TEE Visual Diaries

Fri, Jun 27, 2008

A Survival Kit, TEE Visual Diary

Communicating Arts Ideas Through the Visual Diary *(see note)
An Art Education Association of Western Australia Initiative

A Professional Development Workshop

Permission is granted for this Workshop booklet to be printed for Art Teachers use, with the condition that appropriate acknowledgement is made of the authors and the ArtEd Assoc. of WA.



Organisation Eliza Leano – St Mark’s Anglican Community School

Discernment Lisa Paris – St. Stephen’s School

Visual Language Lisa Young – St Mary’s Anglican College

Inter-relationships Leslee Rowlands – Penrhos College

Drawing Janet Hummerston – Perth College

NOTE: This support document has been produced to accompany the verbal presentations delivered at the ArtEd Professional Development Workshops ‘Creating a strong TEE Art Visual Diary’. (These workshops were held on the 3rd April and 21st July 2003.) Each section of this document was written by the presenter and was carefully reviewed and editored by a dedicated team of Art Education Association members so as to provide you with a broader interpretation of the syllabus.

* This is NOT a Curriculum Council document and teachers must ensure that they and their students always refer to the current syllabus information.


Many experienced teachers share the view that there are a number of practical, tangible ways that they can work with their students to create strong TEE Art visual diaries. It is acknowledged that the approach to the Visual Diary will vary from teacher to teacher, so to each students’ interpretation of the information and methods communicated to them will differ. The following support document and the individual presentations made in the AEAWA Professional Development workshop are intended as a guide only. Each teacher must inevitably experiment and develop successful strategies for the students in their care. Whilst there is not a single formula for success it is hoped the following advice may prove useful.

There are FIVE criteria by which the TEE visual diary is assessed.

Each criterion is of equal value.

They should therefore be treated with equal importance.

Addressing all Criteria equally

This can be done by helping students address all five criteria

  • On each page of the diary
  • Throughout each project
  • Across the whole visual diary

Emphasise Presentation

Remember this is a visual diary – the way it looks does matter. Consider presentation of each page, each project and the diary as a whole. Don’t allow students to ‘over present’ by using too many frames or borders. Presentation should not override the work. The work should always speak for itself, this is part of their discernment.

  1. Always check your student’s diaries before sending them off for the final marking. Some amazing and often inappropriate materials have been known to be included at the last minute. The last thing your student needs is to offend the marker.
  2. Be sure to include a clear photograph of each completed project in context to indicate size. Consider having a larger photograph (8 x 10) rather than the standard family photo size. A close up photograph of a detailed section of the studio piece could also be included. Make sure studio pieces are photographed before they are framed with glass to avoid flash reflections. Avoid the use of digitally produced photographs if possible. On the same page include title, dimensions, media and evaluation.
  3. If necessary, at the end of the year remove some pages from plastic sleeves and either punch each page or better still mount/glue pages back to back and insert a strip for punching – this will allow greater clarity of media use and rendering of detail to be seen on some pages, especially where charcoal, pastel and textiles samples are presented. Plastic sleeves can reduce visual impact of work by up to 20%.
  4. Consider using acetate sheets or other alternatives such as drafting film or tissue paper to separate pages which may damage one another despite having been sprayed/sealed with fixative. These can be purchased from a number of suppliers and should be slightly larger than A3 (Acetate sheets can be easily punched and included as spacers. It is not necessary to include one between every page and should be used in a discerning manner.)
  5. The opening one or two pages of each project in the diary should be strong, thoroughly worked and if possible, drawings from life. Avoid beginning projects with unattractive ‘brainstorming’ pages or lists of ideas. These first couple of pages should present the marker with a positive impression to begin the reading of each body of work.
  6. It is recommended that students be encouraged to visit the Perspective Exhibition and where possible attend a teacher directed viewing of the Top Diaries.
  7. It is imperative that students clearly understand HOW to address each assessment criterion and so the following presentations may offer successful strategies for facilitating such understanding.

Criteria 1 – Organisation

Eliza Leano, St. Mark’s Anglican Community School

Q What does this criterion mean?

“The ability to present an authentic individually organised working document of observation and experiences, which is indexed, chronologically arranged and contrast student briefs together with photographs of completed studio work.”

Extracted from ART (YEAR 11 and 12) – Syllabus Assessment and Grading Document, “EXPLANATION OF TERMINOLOGY USED IN GRADE-RELATED DESCRIPTORS”. Curriculum Council, WA

The ORGANISATION criterion assesses:

  • Authenticity
  • Consistency
  • Sequence
  • Layout

The ORGANISATION criterion assesses the quality of the physical arrangement of the Visual Diary as well as the sequential and logical development of ideas.


