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Success in the GCSE Art exam is not just about you showing off your skills in using different media and techniques! These are certainly important - but nowhere near asvital as your ability to show you understand and present visual IDEAS - both my you and the artists and designers you study!

A blank piece of paper, or a blank canvas, is a rubbish starting point for generating ideas! So we start with a mindmap 😊 At its simplest, this looks like a spider diagram…

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  1. Put your title / art theme / artist name at the centre
  2. Create at least 4 ‘legs’ radiating out from the title
  3. Use the prompts in the simple mind map above, to start sketching and writing. Single words, questions, tiny thumbnail sized sketches are all great!

Relax and let your IDEAS flow….. Remember there are no right or wrong answers here > you are just trying to kill the blank page and capture your IDEAS 😊


You have taken the first creative step towards your final piece.

Look over your spider diagram, and consider which ideas appear most interesting to you.

These could be:

  1. Images you’d like to explore further
  2. Materials & techniques you’d like to try
  3. Issues or questions you feel strongly about
  4. Colours or art styles that are your favourites
  5. Key words or concepts that interest you

Don’t rank or judge them, it’s now just time to explore them further 😊

You are now going to make a MIND MAP of them, to help you structure what you creative steps you are going to take next…

  1. Put your title / art theme / artist name at the centre
  2. Create at least 4 ‘legs’ radiating out from the title
  3. Along the length of each leg, write out the content you are going to explore further
  4. Radiate further ideas / sketches / keywords / questions / comments - from the end of each of the 4

Your mindmap will have a structure that starts by looking like this:

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But will be highly personal to you…

  1. One idea may interest you more- so will have more sketches and words radiating from that one…
  2. Our brains think in colour - so use this in your words and sketches, to help excite and engage your creativity
  3. Collage in pictures that link to your ideas - maybe draw into them too?

Just enjoy the creativity of exploring your ideas - it should feel like play, just capturing the art IDEAS that are coming into your mind!

Get stuck? - Just look back over your first spider diagram, and choose another prompt that your recorded on it…then explore this idea further in your mind map!

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Now you are going to select one or two of your favourite ideas so far, to create ‘Initial Ideas’ pages.

These may well look messy - but remember that is not a problem - the examiner just wants to see that you have explored alternative IDEAS!

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  1. Title your page ‘My Initial Ideas’
  2. Sketch out your best ideas, in a variety of media
  3. Aim for 50/50 images and text
  4. Make your links with artists clear
  5. Use photography - its a really quick tool for capturing and developing your ideas! If you have apps that can manipulate these images - use them


Choose one of your initial ideas pages to develop further - and annotate your choices!

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  1. The ideas I want to develop are….
  2. •I like these because ………….
  3. •What I need to do next is ………..
  4. •Secondary images that will help me are………..
  5. •The artist I am being influenced by is ……
  6. •I am making this clear by ………….