Last updated 19/02/2014

A2 Art Personal Study: A Beautiful Illustrated Essay

This Personal Study was completed by the talented Mary Faber, while studying A Level Art (CIE 9704) at ACG Strathallan College in 2004. A simple, yet elegant ‘book’ presentation, Mary’s Personal Study focuses upon the painting techniques, processes and compositions of New Zealand artist Russell Hollings, gaining an overall grade of 91%.

Mary began her study by completing an Outline Proposal Form. This was submitted to CIE for feedback at the end of April, once her A2 Coursework project was well underway. This meant Mary was able to clearly establish how her Personal Study might assist and link to her Coursework before she began. (It is no longer a requirement that the Personal Study relates to the Coursework project – although it can be advantageous if it does).

NOTE: Outline Proposal Forms are available through the CIE Teacher Support site, which is password protected (teachers have access to this) and can be submitted to the examiners electronically; alternatively, forms can be photocopied from the back of the 9704 syllabus booklet).

Within the Outline Proposal Form, Mary describes her intentions as:

To thoroughly analyse the painting processes and techniques of Russell Hollings, from initial preparation of a painting surface, through to final application of paint. I will discuss the effect of various marks and brushstrokes and how such a painting style conveys mood and meaning. Links will be made to well known international artists who use similar painting techniques. Finally I will discuss how these painting processes and techniques can be used in my own painting.

personal study art and design

Presentation is a crucial aspect of the Personal Study and must be given considerable thought. Mary created a square ‘book’, bound along the left-hand edge with a black spiral bind. Pages are cut from lightweight A3 sheets of reddish-brown card. This colour was selected as it echoes the hues used throughout Russell Hollings’ paintings and thus visually links the presentation together.

Text has been printed onto high quality cream paper, which is also used as the backing mount for illustrations. This allows Mary to combine hand-crafted illustrations with computer generated text in a tidy, cohesive way.

It is not necessary to fill a Personal Study with slavish copies of paintings (this wastes time and does not always generate the rewards that more investigative or analytical illustrations can provide), however, the cover can be an ideal place to wow the examiner with a carefully imitated reproduction. Here, Mary has copied one of Russell Hollings’ works, proving immediately that she has an outstanding level of artistic skill.
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A skilful, creative and articulate A Level Art student, Mary is now an exceptional typography designer

If you would like more information about this topic, please read the Student Art Guide introduction to the A Level Art Personal Study.

Amiria RobinsonThis article was written by Amiria Robinson. Amiria has been a teacher of Art & Design and a Curriculum Co-ordinator for seven years, responsible for the course design and assessment of Art and Design work in two high-achieving Auckland schools. Amiria has a Bachelor of Architectural Studies, Bachelor of Architecture (First Class Honours) and a Graduate Diploma of Teaching. She is a CIE Accredited Art & Design Coursework Assessor. Follow Amiria on Google+