Dear Art Student

You are probably about to start your studies for this year and are wondering what will be in store for you.

Perhaps you are just starting out in secondary school at maybe Yr11, your folks said yes to you doing Visual Art because you have taken on a bunch of highly academic subjects and this will be a welcome break from all that.

Perhaps you have done Yr 11 and you liked Visual Art for some reason and want to do more, something seems to be compelling you to carry on. Your folks are still happy(ish) for  you to have this as a break from other studies… Your Father wants you to go into accounting or some such, your Mother just wants you to be happy no matter what (sweet aren’t they).

The Art Teacher says at the parent teacher interview you should do Art because you are good at it… maybe it’s the first time you have heard that and it feels nice.

Perhaps you have completed Yr 12 and are looking at what courses to do. Your Mum’s words of ‘being happy’ seems to suit you more than some career choice your Father has in mind. Besides, the Art Teacher said you were good at it and the word career seems so, well, final, and long term.

“I want to do art Mum” (words which will may haunt you forever) – Your mum goes into bat for you, your Father tells you he loves you and with gritted teeth he says “whatever makes you happy” followed with “I just hope it’s the right decision” (the guilt starts early but now you start to notice it’s cruel bite).

Now with excitement and a dose of trepidation you stumble forward, the course is signed up, you spend the summer break telling your friends, you get a little arty in the way you dress and wear you hair, it’s all part of it right? Mind you any thought of drawing, taking photos or any visit to an Art Gallery seems like some form of imposition.

Then things get underway, you don’t realise it yet but the teachers talking at you may have had exhibitions (possibly quite a number of them), they have probably struggled to make any decent cash from the sale of their work, and they may suggest that “It’s art for art sake” and their argument then seems to get clouded in various forms of justification for the arts some of which may proclaim it as a lifestyle.

It’s all heroic, you, them, their stance on Art, learning about cultural things your circle of family and friends may never seem to grasp (philistines!)

Paint on canvas, clay in kilns, metal beaten into submission, computer graphics that defy logic and a bunch of theory work you just want to sleep through (the arty parties can do that to you)

Before you know it the study is finished, the folio is bulging (or not) and there you are standing all alone, as if on the edge of a massive cliff. The wind howling about you ready to push you off at the slightest misstep. Then words from the seemingly not too distant past echo in your mind ‘I just hope it’s the right decision’ and ‘Just be happy’.

There you stand pondering what next. Will I make it as an Artist, will I get that magical ‘creative position’, or will I be resigned to a life of working in an Arty Shop, or some other form of job you so willingly describe as slavery, which you could have done all those years before with or without a ‘qualification’.

Life unfolds before you, time fleetingly drags you into the unknown with a clear disdain for any dream you may have. In a stupor of positive energy you grab a list of Galleries to go visit. You tuck your wares under your arm and fall headlong into the misery of trying to get galleries to take you on board.

It’s then that you realise you know so much, yet so little about the whole “Visual Art thing” and that your qualification only stands as a reminder of a small part of your ongoing education and connectedness to art. It’s then you realise the hard bitter battle you have started and may not win (ever). It’s then that you realise your heart is an object to be trampled on and kicked aside by others who take a deep breath and say “Oh, here we go again, another ex art student… sigh.”

You also realise this journey is more than a qualification, more than a piece of paper with your name and a stamp of approval. No, you are just beginning to realise the world owes you no favours but gives you endless opportunities to explore, make statements, hold a flame of truth aloft and forge forward with hope and a rickety confidence stemming from who knows where.

Your journey has begun, travel well young person. Learn much and learn often, give everything your best and hold your head high. This thing we call Art is a beast to be reckoned with, which can test every fibre of your being and in exchange it MAY give you great gifts, but don’t hold your breath, if fact you might do well to give up now, walk away from the alluring beast, stand aside and let it pass by. Pay it no disrespect as it does pass, and you will live a life less tortured free from the shackles of it’s malevolence.