“The students own work should demonstrate a personal expression of ideas, concepts, processes and product.”. “EXPLANATION OF TERMINOLOGY USED IN GRADE-RELATED DESCRIPTORS”. Curriculum Council, WA

Work must be student’s own and completed in the current year of study. Drawings should be from life and from one’s own experiences as much as possible. If work is from a found image then this should be clearly acknowledged, that is, identified, attributed and dated.


“Evidence of equal effort and time allocated to each project” “EXPLANATION OF TERMINOLOGY USED IN GRADE-RELATED DESCRIPTORS”. Curriculum Council, WA

While the Visual Diary should reflect the student’s growth it is important to remember that each criterion is of equal value. There should be evidence of equal attention and effort given to each project


“Evolution of ideas presented in a logical order, commencing with a Student Brief and concluding with a studio photograph.” “EXPLANATION OF TERMINOLOGY USED IN GRADE-RELATED DESCRIPTORS”. Curriculum Council, WA

This is the logical development and arrangement of ideas in a project and hence the whole Visual Diary. The completed Visual Diary should include a Student Brief at the beginning of each project followed by visual inquiries, design development and studio related media exploration in response to the brief. Each project should be concluded with a clear photograph of the studio piece, which is accompanied by an artist statement/evaluation statement of how their art work is a response to the Student Brief.


“An appropriate standard of presentation that readily links all parts of the Visual Diary.””EXPLANATION OF TERMINOLOGY USED IN GRADE-RELATED DESCRIPTORS’. Curriculum Council, WA

This is the arrangement of work on a page. Every page should aim to have some artistic purpose, that is, it should address a particular part of the Student Brief and clearly contribute to the whole development of the project. Page layouts should be varied to allow for a visually interesting Visual Diary, for example, whole page drawings balanced with a number of drawings on the one page. Page layouts should reflect students understanding of composition or principles of art and design such as focal point contrast, movement… The subject or purpose of the exercise should influence choosing a portrait or landscape orientation for a page.

Q How do I explain this criterion to students?

Show lots of good page layout examples from ex-students- Visual Diaries as well as artists sketch books and drawings, e.g. Brett Whitely and Leonardo Da Vinci. Some good design magazines have useful examples of page layouts. Provide students with a Student Brief that enables them to achieve all criteria of the Visual Diary As a rule of thumb keep it clear and simple to follow and understand. The Student Brief should include a description of the project and include tasks that cover: Visual Inquiry from life; Design development (composition ideas and technique and media exploration related to their studio area); Interrelationships or Historical links; Studio Practice. Activities should allow students to display their understanding of the elements and principles of art and design. Encourage students to emphasise consistency of skill and effort within and between projects. For example, good drawing does not stop after initial observed drawing exercises it should continue through to design development and studio exploration. Create a project planner for students that gives them mini-deadlines for specific parts of the Brief so they can make time for design development and studio development. These tasks should form the bulk of their project work.


  • Be sure to include the standard Curriculum Council Diary index with all details included.
  • When allowing students to write their own Student Briefs, provide assistance as they may not possess the understanding, sophistication or technical expertise required to write a meaningful Brief.
  • Student Briefs should not be too wordy or pitched at a level that makes it impossible for the students to achieve success. A brief should ensure that all students can achieve its objectives and that all students can clearly understand what is being asked of them.
  • Students may not know how to work logically through a project; they need to be constantly shown good examples and ideas of design development, media exploration, interrelationships, etc. If you can’t find any, make them yourself.
  • Get students into the habit of using their Student Brief as a checklist. As they are working through a project make them show you how and where they have addressed specific sections of the Brief.
  • Keep the format (subheadings and terminology) of your Student Briefs consistent. Changing format for each project may only confuse students.
  • Allow students to draw from books or photos as long as they are properly acknowledged (identified, attributed, dated) but still emphasise drawing from life. Sometimes drawing from found images cannot be avoided – in this case keep it to a barest minimum, work generated in this manner should not dominate the Visual Diary. Attribute the source of the found image.
  • Discourage students from insensitive and unnecessary cutting and pasting as this may harm the authenticity of the document.
  • Encourage students to reflect their individual style and sensitivity to their chosen studio area in the presentation of their Visual Diary in a sophisticated way. For example a Painting Visual Diary should reflect lots of painting media, techniques, processes and art concepts pertaining to Painting. They should visually display a passion for their studio area.

Criteria 2: Discernment

Lisa Paris, St. Stephen’s School

Q What does this criterion mean?

