Hello and welcome to the Art & Design Department at Reigate College.
My name is Emma Owen and I’m the course leader for Art A Level. Art is a wonderful subject to study at A Level so I’m looking forward to meeting you and welcoming you to the department in person at the beginning of the academic year.
In preparation for this, and to keep you practising your drawing skills, I’d like you to complete a series of tasks and activities over the coming months. These activities are for you to do on your own at home, so you should have everything you need to complete them. I’m looking forward to seeing some of the work you produce when we start the course in September.
The tasks will be released here, in three phases (see table below) and should be completed by Choices Day on 1 September 2021. Please throw yourself into them and above all enjoy them!
Please note, some Course Leaders (for example for Music) may release their tasks earlier, as they may form part of the College’s audition process. If this applies to you, you’ll be notified separately.
New Starters Course Tasks and Activities
To be completed by
Explore your Subject
Explore your Subject
The start of your A Level Fine Art course may seem like a long way away but it’s really important to keep practising the skills you’ve developed through studying for your GCSE. One of the most essential skills in Art is being able to convey meaning visually; being able to represent your ideas in a visual way.
Drawing is the fundamental basis to this. Drawing doesn’t always have to be with a pencil and paper. There are many ways to draw with different materials. You can use any paper you can find: lined paper, old envelopes, different papers collaged together, newspaper with a coat of emulsion paint, greaseproof paper…
Below are some ideas of things that you could draw and ways of drawing. Please select a variety (maybe three or four), and try to choose things that will challenge you or you haven’t previously tried. Before you start, have a read of the Golden Rules of Drawing at the bottom of this page.
You could even create a drawing zine about your cat!
Here are some ideas for you to have a go at:
Sit in different rooms in your house or garden or take a walk outside and describe everything you see, hear, smell and experience in 15 minutes using detailed and descriptive words
Divide your double page into a grid of eight boxes. Look around you and find textured surfaces. Draw a different texture in each box using your mark-making skills. Now take two of the texture boxes and enlarge the patterns on two more pages using materials around you and collage to sensitively re-create the marks
Using a long thin piece of paper, make a continuous line drawing of a panoramic view from a high viewpoint in the countryside or in an urban environment (you may need to base this on a photograph or image from the internet)
Lie underneath a tree canopy if you can access one safely and draw the overlapping layers of the branches above your head – start with the branches furthest from you and overlay the larger ones. Try the same thing drawing only the shapes between the branches (negative drawing)
Make a bark rubbing with candle wax or a pale wax crayon and add an ink or watercolour wash
Draw the view from your chair and include your feet
Draw the view through a half-open doorway
Place (or find) objects outside that cast obvious and exciting shadows on hard ground. (e.g. a bicycle, watering can, garden chair, tree). Draw around the shadows with chalk. Photograph the object and your shadow drawing to create an interesting symmetrical reflection
Choose one place in your home and produce four different drawings, each time varying the viewpoint and zooming in and out
Produce a negative space drawing, using the ‘blind line drawing technique’: without taking the pencil off the paper, let your eyes follow the line of an object and your hand follow your eyes. Find a starting point and keep going. Some artists use this technique where they look only at the subject matter and not at the drawing
Produce a continuous line drawing inside a car
Research the organic sculptural forms created by Andy Goldsworthy and Chris Drury. Try to sensitively recreate your own and photograph them in their environment. Only use things that are on the ground already
Photograph the exciting reflections on a pond or river and paint or collage a response. Collage can be used to represent anything. It’s also a good way to create interesting compositions to work from
Draw your lunch before you eat it
Draw your family sitting around relaxing – include the environment
Make continuous overlapping line drawings of someone exercising/dancing to wii or on a trampoline
Find an insect/moth/butterfly and draw it from observation
Draw a tall tree across a long piece of paper (or two stuck together) using a twig or a stick dipped in ink
Lie on the ground and draw a worm’s eye view looking up at a chair, garden umbrella, parked vehicle, house, patient person!
Draw the full shelves of a kitchen cupboard, open wardrobe, your dressing table/desk
Make a detailed drawing of a group of small objects (such as a shell, pebble, twig), recording the textures and shadows
Cover a double page with rubbed in charcoal. Use an eraser to draw a view or a figure
Use a torch or the light on your mobile to draw with light on a long exposure
Here are some Golden Rules of Drawing
Don’t smudge your tone; allow the marks you make to be directional and visible to help convey form and texture.
Don’t draw lots of small objects spaced out and floating all over the page. Look at what is surrounding your subject and remember to include this to anchor your drawing. Look at your work from a distance to check you have sufficient contrast.
Drawing can be recording evidence quickly in the form of accurate sketching or it can be long visual investigation; make sure you have a variety of styles.
Plot the image lightly before you add detail, tone and texture. Be aware of the light source and record the darkest shadows first, looking for the true blacks and working back through the tonal range. Avoid heavy outlines.
You could also try drawing just in tone or dots or with a rubber on a tonal background.
Think about the space you will fill before you start. Lightly plot the outer area of your subject ensuring you can capture it on the page, for example, when drawing a person you want to ensure their head does not go off the page, at the same time you do not want the drawing to be so small you cannot capture detail.
Consider the material most appropriate to capture the characteristics of your drawing.
If the subject is moving, several overlapping sketches may be the best option.
Check your drawing by measuring and looking at negative space.
Try varying the type of mark you make to create texture and tone. For example, hard shiny surfaces are rendered with more solid marks and sharp contrast between tones. An orange’s pitted surface may be represented with dots; soft textures may have less defined marks. Tone can be created by placing the marks closer together and using darker medium such as softer pencil. Directional marks can also help show form e.g. curved hatching can help show a curved form.
