Advanced Placement Art Summer Assignments

    In order to meet the volume of artworks expected for the AP portfolio, you are expected to complete the sketchbook brainstorm and at least start 5 projects over the summer. These projects are critiqued as a group by the first Friday of the school year. I look forward to working with you next year; if you or your parents have any questions, please contact me at jcornell@akronk12.org. I check my email pretty regularly. I will also be available through REMIND (code: aehd9a3) if you wish to gather materials or get feedback on your work.

    There are 3 portfolios from which to choose. 3D Portfolio is fairly self explanatory, and involves creating sculpture. 2D portfolio involves the elements and principles of art and composition, and may contain photography, digital art, drawing, and painting. The Drawing portfolio in concerned with mark-making styles (surface, edge, technique) and includes drawing and painting. I will help you choose your portfolio based on preference and summer assignments.

    For all photography assignments, take at least 100 shots for each that you choose.  Be sure to think about composition, lighting, contrast, and the way that you prepare for each shoot.  Do you need to plan a backdrop? Special make-up or clothing, etc? If you don’t have time or equipment to edit…do more photo shoots, so you can use the first MP to edit. Try for the “WOW” shots, but realize a lot can be done with so/so shots in the edit. Go for quantity, and the best quality possible. If you have time, try to practice some tutorial sites online, as well as use multiple functions of your cameras (aperture, speed, lens settings, ISO, etc.)

    Drawing/painting/sculpture assignments can be completed in your sketchbook, as an altered book assignment, on a variety of surfaces, or using a variety of media. Be experimental. Try doing something new and different with the media. Try not to be cute or trite or predictable. Challenge the whole meaning of art. Finish what you start, even if you don’t like it. Work from observation. Work from your mind’s eye. Be creative. Be versatile. For drawing, if you use pencil, it must be dark to make an effective digital image. Try black ballpoint pen, crosshatching, colored pencils, charcoal pencil, pastels, markers, paints, collage, or any assorted materials you may have at home. Always make sure you use high-contrast, since almost all works will be shown in digital reproduction. Remember to use the entire page.



    1. 10 activities that interest you
    2. 10 objects/ art topics that interest you (ex: flowers, landscapes, portraits, etc.)
    3. 5 artists you like – what do you like about their work that you would like to bring to your own work? (If you don't know 5 artists, look up artists)
    4. Your favorite 5 artworks (identify with artist)
    5. Elements of Art that interest you (line, shape, color, form, texture, value, space)
    6. 10 images that interest you – there doesn’t need to be a reason they interest you


    We will spend a good amount of time developing our Sustained Investigation question. You will create 15 works of art this year (5 pieces per marking period.) Past works and our summer works can supplement these projects.

    1. It is not enough to focus on a subject (trees) or a medium (charcoal). If trees, why trees? Is it about growth? Negative space in nature? Protective canopies? Strength and endurance? Branch and leaf structures? The “design” of a forest in compositional relationships? Look at Mondrian, van Ruisdael, Courbet, van Gogh, Ernst, and Fairfield Porter.
    2. Your exploration should go deeper than merely taking a subject and executing it in a variety of media or styles. Example: Apples rendered in watercolor, stipple, crosshatch, cubism, fauvism and surrealism.
    3. Ideally you should develop a visual language that fits your idea, a style and medium and format appropriate to the theme you are investigating.
    4. A sustained investigation can be a series of works that are very consistent in theme and approach OR it may evolve and develop as the visual idea is explored, ending in a different place than where it began. In either case it is best to start out with a clear plan of attack; if the idea changes, the change will usually be the natural result of discoveries made in the process of exploration.
    5. Do not choose to work in a medium in which you have absolutely no experience. This is not the time to try something completely new. The point of the sustained investigation is to work in depth. This can usually be best achieved in a medium in which you are already familiar. You are developing concept, not technique.
    6. Research artists who have worked in styles similar to your own direction or with similar subject matter. Do not rely totally on yourself for inspiration. Look at historical masters, contemporary artists, the world around you and your peers to pollinate your own ideas.
    7. If you choose to work in an area rich in cliché or teenage stereotypes, your work must be very original. It is strongly recommended that you avoid topics such as blood dripping, skulls, large eyes, hearts, fairies, vampires, emotion through eyes, your girlfriend/boyfriend, sunsets, rainbows & clouds, or sad clowns.
    8. ALL images must adhere to copyright laws. Use original imagery and drawing from life to avoid any issues.
    9. Themes such as “my feelings and emotions”, “nature,” or “flowers” are much too broad for a sustained investigation. Even the more common themes such as portraits or still life need a specific focus. Still lifes that tell a story or emphasize a certain interest in composition or design will be more successful. If the concentration is “portraits”, you should consider things like format, intent, point of view, lighting, style and expressiveness.
    1. Visit the College Board Website. READ the Concentration Statements and then look at the artwork. Really LOOK at how the artwork is connected and the artist developed the idea. 2D Samples, Drawing, 3D




