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Art GCSE final piece

How do I make a good final piece for GCSE art?

I'm an Ex-Year 11 student (currently Year 12) who took art at GCSE, so hopefully I can offer some advice that might be helpful to you!

Art is purely coursework-based, so everything you do prior to your final piece is significant. While I'm sure that a lot of it was to tick off those assessment objectives that the exam board has set for you guys, things like artist studies and experimental work with media and such are ways that you can become more confident with how your final piece will go. A lot of the advice I'm going to give will apply to paintings and 2d media, as opposed to sculptures, film and photography and such, but I think the general gist of it should apply to all sections?

So experimenting and figuring out what materials you want to use is one thing I recommend before your final piece - Try charcoal, ink, watercolour, acrylic paint, etchings, lino prints, mono prints, pastels, gouache and so on. Try out different ways of applying, as well; painting with fingers, smudging, brushes, palette knives, that kind of thing. The same goes with what you're working on - cartridge paper, canvas, wood, cloth, glass, acrylic/plastic, cardboard et cetera. If you're going for a sculpture or 3d project, media project or anything else, then the same applies; just try to find something you think will work and that you're comfortable with, because (assuming that your final piece will be an exam), you want to go into the exam knowing that everything will go smoothly and that you know how to fix things if it goes wrong, how to work with the material, and know what you're doing with it. If you broaden the materials you work with, then a) It's well worth it, even if it doesn't turn out all that well, because it shows that you're not restricting yourself and are experimenting with as many possibilities as you can, and b) You may find a medium that you like more than something else which you previously preferred, or may just intrigue you more than any of your other options.

Think about linking in the artists you've studied so far, and how to incorporate their styles or something about their work into your own. Exam boards will want to know that you've not only researched the artist, but actually studied them and done something with the techniques and information you've gained. This could be in terms of colour palette, technique (e.g. brush strokes, palette knife application, painting over photographs etc), and so on.

Make sure that everything relates back to your theme, and tie in as much of what you've learned and presented in your coursework as possible; the final piece should reflect everything you've done up until now. Think about composition; for example a portrait of a girl as the subject. If she's the key point in the piece, then I'd recommend placing her where the eye trails, and possibly desaturating or blurring the background, kind of thing. Try not to make the colours too similar in value between the background and foreground, otherwise things will become confusing and the focus will be lost.

You can experiment with colour palettes and what impact they give off. For example, various shades of blues and greens would provide a melancholy feel to the piece, while warm colours such as red, orange and yellow would provide a passionate, alleviating atmosphere. As well as colour, I'm not sure how necessary this is but I think it helps if you can think of some kind of meaning behind what you're going to make. If you can figure that out, then it will be a lot easier - you'll know what kind of impact you want the piece to give, and you'll know why you're doing what you are. It'll have an influence over your brush strokes and application, as well as shapes, colour, and help you decide which artist will suit your piece the most (if not multiple).

Make sure you do a few designs, even if they're brief and not using the materials you'd like to actually use! It'll show the examiner that you've thought of different options and thought of ways to develop your project in multiple ways.

Last thing I'd say to do is a mock up of your final piece when you've listed down what you'd like to do, or designed it in your sketchbook/on your board. This is essentially just a smaller version of what you'd actually like to do in preparation of your final piece. I was required to do this last year, because in the exam, we weren't allowed to change anything in our designs (I'm not sure if it's the same with you). It basically just ensures that you're using your time wisely and know exactly what you're doing, and that the materials you're using together will work well. When you've done it once before, it makes the second time a breeze, since you know the exact process of what you're about to make!

Wow, this took a long time to type, but I hope this was helpful to you! Of course, our exam boards may have differed, but I reckon it should be somewhat similar in terms of the end goal. Speak to your teacher if you're having any concerns or any troubles, especially if you're getting stressed and don't know what to do from there on! I stressed out a lot, because I always found it difficult to keep on top of things, particularly when I was stuck on ideas. Your teacher, again, will know more about this than I do, so it's always a good idea to ask them before you take my word or anyone else's on the internet for this, haha.

I wish you the best of luck for your final piece and GCSE!!
Reply 2
Thanks so much, that’s helped a lot. :smile: Time to get to work!
Original post by 14Tanisha
Thanks so much, that’s helped a lot. :smile: Time to get to work!

It's no problem at all! I'm glad it was of use to you! Keep up the hardworking attitude - it'll really pay off!! All the best ❤❤
Can you do a painting you have already done for a final piece? I did an artist link painting and want to do it for my final piece, could I?
Reply 5
Original post by Phoebe Stanway
Can you do a painting you have already done for a final piece? I did an artist link painting and want to do it for my final piece, could I?

I would ask your art teachers. Mine let me do something similar to one of the paintings I had included in my book, however they said I had to make it more complex. I included different media, but I’m sure you could make it more complex in other ways. Maybe you could link it to some of the experimentation or other artists you’ve looked at throughout your book?

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