AP Studio Art

pictures 021If you haven’t done so already, please visit the main Courses page here for an overview of all courses and our recommendations for the order or progression through our program.


  • Prerequisite: Studio Art I and II, Advanced Art or 3-D Design/Ceramics II and/or teacher recommendation
  • Open to: Grades 10-12
  • Length/Credit: Year / 1.0 credit
  • Satisfies: 1.0 Fine Arts or 1.0 Elective

AP Studio Art is designed for students who are seriously interested in the practical experience of art. AP Studio Art is not based on a written examination; instead, students submit portfolios for evaluation at the end of the school year. The course promotes a sustained investigation of all three aspects of portfolio development:

  • Quality:  5 actual works (10 digital images for 3-D portfolio) demonstrating understanding of 2-D, 3-D, or Drawing in concept, composition and execution.
  • Concentration:  12 digital images describing an in-depth exploration of a particular 2-D, 3-D or Drawing concern.
  • Breadth:  12 digital images of a variety of works demonstrating understanding of 2-D design, 3-D design or Drawing issues.

AP Studio Art course requirements have been designed with the intent of bringing them closer to the most prevalent college foundation course requirements. Students will be encouraged to investigate formal and conceptual issues; partake in the ongoing process of informed and critical decision making; continue to develop technical and compositional skills; and be encouraged to become inventive independent thinkers. Students have the option of submitting one of three different portfolios:

  • Click here for a description of the AP Studio Art Drawing Course
  • Click here for a description of the AP Studio Art 2-D Design Course
  • Click here for a description of the AP Studio Art 3-D Design Course

Each portfolio is based upon mastery of skills and concepts addressed in the progression of art classes. Students who register for this class will meet prior to the end of the school year to receive summer homework assignments. Students are strongly encouraged to take the AP Exam in May. By passing the AP Exam a student may earn college credit.


Due to school restrictions in course scheduling, this course has been developed to accommodate students who have expressed an interest in completing the AP 2-D Design Portfolio, the AP 3-D Design Portfolio, or the AP Drawing Portfolio. The content for portfolio development is offered in a 55-minute class period fives days a week. All content meets the requirements as stated on the AP Studio Art Poster. Through direct instruction, students are encouraged to create a large body of high quality works, and are challenged to develop their own personal style. Therefore, the nature of the portfolio development allows for students to pursue individual interests while allowing me to support each student with individualized instruction as they work independently of one another on their portfolio of choice.

The AP Studio Art Portfolio courses are designed for students who are seriously interested in the practical experience of art and wish to develop mastery in the concept, composition, and execution of their ideas. These courses are not based on a written exam. At the end of the school year students submit portfolios for evaluation. Students are expected to meet a pre-planned portfolio development schedule to keep them on a pace suited for timely completion. This plan varies for each of the three portfolio options (see individual syllabi content). In developing their portfolio, students use a variety of concepts, techniques, and approaches designed to help them demonstrate their abilities as well as their versatility with techniques, problem solving, and the formulation of ideas. Students will develop a body of work for the Concentration section of the portfolio that investigates an idea that has personal meaning and interest to them.

Goals for the AP Studio Art course:

  • To encourage creative as well as systemic investigation of formal and conceptual issues in Quality, Concentration, and Breadth sections of the portfolio.
  • To emphasize the nature of the ongoing process of creating art that requires the student to be involved in informed critical decision making that leads to the development of ideas.
  • To make use of the visual elements and principles in compositional forms to develop technical skill and versatility.
  • To encourage and help students to become independent thinkers who will contribute inventively and critically to their culture through the creation of art.
  • To develop a thorough understanding of artistic integrity and what constitutes visual and conceptual plagiarism. As students explore stylistic and thematic ideas, they will be guided to create their own work so that it avoids duplication, redundancy, trite and overused images, and sentimentality.


Students are required to have taken and passed Studio Art I and II, with a grade 82 to 85% (B) or higher. Students are also recommended to take a minimum of one semester of Advanced Art although two semesters are recommended. Please discuss exceptions with the instructor.

Portfolio Sections:

The design of the portfolio sections addresses three major concerns that are a constant in the teaching of art:

  1. Quality-the student’s work must demonstrate a strong sense of quality.
  2. Concentration-the exploration of a particular visual interest or problem.
  3. Breadth-the need to have a breadth of experience in formal, technical, and expressive means of art.