“Show evidence of the development of personal discrimination in the selection and exploration of a variety of appropriate techniques for self expression” Extracted from ART (YEAR 11 and 12) – Syllabus Assessment and Grading Document, “EXPLANATION OF TERMINOLOGY USED IN GRADE-RELATED DESCRIPTORS”. Curriculum Council, WA

The DISCERNMENT criterion assesses the student’s:

  • Selectivity
  • Self expression
  • Discrimination
  • Selection of media

This means it assesses appropriateness of the media used throughout the diary and the level of self expression and sensitivity demonstrated in use of media

Students need to use a wide range of media throughout the visual diary, but more importantly the media chosen needs to be appropriate for the investigation being undertaken. Discernment is all about selecting the best media for a task and thereafter using that media in a sophisticated ‘discerning’ manner.

Q How do I explain this criterion to students?

  • Try to borrow a good visual diary to show as an exemplar of this criterion.
  • Visual examples of strong media use are by far the best strategy for helping students understand the importance of the appropriate media for the task.
  • At the end of the year select the best visual diary and colour photocopy (or scan and print) individual pages of media use or complete projects or the whole visual diary to use as exemplars.
  • Display samples of strong media use around the classroom and explain to students WHY certain media is best suited for specific tasks.
  • Demonstrate media use for students – show students how each medium works and the range of applications which are possible – do this early in Year 11 if this has not occurred in Years 8-10 or during primary art classes.
  • Encourage directed experimentation in a variety of media – the more they use it the more they will understand its potential and pitfalls. It is a false economy to save the best media until they reach Year 12 – they won’t know what to do with it and have little or no time to find out.


  • It is recommended to explore a wide range of materials. These may include: Charcoal (thick and thin sticks); fixative; graphite; inks/brushes, nibs; fine-liner felt pens; sharpeners/Stanley knives/scissors; aquarelle water-colour pencils, gouache paints/brushes; oil paints/brushes; acrylics/brushes; conte chalks; oil pastels; chalk pastels; pitt pastel pencils; masking fluid; kneadable erasers; collage papers; blue/black/red biro pen; CA grain cartridge paper – A3 size; a range of coloured papers (key-colour) gold and silver relief pens
  • Use a kneadable eraser to clean pages before allowing students to spray and seal with fixative (if your budget is desperate – try hairspray)
  • Remove all drawings from plastic sleeves and either mount/glue pages back to back or punch each page so that media use can be seen (plastic sleeves will reduce the clarity of colour and detail). Do this at the end of the year to keep work safe until the diary is due to go off for final marking.
  • Invest in acetate sheets cut to slightly larger than A3 to place between pages which might damage one another (e.g. charcoal and oil pastel etc). The acetate is completely transparent and can be punched and included in the diary as a spacer. If your budget won’t extend to this, then recommend students make an excellent investment in their own success and buy the sheets themselves.

Criteria 3 : Visual Language

Lisa Young, St. Mary’s Anglican Girls’ School

Q What does this criterion mean?

“Show evidence, both visually and verbally, of a personal understanding of the Elements and Principles of Art and Design” Extracted from ART (YEAR 11 and 12) – Syllabus Assessment and Grading Document, “EXPLANATION OF TERMINOLOGY USED IN GRADE-RELATED DESCRIPTORS”. Curriculum Council, WA

The VISUAL LANGUAGE criterion assesses the student’s:

  • Visual Understandings
  • Design Development
  • Design Concepts
  • Annotations

Visual Understandings

This refers to the extent to which there is visual evidence that the use of the elements and principles of art and design is understood.

Design Development

This deals with the student’s evolutionary process from drawing to final product, which includes evidence of alternative design solutions.

Design Concepts

This refers to the level of sophistication of the student’s idea development and their final design in response to the brief.


These are the concise notes that support the visual understanding and verbalise the student’s thinking during the drawing and design process. They should be used only where necessary and must demonstrate appropriate art language.

Q How do I explain this criterion to students?

Visual Understanding

Show examples of visual diary pages that address the elements and principles of art in a sound, visual way e.g. show them drawings where line has been utilised in a sensitive manner using variety and personal expression; show them pages where harmonious colours have been used and designs where rhythm and repetition create unity.

Design Development

Explain to students the benefits of extensive design development in the pursuit of a quality design. They need to know that if they stop at the first idea they come up with or if they do not push an idea as far as they can, they will, in almost all cases, end up with an inferior design and a resulting inferior studio piece. There is no harm in giving students an indication of the number of pages of design development that should be in each project. They should have at least four pages of quality design development in each project, culminating with a clearly presented final design using media suitable to their studio area (this may not be possible for 3D studio areas. These should clearly indicate media that will be used in the production of the studio work and media testing and documentation, which could include photographs and sketches, should have taken place as a part of the design development).

