I have received some questions from students about the Comparative Study, mostly – but not all – about making connections to the students’ own art-making practice.

The last one dropped in as a comment on a blog posted way back in February 2018 (from Antonella). Here they are, together with my answers.

1. Hi, I figured I’d like combine my three artworks to show the connections. Can I make a painting that has bits of each to show how they have influenced my development? It shows the impact, right? Thanks, Arthur!

Hi Arthur, at a basic level you are more or less copying elements of the selected artworks – so yes, there is obviously a connection. But it is too simplistic, and it’s not going to impress the examiner in terms of concepts and ideas. Try to work on a deeper level. What are the underlying ideas of the artworks that you have chosen? What have you learned in terms of media and techniques?

2. Everyone in my class is doing the Venn diagram thing to compare. What else is there?

Venn diagrams do tend to simplify and sometimes just repeat previous points. Some examples of other models can be found here. These include:

  • June King McFee’s (1978) conceptual framework: an alternative technique to consider art and context (from audience’s world to artists’ world)
  • Image annotation for ‘visual arts in context’
  • An Art ‘compass’ that asks eight questions about an artwork.

3. I don’t think my art is good enough. I’ve compared artworks that are all 3D – two sculptures and Tracey Emin’s bed. In my art making I’ve used chicken wire and wood, with coloured tissue paper, and also some plaster. But the results don’t look great. Is this OK?

The quality of the artworks is notassessed by the Comparative Study examiner. (This will be assessed if they are submitted as part of the exhibition or the Process Portfolio.)

The Comparative Study examiner is considering ways in which the outcomes of your research have influenced your own development as an artist. What are the connections between one or more of the selected works and your artmaking processes and practices? This is the focus – not, for example, evidence of great competence.

4. I like my 3 selected artworks, they are all Pop Art, so I’m making lots of paintings in primary colours to show connections. My teacher is supportive but I don’t think she’s really convinced. What do you think?

The connections only need to be between one or more of the selected works and your own artmaking processes and practices. You don’t have to demonstrate connections with all three.

And the Pop Art movement was not really just about colour. For example, one important element was popular culture – hence the name. This – contemporary popular culture – might be a more interesting and rewarding direction than primary colours. Show that you have an understanding of the concepts of Pop Art rather than just emulate a ‘bright’ colour scheme?

5. I don’t think that my art really shows connections with my selected artworks, they don’t look anything like the selected art. So how do I convince the examiner that there really are connections?

The connections don’t need to be entirely visual but at the same time there needs to be some evidence. Its helpful if there is something that the examiner can see in your art that links somehow to one or more of your selected artworks/artefacts.  Examiners probably encounter a number of claims that are tenuous primarily because it’s hard to understand the connections. Does your art reflect things learned through your investigations?

The best way to convince the examiner is to tell the truth: don’t pretend that art that is unrelated to the investigation actually has connections.

6. Hey, so I am about to turn in the comparative study and I wanted to ask if the bibliography counts as part of the 15 screen max? I have 16 screens: 15 of the work and 1 of bibliography. What should I do?
Thanks in advance, Antonella

Hi Antonella,

You should upload two separate files: the Comparative Study (SL 15 screen maximum) is one file and the bibliography is the second file. So, no, the bibliography does not ‘count as part of the 15 screen max’. I hope this helps.

7. Hi What is the maximum word count for the Comparative Study?

There is no word limit. But that doesn’t mean that its OK to write 10,000 words. Legibility is vital and it is much better to be concise, direct and articulate than ramble on: the examiner will not thank you for writing thousands of words when a lot of them are superfluous and unnecessary!