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    This year I only tutored two students who were taking exams (most of my students are adult learners and a few younger children). One was taking GCSE Art and the other A Level Art. I was both proud and relieved to find out that they both achieved A*! The boy taking GCSE Art had been having lessons with me since he was 11 and he achieved virtually maximum marks (174/180 & 118/120).

    The successful actions were building the quality of artwork to a high level by focusing on fundamental drawing and painting skills, such as colour mixing, increasing awareness of tonal values and also the steps to progress from initial idea to finished artwork. Another important factor I feel is working with the student's own interests in order to gain inspiration and motivation.

    An essential ingredient of any art course is the artwork you produce.

    Most art courses these days place a lot of emphasis on your research and supporting information, which is valuable. But, what if you could really paint and draw? What if you could blow people away (including examiners) with great paintings or drawings? Surely this is much closer to the reason most people do art courses in the first place – so they can make great art.

    The first step to being able to really paint and really draw is to thoroughly learn the basics.

    How do you achieve the exact colours you need in a painting?

    How do you use a brush to make the paint do exactly what you want?

    What are the different stages of making a painting?

    How do I draw things in proportion?

    How do I use light and dark to make effective drawings?

    All of these things can be learned. Many people who have been drawing and painting for years have serious gaps in these foundations which hold down the quality of their work.

    Concepts and emotions are great, but unless you have a good grip of the basic techniques you are going to be limited in the extent to which you can express them.

    Gradually build skills from the foundations on up and you will see dramatic improvements in the quality of artworks produced.

    The above recommendations apply to all levels of art education and courses.

    Hope it helps!

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