You don’t have to be a Leonardo Di Vinci–level prodigy to achieve your dream study score in Year 12 Art. I’m sure every Art teacher, tutor or parent has told you that it takes hard work, consistent effort and a willingness to learn and improve to get the score you want. But it’s also your passion, imagination and enjoyment of the subject that will help you excel in Year 12 Art. Here’s what you can do:


Learn from your mistakes:

The most important advice I can give to future Art students is simple: make mistakes and learn from them. When you make a mistake, don’t be afraid to ask for feedback and advice from your teacher; constructive criticism is a very helpful thing!

The second most important piece of advice I can give you is to avoid studying obsessively, especially if you’re motivation for the intense study is just to please your parents with good scores. The subject has to mean something to you personally – so much so that you start to notice aspects of it in your everyday life.



It’s the beginning of the year, and your teacher tells you to pick a folio theme. You need to brainstorm and think carefully before you make your decision. Ask yourself, ‘How interested am I in this theme? Will I be able to commit to it easily? What kinds of final pieces is this theme taking me towards? Will I find those final pieces exciting and worthwhile?’


Keep a sketchbook with you at all times:

It’s best to get into the habit of always having a sketchbook handy at the very beginning of Year 12. After you’ve chosen your folio theme, be alert to whatever inspiration may come your way. If something catches your eye while you’re out for a walk, visiting a museum or just taking public transport, take out your sketchbook and draw it. Creativity and inspiration can strike at any moment, so always have a sketchbook with you.


Develop a filter in your head for the folio:

Learn to gather ideas and inspiration for your folio wherever you go; it could be from your favourite movies, television shows, magazines, previous sketches, hobbies or other artists. I quickly learned that there is an inspiration even in the most unlikely of sources.


Annotate your folio using art terminology:

It’s a good idea to practise and write short comments about each sketch or drawing you do. Don’t just state what you like or don’t like; think about how the sketch is useful to exploring a particular art principle or element. Think about what the lines, shapes and composition of your sketches reveal that interests you. Why have you included them? What do you hope to find, and what have you learned from them?


Arrange your folio in a way that shows the development of your ideas:

Keep your brainstorms, personal reflections and initial sketches at the beginning of your folio. It makes sense, but you’d be surprised at how many students have a beautiful illustration at the start without stating its purpose. Being clear and concise is more important than having pretty disorganised pictures.


Listen to your favourite music:

Music helped me to relax and stimulated my creativity. It tricked my brain into thinking I wasn’t working but instead doing something exciting and fun. Even when I didn’t feel inspired, music was my trigger for working just a little bit more each day.


Listen to your teacher’s advice and criticism:

Your teachers know what you are being marked on, and they know what other higher assessors are looking for in your final exam, so don’t dismiss what they tell you, even if you think they are a bit harsh in their criticism. Criticism is good; you need it constantly to improve your work. Your teachers, tutors and assessors are the ones marking your work, so learn what they want from you and act on it.


Practise, practise, practise:

Have fun with the subject! Make scribbles, experiment with different mediums, and find your strengths and stick with them. Your teacher wants to see the effort and time you are willing to invest in your work and that you have an open-minded attitude to the possibilities before you. It’s the journey towards your final pieces that is more important and valuable than the pieces themselves.


Seek out other learning materials and sources:

Listening to professionals talk about the history and cultural influences of certain paintings and the artist’s techniques exposed me to a richer supply of knowledge. Videos also helped me break down the monotony of revising pages of notes on artistic principles. Through this, I greatly improved my artistic vocabulary and perspective, which allowed me to give more than I was asked for in my final Art exam.


Go on regular trips to museums and art galleries:

Making a few trips to the National Gallery of Victoria and other art galleries allowed me to visually analyse works with theoretical frameworks in mind. Paintings normally have background information displayed next to them, which gives you an idea of the piece’s motivation and context. Reading descriptions of art displays and looking at the top folios on display in galleries further indicated what assessors were looking for and what I needed to improve on. Museums are also a fun way to learn about the history behind objects, how they were made, and what context.


Overcome self-doubt and stress:

When you are in an Art classroom, where everyone is busily working on their folios and projects, there will come a time when you will compare yourself to others and their work. Avoid doing this as it will diminish your confidence and will to work. Year 12 will no doubt be full of looming deadlines for assignments from other subjects. Art is slightly different in that it’s not just about researching and remembering theory for assignments. You also have to create detailed final art pieces and an extensive folio documenting the development of these pieces. All this can be very time-consuming. I recommend dedicating at least an hour (with breaks) to working on these each day and a bit more on the weekends. Short bursts of creativity are better than hours of sitting with your brain on neutral, trying to come up with a decent sketch. This method of working will allow you to ask your teacher for feedback and advice as you progress, so you can avoid feeling overwhelmed.


One last thing!

Mistakes are natural. I’m going, being honest with you here, I did a lot of page ripping, sketch crumpling and unnecessary rambling about descriptions in my folio. I threw out a page of my folio because I thought it had a crappy drawing and an incomprehensible idea on it that had nothing to do with the theme of my folio. But, as I mentioned earlier, the whole point of the folio is to show your learning and development. Accept that there will be pages you are not fond of; they are there for a reason, so don’t be too hard on yourself.

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