Exams: 2012 Studio Art Drawing Portfolio Student Samples

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Drawing Design

The student works displayed on this page are reproductions of actual works submitted by students in June 2012.

All of the samples here were chosen because they clearly represent different points on the scoring scale. In the course of the AP evaluation, each section of the portfolio is scored on a six-point scale. Once the evaluation is complete, the various scores assigned to each student's portfolio are combined and transformed into the final AP grade of 1–5.

Note: With the exception of a small number of spelling corrections and clarifications (in brackets), all information in the commentaries is transcribed exactly as the students wrote it.

Media and dimensions for the works shown are based on information provided by each student. In some cases minor revisions have been made for clarity.

Each group of works is accompanied by a brief rationale for the scores awarded to the works. We greatly appreciate the generosity of the students who have agreed to share their works in this way.

Click an image to view a larger version.

Sample 1: Milan Aguirre, Loyola High School, Los Angeles, Calif.

Score: 6

Breadth Section: 6/6

Rationale for Score

  • Although at first glance the range of types of work appears to be somewhat limited, the variety of media and mark-making used within most works reflects significant breadth. The work includes richly layered images as well as minimalist statements that charge a space with relatively few marks. Approaches include carving, collaging, printing, gestural drawing, and expressive painting.
  • The work reflects highly informed decision-making, including a knowledge of art historical movements such as surrealism, dada, and neo-expressionism.
  • Although the work achieves a look of gestural spontaneity, the images reflect a keen sense of balance, figure/ground relationship, and decisive compositional organization.
  • Text, both added on and pulled out from, the found drawing surface, is used to augment the meaning and enrich the imagery. For example, in image 2, the word "produce" effectively generates multiple associations.
  • Overall, the work is of excellent quality.

Concentration Section: 6/6

Student's Commentary

What is the central idea of your concentration?
"Portraits: New Arrangements of the Contemporary Person" is my mixed-media based narrative in which I [attempt to] re-imagine and reconstruct the facial structure to create a portrait of the modern person.

How does the work in your concentration demonstrate the exploration of your idea? You may refer to specific images as examples. When referencing specific images, please indicate the image numbers.
My portfolio begins with racially charged images, which stylistically combine both the subjects and the backgrounds into one whole design. In the latter half of the portfolio, the figures become the subjects, and the backgrounds are neutral. The faces of the characters I develop consist of fragmented body parts recycled from new and vintage magazines, newspapers, and advertisement catalogs.

Rationale for Score

  • The provocative concentration topic is clearly defined in the commentary, and it is thoughtfully explored and developed.
  • The concentration deals successfully with complex issues of culture, race, gender, and beauty.
  • Materials are handled decisively. Found and weathered wood is transformed to fields of fleshy pink, while gold leaf, stitching, and crown images confer value upon the ugly or grotesque.
  • Concept, composition, use of media, and personalized mark-making work harmoniously to carry out the student's "vision."
  • The work is of excellent quality.

Quality Section: 6/6

Rationale for Score

  • This student shows the extraordinary ability to integrate the beautiful and the intentionally ugly to form compelling visual statements.
  • Surfaces are transformed; faces and bodies are reconstructed to present new and often disturbing realities.
  • The vocabulary of mark-making includes pencil, brushstroke, torn edges, and lines drawn with scratches and staples.
  • At the hand of the student, the photographic imagery is reconfigured and reworked with new meaning.
  • The work demonstrates an outstanding control of craft and acute attention to detail.
  • The work is of consistently excellent quality.

Sample 2: Yebin So, Lawrenceville School, Lawrenceville, N.J.

Score: 5

Breadth Section: 4/4

Rationale for Score

  • The work demonstrates a good investigation of varied visual concepts, approaches, and media.
  • Many of the pieces are well executed academic exercises, displaying little student "voice."
  • Even in simpler works, notably image 3, a sensitive approach, careful observation, and strong technical skills are apparent.
  • The work demonstrates strong technical control, but there is little evidence of risk-taking.
  • Overall, the work is of good breadth and quality.

Concentration Section: 6/5

Student's Commentary

What is the central idea of your concentration?
Natural light coming through windows into an indoor space was the central idea of my concentration. I was inspired by the paintings of John Register and I was generally drawn to the light itself and how it hits the surface of different parts of the space.

How does the work in your concentration demonstrate the exploration of your idea? You may refer to specific images as examples. When referencing specific images, please indicate the image numbers.
Throughout the whole process of building my portfolio, I tried to bring the focus to the light itself and the shadows formed by the light, instead of the object being hit by the light. Some of my work includes strong diagonals that lead to the focus of the scene as in images 1 and 4. As my portfolio progressed, the architectural shapes and perspective played a larger role in constructing the scenes, as in image 6. Image 9 ("Window"), which was painted with a palette knife in a relatively short period of time, is an experiment with the painted surface in order to convey the translucency of the curtain through which the light shines.

Rationale for Score

  • The student's clearly expressed intention to make light tangible is carried out with sensitivity and thoroughness.
  • The drawings and paintings record carefully observed, three-dimensional spaces, and yet function equally well as abstract compositions.
  • Color is successfully used to create moods of reflection and reverie, somewhat reminiscent of the work of Edward Hopper.
  • The student displays refined technical skills as evidenced in images 2 and 3, but is also capable of taking daring risks with the gestural approach seen in images 9 and 10.
  • Generally, the work is of strong to excellent quality.