These areas of concern drive the selection of activities to fulfill the portfolio imagery requirements.

To do this, all students will:

  • Choose which AP Studio Art course is appropriate for them and show an understanding of the focus selected.
  • Understand the difference between copying and appropriating another artist’s work; being sure to demonstrate manipulation of formal qualities, design, and/or concept of the original work.
  • Demonstrate a breadth of high level work in 12 pieces.
  • Develop a personal concentration of 12 pieces.
  • Select five highest quality pieces for presentation.
  • Write a description of the concentration.
  • Explore post-secondary options.

Skeletal Structure of AP Studio Art Courses

  • Units of study are presented to satisfy the breadth requirement of each portfolio-(First Semester).
  • Critiques (informal, individual and group) take place weekly, with constant display of current work (all year).
  • Through daily interactions, instruction and discussions students are assisted in the development of their concentration work (Second Semester).


Homework in the AP Studio courses resembles the workload and amount of out of class work that one would expect in any college level course. A good rule of thumb for planning homework is; for every hour of class time an hour of work should be done out of class. Project ideas and solutions should be worked out in a sketchbook both in and outside of class. The sketchbook should be an essential tool for recording ideas, visual information, working on compositional strategies and visual brainstorming. Sketchbooks should be with students throughout the day to take advantage of moments to record this information. Sketchbooks will be checked each nine weeks for progress, with a final grade given at the time of portfolio submission.

Attendance/ Open Studio

AP Studio Art requires excellent attendance and daily participation. The body of work required for portfolio submission requires dedication and perseverance. Being in class is a must.

Also, each week students will be expected to meet for extended studio time from 3:00-4:30 p.m. after school on Thursday. Most often this time will be unstructured to allow for independent work time. However, occasional structured figure drawing sessions will take place.


AP Studio Art Students are encouraged to participate in exhibitions and competitions throughout the school year. In March, the Annual Regional ESD 123 High School Art Show will take place. Students will be expected to contribute a minimum of two pieces to the exhibit.


During the first semester, assignments tend to be open-ended in nature and allow for a wide variety of approaches. All assignments have due dates, and students should make every effort to stick to the schedule. However, there are circumstances that cause particular assignments to be delayed in completion. While we do not wish to sacrifice quality for timeliness, it is important for the student to discuss possible delays and make arrangements for extensions.

Work is evaluated both as an in progress experience and as a finished visual statement. This is done through critiques with teachers and peers and by the use of the individual assignment rubrics and the AP Studio Art rubric, which are distributed to students before the assignment is given to establish grading criteria. Originality and artistic integrity are essential elements of the critique. As stated in the goals for AP Studio courses, students will create works that are devoid of plagiarism, and that have visual integrity.

Assessment Breakdown:

  • Portfolio Development (75%)
  • Finished work per quarter quota
  • Evaluated using individual assignments rubrics and scoring guidelines established by the College Board
  • Volume and quality of completed pieces

Studio Conduct (25%)

  • Attendance
  • Use of class time
  • Attendance to after school sessions
  • Participation in critiques and discussions
  • Proper and safe use of materials and equipment
  • Proper care of studio and clean-up duties


4.0 – 3.8 = A               3.7 – 3.4 = A-

3.3 – 3.2 = B+            3.0 – 2.8 = B

2.7 – 2.4 = B-             2.3 – 2.1 = C+

2.0 – 1.8 = C              1.7 – 1.4 = C-

1.3 – 1.1 = D+            1.0 – 0.9 = D

0.8– 0.7 = D-              0.6 –0.0 = F

Opportunities for making up class points are available on extended day Thursdays with teacher approval.

Summer Assignments

Keeping and maintaining a visual diary in your sketchbook is your summer assignment. You need to have it with you all the time, everyday and take it everywhere. I suggest you open it first thing in the morning, many times during the day, and then the last thing before you go to bed. Please draw, paint, glue things in it, cut and/or tear the pages, change the way it looks to make it your own. At the end of the summer it should reflect who you are, your experiences, thoughts, ideas and encounters over the summer. Working in your sketchbook is an ongoing process that will help you make informed and critical decisions about the progress of your work both now and in the future. Your sketchbook is the ideal spot to try out new concepts and techniques and to explore your personal style and develop your visual voice. Take risks—have verve and energy!!!

