AP ART SYLLABUS 2011 2012
I N T R O D U C T I O N
The AP Studio Art portfolios are designed for students who are seriously interested
in the practical experience of art. AP Studio Art is not based on a written exam;
instead, students submit portfolios for evaluation at the end of the school year. Although the
AP Studio Art Program consists of three portfolios—2-D Design, 3-D Design, and
Drawing, students may choose to submit a 2-D Design or Drawing portfolio.
Students will be expected to produce 24 works of art in a variety of media, techniques, and subject matter. During the first semester, students will be given required assignments specific to the portfolio due at the end of each quarter.
Portfolios are reviewed every quarter. At the end of the first quarter students
will conduct the portfolio evaluations, at the semester students and the instructor
evaluate the portfolios. Prior to sending in portfolios to AP College Board, a
mock AP reading using the College Board rubric will be conducted to evaluate the
It is expected that all AP Art students will turn in a completed portfolio for AP College Board review.
Materials and Fees
Students will need an 18×24” sketchbook
All advanced art students are responsible for the care and acquisition of their
own materials. The art fee is a donation that makes the buying of professional
materials possible. If you choose not to make the donation, you will be
responsible for supplying your own materials throughout the year.
The suggested art donation for 2011 – 2012 is a $25.00 donation made payable to the student store. In addition, in the spring, students will be responsible
to pay the College Board fee of $85 required for portfolio submission.
2-D D E S I G N P O R T F O L I O
This portfolio is intended to address two-dimensional (2-D) design issues. Design
involves purposeful decision making about how to use the elements and principles of
art in an integrative way.
The principles of design (unity/variety, balance, emphasis, contrast, rhythm,
repetition, proportion/scale, figure/ground relationships), articulated through the
visual elements (line, shape, color, value, texture, space), help guide artists in making
decisions about how to organize the elements on a picture plane in order to communicate
content. Effective design is possible whether one uses representational or
abstract approaches to art.
For this portfolio, students are asked to demonstrate mastery of 2-D design
through any two-dimensional medium or process, including, but not limited to,
graphic design, digital imaging, photography, collage, fabric design, weaving,
illustration, painting, and printmaking.
D R AWI N G P O R T F O L I O
The Drawing Portfolio is designed to address a very broad interpretation of drawing
issues and media. Light and shade, line quality, rendering of form, composition,
surface manipulation, and illusion of depth are drawing issues that can be addressed
through a variety of means, which could include painting, printmaking, mixed media,
etc. Abstract and observational works may demonstrate drawing competence. The
range of marks used to make drawings, the arrangement of those marks, and the
materials used to make the marks are endless.
Questions often arise regarding the distinction between the Drawing Portfolio and
the 2-D Design Portfolio. There is a large area of possible overlap between the two
portfolios—that is, a large domain of art that could legitimately be submitted for
either portfolio. The distinction in many cases is a matter of the focus of the work.
Both the AP Studio Art Teacher’s Guide (available on AP Central) and other
AP Central resources provide articles and information to help make this distinction.
In her 2004 Exam Report, Penny McElroy, the former Chief Reader for AP Studio
Art, discusses this issue:
Two-dimensional design is, in a sense, an umbrella—everything that
happens on a two-dimensional surface, regardless of media, is designed.
This means that a work of art that is created with drawing materials will
have aspects of two-dimensional design that contribute to its success. The
drawing may be well designed, showing sophisticated positive and negative
space/shape relationships. It may be visually unified. It may be visually
balanced. It may use color in a creative and informed way. If so, then this
drawing could also be said to be a good example of two- dimensional design.
This, obviously, can be confusing. Is it a drawing or is it a design? In fact it is both.