However if you do let it pass by will you ever know the ecstasy which can come from the angst ridden beast? Will  you ever know if you are the next Picasso or Rembrandt? Will you ever know if this thing which started out with your Art Teacher telling your parents ‘you are good at Art’ can give you an enhanced spirit, a sense of belonging, an edge in making sense of this crazy crazy world.

Go forth in this bizarre world and make your mark, but do so guided by more than just a throw away subjective line about your skills, or your retaliation against your Fathers advice and guilt throwing. Go forth in the world with wonderment and joy, explore deeply and rigorously and let all that it presents fill you with ecstasy. Then and only then, will you be able to hold true to your ideals of Visual Art, creative life and all it has to offer.

Exploring Materials in Visual Art

Exploring various materials is often a major part of Visual Art Studies and it can be easy to forget a few here and there, so I created a simple list to work with.

Somehow Teachers need to get through a fair bit of exploration work, often in tight time frames. This list should give them a reminder of items to include in their efforts to ensure Students have a good start to extended studies.

Students you can use this list to suggest materials to your teachers. This way as you move into other areas of study in Visual Art you can at least have some level of skill in many of these areas.

Oh did I leave anything out? drop me a line if I did! 🙂


General media
Pen and ink
– Marbling

Paper cut outs
– Stencilling



Stencil work
Mono prints
Copier prints
– Screen printing

Digital media
Photo Manipulation
Digital painting
Graphic design


– Found object development

Pinch pots

Mixed media
Paint and added media
2D – 3D
Installation art – Found object – Impermanent works

Just when you thought…

There were no new ideas in Art…


Try creating one of these or a variation on one or three of them. Remember it’s all about starting points, where you end up might be another thing entirely!

What can you make from all this? Lots of things, clearly… Now jot down a few options of  your own and share them in the comments section. 🙂 Email me some of the images you create I can list them on here. (Small Jpg’s please.)

Analytical Art Speak…

When it comes to chatting about Art, people can freeze up, not really sure about what to say, while others will talk until everyone has long gone to sleep. For some studying how to use effective Visual Arts Language is a solid part of their course, for instance in VCE Studio Arts.


The key to being able to talk about anything is knowing the words to use which fit to the specific topic, in this case Visual Art.

Consider talking about a sport you may have an interest in. Over time you have developed a range of words related to the topic to give you the skills to discuss it, this may have happened purely to listening to people talk about the sport on TV, radio, reading newspapers and magazines. For many it comes easy as there are lots of ways the sport is described and analysed, It probably does not take long to get your head around the topic.

Visual Art on the other hand is often a challenging topic to discuss, for example many of us have seen the sunday afternoon arts programs which have an interviewer or critic ramble on about the complexities of some artists work, while the rest of us sit and think “HUH!”

The challenge is getting to know the words and what they mean, a bit like learning another language and for many the words used at the higher end of the arts analysis scale will certainly be that way.

How do I get started in learning this new language?

The written and spoken language we use to explore artistic endeavours helps us to appreciate the work and possibly give us an insight in to the work. Art does not have to be explored through daunting complex words, but in time you might find the complexity of the words diminishes as  you build  your proficiency.

Talking about Art Part 3.

Leading on from Part 2 in this series. If you are an artist and are being quizzed about your work there is possibly an ulterior motive hidden behind the request from a viewer for more information. It may be they want to buy a piece (nice thought!) or want to follow your career to see if you will still have the strength of “Artistic conviction” you may have now, in a few years time.


Or they might simply be an art lover who may not want to buy, but admire your work for its real intrinsic value.

If you are out to sell your work, you need to be careful not to “Talk past the sale” and watch out for tricks they may want to use like “If I buy it after the show, can I get it cheaper and not have to pay the gallery’s commission?” Hmm nice try buddy! Forget it, althoughh it may sound like a win-win the gallery misses out. Let the gallery represent you, that’s what they do, or if you have hired the space and this seems like a good idea to save you paying out more money, think again. You might put  yourself into a poor bargaining position later on with no other prospects about to make an offer.

