Lawrence is one of my visual arts students. He has repeatedly asked how much time each he should devote to each of the course components.

(Hi Lawrence, I know you read my blog!)

Of course, the course is taught holistically and there is no ‘hours per component’ recommendation in the visual arts guide.

Visual Arts guide page 16:

“Although the core syllabus is identified in this guide through subdivided segments, teachers are encouraged to approach the teaching of the visual arts course in a holistic way…Teachers are encouraged to interpret this holistic syllabus creatively according to their local circumstances and the context of the individual school. This is an international visual arts course and how teachers choose to explore art and artists from various cultural contexts is left to their own discretion.”.

But Lawrence was insistent, and I finally gave in.

So… given the 20/40/40 percentage component weighting. and the 240 hours overall IB DP HL recommended time allocation, I rounded things up to (in approximate hours) 50/100/100.

So – Lawrence –100 hours for the exhibition is one way of looking at it. That’s 4.16 days.

This is definitely NOT the way to plan, teach or run the course. The course should be taught holistically, not by component.

But still, as a quick overview, if you have around 240 hours for

the course “the 100-hour exhibition” calculation could have some merit, if only because it helps Lawrence relax and get a sense of time/hours and the components.

But Lawrence wasn’t finished. “OK, if I put aside 100 hours for exhibition work, how much time should I expect to spend on 

each artwork?”

I replied, “How long is a piece of string?”

There is obviously no single right answer to this question, partly of course because you could spend 50 hours on a single artwork – and it could still be dreadful. Or wonderful. Or something in between.

There is no direct or obvious equivalence between time spent and quality or success of the final artwork: time in a sense means very little.

Success – at east as far as the DP visual arts course is concerned –  is bound up in conceptual qualities, technical competence etc..

But then I remembered some of the exhibition files that I had seen and assessed as an examiner in the last examination session. Quality does not necessarily come from time spent, but as an examiner I saw a lot of art that could have benefited from a little more time and thought.

Sometimes the whole exhibition looks like it took no more than 10 hours. Some 

artworks looked like they had taken 10 minutes.

OK, there is no direct or obvious equivalence between time spent and the quality or success of the final artwork, but there can be: let’s say that time spent in thought, planning, and reflecting, and then time spent working on the art, refining and improving it – is usually NOT wasted.

So again, if – say – an HL student submits 10 artworks and overall spends 100 hours on final/resolved artwork, then it comes down to 10 hours for each artwork. Or some combination of times that more or less reflect that total.

(Lawrence, I honestly don’t mind. I know that the intense detail that goes into everything you do is very time-consuming. You don’t have to calculate time-per-artwork. But can we consider this conversation now closed?)

But I must admit, if some students devoted 10 hours to EACH of their exhibition artworks, the overall quality of quite a few exhibitions might 

significantly improve!?



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