Friday, 21 April 2017

My GCSE Art Coursework ǀ Rituals

In all honesty this was not a project that I was amazingly proud of. In fact, I believe it to be one of the worse ones I did for GCSE. By the time I pulled this together it was about two weeks before the due date and I really could not be going the extra mile for any of it. There is one advantage to this very rushed theme though; it demonstrates the bare minimum you have to include in each project. I will annotate each page, explaining how each conforms to the success criteria I had and then hopefully it will help some of you taking art. If not, feel free to take a look at what I spent two caffeine-fuelled weeks doing.



The title page included a definition of the theme, copied word for word from google. I found that by including this you could come back to it later and make sure anything you did throughout the book, is tied in somehow to this first idea. You can pretty much include anything you want to, as long as you can come back to this page and manipulate your language well enough to tie it all together. The key words in this definition were 'religious' and 'ancient'. Despite my research I was not a hundred percent certain that either festival had the central point of religion so I wrote beneath it: "Day of the Dead and Chinese New Year could be considered to be rituals as they are processes originating in ancient times and are carried out almost religiously to this day". This page could be done in the form of a mind map in order to make multiple ideas relevant. 



My first research page included a pencil drawing, helping to demonstrate skill early on, making my work more convincing and consistent. I included a lot of information so that it gave me a lot of freedom to go in any direction I found interesting and relevant to the festival. I also speculated as to what I could do with this information. I found sugar skulls to be a significant part of my research so I suggested I could paint someone's face in that manor and then draw them for the exam. That way I could incorporate two ideas. I could also make the painted person portray some emotion relevant to the day. It was not necessary to go into lots of detail. Speculation should be on your ideas pages more than on this page. Here, the main focus should be gathering information and possibly responding to it.



This was my first ideas page, tying into my first research page on day of the dead. Lots of photos were inluced to help demonstrate potential elements to consider and help explain a point you could be making in future. Here I put many photos of skulls because that was a very prominent idea at the back of my mind. At this stage it is not decided. Leave room in your explanation. Here, I just wrote what I could possibly do if I chose to and said I would need to use images of the festival to inspire my final piece, I spoke a little bit about painting my own face as a sugar skull and also observed that I would need to use ICT to edit my compositions.



The second research page I did was on Chinese New Year. If given a different theme to Rituals, instead of doing research pages on ideas like this, you should do artist research pages. Look at their work, develop a personal response (i.e. saying what you like and don't like about it and give reasons), say how it could influence your own work, perhaps including a few studies, include photos of their work in order to illustrate your point well and say what ideas you take away with you to use. It also helps to compare the artists with each other, identifying similarities and contrasts and how they may have different intentions for how they would like their work to be viewed. I demonstrated these skills in three other projects so deciding not to in this project, and attempting to apply them to a different kind of research was okay.



I did the same on this page as for my first idea page. More than two ideas is always helpful though, like I said before, this should be just the bare minimum. I also included on this page, on the bottom right, which idea I had chosen and why. My reasons were that it was more personal to me because it was somewhere I had visited before, I would take greater interest in it. It was also an easier theme to source photos for; I could go to China town and get some perhaps. I said I liked the costumes in both festivals but in particular, the dragons that were most common in this idea.



I did further research to try to support my theme. This isn't always needed, I probably did this because it meant I could apply my skills analysing an artists work which I hadn't already included so far. The relevance of this artist was, I think, because he was chinese and it would perhaps give me more insight to the style of work. I wouldn't say I particularly took much away from this extra work, perhaps the shiny texture was used in my own work, but really not much else was. 



This page is very important. Here should be where you source all images in order to progress. It shows a deeper understanding. Also the images can be used in compositions later. As long as you have a few good images, you can include anything relevant to your research. I always include many as it gives my greater freedom when devising compositions. I visited China Town in order to get them.



The page on the left was for observations. Much more than a page should be dedicated to this and definitely much more than one drawing. You should really show off your skill here. it is a fine art course after all. I would say about two to four pages should be used. Remember your whole course lasts two years so you should have plenty of time to do all of your projects.

My first composition I deliberately made entirely different to what I knew I wanted to do for my final piece. I had a very clear idea in my mind already as to what I was doing, it was just a matter of pretending I had explored other options, identified weaknesses in them and then finally come up with a better idea. I identified the strengths also but always made a greater point of saying what I didn't like. Here are some reasons I could have given: it's not obviously relevant to theme or, it's too time-consuming to do in ten hours. These reasons would have been fine. I also said what I did like and what I would perhaps bring forward into my next attempt at a composition. Here, it was how the prosperous colour of red (an idea found in research) looked more significant in contrast to the black and white parts. 



The second composition more closely resembled what I wanted, I did the same process analysing it as for the first composition. It is good to remember that rough sketches can be included in your work to help you to consider possibilities before refining your ideas in as much depth as I have. Honest workings can do nothing to harm your grade. Also, I only edit photos to make the compositions because I find it so much less time-consuming than drawing it all out. You can do it in any way you choose. Since starting my A-Level art I have noticed that everything I did at GCSE seems very refined in comparison. Experimentation and sketches are never a bad thing as long as the quality can be seen in other places in your book. The examiner will want to see your thought process and ideas behind your more resolved pieces.



Another crucial stage is the experimentation with materials. As ever, analyse the advantages and disadvantages of each. Analysing should never take too long. You can bullet point if you wish. It is all good as long as you test a variety of mediums.



To be honest this second material testing page wasn't at all needed. I just lost these dragons I did, then did the other page, remembered that I had these and then stuck them in. I guess they count as some extra observation though and I now have ended up liking this page even more than the one before it.



The first page is explaining how my images were edited. This is very quick to do and it also gets quite a few extra marks. It is pretty much essential to the development process. I should have included it before the 'Material Testing' part. This time I explained how I put the composition together. Usually I would go into more detail as to how I edited the individual images first, explaining how each step contributes to the overall effect, before doing this.

The final idea is on the right. You should explain each part, explaining your intentions and how it is a good idea. Make sure throughout your book that you have continuously manipulated your language so that everything appears to link to the research/artist research and also how it is personal to you. A personal response to things here and there, plus a brief comparison are also useful. 



Finally the evaluation is where you are to discuss what you have produced in your final piece. You can read what I have put (look more closely by clicking on the photo) however, it would be more useful if you asked your teacher for a success criteria to tell you what is really needed on this page. The main thing you should do is to talk about what went well, what didn't and what you would do differently next time. It doesn't matter if you don't end up completing your final piece entirely in the end, as long as on this page you explain everything and identify errors. This is still only coursework, you can come back and improve it.

You should notice also that there is a consistent border, the titles are the same style and the background also. I find that this simply helps tie it all together and to reinforce a strong theme from the start. The background was done by dripping black water colour down the page (I would like to thank my two sisters for being willing to help me with that) and the border is also fairly simple. To do that I used a sponge and went around the edges in red acrylic and did the same to do a slightly thinner border in black acrylic on top. It was very easy and fast.


I really enjoyed doing this GCSE, it was very satisfying to create work you could actually be proud of and take pride in. I would like to point out however, that the art markscheme can be a little like poetry - not in the sense that it is particularly beautiful or anything, just that it is very, very open to interpretation. When I joined the sixth form I am currently at, I noticed that they taught this same course differently, doing next to no writing and also, it seems, considerably less work yet coming out with similar grades. At the end of the day it is your art teacher marking your work and you have to look at their examples and see what they are after. If I had the option to go back and choose whether or not I could do this course differently I would not. This way meant that I improved considerably since the beginning of year ten. This was everything to include in 2016.

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