If you are more interested in discussing the value of the work from a story, metaphoric or visual language perspective, then the the discussion can be quite different. It’s a chance to “bare your soul” and let the world catch a glimpse of the “inner you”, what caused you to make the work/s, why you explored the subject the way  you did, or perhaps what you were aiming to communicate to the viewer.

Treat the exercise like it’s a chance to vent and be at ease with what you have produced and you will probably have a great time doing so.

Here’s the link to the next article in this series…

Talking about Art Part 2.

Following on from Part 1 in this short series of Talking about Art. Lets tackle the topic of an Artist talking about their own work, and not from a sales perspective at this stage.


Let’s paint a picture of a person asking the artist about their work.

Does the Artist become coy and reserved saying little other than “Oh I don’t know I think the work speaks for itself really…” Or do they do their best to “wax lyrical” about the work and perhaps give an brief insight, or perhaps go too far and risk boring the viewer with too much information.

I would hope the middle ground could prevail, so the viewer who has asked the question can say “I got enough information to satisfy my interest” and then be able to walk away content with the knowledge they received.

Getting the balance right comes down to being able to “read” the viewer and figure out what sort of information they really want, and you can do this by asking a few questions. “Tell me about your work…” Might seem like a great starting point, but for the Artist it should not be the only cue to jump in and tell all. It should only be the start to “What would you like to know specifically?”

From here the viewer might say “I want to know about the inspiration for the work.” (it could be an easy smoke screen question to get you talking on a deeper level too). So you might ask, “My inspiration for the series or this piece in particular?” This way you will be able to provide an answer which best fits to their needs.

Perhaps an Artist might do well to practice a few scenarios so they can provide information which can fit to a range of starting points. Consider a bunch of questions you might be asked and then figure out how to respond to those.

There. that’s a bunch of starting points, how you deal with each is up to you, however the major factor is presenting confidently so the person you are speaking too can feel you are not wishy washy or unable to talk in terms they want to hear.

There are lots of resources on reading personality types, talking other peoples language (so to speak) and ways to engage them. The important thing about all that is finding ways to make them see your point of view by talking their language in a way which appeals to them.

Have a think about how you might respond to these questions and bring together your language skills in a way which, you can feel confident with the results.

Here’s the link to the next article in this series…

Talking about Art Part 1.

I’m sure there are many Lecturers and Art Teachers who find it quite a challenge to get their students to talk about art. Mostly I guess students might think Art is a “visual” medium and trying to put things into an auditory or written language may well seem foreign to them. This article can be of value to students and artists alike wanting to get a stronger grip on the task of talking about art, especially for students in VCE Studio Arts.

talk art

Artists on the other hand can either find themselves buried in a swathe of “pontificating” about their work, or lost in thought, unable to articulate the visual medium. So what to do?

For the Artists, some are the type who can seemingly sell ice to Eskimos, so they can handle themselves verbally and build a solid persuasive story around their works. Others prefer to let the work speak for itself or to let a Gallerist chat to prospects and collectors about the Art.

What do you say about your works? Maybe it’s a loaded question, as I guess it depends on what you want to communicate. If it’s a regular collector of  your works that’s one thing, but a new person unaware of who you are, or your style of work etc then that’s another. Then take into account a student trying to make sense of evaluating an artwork of any kind.

There are frameworks for exploring the analysis of works, and ways of researching the Artist and their possible intent. It comes down to “What’s it all about…”

I can see it will be a big topic to handle so let’s leave this starting point as is, a point to ponder from… and break down the issue into a  smaller bunch of articles.

Heres the link to the next one…

Beyond the Postcard…

Postcard art is not new, far from it and many Artists love to create works postcard size. They can be mailed, hung and you can create a lot of them quickly in a limited edition if you want. In thinking about postcards as a medium my mind turned to cards, greeting cards and the like, a postcard but it folds.

Take the standard card you might send to a friend for their birthday and consider how it might be a useful art activity.

Sure you could decorate it in some card type design and say happy birthday, but I would hope you might go further than that.

Consider, how it…

– Folds.

– Unfolds.