On the students’ project brief, provide them with concrete design development activities they can start with. It is very difficult for a student to ‘come up with a design’ without any guidance or suggestions. An example of a design development activity for a printmaking student is:

“Take your “under the Windan Bridge’’ study and complete a series of 3-4 small (no larger than 10 x 10cm) fine liner sketches with an abundance of line to describe the tone and form. Make them look grungy and industrial (suitable for an etching).” From an existing student brief, St Mary’s Anglican Girls’ School.

Design Concepts

Monitor each student’s design development at all times, making sure you know where each is up to. Do not be afraid to make constructive suggestions or to put a stop to something that is inappropriate or not discerning. Tell a student if their idea is cliched or superficial and provide alternatives that may help them to develop greater sophistication in their work. Wherever possible, try to start this from their initial idea and help them to build on it. As the teacher, you have the knowledge and experience and you are doing your students a disservice by not being involved in every stage of their idea development. Show students examples of sound design development in Visual Diary projects of past students. Provide examples of sophisticated design concepts and ask students to critically evaluate them.


At the start of the year, speak to students about annotating their work. Clearly stipulate the following:

  • Make your verbal annotation meaningful, sophisticated and relevant. Make sure it demonstrates what you know about art using appropriate art language and is not simply descriptive. For example, A comment that reads lead pencil drawing of a tree’ is descriptive and unnecessary. A more appropriate comment for this drawing may be ‘a network of pencil cross-hatching and other varied lines and marks describes the texture of the bark’
  • Make writing on pages small, neat and unobtrusive, to compliment and not dominate the overall presentation of the page. Be discerning and write legibly in pencil or fine liner – not thick marker pen. Limited use of word processing is acceptable if your writing is poor.
  • Don’t write too much and only make a comment if it is necessary.
  • Annotate your design development at all stages, carefully explaining your thought processes.

Provide students with examples of sound annotations and critically analyse them together.

Carefully read all annotations made by students to ensure that they are acceptable. A final check prior to submission of the diaries is recommended.

  • Encourage your students to spell correctly in their written annotations (they could get someone to proofread).
  • Encourage students to express something of their artistic personality through their written annotation.
  • Encourage students to clearly outline their thought processes both visually and verbally in their design development, as an ongoing process
  • Avoid mediocre ideas slipping through. As the teacher, you are responsible for making the students aware of the level required for Year 11 and 12 Art.
  • Ensure written annotations do not pass through without carefully reading them.

Criteria 4 : Inter-relationships

Leslee Rowlands, Penrhos College

Q What does this criteria mean?

“The ability to show evidence of the understanding and evaluation of art influences & inter-relationships between ideas and concepts in Visual Inquiry, Studio Practice & History areas.” Extracted from ART (YEAR 1 land 12) – Syllabus Assessment and Grading Document, “EXPLANATION OF TERMINOLOGY USED IN GRADE-RELATED DESCRIPTORS”. Curriculum Council, WA

The INTERRELATIONSHIPS criterion assesses the student’s:

  • integration
  • critical analysis
  • research

From the assessment criteria currently in use by the visual diary markers Integration of Art History, Visual Inquiry and Studio in the visual diary, plus critical analysis and research. – this means that in a top diary the student has made clear, relevant, logical, critical and analytical links between art of the past and present and the student’s own work. And that the visual inquiry, studio and art history all work effectively together to show the exploration of the student’s ideas and concepts.

Q How do I explain this criterion to students?

When I plan my program for TEE Art I try to choose art history topics in which I have a good understanding or for which I have access plenty of resources. I consider the relevance of the topics to the current cohort and while the interrelationships need not relate to the art history topics studied, I find it useful to stream line the devising of appropriate references.

  • Where ever possible I use of existing knowledge i.e. refer to artists studied in Year 11 or those seen in current exhibitions. I encourage students to go to exhibitions themselves, where the student with guidance could devise possible inter-relationships. Inter-relationships should have personal meaning and relevance and hence authenticity. However, many students do not have the background and need to be given appropriate references.
  • Offer students plenty of resources, books, slides, videos and the net. Many contemporary artists have sites and are usually quiet happy to have contact with students.
  • Imbed the historical and critical reference into the projects rather than presenting them as an aside.
  • When discussing a student’s project with them, try to give example of links with student’s own work. E.g.. Make links with various elements such as style, techniques, composition, media and ideas, not just subject matter.