So then, how do AP Readers evaluate this work that is both a drawing and
a design? If it appears in the Drawing Portfolio, we evaluate it as a drawing,
giving preference to drawing issues and qualities, i.e., using a drawing
“lens.” (It should be noted that the drawing lens includes composition;
two-dimensional design is never absent from the evaluation of a work of two
dimensional art. However, in the Drawing Portfolio, the evaluation of
composition is mingled with the evaluation of such aspects of drawing as line
quality, tonal values, illusory space, representation/abstraction, etc.) If the
work turns up in a 2-D Design Portfolio, we use a two-dimensional design
lens to evaluate the work. The design qualities of the work are considered
foremost. Active engagement with the elements and principles of design is
assessed. The Readers ask themselves: Is understanding of the principles of
design evident in this work? Are the principles used intelligently and sensitively
to contribute to its meaning? Were the elements created and used in purposeful
and imaginative ways? How and what does the interaction of the elements and
principles of design contribute to the quality of the work?
S T R U C T U R E O F T H E P O R T F O L I O S
The portfolios share a basic, three-section structure, which requires the student to
show a fundamental competence and range of understanding in visual concerns (and
methods). Each of the portfolios asks the student to demonstrate a depth of investigation
and process of discovery through the Concentration section (Section II). In the
Breadth section (Section III), the student is asked to demonstrate a serious grounding
in visual principles and material techniques. The Quality section (Section I) permits
the student to select the works that best exhibit a synthesis of form, technique, and
Section I: Quality
Quality refers to the mastery of design principles (2D) or drawing (Drawing) that should be apparent in the composition,
concept, and execution of the works, whether they are simple or complex. There is no
preferred (or unacceptable) style or content.
For this section, students are asked to submit five actual works in one or more media.
Students should carefully select the works that demonstrate their highest level of
accomplishment in 2-D design. The works should be on flat surfaces, such as paper,
cardboard, canvas board, or unstretched canvas.
Students receive all the portfolio materials for submission of the Quality section in
May. Because of limitations imposed by the shipping and handling of the portfolios,
work submitted for Section I, Quality, may not be larger than 18″ _ 24″, including
matting or mounting. Works for Quality that are smaller than 8″ _ 10″ should be
mounted on sheets 8″ _ 10″ or larger. To protect the work, all work on paper
should be backed or mounted. Mats are optional. Do not use reflective materials
such as acetate or shrink-wrap because they cause glare that makes the work difficult
to see. A sturdy, opaque overleaf that is hinged to ONE edge of the backing so that it
may be easily lifted provides excellent protection and is highly recommended.
Materials that may be smudged should be protected with fixative. If the work is matted,
a neutral color for that mat is advisable. Works should not be rolled, framed, or
covered with glass or Plexiglas.
The works submitted may come from the Concentration and/or Breadth
section, but they do not have to. They may be a group of related works,
unrelated works, or a combination of related and unrelated works.
Section II: Concentration
A concentration is a body of related works describing an in-depth exploration of a
particular artistic concern. It should reflect a process of investigation of a specific
visual idea. It is NOT a selection of a variety of works produced as solutions to class
projects or a collection of works with differing intents. Students should be encouraged
to explore a personal, central interest as intensively as possible; they are free to work
with any idea in any medium that addresses two-dimensional design issues. The
concentration should grow out of the student’s idea and demonstrate growth and
discovery through a number of conceptually related works. In this section, the
evaluators are interested not only in the work presented but also in visual evidence
of the student’s thinking, selected method of working, and development of the work
For this section, 12 digital images must be submitted, some of which may be details. All
images should be labeled with dimensions (height _ width) and material. The Digital
Submission Web application incorporates space to add this information. Regardless of
the content of the concentration, the works should be unified by an underlying idea
that has visual and/or conceptual coherence. The choices of technique, medium, style,
form, subject, and content are made by the student, in consultation with the teacher.
The Web application for development and submission of the Concentration and
Breadth sections is available in late January. The Concentration section includes
spaces for a written commentary, which must accompany the work in this section,
describing what the concentration is and how it evolved. Students are asked to
respond to the following questions:
1. What is the central idea of your concentration?
2. How does the work in your concentration demonstrate the exploration of
your idea? You may refer to specific images as examples.
