How does an artist work?

Human creativity is at the heart of our development as a species. Animals can be creative too and there have been fascinating research studies on primates, sea mammals, birds, and even insects. These animals have demonstrated the ability to learn and use tools; however, unlike us, an animal cannot imagine itself as another animal or as a human. A parrot doesn’t wake up one day and say, “I’m tired of being a parrot, I think I’ll try to be a rabbit instead.” All areas of human endeavour have been fuelled by our innate ability to think creatively. This unique gift is as much the product of our extended childhood as it is of our big brain and its complex wiring. It is through observation and play that we imagine and explore and the human child has ample time to do this in comparison with infants in the animal kingdom. Our Steiner education is based on creative and imaginative learning methodologies.

An artist has to ‘play’ to create and this is what our IB Visual Arts students do, but they have to play hard. A spark of an idea, maybe just one image, a vista, or a fleeting moment, forms the basis of a journey of exploration. They research and collect visual and written information around that idea. This may involve the work of other artists, conceptual ideas, themes, objects or artefacts. They observe very closely and document their findings, as sketches, diagrams, notes, and saved images. Students then develop their ideas, experimenting with different media and techniques. There are plans and dead ends on this journey, there are successes and failures. There is always risk, for that is what creativity is, an uncertain path that leads to new discoveries. This body of exploratory and development work, called The Production Portfolio, is a visual record of their art practice and accounts for 40% of their final assessment.

The art practice process is how an artist arrives at a finished artwork. Over the two years of their Diploma, our students must produce between seven and ten resolved artworks for their final exhibition. They plan the display of their work to demonstrate the connection to their artistic intentions and support this with their individual curatorial statements. This is what an artist does; share their work with their audience. The exhibition at 40% of their final mark, is the second major external assessment item.

Visual Arts students do not have an examination. They demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of formal visual analysis in their Comparative Study, the remaining 20% of their final grade. For this research work, they select three artworks from at least two artists and discuss the work. After a detailed visual analysis of each work, they also look at the artists’ intentions and influences, the function and purpose of the artworks as well as the cultural context. In conclusion, they demonstrate how these artworks have influenced their own art practice.

This is how our art students work.

Our IB Diploma Art Exhibition will be on public display in late August this year; details will be published shortly.