– Could use the envelope to say more than the card.

– Could be a series of images, that when put together could create a big image.

– Could use words to express a theme.

– Might be displayed when it is sent… perhaps it comes with instructions.

– Could present a theme.

– Could inspire the receiver to create another one (or 20…) and send them on.

Explore some of these starting points and see what happens next, perhaps a set of blank ones drawn on if differing ways to see if you can create something fresh rather than just exploring basic imagery in a few dimensions. If you create  a few send me a photo or three to see the results.

Consider this topic as a possible exploration or final product for VCE Studio Arts

Exploring Culture in Visual Art

Culture, generally refers to “Patterns of human activity and the devices, which give such activities significance and importance.”

With this definition in mind, Visual Artists might find themselves saying, “So when am I not exploring culture…” Great point, and while you are pondering that let me get on with some other bits… Thanks…

Patterns of human activity, things we might do repeatedly, things, which have significance or importance, which are repeated.

Therefore there are a lot of things, which could fall into these category’s, the Artist using these to communicate and or explore “stuff” about them could find some interesting starting points, here are a few, I am sure there is more.

Take any of these and consider ways to utilise them as a starting theme, then figure a few ways to make art with the “cultural” starting point. VCE Studio Arts can have a component which tackles this very subject.


© Steve Gray 2010+

How about this as an example, War – There are many ways to depict war in art, but what if I was to collect copies of war time newspaper articles and create a collage of the cut up articles… I could cut out shapes of guns and overlay them, I could make patterns out of the collage of guns, the result is a starting point on the theme of war. Of note here is the way I can explore the idea and fit it to the cultural theme, therefore I can explore the theme in a range of ways which may lead me to examining the topic at a deeper level and hopefully communicate that to others visually.

© Jesse Nivens 2010+

So there’s a start, you could take almost ANYTHING you are interested in and explore it this way. Perhaps a collage might lead you to thinking about a drawing or painting, or ideas for photographs themed from the collage.

By following a train of thought, then exploring it further, you could be creating your own level of significance and importnace about something, so you would be creating your own culture! I figure that’s why art is a called a cultural activity. Hmm if I use that sort of thinking sport could be art… or at least the catalyst to the way we might explore the culture of sport.

Activities to take the concept further;

Exploring the definition of “Culture”.

  1. Find at least five definitions of the term culture (Dictionary and or Internet search) and from those distill a series of points to assist in strengthening your understanding of the term “culture” (make sure you do all this in your visual diaries to reference it later on.)
  2. As you explored the definitions of culture, did anything relate to a topic or subject of interest to you? Do a quick brainstorm and see what happens, based around your interests, asking the question, “What things am I interested in which can clearly relate to “culture”? (Make your brainstorm, at least 21 points long).
  3. From your brainstorming, pick out a few points which are of strong interest to you… Now jot a few points in your visual diary on ways you might be able to use these points.
  4. Create a word based mind map of whats been happening since you started this process.
  5. Make a purely visual mind map to go with the text based one, perhaps search the net for images you can copy and paste, print out and then paste into your visual diary.
  6. Make some notes and or drawings on any key themes you have come across which might be showing up… Are there any strong enough for you to explore as an art work?

Further concepts…

  1. Look at the project 1000 journals this will give you a range of ideas on how others have created journals and make a mini journal on your efforts so far for exploring “culture”…
  2. Create a large drawing using one of the pages from your mini journal as inspiration. (tape together a bunch of pieces of paper to make the image BIG.)
  3. Write about the process thus far in your visual diary and the things you have discovered, what has stood out to you?
  4. Select two of the interviews on Contemporary Visual Artists at our sister site. Take notes about their work and their way of working and how they explore the concept of “culture?”…
  5. Create a few quick drawings or actual pieces in any medium to abstractly explore some more random notions about the term culture.
  6. The culture of various societies is often developed from their history, can you find any links to what you have done in this exploration of the topic and the history of your social background (Country of origin, social position etc.?)

