Distortion of Form: A Level Art Sketchbook, Preparation and Final Piece

Last Updated on April 2, 2023

These last few weeks I have been fortunate enough to write about three amazing A Level Art portfolios. This is the second of the three: a comprehensive and well-executed A2 Painting project (AQA A Level Fine Art) awarded 100%. It was completed by Claire Lynn, while she was a student at Carmel Sixth Form Catholic College, Merseyside, England.

A2 Art ideas - photographic investigation
A2 Art: Initial ideas are investigated through photography.

Claire’s initial ideas are explored through photography, with a time lapse/open shutter and a 50mm lens. A Level Art teachers (and examiners) often worry about the use of photographs within Painting folios, particularly when it involves drawing from second-hand imagery. Claire’s portfolio, however, demonstrates how photographic works can be integrated with outstanding success. Not only are the photographs her original works (rather than sourced of the internet or cut from magazines, for example, which would be frowned upon in almost all circumstances), but the camera has been used as a tool to manipulate composition, exploring transparency and overlays through double exposures – effects which are critical in her subsequent drawings and paintings. Even better, Claire’s photographs are not merely snapshots to draw from; they are beautiful, well-composed images in their own right.

A Level Art exploration of ideas
A Level Art: Charcoal drawings exploring transparency and overlays.

Showing an exceptional level of skill, Claire continues to investigate her topic (distortion of form) through a large number of smaller drawings. She conducts extensive experimentation with media, producing charcoal, graphite, and biro pen drawings.  These monochromatic drawings are rich and full of tone: black, whites and a multitude of greys (or colour) in between.

art a level sketchbook - developing ideas
Art A Level: investigation through drawings are continually supported by photographic investigations.
A2 Art folder
A thorough and comprehensive A2 Art folder: this page illustrates the large range of media that Claire explored in her work.

With backgrounds frequently omitted (allowing the focus to be upon the intertwined figures that slip and merge into one other) Claire paints and draws on range of surfaces, including newspaper and mixed media collages. She produces gauche and acrylic paintings and paints and draws on acetate (clear plastic) overlays to further explore transparency.

As Claire develops and refines her ideas, she learns from digital photographer Idris Khan; line drawings by Dryden Goodwin; blurred paintings by Gerhard Richter; portraits by Shawn Barber; and, for painterly treatment of human skin, Jenny Saville.

A Level Fine Art example
A Level Fine Art: innovative and exciting compositions.
AQA Art A Level
AQA Art A Level: confident and skilful painting technique

While Claire’s technical skill is excellent, it is her intriguing and original take on portraiture and innovative compositions that really sets this portfolio apart.

AQA A Level Art example
AQA A Level art: mixed media works introduce an aspect of unpredictability drips, tears and irregular edges.

The multi-layered artworks suggest a relationship between the subject and the way they view themselves; the alter ego and the burden of the other self. Serene and somehow hopeful, the multiple expressions capture a moment in time that writhes and wriggles a little; as if a collection of frozen stills in a video frame. The works tell you much more about a person than you would ever know from a conventional single-image portrait. They give us a story.

This is one of those rare portfolios where the development journey is so beautiful and thorough: exactly as you wish it would be. So many students produce scattered, incoherent portfolios: here you have an A Level Art submission that is substantial and carefully sequenced: it can only be the result of a fantastic student meeting a great teacher. In depth and speaking volumes, this A Level project will be a valuable learning tool for many students and teachers to come.

A Level Art final piece - mixed media painting
A2 Art portfolio: the transparent qualities of acetate come into their own. Beautiful artworks shimmer: offering glimpses of semi-concealed details from every angle. The final A Level Art final piece: painted on wood and newspaper.

A Level Art sketchbook

Claire’s project is accompanied by an outstanding A Level Art journal. There is no tacky decoration on the pages: effort has been placed into the work alone: a sincere and aesthetically joyful investigation.

art sketchbook a level
Art sketchbook, A Level (Fine Art): a beautiful, rich sketchbook page showing imitation of paintings by artist Shawn Barber.
a level fine art sketchbook
A Level Fine Art sketchbook page showing analysis and imitation of works by Gerhard Richter.
a level art journal page
A Level Art journal: a brilliant sketchbook page.

I first discovered Claire’s work while perusing the Asia Region Art Educators website, where I stumbled across the beautiful images that her teacher Martin Cockram (an A Level Art moderator and examiner)  had uploaded. Martin was kind enough to share these with me, along with several other stunning images of her work.

More of Claire’s A Level Art journal pages are available for viewing here in this article about A Level Art sketchbooks.


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