Choosing Visual Arts – everything you need to know

5 min read   •   November 4, 2021
Elmien Ackerman – Copywriter

Continuing our blog series in which we explore the various subjects offered by Impaq in the FET Phase (Grades 10 – 12), we will be focusing on Visual Arts. We spoke to education specialist Bianca Pelser and Impaq alumna Hané-Marie Smit to learn more about Visual Arts as a subject.


Painting with passion

If you are wondering whether Visual Arts is the subject for you, Pelser offers some advice. “Learners who excel in Visual Arts always have a love for creating. Typically, they would have enjoyed drawing and painting as younger children and have never stopped creating,” Pelser says.

This was definitely the case for Smit. She explains: “Painting, sketching and sculpture have been my passion and dream since I was young. Taking it as a school subject was hopefully the first step of a long career as a professional artist”.

Pelser says that a natural talent for drawing, painting, or sculpting is a must when considering taking Visual Arts as a subject. Learners should also have an interest in the following:

  • fine arts,
  • art history, and
  • analysing different types of artworks.

“As the practical component for Visual Arts can take up a lot of time, learners should ideally enjoy sitting and creating art for hours on end,” Pelser adds.

The art of art creation

“Visual Arts has both a theoretical and practical component,” Pelser explains. The theoretical component teaches learners about:

  • art,
  • art movements,
  • specific time periods in art history,
  • famous artworks and artists, and
  • how to analyse and discuss artworks.

Smit adds that she loved learning about the theory and history of Visual Arts. “It made me further understand and appreciate my most loved subject and inspired me to try various new techniques I didn’t even know existed,” she explains.

“The practical component focuses on developing learners’ skills in art creation,” Pelser says. “Visual Arts provides opportunities to engage learners’ creative imagination through visual and tactile experiences and the innovative use of materials and technology in the realisation of their ideas.” Smit adds that she liked that all the practical themes were open for interpretation. She explains: “Our imaginations and personal preferences were given free reign”.

Also read: Choosing Dramatic Arts – everything you need to know



Artists in action

Learners who take Visual Arts must complete two practical assessment tasks (PATs) and one practical examination each year to complete the subject. “Each PAT and examination consist of a sourcebook (also referred to as a visual diary) and an artwork,” Pelser explains.

  • Sourcebook – the sourcebook takes the viewer on a journey of how the learner got from the initial brief (the theme given) to the final artwork. The sourcebook contains:
    • visual resources and inspiration,
    • artist research,
    • mind maps (thoughts and ideas on the theme),
    • process drawings,
    • sketches,
    • detailed sketches,
    • tonal drawings,
    • media exploration,
    • compositional experimentation, etc.
  • Final artwork – Grade 10 learners must complete the final artwork in the prescribed medium, while Grade 11 and 12 learners have the freedom to choose the medium in which they want to complete the final artwork. “The artwork should be a culmination of the prep work done in the sourcebook and can be any size as long as enough work was done for assessment to take place,” Pelser explains.


The Retrospective Exhibition

Impaq hosts a Retrospective Exhibition in Gauteng every year, where learners can showcase their artwork. “The Retrospective Exhibition is a very important assessment as it is the final PAT mark for the year,” Pelser says. The exhibition provides the learner with an opportunity to display all the practical work done throughout the year (sourcebooks and artworks). Learners may make use of the Impaq-organised exhibition in Gauteng or use an approved assessor to assess their own exhibition (arranged by the parent).



Smit says that she enjoyed the Retrospective Exhibition the most as she could compare the various results and interpretations to the same themes. “It was fascinating to see all the divergent artworks born from the same assignment,” Smith explains. “The other young artists’ take on the theme and their use of the same (or a different) medium also served as inspiration and encouragement.”


Finding your muse

Smit says that what she found most challenging about Visual Arts was coming up with an idea. “Deciding what to make was difficult and I often wasted a lot of time simply thinking, instead of starting on research,” she explains. Smit advises learners to do their research before starting on a project. She recommends using search engines and magazines to find horizon-broadening pictures. “Looking through them should result in a more interesting and innovative end product as well as prevent plagiarism,” Smit adds.

She also says that she wouldn’t have been able to manage the subject without the help of a tutor. Smit explains: “I would strongly recommend getting some personal guidance from a professional or Visual Arts teacher”.

Also read: How do I choose a tutor for my child?

Aspiring artists

“Visual Arts opens up the entire creative industry for a learner and, as it develops critical thinking and analysis, will be beneficial in almost any career field,” Pelser says. Typical careers in the arts include, but are not limited to:

  • professional artist,
  • photographer,
  • illustrator,
  • designer,
  • art teacher/lecturer,
  • gallery owner, and
  • curator.


Also read: Career choices: when children and parents disagree


If you are interested in registering for Visual Arts, click here. Impaq offers Visual Arts for Grades 10 – 12.