Dreaming The human body Plants Confusion Love• Intimacy Animal cruelty Food• Mythical figures Russian culture Pleasure• Happiness Pain Textures
And how do I develop a theme?Well, lets take one of the themes and Ill show some concepts or art piece ideas you can ramify from simply a word.To make it kind of fun, I chose pleasure ;)
Money The female figure Judgment of others Sex PLEASURE Music MasochismMaterialism Chocolate Accomplishment, Beauty Victory
Well...that was randomI wasnt kidding when I said themes could bebroad...if you go back a slide you will notice thatall the words derived from “pleasure” areextremely different from each other yet all of themare united because in one way or another theycreate pleasure...that is exactly what a themeshould be. It should allow you to freely exploreideas yet unite all of your work in a way.
What does the exam consist of?The infamous IWB...Investigation Workbook, from which a number of pages (varies depending on type of test) will be photocopied at the end of the year and internally as well as externally graded.AndYour Studio Work...which should reflect the number of hours spent on classroom, no matter what medium. Art will be assessed at the end of the year by an IB examiner.
Investigation WorkbookChances are, you have probably heard your classmates talk about how horrible writing in their IWBs is...well from experience I will tell you it isnt fun, but it is not as bad as students make it sound. How interesting and fun it is depends on you. Ultimately, YOU and only you decide what goes in it, whether research or sketches, you have the ultimate freedom to investigate any topic. So if doing pages on your IWB is boring, blame yourself.
What is an IWB for?Before you create a studio piece you must do a little research.That is just the way IB and the real art world works. Most good artist dont just pick up a paper or canvas and start drawing...for art to have a value it has to have a purpose, and the way you find that purpose is by doing research and focusing your ideas on paper before starting the piece. That is what your IWB is for.
I dont need an IWB to focus my art or show research... In IB you do; and thats not up for discussion. IB needs to see that youve put work into your art and that youve gained knowledge in the arts, and since there isnt an actual test in IB Visual Arts asides from your interview with the examiner, they need to see proof of your exploration...all 240 hrs of it. (HL)
How do I start my IWB?In the first few pages you should talk about yourself and what in the field of arts interests you. Dont go on saying “I have brown hair & I love cookies” because IB couldnt care less. Unless it relates arts or what you mention somehow turns into an art piece later, it wont get you anywhere.For example it would be fine to have a few pages talking about your brown hair, and how it makes you who you are IF you plan to do a piece about hair, otherwise, no.
Once you get started with your art...You should keep your IWB updated. Make sure you throughly record at least half of your studio pieces from start to finish. And by that I mean: Background research Piece design (sketch or diagram) Continuous updates A picture of the finished piece AND MOST IMPORTANTLY: Reflection
How should I write in my IWB?A lot of people fall under the impression that their IWB is like a diary..and its not. You are not supposed to simply talk about how your artwork is in progress, but also continuously research things (artists, techniques, etc.) that are directly related to your current and future artwork. You should also practice techniques in it, but be sure that when you do it doesnt take the whole page and on the side you describe what you did and how it relates to yourself and your work .
What is considered good research?Well....in simple words, if your IWB looks like the pages of the bible, or like a photo album... youre not researching right.You have to find a balance of both visuals and writing. Do not allow either to overpower your book, there should be equal amounts of each. If you do a whole page of writing, make sure you balance it by doing a whole page of visuals that DIRECTLY relates to the writing. But preferably it should be half and half.
Let me show you... Unaccceptable What IB is looking forI like apples. Apples are one of the most widely cultivated tree fruits. They are Decent sweet and crunchy and come in different colors.Since I was Apples are sweet, young, Ive always had a red fruits I have fascination for the fruit because always liked. my dad owned an apple plantation. I would Good Like to do a paintingSince I was young I have showing the naturalalways liked apples, beauty of apples,which are sweet, red fruits emphasizing on thegenerally grown in color and shine of their skin,
Enough about the IWB...Now lets move on to....YOUR ART!!!I will not go into much detail on this section because it is pretty self-explanatory. There are only a few things IB specifically looks for.Also, let me remind you that to be successful in IB you DONT have to be a great artist technique- wise, it is all about deep ideas and executing them successfully
IB likes to see progress.IB loves to see progress. It does not matter if you start out as the worst painter in your class, you can still do well on your exam because what matters to IB is how much you develop your skills and progress as an artist. And the way you show progress is through your IWB and the INCREASING QUALITY in your art work. As you practice more the quality of your artwork will chronologically increase and IB loves that, so do not expect your first pieces to be Michaelangelo quality.
Your artwork should be personalOne of the IB markbands is “Artwork is directly personal to the student” if you dont meet that markband, you will never obtain a high score.Personal? You might ask...Yes. Yes. Yes.Through your IWB and interview show IB that your artwork has a direct connection to you. Whether your grandma died (which I sincerely hope didnt) or you have always been interested in painting, make sure you record the passion behind every piece.
Artwork should chronologically increase in depth.And by depth I do not mean the thickness of your canvas.Your studio pieces should ideally be more challenging and conceptual as time passes by. Dont expect to get away with the same level of challenge all year(s). That will not get you a high score. If you want to score high, your later pieces should not only be of deeper meaning, but should involve more craftsmanship. This shows your progress.
TIPS:• When you start researching something new, ALWAYS make titles. Also, use your headings to bring interest to your pages...try some cool fonts, color letters, play with size...your goal is to entertain the examiner...make her go “whoa” when she goes through your book. A simple change of color and font on your titles will add that “whoa” and create interest.• Challenge yourself!
TIPS:• Instead of printing images from the web, go buy yourself an art book/magazine from half- price-books and cut out your visuals from there...everything is already cited for you, so all you do is cut out the picture with the bottom citation and youre done!• When making a new piece, take gradual pictures of your work on it...its all about progress.
TIPS:• Criticize yourself!!! As horrible as it sounds, it is great to write down “I need to improve on my painting skills, they are definitely not the best”....it shows the examiner that you are aware of your weaknesses and are willing to work on them.• Go to art museums/galleries and record your visits on your IWB...IB loves to see you exploring the world of arts. I recommend the Menil Collection...