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Favouring the bold

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Charlie Oag – Special Merit Category C

The National Gallery of Edinburgh Recently hosted the Tesco Bank Art Competition for Schools. The work is always entertaining. Children’s art having idiosyncrasies of deliveries which seem to reveal essential structures of conception.
What intrigued me this time, looking at the work that had been selected for awards – was that it was the paintings that stood out as the most effective art works – regardless of the fact that the work was by children that had been selected. Abstraction appeared to be taken at face value and enjoyed, rather than seen as evidence of under developed motor skills. As an assessor of undergraduates I felt that I would have selected the same work myself and so I was drawn to look at the assessment criteria used by the panel. There were just three:

  • Originality and creativity
  • Confident handling of the materials
  • Boldness and impact

Henley Kay - 3rd Place Category A
Henley Kay – 3rd Place Category A

Originality and creativity is really about a person’s curiosity and engagement with both their subject and materials. It comes easier to someone who has the space to open out and explore possibilities so that there is a kind of momentum. Children learn through play and experimentation and originality is built in as they push the frontiers of their experience and make totally new connections every day.
I particularly like ‘confident handling of materials’ and I wish I could gift this to my students. Instead of tentatively using materials and hoping that incrementally you will get closer to mastery, it is much more effective to use materials confidently if inexpertly and then refine that by practise. Rather like driving a car, you can’t do it a bit at a time. You have to get in and do everything at once, thrown in at the deep end, and just stall and splutter through until the bits fall into place. The works that were chosen shared an unselfconscious ease with the idea of using paint.
Mark Fyffe - 3rd Place Category C
Mark Fyffe – 3rd Place Category C

Boldness and impact is a funny one – especially boldness. In fact the choices weren’t all bold, and some were slight and gentle for good reason. I feel as if this criteria related to the formal structural properties of the works – thoughtful or dynamic composition, good use of colour relationships and sensitive use of detail and draughtsmanship.
Our own assessment criteria are actually very similar, but I think these three perspectives  on considering the effectiveness of an art work are useful for all OCA students to consider.
Chloe Nisbet - Special Mention Category A
Chloe Nisbet – Special Mention Category A


Posted by author: Emma Drye
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4 thoughts on “Favouring the bold

  • “I particularly like ‘confident handling of materials’ and I wish I could gift this to my students. Instead of tentatively using materials and hoping that incrementally you will get closer to mastery, it is much more effective to use materials confidently if inexpertly and then refine that by practise.”
    This might be the best piece of advice for students I’ve ever read about learning how to make art.
    In other news: I love the donkey.

  • Good advice indeed. I think I would recommend that those criteria be applied to any work of art about to be hung on a wall. I don’t think my own offerings at level one would have qualified. Will try harder and be mindful of boldness.
    I loved them all but especially the frog.

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