Although the responses themselves are not graded as pieces of writing, they provide
critical information for evaluating the artwork. Thus, they should be well written.
Students should be encouraged to formulate their responses to the first question
early in the year, as they define the direction their concentration will take.
Responses should be concise; the space available for them in the Web application
is generous, but the number of characters that can be typed is limited to 500
characters for Question 1 and 1,350 characters for Question 2.
Examples of Concentrations
A concentration should consist of a group of works that share a single theme—for
example, an in-depth study of a particular visual problem or a variety of ways of
handling an interesting subject. Some concentrations involve sequential works, such
as a series of studies that lead to, and are followed by, more finished works. If a
student uses subject matter as the basis of a concentration, the work should show the
development of a visual language appropriate for that subject. The investigation of a
medium in and of itself, without a strong underlying visual idea, generally does not
constitute a successful concentration. Students should not submit group projects,
collaborations, and/or documentation of projects that merely require an extended
period of time to complete.
The list of possible concentration topics is infinite. Below are examples of
concentrations. They are intended only to provide a sense of range and should not
necessarily be considered “better” ideas.
• An exploration of patterns and designs found in nature and/or culture (2D)
• A series of works that begins with representational interpretations and evolves
into abstraction (2D or Drawing)
• A series of landscapes based upon personal experience of a particular place in
which composition and light are used to intensify artistic expression (2D or Drawing)
• Design and execution of a children’s book (2D)
• Development of a series of identity products (logo, letterhead, signage, and so
on) for imaginary businesses (2D)
• A series of political cartoons using current events and images (2D)
• Abstractions developed from cells and other microscopic images (2D or Drawing)
• Interpretive portraiture or figure studies that emphasize dramatic composition
or abstraction (2D or Drawing)
• A personal or family history communicated through symbols or imagery (2D or Drawing)
• A series of fabric designs, apparel designs, or weavings used to express particular themes (2D)
• A personal or family history communicated through the content and style of
still-life images (Drawing)
• Abstractions from mechanical objects that explore mark-making (Drawing)
• Interpretive self-portraiture and figure studies that emphasize exaggeration
and distortion (Drawing)
• A project that explores interior or exterior architectural space, emphasizing
principles of perspective, structure, ambiance created by light, etc. (Drawing)
• A figurative project combining animal and human subjects—drawings, studies,
and completed works(Drawing)
• An interpretive study of literary characters in which mixed media, color, and form
are explored(2D or Drawing)
• The use of multiple images to create works that reflect psychological or
narrative events(2D or Drawing)
Section III: Breadth
The student’s work in this section of the 2D Design portfolio should demonstrate understanding of the principles of design, including unity/variety, balance, emphasis, contrast, rhythm,
repetition, proportion/scale, and figure/ground relationship. Successful works of art
require the integration of the elements and principles of design; students must
therefore be actively engaged with these concepts while thoughtfully composing
their art. The work in this section should show evidence of conceptual, perceptual,
expressive, and technical range.
The student’s work in this section of the Drawing portfolio should show evidence of conceptual, perceptual, expressive, and technical range; thus, the student’s work should demonstrate a
variety of drawing skills and approaches.
For this section, students must submit a total of 12 images of 12 different works. Details
may NOT be included. All images should be labeled with dimensions (height _ width)
and material. The Digital Submission Web application incorporates space to add this
information. In the 2D Design portfolio, this section requires images of 12 works in which the elements and principles of two-dimensional design are the primary focus; students are asked to
demonstrate that they are thoughtfully applying these principles while composing
their art. These works as a group should demonstrate the student’s visual organization
skills. As a whole, the student’s work in this section should demonstrate exploration,
inventiveness, and the expressive manipulation of form, as well as knowledge of
compositional organization. The best demonstrations of breadth clearly show
experimentation and a range of conceptual approaches to the work. It is possible to
do this in a single medium or in a variety of media. If the student chooses to use a
single medium—for example, if a portfolio consists entirely of collage—the images
must show a variety of applications of design principles.