The lines and shapes in an image can convey different messages. Regimented, repeated lines suggest order and random lines chaos. Straight lines and shapes are more aggressive than curved. Repeated lines and forms can create a sense of movement. Lines and shapes can be used to create direction, which can help show form e.g. curved hatching on a tube shape. Direction can also create mood – top to bottom being more negative than upward.
Importance can be given to elements of the image depending on the scale of them in relation to other elements or their location in fore, middle or background. Children often make heads larger in proportion to the body and eyes to head in their drawings as they perceive these to be the most important parts. Classical sculpture often exaggerated muscles and physique, making the head smaller to create a sense of power.
The way elements of a picture are composed can create different moods and atmospheres. A very busy composition may look hectic and energetic. Imagine a landscape where a lot of sky is visible compared to one with a high horizon line. Perspective can create a sense of space and emptiness, or full intense images without a visible horizon. Different viewpoints can affect the way a subject is perceived.
All about the artists
important component of the A Level Art course is researching and analysing
other artists’ work. It’s important to look at a broad range of work and think
about the ideas and concepts behind the work. This will help you to develop
your understanding of why artists work the way they do and how their life,
culture and experiences impact the appearance and meaning of their work.
we’d all love to be able to visit galleries and museums right now, but this just
isn’t possible. However, lots of galleries and magazines have made their
collections available online. Here are some of their websites:
You can also go on virtual tours of galleries like the Uffizi in Florence or the Musée d’Orsay in Paris without leaving home. Have a look at Google’s Art and Culture site for over 2,000 galleries and museums you can visit from home.
Some galleries and museums have suggested activities and tasks you can try. Here are some of the best ones I’ve seen:
The Museum of Modern Art in New York has a wealth of online courses you can take part in (the courses are free unless you want a certificate at the end). There are all sorts of things you can discover such as ‘What is Contemporary Art?’; ‘Seeing through Photographs’; ‘Fashion as Design’; ‘Postwar Abstract Painting’ www.moma.org/research-and-learning/classes
Situated on the south bank of the River Tyne in Gateshead, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art consists of 2,600 square metres of art space, making it the UK’s largest dedicated contemporary art institution. They have shifted much of their programme online and there are some interesting Meet and Make online Videos. https://baltic.art/
Have a look at Firstsite Gallery’s artist-created activity packs, featuring contributions from UK artists including Antony Gormley, Sarah Lucas, Gillian Wearing, Idris Khan, Richard Wentworth, Cornelia Parker, Jeremy Deller, Vanley Burke, Mark Wallinger and more. ‘Art is where the home is’ will give you ideas about how to get creative at home. Anyone can have a go – there are no specialist materials required, plus it’s completely free to download. There are also behind the scenes guides to their exhibitions. https://firstsite.uk/art-is-where-the-home-is/
The Pallant House Gallery in Chichester has some great at home activities including making a futurist paper puppet or a pop art inspired robot. Some activities may be aimed at a slightly younger audience but you can adapt them to suit you. The PDF instructions are free to download: https://pallant.org.uk/learn-with-us/creative-activities-at-home/
The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) has a wealth of online activities. You can view the collection and take a peek at the latest exhibitions from Kimonos to Cars. You can also design a wig or add the V & A to your Minecraft world. https://www.vam.ac.uk/
Google Art and Culture offers a multitude of activities from searching on themes or virtual visits to over 2,000 galleries to ideas for creating art on your phone. Take selfies in the style of great paintings or find a painting that looks like you: https://artsandculture.google.com/
Search on Themes
other good websites you can use to search work on themes, for example Pinterest
and My Modern Met.
some excellent programmes you can watch in preparation for Art A Level:
out Grayson’s Art Club on Channel 4, where leading British artist Grayson Perry
‘brings the nation together through art, making new works and hosting
masterclasses set to unleash our collective creativity during lockdown.’
TASK: Over the next few weeks, please make the most of the above resources – go on a virtual or actual (!) museum tour, take an online course, or try out some of the activities. You should complete three or four different things, and above all enjoy finding out more about art and artists!
I look forward to hearing what you’ve discovered when we start the A Level course.
Making a Zine
Hopefully you’ve enjoyed the making
and researching tasks you’ve been doing in preparation for the A Level Fine Art
course. The last activity is to put together some of your ideas in a zine.
Making a zine is really simple, just follow the instructions below.
STEP 1: First of all,
you need to choose a topic to research for the theme of the zine. Topics could
things I notice
that no one else does
anything you are
The theme needs to run throughout the
STEP 2: If you decide you
want to make an eight-page mini zine, all you need to start is one sheet of
paper. If you have A3 or A2 paper then that would be great, otherwise you can
just use A4, or maybe stick two sheets together.
Following the diagram below, fold the
paper into eight rectangles and cut a horizontal slit down the centre of the
page between the four innermost rectangles. Each little rectangle on one side
of the paper will be one page.
If you want to make a stapled zine, you will need
to use several sheets of paper folded in half (so that the left and right sides
touch) to make a booklet. You can stitch or staple the centre.
STEP 3: Fill the pages of
the zine with drawing, material explorations, photographs, information,
paintings etc. all linked to your theme. It should have a sense of
investigation. To get ideas, you could:
virtual galleries to find artworks that link to your theme
copy sections of
artworks to master techniques
make notes about
the ideas and concepts behind the artists
try some of the
drawing ideas from the earlier tasks and maybe add texture to some of the pages
by working on more unusual materials like old fabric, newspaper with a coat of
emulsion paint, torn paper etc.
Have fun creating your zine, and I look forwarding to seeing
what you’ve produced when we start the course.