External exemplars Level 3 2020 – Painting

Show: External Exemplars

The resources below contain examples of candidate work submitted in 2020 for assessment for the Visual Arts Achievement Standard 91456 Produce a systematic body of work that integrates conventions and regenerates ideas within painting practice. The purpose of this resource is to assist art teachers prepare their teaching programmes and their students for assessment.


Panel 1 (JPG, 569KB) Panel 2 (JPG, 538KB) Panel 3 (JPG, 525KB)
Entire portfolio (JPG, 1.5MB)
Click links to see larger images

This Excellence example identifies a particular set of interests for a painting proposition and effectively develops and refines a range of ideas and conventions. The candidate’s approach to painting practices is well synthesised into the individual paintings throughout their portfolio.

The figure is a common subject matter for candidates in this examination and it is important that we identify examples such as this where the proposition is broad enough to allow for the depth of ideas needed to sustain a body of work at Excellence.

This candidate clearly communicates an engagement with a range of pictorial concerns alongside their use of the figure. Symbolic use of colour, scale, space, narrative, composition, expressive surface treatment, light and organic versus structural are some of these. These formal attributes are informed by an understanding gained from looking at surrealism, expressionism, and narrative-based practice. The individual work’s success is due to this integration of a range of art practice within the candidate’s own individual performance.

Another key to their clear ability to communicate their learning is the board layout. It is critically edited and ordered throughout. No work seems superfluous and all are reflected upon or used to inform later decisions. Colour options are introduced on Panel 1: subtle browns as well as the more heavily used blues and greens; however, the red-and-blue combinations in the second work are explored alongside issues such as the monumental image of the face being subsumed by the water or field. Scale is explored through the hands, as well as the picture plane and tension of ropes.

Panel 2 shows a return to the smaller square format, which allows for a revisiting of earlier emotional ideas and for an economical use of real estate. This means a larger work can be attempted at the end of the board, which is important to the sense of deep space being explored.

A major strength of this folio is the final panel with the range of approaches to the exploration of these architectural spaces in relation to the figure and the surrealist narrative. These paintings continue to synthesise earlier ideas around scale and theatrical lighting concerns, but with a much greater complexity. The increased amount of work exploiting the use of smaller series again allows for subtle but complex arrangements in each work. This method of working provides ample evidence of the critical thinking required when exploring such a range of options in conjunction with fluency required at Excellence level.


Panel 1 (JPG, 627KB) Panel 2 (JPG, 651KB) Panel 3 (JPG, 761KB)
Entire portfolio (JPG, 1.9MB)
Click links to see larger images

At Merit, this submission is included as a good example of a candidate’s ownership and engagement with the imagery. This is arguably central to the motivation required to sustain an exploration of the proposition through a body of work with the sense of purpose seen at this level.

The relevance of the churches from the Auckland region as the architectural forms and structures within the bright coloured decorative fields is clear immediately and may have a personal narrative component. This allows for a solid investigation with considered combinations of these various elements when refining the links between ideas over the year. The skill set required for the three-dimensional as well as flattened images is consistent in their performance across the portfolio.

Panel 1 clearly introduces the subject matter relevant to the enquiry: stairways, geographical area, architectural examples of churches, and perspective in relation to interior. The bottom paintings establish the colour palette options, as well as keeping their options open in terms of conventions. These three works provide different options to expand the project when necessary, from a more organic versus grid-like composition or surrealistic floating symbols in the sky.

Panel 2 works with the deconstruction of the structures, motifs, and symbols. The considered selection and combinations of elements allow the candidate to refine their ideas, although in a more vertical reading across the second board. The stairways are developed as symbolic motifs alongside the treatment of circles as flat pattern motifs. The decorative use of shapes and colour become far more complex as they have investigated practice around abstraction in a contemporary context. The architectural forms are compositionally played against the patterned surface in various iterations.

Panel 3 shows a purposeful exploration of increasingly assured compositions and use of colour throughout. The successful attention to formal concerns allows for further exploration that reforms and extends the earlier work. The surreal inset of the artist’s hand allows for a touch of humour reflecting the student’s engagement as well as artistic references. The left and right nature of the last works seems to have resulted in the change of format of the larger final work.

This refinement and integration of ideas could have been built on to meet the criticality at Excellence through recognising some of the strengths in the earlier works on Panel 3 and pushing these ideas further in smaller sequences to create more work. This would have allowed for editing of earlier works and a stronger submission overall showing the critical decision-making necessary at Excellence.


Panel 1 (JPG, 450KB) Panel 2 (JPG, 531KB) Panel 3 (JPG, 574KB)
Entire portfolio (JPG, 1.5MB)
Click links to see larger images

This portfolio demonstrates how a simple pictorial proposition combined with adequate skills in drawing and painting can enable a sustained investigation over the year.

This exploration is driven by the candidate through a playful narrative alongside formal concerns of figure, drapery, and conventions of surrealism, scale, and colour. Identifying and exploring the links between these allows them to push the work forward.

Panel 1 introduces a list of motifs and symbols through drawing and painting: the flower, a wooden artist’s mannequin, drapery, and the activity of hand-stitching and machine-sewing. The theatrical nature of the middle works reflects the surrealist conventions the candidate has researched. Giorgio de Chirico, pointed at by the use of the drawing mannequins, or the Rene Magritte repetition of floating figures referenced in the larger horizontal work where the fabric becomes the landscape are options incorporated in later work.

Panel 2 starts with a strong move to look at scale in the relationship between the pins and the figure. The potential here is interrupted by a few smaller works concerned with the flattening of the surface through repetitive pattern and collage. The analysis of abstraction without the figure and focus on the patterns and shapes is a stronger finish to the panel that could be built on by smaller developmental works. This could have allowed for more understanding of paint layering in combination with stitching and collage materials in a quick effective manner. The lack of spaces between some works does undermine the ability to read some passages.

In Panel 3, the narrative returns to drive compositions, but the candidate reforms and extends ideas around the pattern collage in relation to the mannequin. The final two paintings seem to use the insets on the lighter backgrounds to show, in the way the motifs are depicted, what the candidate learnt in earlier constructions. The increased use of thread as a drawing technique with the sewing machine and the candidate's focus on how images are constructed is in harmony with the subject matter.

The strength of this board is that it shows the student’s narrative reflects their engagement with materials paint collage stitching. They are enjoying making. Smaller works would allow greater idea development and learning through making more. This increased evidence of analysing the links between phases would lift painting skills and the potential for Merit.

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