• Work that employs line, shape, or color to create unity or variety in a composition
• Work that demonstrates symmetry/asymmetry, balance, or anomaly
• Work that explores figure/ground relationships
• Development of a modular or repeat pattern to create rhythm
• Color organization using primary, secondary, tertiary, analogous, or other color
relationships for emphasis or contrast in a composition
• Work that investigates or exaggerates proportion/scale
In this section of the Drawing portfolio, students are asked to present evidence of
drawing ability in response to a wide variety of problems. The work submitted should
demonstrate understanding of fundamental drawing concepts, including drawing from
observation, work with invented or nonobjective forms, effective use of light and
shade, line quality, surface manipulation, composition, various spatial systems, and
The best demonstrations of breadth clearly show experimentation and a range of
conceptual approaches to the work. It is possible to do this in a single medium or in a
variety of media. If the student chooses a single medium—for example, if the
portfolio consists entirely of charcoal drawings—the work must show a range of
approaches, techniques, compositions, and subjects.
An enormous range of possibilities exists for this section. Following is a list of
possible approaches. It is not intended to exclude other ways of drawing.
• The use of various spatial systems, such as linear perspective, the illusion of three dimensional
forms, aerial views, and other ways of creating and organizing space
• The use of various subjects, such as the human figure, landscape, and
• The use of various kinds of content, such as that derived from observation,
an expressionistic viewpoint, imaginary or psychological imagery, social
commentary, political statements; and other personal interests
• Arrangement of forms in a complex visual space
• The use of different approaches to represent form and space, such as rendered,
gestural, painterly, expressionist, stylized, or abstract form
• The investigation of expressive mark-making
Students may NOT submit images of the same work that they are submitting for the Concentration section. Submitting images of the same work for Section II, Concentration,
and Section III, Breadth, may negatively affect a student’s score.
Ethics, Artistic Integrity, and Plagiarism
Although the use of appropriated images is common in the professional art world
today, students who make use of borrowed images should demonstrate a creativity
and sophistication of approach that transcends mere copying. This policy is clearly
stated in the sections on each portfolio in this booklet: “Any work that makes use of
(appropriates) other artists’ works (including photographs) and/or published images
must show substantial and significant development beyond duplication. This is
demonstrated through manipulation of the formal qualities, design, and/or concept of
the source. The student’s individual “voice” should be clearly evident. It is unethical,
constitutes plagiarism, and often violates copyright law simply to copy an
image (even in another medium) that was made by someone else and represent
it as one’s own.” Teachers and students are strongly encouraged to become
knowledgeable about copyright laws. In evaluating portfolios, the Readers look
for original thinking. Students are encouraged to create artworks from their own
knowledge, experiences, and interests. Universities, colleges, and professional
schools of art have rigorous policies regarding plagiarism. AP Studio Art endorses these policies.
Digital images of student work that are submitted in the portfolios may be edited;
however, the goals of image editing should be to present the clearest, most accurate
representation of the student’s artwork, and to ensure that images meet the
requirements of the Digital Submission Web application. When submitting their
portfolios, students must indicate their acceptance of the following statement: “I
hereby affirm that all works in this portfolio were done by me and that these images
accurately represent my actual work.”
A P P O R T F O L I O S U B M I S S I O N P R O C E S S
Actual artworks are submitted for the Quality sections of the 2-D and Drawing
Portfolios. Students receive all the portfolio materials for submission of the Quality
sections in May of each year. A digital, Web-based submission process is used for the
Concentration and Breadth sections of the 2-D and Drawing Portfolios and all
sections of the 3-D Portfolio.
AP Exam Grades
The Readers’ scores on the free-response questions are combined with the results of
the computer-scored multiple-choice questions; the weighted raw scores are summed
to give a composite score. The composite score is then converted to a grade on AP’s
AP GRADE QUALIFICATION
5 Extremely well qualified
4 Well qualified
2 Possibly qualified
1 No recommendation