IGCSE Art Exam: Your 3rd week

Next in the series of posts to get you prepared for your exams, we’ll be talking about what you’ll need to do for your 3rd week. Please keep in mind that the format that I’m doing is following a shortened timeline so that students can prepare more quickly but still get a sense of what the exam might be like.

Let’s recap, the 1st week was about making decisions and taking photos. 2nd week was about observational studies. 3rd week will involve compositional studies and different color mediums.

What is composition?

A Composition is when you arrange a group of objects or subjects in a manner that is pleasing to your or others’ eyes. A composition is based on what the artist thinks is right. There are several approaches to a composition like rule of thirds, golden-section and balancing shapes and colors but it’s up to the individual what they like most and suits them.

Here are a few more ways that could help your composition:

  • Viewing angles – try different viewing angles, close-ups, fine details, distorted viewing, upside down, top down, or ground level
  • Depth – having different layers of depth will create a much more interesting piece of art
  • Play of light and shadows – having a grasp of light and shadow will help you work look more realistic and interesting
  • Balance – colors, shapes, and patterns will need to be balanced
  • Expression – create a mood or an idea behind your work

We have exposed to different Artists. We all had an Artist that we liked to emulate. Maybe it’s challenging or it was easy, or maybe it was the style or look. Whatever the case may be, choosing an Artist will help you alleviate the stress and guide you to the style you are hoping to achieve. Once you have chosen an Artist, stick with it and don’t follow an artist just because it looks “neat”. Pick someone that you enjoy and can relate to.

During this week, you’ll want to incorporate colors (even if you’re not good at them). Here is a short list of different methods to lay down some color on your paper.

  • Colored pencil
  • Colored pencil with a ball point pen
  • Pastels on white or acrylic wash ground
  • Watercolor on watercolor paper
  • Acrylic on acrylic ground
  • Acrylic on various types of paper – textured, collaged, canvas
  • Color photographs
  • Any other mediums – crayons, colored inks, Chinese markers, markers
  • Oil paints*

*Although I think Oil paints are great, for the exam it’s not a good idea. For your preparation work, you can go ahead. Just be prepared for longer drying times unless you use a quick drying medium solution.

Light and Shadow mapping

We looked at how to approach the light and shadows (l/s). From our first session, we looked at enrichment shapes. It will be similar to that but we are using l/s shapes to block out our l/s. Just like a map with different territories, look at your subject and start mapping out these sections. You can roughly fill in the l/s values to start off with. Once you get the hang of it, you can start to build your values more softly. The purpose is to recognize the shapes and understand that light acts in a certain way that can be controlled.

Four properties of light

There are only 4 different ways a light can react with your subject.

  • Light
  • Shadow
  • Reflected light / bounce light
  • Cast shadow

When you can identify these four l/s, it will make it easier to draw with proper values.

For the rest of the class we, practiced the l/s mapping method to draw still life fruit.


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