Sketchbook Rules:

  1. Avoid perfectionism. Let your sketches be imperfect, mistake ridden and be full of false starts. Follow your hand and don’t over analyze.
  2. ALWAYS fill the page you are working on-whether it is with one complete idea or many. Go off the edges, make every inch count.
  3. Do not start something and then abandon it. Go back later with a fresh eye. Rework it, change it, and turn it into something else.
  4. Always finish what you start no matter how much you don’t like it.
  5. Fill at least half of your sketchbook by the first day of school at the end of August.
  6. Date your work.
  7. DO NOT DRAW FROM PHOTOGRAPHS, magazines, etc. The use of published photographs or the work of other artists for duplication is plagiarism. Draw from observation, things you see in the world. Draw from imagination, things you think about the world.
  8. Avoid our no-no list: cute, pretty over done, trite imagery. You are working in a college level class. Think sophistication.

Ideas for Working in Your Sketchbook

  • Draw!—lots and lots and lots!!!
  • Use a variety of mediums-pencils, crayons, charcoal, colored pencil, pastel, oil pastel, watercolor, acrylic, markers, china pencils, conte crayon-everything and anything that can make a mark.
  • Draw what you see-no copies from photographs and other works of art. Do not plagiarize.
  • Make use of gesture, and line quality; use value, light and depth.
  • Use perspective.
  • Glue items of visual interest into your sketchbook-collage. Create images around, within and on these items.
  • Build up the pages with layering.
  • Paint on collaged pieces.
  • Attach textural items.
  • Really work on mastering concepts, compositional skills, and the execution and completion of your ideas.
  • Avoid easy solutions. Work the idea, make it sophisticated, push it as far as you can.
  • Interpret news stories and other information visually to express an idea.
  • Experiment with organic and geometric shapes, use overlapping, layering, and interlocking to create a successful composition.
  • Use yourself as a visual resource.
  • Draw yourself using distortion, Cubism or other styles.
  • Do observational gesture drawings of the figure-several each day!
  • Do observational contour drawings of your surroundings wherever you go. Do at least one a day.
  • Draw simple still lifes. Repeat the drawing, changing something in your approach each time.
  • Write! Explain what is working in your sketches and what is not.
  • Write about how your work and what you want to say with your work, and how you think your work impact viewer’s thoughts and feelings.
  • Keep your sketchbook to yourself so that you have the freedom (and privacy) to explore your world without judgment.  Free yourself to take risks.
  • Bring your sketchbook to class the first day of school. You will be able to share pages of your choice. Your sketchbook is your first grade for the class.

Preparing Work for the three AP Exam Sections

Instruction for the three sections of the exam will take place in the following order: Breadth with be addressed during the first semester of the year with the last week of the semester devoted to discussion of concentration topics and review of initial student ideas.

The second semester will encompass ongoing individual development of concentrations with an emphasis on process and materials. Breadth may be extended during this semester as well as more work is produced. Work for the Quality section will be chosen from the body of work created all year as we come close to the exam date. Work for this section can be selected at a late date because students continue to refine the quality of their work as they grow and develop throughout the school year.


First Semester: By the end of the third week in January students must have a minimum of eight slides (but 12-14 are recommended) that are intended for the Breadth section of the exam. If students are in Advanced Art as a pre-AP Studio Art class, they will work on Breadth pieces for the semester/year.  These selections will be representational of the strongest work resulting from in-class assignments, independent work, and work done in after-school classes and extended studio time. The last week of January students are to make a final decision concerning the subject of their concentration and begin the written statement that will accompany the Concentration section of their portfolio.

Second Semester: By mid-April, students must have a collection of 10 new slides (12-14 are recommended) from a variety of sources. A rough draft of their statement must accompany the slides.

May: All portfolio materials are assembled, sent electronically, and Quality work delivered.

For additional information on the AP Studio Art Portfolio requirements and examples of portfolios you can visit the College Board site to see the 2-D Portfolio here, the 3-D Portfolio here, and the Drawing Portfolio here.


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