A level Fine Art course

Ashbourne’s Art Faculty offers students a fantastic opportunity to experience a wide range of art and design activities before going on to specialise in their chosen A level subject.

During the first term students explore drawing, life drawing, printmaking, sculpture, digital art, photography, fabrics and textiles on a rotation basis. They will develop and broaden their technical skills and visual understanding throughout their first year enabling them to build up an impressive portfolio.

Fine Art students will then go on to explore a wide range of media, techniques and process, both traditional and contemporary, in more depth. Drawing, painting, mixed media, sculpture, installation and printmaking are just some of the areas students can focus on. Drawing is given special emphasis to enable students to develop the skills, visual understanding and techniques vital to them as future artists.

One of the highlights of studying Art at Ashbourne is that students get the chance to visit culturally rich European cities such as Paris, Barcelona and Vienna on a specially structured and expertly guided four day trip over the Autumn half term. They also go on a variety of other art gallery and museum trips in London and the UK.

The Art Faculty also gives students some excellent opportunities to exhibit their work to the wider community and to prepare them for a successful career in this field.

Why study A level Fine Art?

Art is all around us from the clothes we wear and the buildings we live and work in to the apps on our phones and virtual reality used in medicine, as well as games and entertainment.

Fine Artists today are able to reach a worldwide audience almost instantaneously thanks to the internet and new media technology. Now they can market and sell their work directly to people around the world without having to go through traditional channels, although galleries and other art institutions remain highly influential in giving artists kudos. To survive and thrive in such a competitive industry artists need to be versatile, multi-skilled and able to promote their ideas and work – something greatly encouraged at Ashbourne from the very outset.

Producing art not only involves technical skill but requires understanding of how to carry out research, explore and develop ideas, evaluate your work and take projects further. Observing and analysing the world around you is also critical and the response you make through your art can communicate ideas and change beliefs.

Which syllabus do we follow?

Ashbourne follows the AQA specification for A level Fine Art.

What is the course about?

As a part of Ashbourne’s mini-foundation programme students join the Art and Design carousel during their first term to experience a variety of art activities in rotation: Drawing, Life Drawing, Printmaking, Sculpture, Digital Art, Photography, Fabrics and Textiles. They begin to build up a dynamic portfolio, which constitutes 60% of the overall result. At the end of the first year students will complete an internal assessment and exam to ensure they attain a suitable standard to progress to A level for the second year.

During the second year Fine Art students go on to study drawing, painting, mixed media, sculpture, installation and printmaking in more depth. They learn to respond to and record images using a variety of approaches such as observational, analysis, creative expression and imagination and will develop a greater understanding of space, composition, rhythm, scale and structure as well as colour, tone, texture, shape and form.

Students will be introduced to a wide range of techniques including underpainting, glazing, wash and impasto, modelling, carving, casting, constructing, assembling and welding etching, engraving, drypoint, mono printing, lino printing, screen printing, photo silkscreen and lithography. They will also examine how images, artefacts and other modern and historical art forms have been created so they can apply and contextualise these processes in relation to their own work.

There is an externally set assignment at the end of the course which constitutes 40% of the final result.

Who teaches this course?

Nick Cheeseman

MA Fine Art (Chelsea College of Arts, UAL); BA Hons Fine Art (Staffordshire University); PGCE Art and Design (Bath Spa University)
Nick brings a wealth of experience and passion for teaching art to Ashbourne. He is a practising artist who has exhibited his work across the UK and has been teaching for more than seven years. He has also been an Edexcel exam moderator for GCSE and A level. Nick joined the college in 2016.

Caterina Lewis

MA and BA Fine Art (Central St. Martins); PGCE Art and Design (Institute of Education, University of London)
Caterina is a practising fine artist who has plenty of experience curating exhibitions and working with galleries. She has been teaching art and design for many years to a wide range of age groups including at GCSE and A level and joined Ashbourne’s Art Faculty in 2016.

Beyond A level Fine Art

Many of our students preparing for a career in Art go on to apply to prestigious art colleges in London and the UK including St. Martins, Chelsea and Camberwell (all part of UCA), Slade (UCL), London College of Communication, Ravensbourne, Westminster, Kingston and Brunel. We encourage students to enrol for full-time preliminary Art and Design Foundation courses prior to degree study and have strong links with Foundation course providers such as the City and Guilds of London Art School.

Fine Art students have a wide range of traditional careers paths to follow including practising as a professional artist, directing and curating at galleries and museums, creating mural art, promoting art in the community, becoming technicians, printmakers, sculptors and teaching, for example. Students may also delve into the digital world where the demand for new media software and graphic designers, illustrators, multimedia artists, online publishers, and video, animation and gaming artists is growing at an unprecedented rate.

Suggested reading and resources

The Shock of the New: Art and the Century of Change, Robert Hughes
Hailed as the best, most readable and provocative account of modern art ever written. Covers one hundred years of modern art from cubism to pop and avant-garde.

What Are You Looking At? 150 Years of Modern Art in the Blink of an Eye, Will Gompertz
What’s the point of modern art? BBC Arts Editor and former director at Tate Modern Will Gompertz takes you on a whirlwind tour to hear the stories behind the masterpieces, meet the artists and help you understand what you’re looking at.

The 20th Century Art book, Phaidon
Presents 500 artists from across the international art scene highlighting iconic works and classics of the future.

The Story of Art, E.H. Gombrich
Classic for all art lovers exploring selected art history from the perspective of the artists.

Publishes books on art, photography, design and contemporary culture.

Koenig Books
Independent bookshop specialising in art, architecture and photography with branches at the Serpentine Gallery and Whitechapel Gallery.

Gallery bookshops
You will find a wide range of art books at all the major galleries including The National, The Portrait, Tate Britain and Modern and the Royal Academy.

Art news, reviews, views, events and comment from The Guardian and The Telegraph.

What’s on and where
TimeOut’s guide to art in London keeps you up to date with current and upcoming exhibitions at galleries across the city.