Copyright © Steve Gray 2011+

Glossary of art terms

As a student I was told to buy a dictionary of art terms and flip through it from time to time, look up points I did not know and generally have it as a resource. That was a good idea, but only some of the info stayed with me. For secondary level students (VCE Studio Arts) and Uni level students, this may serve as a very useful resource to develop a range of skills in analysing art.

I was shown another way years later which I like more, as it involves students at least cutting and pasting info they need and therefore see of value, over time the resource builds to suit their needs and interests.


Here’s how…

  1. Take a quick internet search for a glossary of art terms (probably just heading points at this stage) or create your own ready to use.
  2. Take the list and put it in your favourite word processor.
  3. Use the headings as starting points, get the info on the headings which interest you and paste it in.
  4. Save the info and keep adding to it, over time some of the headings will have multiple entries. Encourage web links and pictures as well. Make it into a PDF file and get the students to hand it in online…

After a few weeks the glossary will be a few pages long, then more and more can be added.

Extension activities

  1. Invite the students to share new or interesting points they have found which they have added to their glossary of terms. What a great way to get students chatting about art and using art terminology.
  2. Start Junior students with one and build on it year by year, by the time they get to be senior students they will have a solid resource and a great connection with the language and terminology of the subject.
  3. Want to avoid setting homework… or want to set some… simply give them this task and ask them to add to it week by week. In class you can remind them to add to it each week and put a note in their Student diary/organiser to remind them.

Landscape ideas

From ancient times through to contemporary works, the landscape has meant a great deal for art and artists. how artists interpret the landscape is as varied as chalk and cheese from abstract concepts and emotions through to highly realistic scenes.


Many artists are inspired not just by their shapes and forms on the landscape but by colours and textures as well. For an artist starting out the chance to explore landscape ideas can seem rather daunting I hope some of the concepts I put forward might give you some great starting points.


Okay there’s a few ideas you might like to try to get started in landscapes, I think you may find the more you do landscapes to more engrossing it will become… enjoy!

If you are studying VCE Studio Arts you may find this a great starting point to exploring a theme.

Here are a few websites you may like to explore to learn more about the ways artists have explored the landscape as a concept or theme.

Environmental Expressionism

Graham Fransella

Peter Biram

Arthur Boyd

Amanda  van gils

Simon Collins

Peter Tudhope

Ursula Theinert

Kerrie Warren

Kaye Green

Tim Storrier

John Wolseley

Tim Jones

Steve Gray


John Olsen

Portraits – outside the square

This portrait by Rupert Shrive shows the idea of representing someone in a portrait does not have to be a basic square or rectangle on canvas or in a photograph.


So lets explore a few different ways you could do a portrait.

These are just starting points to work from, but once you have tried these, think about doing a straight portrait, do you think it will be easy? Perhaps it might seem too bland as a process and ask yourself which one really portrays the subject matter the best…. Enjoy!

If you are studying VCE Studio Arts you may find the ideas in this article may give you some interesting starting points in developing ideas for your folio.

Some benefits of studying art


If you are heading into the study of Visual Art, at secondary school, TAFE, University or some other course of learning then you may find the following list of value. For secondary students if your folks are giving  you grief about taking on an art subject or course, print the list and nail it to their foreheads with a nail gun, if they don’t get why you want to do Visual Art by then, move house! (okay that’s a joke but think about it as an image, neat huh…)

Teachers feel free to use this list anytime someone in “authority” decides to cut your budget, give you grief about art being non essential etc… or use it to show parents the value of art and why their child should make it a subject worthy of their learning and not throw clay etc…

“Studying Visual Art, can…”

