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Stunning Self Portraits By An A Level Art Student

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This outstanding Painting and Related Media project was completed by Abby Hope Skinner while studying A Level Art and Design at the International School of Paphos, Cyprus. Abby achieved 98% overall for A Level Art (100% for AS Art and Design) and was awarded Top in the World for the CIE June examinations, 2012. Her A2 Coursework project explores the theme ‘Identity’. She submitted 9 x A1 sheets of preparatory work, an A4 sketchbook and an A3 final piece.

The Student Art Guide regularly features exceptional high school Painting projects; it is rare that we stumble across one that is such a valuable learning opportunity for both students and teachers as this one. Abby’s project provides a clear sequence of development, personal responses and analysis of relevant artists. Her project is a comprehensive body of research, exploration and investigation of ideas – the result of a passionate, highly skilled student. We interviewed Abby to find out more: her informative responses, along with detailed images of her artwork can be found below.

The process that works for me, when deciding on a project, is to start with a topic or style that interests me.

At the beginning, I’m not concerned if I don’t know where the topic will take me.

I would say that it’s possible to start with any idea. I believe it’s more how you develop the idea that counts. I decided to combine my interest in portraiture with a graphic, abstract style, which I have used in the past. I wanted to explore a graphic ‘planar’ style that I had developed prior to beginning this project. I started to think about how abstraction can challenge assumptions and prejudgments. Abstract art can separate us from the ‘known’ and force us to see things anew.

I began my preliminary work by abstracting the human face into a graphic pattern. It’s possible to become blind to the real person by building a filter of our own ‘images’, and so (whether they be a family member or a stranger) we prejudge that person. I wanted to explore ways of bringing awareness to this.

In most cases, a project evolves, and, at some stage, there is a ‘tipping point’. It’s as if a particular theme or message materialises and encapsulates all you want to say.

I often come to this through extensive research and/or experimentation. My A Level project evolved from ‘Hands and Faces’, to ‘Prejudice’, to ‘Identity’. I finally narrowed this down to the theme of ‘My Identity’. I believe it’s essential to focus a project on a specific theme. ‘Prejudice’, as a topic, is very wide, and therefore the message can be diluted, whereas, ‘My Identity’ is more personal and focused.

I start my projects with a broad area of research and then narrow my focus into a more specific, targeted theme. I feel, the more personal and specific a project is, the more emotionally connective it tends to be. For me, emotional connection in art is one of the main requisites. In my opinion, it’s this approach in art that’s capable of changing or challenging a viewer’s outlook.

 

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