    1. You will need to create 15 cohesive pieces.
    2. A sustained investigation does not mean that they all look the same.
    3. Show a full range of contrast.
    4. Point of View – An interesting point of view can have a powerful impact.
    5. Have unique compositions.
      • Asymmetry is better than Symmetry
      • Create movement that leads to your area of emphasis/interest
      • Rule of thirds
      • Diagonals are more exciting than horizontal or vertical lines
      • Avoid a central composition – A bull’s eye does not move the viewer’s eye
      • Consider both positive and negative space as well as background
    1. Work with references:
      • Best – Observation from life
      • 2nd Best – Combine 3 photographs in a new composition OR use your own photos
      • 3rd Best – Enlarge a small section from a photograph
      • NEVER – Copy an existing photograph that you did not take.
    1. The work should be no larger than 18”x24” to comply with the SELECTED WORKS portfolio.


    Sustained Investigation Ideas (or invent your own):

    1. Commercial Labels and Stereotypes
    2. Impermanence
    3. Altered/Handmade books based on love gone sour...
    4. Portraiture Emphasizing Strength
    5. Different signs of luck
    6. Through the ages
    7. How something (like a plant or animal) changes as it grows/ages
    8. Reflections of (my face) in everyday objects
    9. People's shoes to describe personality
    10. Portions of the human body seen close up, as studies of form, texture, etc.
    11. Abandoned things
    12. Fortunes and fortune telling
    13. Masking who we are
    14. Loneliness/estrangement
    15. Microscopic views and/or cellular structure - which become abstractions
    16. Body language
    17. Loss - the missing person at seminal events
    18. Environmental consciousness
    19. Capturing the mood or rhythm of music
    20. Overcoming depression
    21. Anime-style self-portrait drawings
    22. Street photography and architectural elements emphasizing composition with geometric forms
    23. Abstractions derived from still-lifes of household objects.
    24. Fashion and heavy machinery
    25. Illustrating Phobias and Fears
    26. Crime Scenes/Forensics Still Life Abstracted Through Positive and Negative Space
    27. Surreal manipulation of body parts
    28. Abandonment (places and people)
    29. Identity: Hiding behind masks and other roles that we play
    30. Paintings based on the history of any culture
    31. Do works showing risk in our lives
    32. Do a super realism series using your childhood toys
    33. Do a series of reflection works using colored glass or colored water in glass forms like Janet Fish
    34. Organic vs inorganic
    35. The relationship between science and art
    36. Design and the covers for one year of any magazine
    37. Write and illustrate a comic book based on people you know
    38. The lonely figures in our society (ala Edward Hopper)
    39. Social injustice
    40. Expressive drawings incorporating layered images of words
    41. Design a clothing line based on African masks
    42. Landscapes of places that hold personal meaning
    43. Your reaction to patriotism
    44. Portraits of your friends in the style of Annie Liebowitz
    45. Non-objective pieces based on a personal crisis
    46. Natural landscapes, both micro and macroscopic
    47. Your reaction to circumstances that affect your world
    48. Your family as royalty
    49. Cubism-based landscapes
    50. A series of elaborately dressed females with animal heads
    51. Your reaction to war
    52. Entrances and time continuum
    53. Risk in our lives
    54. Personal prose
    55. The changes of time on human nature
    56. A series documenting your community
    57. A series of commercial products for an ad campaign based on ocean life
    58. Costumes for a specific performance
    59. Develop a corporate identity. Form logo to letterhead to web design
    60. Modernize the fairy tales of childhood
    61. Known works that switch gender roles
    62. Metamorphic changes ala M. C. Escher
    63. Assemblages based on the works of Louise Nevelson
    64. Movement through space
    65. Build kinetic sculptures based on Alexander Calder
    66. Create a series of soft sculptures
    67. Found object figurative sculptures based on Marisol
    68. Memorial/monuments
    69. Personal history
    70. Cast a sculptural series of simplified forms based on Constantin Brancusi
    71. Distorted human forms (ex: Fernando Botero)
    72. American gods/goddesses
    73. Human figure abstractions
    74. Draw a fantasy boxes giving homage to the media darlings in the style of Joseph Cornell
    75. Personification of Animals
    76. Buildings and architectural details
    77. Create portraits without people. 
    78. Tabloid
    79. Film Noir
    80. The seven deadly sins
    81. Visual puns
    82. A-Z
    83. Lights on industrial structures
    84. The human figure in tight environments.
    85. The Beauty of the grotesque
    86. Shadow Play
    87. Layered Collage with Intuitive Painting
    88. Meaningful Places
    89. Random Word Poetry
    90. Transformation
    91. Inspiration from scribbles, blobs, blots, folds, scrapes, etc
    92. Fortune Cookie
    93. Modern-Day Monsters

    Link 1, Link 2