Art & Design A Level

student painting
Getting Ahead

Art & Design A Level at Alton Campus

The A Level Art course allows for a very broad base of types of art and design. On the course, there will be opportunities to explore printmaking, drawing, painting, sculpture, 3DD, mixed media, film, photography, digital art, graphics and illustration work. Practising drawing, painting and printmaking skills is the key to doing well on this course. The course will help to develop skills, knowledge and understanding that are valuable to those who wish to progress within the creative visual arts industries.

We have put together the following Getting Ahead work to help you prep for your course over the summer.

We look forward to you starting College with us soon!

close up of paint brushes with different coloured paint on them

In preparation for your Art A Level, please try to carry out the following task outlined below. The task is designed to help you maintain your practical skills by investigating primary source imagery over the summer. The imagery you collect will support the development of your work in your introductory project on the course. You are being asked to gather primary source imagery on the broad theme of Windows and Openings. Interpret this theme in whatever way you choose.

Here are some suggested starting points:

  • Exploring colour shadows and light
  • View point
  • Figures and portraiture
  • Abstract
  • Architecture
  • Movie suspense thrillers
  • Graphic novels
  • Surreal


  1. Make a mind map, consider what imagery might interest you within the theme of windows and openings. Consider from the list of starting points. Look at the images below to help you. Research some artists to help you.
  2. Make a list of possible locations that are easily accessible to you either at home or close by, as well as places you may visit over the summer.
  3. Take as many photos as possible over the summer. If you see something interesting, take a snap. You may use digital phone cameras, digital SLR, even Polaroids or 35mm film cameras. Consider light and shadow composition. The more interesting the photographs, the more likely your source imagery will inspire you. Equally remember you do not have to produce amazing photos if you are an inexperienced photographer. The main aim is to collect photos to work from and these will be the starting points for the development of your work.
  4. Primary observational drawing – quick sketches of the location in different media, pencil, pen, watercolour, charcoal.
  5. Sustained drawing/painting A3, A2, or A1. What scale do you like to work towards? Can you push yourself to be ambitious with your work?

The activity imagery below will hopefully inspire you to start collecting your own imagery.


Exploring colour shadows and light

Windows and openings are ideal places for exploring the play of light and shadow. Lots of potential here for painterly mark making and exploring colour, soft lighting or vibrant shadows cast by directional light. There are a multitude of shapes, patterns and forms that can be explored.

Imagery around colour shadows and light and the theme of windows and openings

View point – room with a view

Dramatic views over rooftops, fields or woods searching for colours and the complexity of shapes, detail, expressive or impressionist landscapes.

Imagery around viewpoint and the theme of windows and openings

Figures and portraiture

The window provides the opportunity to create drama and narrative. To intrigue the viewer whether on a train or in a cafe. Capturing the moment of drama emphasizing through the use of shadow and silhouettes, looking into the window or looking out. The lighting on the face, the surrounding space and the interaction of figures can create a stillness, sense of loss, longing, contemplation and a whole range of different emotions. Expressing emotion can help to make portraits more powerful and evoke meaning in the mind of the viewer.


Looking into or out of a door/window at the shapes and structures day or night provides potential for abstracting. Identify what you find interesting or unusual in the space around you. Maybe you have never really stopped to look at telephone cables and power lines before. Try to look and see things with a new or different perspective. Colour, patterns, shapes and textures can be explored. Simplifying, cropping and leaving out the information that is not necessary in the image or emphasizing and changing it to produce a stronger abstract composition.

Imagery around abstract and the theme of windows and openings


Opportunity to explore architecture forms and structure, opportunity to explore perspective 3-dimensional form using tone. To explore weight and mass and negative space in structures.

Imagery around architecture and the theme of windows and openings

Movie suspense thrillers

Opportunity to explore illustration styles and narrative interpretation. Using locations to help with the narrative and trying to give your characters a sense of heightened identity. Strong shadow to create drama and mood for concept storyboarding.

Imagery around movie suspense thrillers and the theme of windows and openings

Graphic novels

Exploring different genres and their styles and conventions, comic strips and storyboards. Exploring the drama and the stylisation of drawing imagery and interpretation of narrative ideas within different cultures.

Imagery around graphic novels and the theme of windows and openings


Using surreal imagination to consider the theme of windows and openings. This imagery is still supported by primary sources but the experimentation and juxtaposition of imagery creates ideas of different worlds or heightened states of psychological tension. Illusions are used to stimulate imaginations using shadows, perspective, scale where objects, materials and spaces present an alternative reality.

Imagery around surreal and the theme of windows and openings

First, you must gather some photographic source imagery for your project. You will need a range of photographs to use as starting points for your work in other media as the project progresses.


  • Try to take visually interesting images
  • Consider camera angle/viewpoint (high-angle/low-angle can give striking shots)
  • Consider lighting – early morning or evening natural light; light entering from a window or door; directional lighting to create strong contrasts of light and dark/use of shadows.


  • Use a secondary image from the internet – this is your project, own it!
  • Use old photos – take new images with this project in mind


At the outset of the project, we will focus on drawing. In class, we will be producing sustained and expressive drawings based on the photos you take. You will need a selection (6-10) of your photographs printed out at a reasonable size (A4/A3) to work from.


We are not expecting you to make a large collection of new work over the summer. Some of you may not have access to space or materials for making paintings and large scale drawings.

We do expect you to take x 30 photos and some sketching from observation. If you feel inspired then do something substantial, try to produce a sustained image from direct observation and your photos.

Look at the artists below to inspire you within this project.

Drawing and Printing References

  • Alberto Giacometti (Linear Drawings)
  • Frank Auerbach (Expressive Drawings)
  • Leonardo Da Vinci (Anatomical Drawings)
  • Georges Seurat (Tonal Drawings)
  • Alison Lambert (Portrait Heads)
  • Emil Nolde (Woodcuts)
  • Lucien Freud (Etchings)
  • Pablo Picasso (Etchings)
  • Andy Warhol (Screenprints)
  • Dale Devereux Barker (Linocuts)

Painting References

  • Chaim Soutine (portraits, objects)
  • Alyssa Monks (portraits)
  • Peter Doig (landmarks)
  • Paul Cezanne (objects)
  • Lisa Milroy (objects)
  • Anna Held Audette (rust/erosion)
  • David Tress (landscape)

Collage References

  • Kurt Schwitters
  • Robert Rauschenberg
  • David Hockney
  • Martin O’Neill
  • Tim Marrs
  • David Carson
  • Peter Blake
  • Joseph Cornell
  • Ben Allen
  • Eduardo Recife

Hoping you have a good summer and looking forward to seeing you in September.

I’m really happy and pleased with my grades. I really loved my time at the college, I have also made lots of friends, it’s a really nice place to be, I don’t want to leave.

Lauren Piper, A Level student

“HSDC provided me with the opportunity for autonomous study and the choice of subjects that I wanted to study, which helped me develop relevant knowledge as well as relevant skills for the workplace.”

Lucas Ratcliffe, A Level and CTEC student

My experience at the College was great, it’s very different to school, and I think it’s a good step to going to university. The support was amazing, I loved all of my teachers, they helped me through everything. The College is friendly and you will succeed.

Heidi Adamson Brattland, A Level student