Quality Section: 5/5

Rationale for Score

  • The works exhibit evocative qualities as the student explores the play of light in otherwise ordinary objects and spaces.
  • The framing and composition of the images reflect thoughtful decision making.
  • The works show a strong level of technical accomplishment whether in graphite, charcoal, or oil paint.
  • Overall the work is of strong quality.

Sample 3: Nicole Clark, Prospect High School, Mt. Prospect, Ill.

Score: 4

Breadth Section: 5/5

Rationale for Score

  • The work demonstrates a thoughtful investigation of a broad range of visual concepts and media. Works include examples of observed and imagined environments, as well as images that push toward abstraction.
  • Decisions regarding composition and point of view are well-considered and sometimes daring, for example images 3 and 10.
  • Most of the work engages the viewer with expressive and evocative qualities; the work suggests confidence.
  • Image 12 reflects an innovative approach, addressing a theater setting by contrasting an empty stage against a lively off-stage environment.
  • The work demonstrates good-to-strong technical skills.
  • Overall, the work is of strong quality.

Concentration Section: 4/4

Student's Commentary

What is the central idea of your concentration?
My concentration is about the effect environment has on a person, done as a series of self-portraits.

How does the work in your concentration demonstrate the exploration of your idea? You may refer to specific images as examples. When referencing specific images, please indicate the image numbers.
To what extent does our environment influence how we appear to others? Depending on what we associate the colors of a picture with, or the lighting or even simple objects with, what we see in a picture changes. In my concentration, I chose environments that I am in every day, such as a school hallway or a plain room in my house, to make sure the scene was commonplace. Then I adjusted the lighting to heighten the effects of the surroundings on my figure. I also made use of different viewpoints to produce the effect of viewing my figure from within the surroundings, such as in image 12 when the viewer is literally behind the soda can. When I did not put as much emphasis on the background, I zoomed in on faces to show the power of the frame of view. When you can only see part of someone, you tend to focus on this person, but when you see more than just the face, or the upper body, and can see a majority of the person's figure, the background takes on a greater meaning. Sometimes one's surroundings strongly influence how one appears to others, while other times the background pales in comparison, no matter how natural the scene is. My concentration is an exploration on the relationship between one person and her environment.

Rationale for Score

  • A clear concentration topic is presented, and the work is successfully integrated with the theme.
  • The technical skill is uneven among the works, varying from awkward to accomplished. Image 9 exhibits some problems with observation and rendering, whereas image 4 is dramatically effective without needing to be more precise.
  • The student uses brush stroke and mark quality consciously to convey qualities of light and environment.
  • Decisions about composition and point of view indicate good imagination and risk-taking.
  • Overall, the work is of good quality.

Quality Section: 4/4

Rationale for Score

  • The work shows some imaginative ideas and purposeful manipulation of the principles of design in the drawing compositions.
  • Some of the work has evocative qualities, but confidence is inconsistent.
  • The quality of observation and the degree of accomplishment varies among the works. The image of the girl reaching for a soda can demonstrates a level of accuracy and technical resolution that rises above that of the other works.
  • It appears that there are some strong works in the Breadth section that would have been better choices than some of the works selected for Quality.
  • Overall, the work is of good quality.

Sample 4: Lauren Moser, Enloe (Magnet) High School, Raleigh, N.C.

Score: 3

Breadth Section: 3/3

Rationale for Score

  • The work explores a good range of approaches to drawing and printmaking.
  • The level of accomplishment is uneven. Image 6 reflects weak consideration of composition and awkward execution, whereas images 3 and 12 exhibit greater success, showing effective asymmetric composition and sensitive surface development.
  • Potentially engaging qualities are emerging in the work, but confidence is marginal.
  • Some works show tentative innovation in concept and design.
  • Overall, the work is of moderate quality.

Concentration Section: 3/3

Student's Commentary

What is the central idea of your concentration?
My concentration is based around people; particularly faces. I focused more on detail and capturing the emotion and expressions that people show. Theres [sic] a story behind everyones [sic] eyes and in captivating [sic] that look I would hope the viewer could see past just a portrait and really feel the affect.

How does the work in your concentration demonstrate the exploration of your idea? You may refer to specific images as examples. When referencing specific images, please indicate the image numbers.
My favorite image that really captures the aspect I am going for is image [9]. I feel as if it has the exploitation of raw emotion and the viewer can understand exactly how the person demonstrated is feeling. The complete opposite emotion, image 6, can seemingly be someone who looks happy. But my main focus was drawing all the attention towards her eyes. While her face may be smiling, her eyes show her true emotion. Compared with the portrait in image 11 where the girl is smiling, but her eyes show that she is truly happy and her emotion is not forced. Same with image 5; his face and eyes all tell the viewer that he is joyful.

Rationale for Score

  • A potentially engaging theme is discernible, but it is inadequately considered.
  • The work shows little sense of investigation or discovery.
  • Some imaginative ideas emerge in images 1, 7, and 9, but the technical skills needed to develop them are limited.
  • In image 6, one can sense the artist's clear connection with the subject, but image 4 remains a nearly direct reproduction of a photographic source, with minimal student voice.
  • There is an emerging level of accomplishment among the works.
  • Overall, the work is of moderate quality.

Quality Section: 3/3

Rationale for Score

  • The relation of form to content is beginning to come into focus, but intention and purpose are uncertain.
  • Compositional organization is moderately successful.
  • A sense of student voice is emerging, but confidence is limited.
  • Technical skill is somewhat basic and uneven.
  • Overall, the work is of moderate quality.