  • Be a creative outlet from more academic subjects you may choose.
  • Build further knowledge of Visual Art and Art techniques.
  • Allow you to express yourself creatively.
  • Put emphasis on the value of content, which helps students understand “quality” as a key value.
  • Build problem-solving skills.
  • Make us think and see in a way that everyday reality cannot.
  • Put you in touch with your soul.
  • Put us in touch with other customs, heritage, society and civilisations.
  • Be therapeutic.
  • Convey knowledge, meaning, and skills not learned through the study of other subjects
  • Boost your confidence and self esteem.
  • Boost literacy skills.
  • Help you to describe things in detail and explore the use of words to better describe things.
  • Flex your “brain muscle!”
  • Give you a sense of accomplishment.
  • Give you, Critical thinking; Problem solving; Teamwork; Informed perception; Tolerating ambiguity; and Appreciating different cultures.
  • Develop fine motor skills.
  • Cultivate the whole person.
  • Add to your emotional intelligence.
  • Help you to make sense of the world.
  • Give you higher level thinking skills.
  • Prepare us to handle a challenging world.
  • Develop collaborative and teamwork skills, technological competencies, flexible thinking, and an appreciation for diversity.
  • Enhance self discipline.
  • Develop intuition, reasoning, imagination, and dexterity into unique forms of expression and communication.
  • Develop a sensitive, and intelligent participation in society.
  • Build thinking skills such as analysis, synthesis, evaluation, and critical judgment.
  • Nourish creativity.
  • Assist us to appreciate and understand ourselves better.
  • Be a significant catalyst for community development support for cultural institutions, and economic health.
  • Add to our aesthetic literacy.
  • Give us access to greater understanding of a universal language.
  • Encourage high achievement.
  • Encourage a suppleness of mind, toleration for ambiguity, a taste for nuance, and the ability to make trade-offs among alternative courses of action.
  • Assist us to be more comfortable using many different symbol systems (verbal, mathematical, visual, auditory and kinesthetic.
  • Assist us to understand and appreciate others.
  • Teach us about materials and processes.
  • Assist us to integrate knowledge and “think outside the square.”
  • Lead to a range of creative career options.
  • Engage and develop human intellectual ability…
  • Assist us to explore challenges and test out ideas.
  • Add to our cultural depth.

Art education is vital for today’s world including the ability to allocate resources; to work successfully with others; to find, analyze, and communicate information; to operate increasingly complex systems of seemingly unrelated parts; and, finally, to use technology.

Learning is an action process, and the arts allow students to take action, to do things, to make mistakes, to explore and search for answers. No other educational medium offers the same kind of opportunity.

Art can provide an unparalleled opportunity to teach higher-level basics, which are increasingly critical, not only for today’s work force, but also tomorrow’s…

The quality of civilization can be measured by the breadth of symbols used. We need words, music, dance and the visual arts to give expression to the profound urgings of the human spirit.

Now more than ever, all people need to see clearly, hear acutely and feel sensitively through the arts. These languages are no longer simply desirable but are essential if we are to convey adequately our deepest feelings, and survive with civility and joy.

Ernest L. Boyer,

Thats the list and a few notions to explore… I hope that helps!

Leading professor and Chair of the Faculty at the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, James Catterall has an insightful book “Doing Well and Doing Good by Doing Art: A 12-Year Longitudinal Study of Arts Education—Effects on the Achievements and Values of Young Adults (2009).”

Catterall’s study, addresses the questions “Do the arts matter?” “Just how?” and “For whom?” Focusing on more than 12,000 students from diverse backgrounds, the study’s findings demonstrate, intensive involvement in the arts by students during middle and high school is positively associated with higher levels of achievement in school and college attainment.

But if you still get grief for exploring Visual Art then hand the harasser this career option list… and remind them that studying subjects like psychology, sport, high level maths, physics and the like does not mean a job in those areas, but they are also part of building a range of life skills of value in a range of jobs and career options.


Some possible career options…

  • Graphic designer.
  • Multi media designer.
  • Photographer.
  • Artist.
  • Craftsperson.
  • Furniture designer.
  • Gallery Director.
  • Gallery Assistant.
  • Illustrator.
  • Interior Designer.
  • Printer.
  • Screen Printer.
  • Architect.
  • Art Therapist.
  • Cartoonist.
  • Animator.
  • Museum Technician.
  • Hairdresser.
  • Set and props designer/constructor
    for theatre, films or TV.
  • Sign Writer.
  • Web page Designer.
  • Costume Designer.
  • Art Teacher.
  • Industrial Designer.
  • Fashion Designer.

