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Unit 2

2.1 Portfolio Skills and Requirements

5 min readoctober 28, 2020

Sherry Ross


So, what do I do and how do I do it?

Simply put, your "test" for AP Art and Design is the creation of a body of work. This work is called a portfolio. Artists use portfolios to show what they are capable of doing artistically. Your portfolio is what you will be scored on for your AP Art and Design "test". Unlike other tests, where you learn and are evaluated on what you remember on that day..... the AP Art and Design test is scored on the work you create over the extended period of time you are in the class.
There are two parts to the AP Art and Design portfolio, the Sustained Investigation and the Selected Works. Together, these two parts create your AP submission. You need to complete both parts. What you create for these parts depends on which portfolio (2D, 3D, or Draw) you are submitting. No matter what. you idea or your media, there are certain principles of design that are used to create cohesion in your work. These are used throughout Art and you will need to demonstrate them.

Skills That Should Be Used

According to the updated AP Art and Design Rubric published by the College Board, these are the elements and principles of design that you need to demonstrate in any of these portfolios:
Point, line, shape, plane, layer, form, space, texture, color, value, opacity, transparency, time; unity, variety, rhythm, movement, proportion, scale, balance, emphasis, contrast, repetition, figure/ground relationship, connection, juxtaposition, and hierarchy

Elements of Design

The elements of design are color, line, point, shape, texture, space, form, and unity/harmony. The College Board is also using plane and layer as elements since they are additional components dealing with the space of the elements. These elements are arranged in different and increasingly complex ways to create the principles of design.

Principles of Design

The principles of design revolve around HOW the elements of design are used within a piece of art to visually represent these ideas. Because of dimension, the principles of design for AP3D are slightly different than the principles of design for AP2D and Draw. View their differences in the following study guides:
📝Read: AP Studio Art - Principles of Design for AP2D and Draw
📝Read: AP Studio Art - Principles of Design for AP3D

AP Requirements

To give you a general idea of what this whole AP encompasses, here are the requirements:

Sustained Investigation (SI)

Submit 15 images that demonstrate:
  • Sustained investigation through practice, experimentation, and revision—The visual evidence that you used to practice, experiment, and revise throughout the extended period of your SI.
  • Sustained investigation of materials, processes, and ideas—Show the ways you explored different media or creative processes related to visually representing your idea. Make sure to also show how the idea evolved as you worked.
  • Synthesis of materials, processes, and ideas—The ability of all of your techniques, material choices, and ideas to work well together and integrate cohesively to demonstrate your ideas effectively.
  • 2D/3D/Drawing skills (depending on type of portfolio submitted)
State the following in writing:
  • Identify the inquiry or question(s) that guided your sustained investigation—Your guiding question is an idea that you EXPLORED, EXPANDED, and REVISED over a year-long investigation (hence the name Sustained Investigation) 🙌🏽. While it does not have to be written as a question, that might help you to think of the resulting work as being a direct answer to a question being posed.
  • Describe how your sustained investigation shows evidence of practice, experimentation, and revision guided by your inquiry or question(s) (1200 characters maximum, including spaces, for response to both prompts)—Here, you need to talk about your Guiding Question, what you did, how the work changed, and how it evolved over time.
Questions that guide the sustained investigation are typically formulated at the beginning of the portfolio development. Students should formulate their inquiry or question(s) based on their own experiences and ideas. These guiding questions should be documented and further developed by students throughout the sustained investigation.
Identify the following for each image:
  • Materials used (100 characters maximum, including spaces)—What did you use to make the art? This doesn't just have to be things like "paint". You can also say things like: used my original photos, mixed glazes to achieve (whatever special effect), harvested tree limbs, wove a fabric, etc. You should highlight any additional steps you used to create the work. This will help support your process section—the active thinking, planning, and creation of your art-making.
  • Processes used (100 characters maximum, including spaces)—This is more about your "what" and "how". Explanations can involve physical actions, such as "I painted", "I sketched", "I constructed". But they can also be thought-based, such as "I explored", "I mind-mapped", "I polled", "I examined", "I thought about", etc.
  • Size (height x width x depth in inches)—For images that document processes or show detail, students should enter "N/A" for size. For digital and virtual work, students should enter the size of the intended visual display.

Selected Works

Submit five work that demonstrate:
  • 2D/3D/Drawing skills (depending on your portfolio)
  • Synthesis of materials, processes, and ideas—The ability of all of your techniques, material choices, and ideas to work well together and integrate cohesively to demonstrate your ideas effectively.
For each work, state the following in writing:
  • Idea(s) visually evident (100 characters maximum, including spaces)—What was your intent? What you are trying to communicate? What is it you want your viewer to take away from viewing your art? State that here.
  • Materials used (100 characters maximum, including spaces)—What did you use to make the art? This doesn't just have to be things like "paint". You can also say things like: used my original photos, mixed glazes to achieve (whatever special effect), harvested tree limbs, wove a fabric, etc. You should highlight any additional steps you used to create the work. This will help support your process section—the active thinking, planning, and creation of your art-making.
  • Processes used (100 characters maximum, including spaces)—This is more about your "what" and "how". Explanations can involve physical actions, such as "I painted", "I sketched", "I constructed". But they can also be thought-based, such as "I explored", "I mind-mapped", "I polled", "I examined", "I thought about", etc.

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