Always use appropriate, relevant and varied visual examples. I.e. exploring sculptural figures: use the excellent gestural drawings of Giacometti or Henry Moore and encourage the student to try such drawing techniques. Wherever possible the students should show their understandings in a visual manner. This does not mean stick in a picture of some artwork and write a descriptive sentence under it. Choose your images carefully. Is it the best image to aid your cause? Is it clear and of good quality?

Explain to the students… Plan what you need to write about the image in relation to your own work. If you find yourself writing paragraphs, it is not working. Stop! Is there a diagrammatic way of explaining the connection? Should I try rendering an example myself using a similar media? What part of the image is important? Do I need to research in order to know more about the artist/image I am using? How have I applied this knowledge to the development of my own ideas?

Give each project a logic check: that is to make sure that links between the visual inquiry moving to the studio piece and inter-relationships are clearly presented, sequentially and ideally have a consistency throughout the project. Always correctly identify, attribute and date images used. (Artist, Title, Date)

Wherever possible reference images (this helps you and the student find them gain if needed).


  • Do try to make links from the art history areas you are studying (should result in a more informed response with out too much extra research).
  • Do a couple of very relevant references in depth rather than several less relevant ones poorly.
  • Proof read any annotations for spelling and accuracy. Annotations should include critical and analytical statements rather than biographical notes.
  • Don’t include art history notes in the Visual Diary.
  • Don’t write too much “a picture paints a thousand words” wherever possible illustrate the idea, concept and link with visual imagery.

Criteria 5 : Drawing

Janet Hummerston, Perth College

Q. What does this criterion mean?

“show versatility and sensitivity in the use of competent drawing skills. Pursues ideas, through analytical observation and conceptualization of everyday experiences” Extracted from ART (Year 11 and 12) – Syllabus Assessment and Grading Document, EXPLANATION OF TERMINOLOGY USED IN THE GRADE RELATED DESCRIPTORS”. Curriculum Council, WA

The DRAWING criterion assesses student’s:

  • Drawing skills
  • Observational skills
  • Exploratory drawing
  • Originality

Students need to show versatility and sensitivity in the use of competent drawing skills. They should demonstrate the ability to pursue ideas, through analytical observation and conceptualisation of every day experiences. Drawing from life is recommended and students should show their ability to represent objects, people and/or environments using a variety of techniques and media.

Students should be able to address form, surface and structure using the elements and principles of Art and Design.

Drawing is a way to visually explain, record, clarify, gather or develop ideas and concepts.

Q How do I explain this criterion to students?

  • Set up a starting point in class so that students have concrete objects to work from. Encourage accuracy of observation and detailed drawings using realistic representation of form, surface and context.
  • Demonstrate how to get started, developing a composition on the page, using guidelines for proportion, foreshortening, perspective etc.
  • Talk about seeing as opposed to looking ……… being aware of light and time.
  • Demonstrate different drawing styles and techniques of mark making. Encourage experimentation demonstrating competent use of various media and supports.
  • Explain the appropriateness of different media for different tasks.
  • Encourage individual style and expressive representation vs arbitrary copying.
  • Show examples of Artists works, sketch books, other students Visual Diaries etc.
  • Use ‘how to’ books to help illustrate ways of guiding perception and working with images


  • Provide a really positive environment where each students feels comfortable with his/her work and is encouraged to evaluate and articulate his/her progress.
  • In the ‘Student Brief provide students with the sort of theme that allows first hand experience.
  • In the ‘Student Brief give guidelines as to what sorts of investigation would be appropriate – eg. use unusual vantage points, scale, distortion etc.
  • Encourage “head talk’ drawing to aid seeing – eg. As they are drawing students talk to themselves questioning “is that angle right? is that mark dark enough? should that section be longer” etc. This makes accurate drawing a pro-active process and helps keep students focused.
  • Aim for a few really good pages of analytical and/or observed drawings early in the project to set the tone. Use wet and dry media.
  • It may be useful to encourage students to create a focal point with colour, contrast, intensity or movement etc. and add context. Constantly remind them to evaluate their work.
  • Fold neatly to an A3 size (so that they are easy to open) or photograph large works.
  • Remind students that ‘drawing’ includes their design development sketches and that well-rendered small drawings are can be very useful to explain concepts.
  • Encourage the use of a wide range of media but explain the importance of discernment in mark making. Experiment with drawing on various surfaces if appropriate.
  • Encourage the use of the students own photographs as a drawing tool for reference and as a record.

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