P.S. it didn’t take too long to do an internet search on the benefits of studying art to build my lists from… think of them as starting points to do some of our own research and see what else you can find.

The student, painting and costs…

As a student of the Visual Arts, cost of materials is generally a big factor, you want to paint but by the time you make a stretcher, get the canvas (heck linen is so expensive, canvas is it…) then stretch it and undercoat… PHEW it’s time to paint at last!

All very well but the cost is sending you broke… so what to do?

Q. Especially in the start of the learning process, are you about to create a masterpiece? Chances are no…

A. So why go expensive, grab a big chunk of “straw-board” whack on the undercoat and get started.

1. It’s faster to get started.

2. It’s cheaper.

3. It’s easy to store…

Lets face it even if you do a “masterpiece” on board you will probably be able to “copy” it in canvas anyway…

Limitations… size, no canvas texture and permanency. Other than that give it a go…

How about another idea, use canvas, but stretch it onto a board of some kind, plywood etc using drawing pins, paint, let it dry and hang it using bulldog clips. You want a neater finish? hem the edges on a sewing machine…

Hey what about those cheap Chinese canvases you see in the two dollar shops? are they any good, short answer, no… but if you want cheap and are desperate to paint grab one or twenty then go for for it! Some of the sizes are bigger than straw-board so that’s useful. Its cheap but storage becomes the issue (again!)

In other areas of Visual Art there are probably heaps of ways of making things more cost effective… think about where you source materials from and explore the options…

Remember this… “Make Art Have fun…” (at least some of the time.) and if you are studying VCE Studio Arts then you are probably looking for cost effective ways to make you final works or at least explore some ideas using the above techniques.

Visual Art Diary – Art Journal

Many Students have these, and most have them because they are told they have to as part of their studies, perhaps VCE Studio Arts. Ok get over it, you should use one because you want to, not as a have to. Many Artists use them as a way to create lasting record of things they want to record, often from their daily encounters with life.

So what’s the value, the benefit, the reason… Well most people who have one, will have seen the benefit and should be able to tell you, it’s for exploring, writing, gathering, recording, giving you points to reflect on and not just as a sketch book, it’s more than a diary to write in; note the title “Visual Diary” or “Art Journal”.

Here’s a quote from the Victorian Curriculum Board…

A visual diary may take any form that supports the student’s individual design process and is reflective of the key knowledge and key skills as detailed in the study design.

The design process can be presented in a variety of ways that suit the student’s needs or the art form being developed. The visual diary may contain a record of work in development in the form of photographs, sketches or screen dumps. It will contain a record of trials and explorations throughout the design process; these should be in the form of annotations and evaluations.

The student’s ideas, as outlined in their exploration proposal, must be reflected in their visual diary.

My suggestion is to see the Journal as a way to keep things together, so when you want to show how a work of art, or your thinking has developed, you have the “evidence” rather than just having some new art tangent you have miraculously plucked from “thin air”.

In simple terms it’s a diary on steroids, not just a collection of past events, but of present thoughts and ideas as well, that you can reflect on and use in the future. A personal resource of information (it can include anything and everything you can think of that fits on to a flat page.)

Do a bit of internet searching and you will probably find lots of outlines for how to create a journal, but the key to creating one is making it work, and that’s simple, get one and use it all the time. Example, I bet you have a mobile phone with you all the time, same with this, you can even have a small one so you can carry it with ease then add your entries to a big one if you want. If the first one gets filled up grab another one and add to that to. One thing I will say, NEVER throw out rip out any part of the diary, keep it in tact, you never know when some info you were going to throw out will be useful.

The Journal can be great to have at an interview for courses of further study, as it can reaveal a great deal about HOW you work and back up the actual work.

If you want to see journalling on steroids (go on take a look…) check out the 1000 journals website and see how others have tackled Journal writing on a massive scale!

And here’s a video to give you more ideas…