Last updated 02/09/2015

International GCSE Art Sketchbook: Natural Forms Coursework 98%

This outstanding International GCSE Art and Design Coursework project was completed by Manisha Mistry in 2003, while studying IGCSE Art and Design (CIE 0400) at ACG Strathallan College, Auckland, New Zealand. A highly talented student, Manisha gained a result of 98% for her Coursework project. She submitted an A3 sketchbook and a final painting (A2) that were based on a ‘Coastal Environment’ theme, exploring natural forms such as shells, plants and landscapes. This was a theme set by the teacher and interpreted individually by students. The year’s course was broken into a number of smaller assignments that were explored over the following sketchbook pages.

Note: In 2003 the Coursework requirement was for a final project + sketchbook, rather than the A2 portfolio of 4 sheets (8 sides) that is the maximum requirement today.

It is hoped that this case study will benefit a range of high school Art students, including those who study GCSE Art and IGSCE Art and Design.

igcse art sketchbook page - shells and natural forms
Observational drawing is a big part of IGCSE Art. For her first sketchbook page Manisha arranged shells within cardboard boxes (giving her ample opportunity to practise the depiction of space), contrasting natural forms with the angular edges of boxes. She used a wash of earthy ochres and blues to create an acrylic ground, and used graphite and white paint over this to apply light and dark tone to the organic shell forms.


igcse art and design CIE sketchbook page
Experimentation and media trials are an important part of the IGCSE Art and Design (CIE) course. This sketchbook page includes confident and sophisticated experimentation with line (hatching and rendering techniques) as well as with several wet mediums, including acrylic paint, water colour and Indian ink. Manisha has used several different techniques, including applying paint with a stick, sponge and dripping splashes of ink onto a watery ground. Exercises such as this are fun and relatively quick for students to complete.


gcse art sketchbook layout example
Manisha’s International GCSE Art sketchbook layout is clean and uncluttered, without unnecessary decoration. This page contains beautifully simple observational drawings of natural forms (seaweed), as well as an investigation into the mood / colour associations.


gcse art sketchbook tips - page showing range of grounds
This is one of my favourite pages in Manisha’s IGCSE Art Sketchbook. A great tip for International GCSE students is to use a range of grounds and drawing surfaces within their sketchbook. This exposes students to a wide range of mediums and encourages experimentation. It also tends to create a rich, tactile sketchbook with visual appeal. In this sketchbook page, Manisha has glued a piece of brown paper to the left hand side of the page and used this as a mid-tone ground for a black and white charcoal drawing. Note that the beautiful observational drawings of natural forms (a skull on the left and a dried fish carcass on the right) are both drawn directly from life, rather than second hand imagery.


fish drawings with different mediums - gcse art sketchbook ideas
These sketchbook pages are based on Manisha’s visit to fish markets in Goa, India. Manisha has used a range of collaged mixed media to explore form and develop her ideas within her IGCSE art sketchbook. Traditionally printed photographs from the fish markets are included on this great example of an IGCSE Art Coursework page. The photographs are well composed and are treated as artworks in their own right.


A* gcse art projects - drawings of crabs and fish
It is important that International GCSE art projects contain experimentation with a wide range of media. This sketchbook page includes natural forms such as a crab, drawn with a stick dipped in Indian ink; a graphite fish drawn over a collection of textured papers, including old pieces of wallpaper; and a black pen and pastel fish.


gcse art sketchbook assignments
Most of Manisha’s IGCSE art sketchbook assignments are paintings and drawings. This is the first page that involves a 3D aspect. In this assignment, Manisha referenced traditional Maori weavers and made a flax weaving of her own (flax is a common plant in NZ coastal regions, thus fitting into the overall Coastal Environment theme). She then photocopied this weaving to create strongly contrasting black and white images, which were then cropped carefully to create striking compositions.


gcse art sketchbook drawings of weavings
On this page of this outstanding International GCSE Art sketchbook, Manisha drew from the weaving she had made in the previous assignment. Although ‘manmade’ these sculptural flax pieces are crafted from natural forms. This exercise allowed Manisha to practise the blending of tone in a range of different mediums – something at which she excelled. The image on the left is particularly successful, involving a photocopy that has pieces cut away, with the gaps redrawn.


example of analysis - gcse art sketchbook annotation
These pages show sketchbook annotation – brief analysis of artist models. The drawings of seagulls morph into sketches that are influenced by the Cubism works to the left. This ensures that the artist models studied become an integral part of the Coursework project.


gcse art sketchbook help
This page in Manisha’s International GCSE Art sketchbook helps to demonstrate that both contemporary and historical artists are being referenced. Natural forms: water, coastal landscape and trees are studied.


gcse art sketchbook example pages
A visual investigation into Maori art, with emphasis on fishing hooks: an excellent example of an International GCSE Art sketchbook page.


igcse art and design syllabus
As part of the IGCSE Art and Design syllabus, students are required to experience and learn from artworks first-hand. This sketchbook page was completed during a gallery visit, where students analysed the composition of artworks created by local artists. This analysis then influences the composition ideas that are shown on the following page, where Manisha initiates ideas her final artwork – a painting that brings together many elements of the Coastal Environment theme.


developing composition - gcse art sketchbook work
Even simple International GCSE Art sketchbook work, such as this page, shows a competent and sophisticated development of ideas for the final piece.


composition development - gcse art ideas
International GCSE Art Ideas: Manisha’s final sketchbook page shows a refinement of the colour scheme and painting technique to be used in her final work. As in other areas, Manisha excels in her understanding of composition and communication of ideas.


gcse art final piece
International GCSE final piece: Manisha’s final painting is a large, A2 mixed media work. Containing textural pieces and the seamless integration of a range of painting techniques, Manisha’s painting brings together her earlier research and investigation: a beautiful, competently executed final piece, depicting a range of natural forms.


A stunning and comprehensive body of work, Manisha’s IGCSE Art and Design Coursework has been admired by many of my students over the past few years. Now studying at Auckland University School of Medicine, Manisha is a talent to watch.

If you would like more help with the presentation of your own sketchbook, please read Tips for Producing an Amazing GCSE or A Level Sketchbook.

This article was written by . 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 Student Art Guide on Pinterest or join the discussion on Facebook. (If you are an Art teacher, you may also wish to join our High School Art Teacher Facebook Group).