What Is Your Concentration?

"My interpretation of the concentration is that it explores a concept/theme and evolves and grows. I think the value is, that sometime during foundation year in college, the student needs to make some decisions about a path. Our job (as AP Art Teachers) is to start that process even if it results in an entirely different turn later on. The focus will change, but starting the focus is good for the rigor." Patti Knott AP Art Teacher

2- D and Drawing Concentrations that have been successful

From: Melissa Walker
  • Self-portraits with grid overlays/ variations within each grid.
  • Hands in various positions and media
  • Old barns in pastel
  • Reflections on a variety of surfaces
  • Digital collages combining old letters, polaroids and “dark” images
  • Insects with a colorful and humorous viewpoint
  • Expressive landscapes painted using specific color schemes
  • Eyes, a window to your soul
  • Flowers, from realistic evolving to abstract multi-media

From: Emily Faxon

  • Photos about human gesture and the expression of emotion
  • Anime-style self-portrait drawings
  • Street photography emphasizing composition with geometric forms
  • Photomontage to portray events of short duration
  • Painted abstractions derived from microscopic cellular structures
  • Photos inspired by a story about the first flower blooming on the site of the Cambodian "killing fields".
  • Oil pastel drawings of plant material juxtaposed with manmade objects.
  • Abstractions derived from still lifes (lives?) of household objects.
  • Ink drawings based on photographic portraits


From: Patti Knott

  • The body as landscape
  • Ugly (wasn’t so ugly at all – lots of mixed media and inspiration from Banksy)
  • Hands and feet
  • The skeleton/bones put into before/after situations
  • Social/political issues
  • Unusual environments
  • Masks (interpreted – how do we hide?)
  • War (inspired by a Viet Nam Vet, but grew to all conflicts)
  • Large close-ups of insects that evolved into very graphic interpretations
  • Light ---what is light?
  • Wings – how do we fly?
  • Music -- interpreted patterns and rhythms to graphic images
  • “Homeless” This student really went beyond in interpretation – not just how we usually think about homeless but, - an empty shell, an empty box, parts removed from a “whole” and what do we cherish or miss about calling something “home.”

From: Jill Webber

Coffee, simply based off the fact that her (student) whole life revolves around coffee. I was leery at first thinking it
would become boring and told her so but also told her it could be a fun challenge if she could think outside the box. It began with the expected and simple compositions but evolved into very different and beautiful drawings/paintings in which she found herself drinking coffee. I definitely think she could sell most of them to coffee houses!


Another student, who is going into animation, chose to do playground equipment. She sometimes took parts of or whole segments of playground equipment and animated them. They each took on a life of their own! They were incredibly interesting and really drew the class into her world of imagination! I will never look at playground equipment the same!


A few concentrations by my students that stand out to me. From: Monica Bryant
Student did a series of work based on places she visited that her deceased father had visited. Sometimes she photoshopped herself in sometimes her father. She used mixed media...photography, collage,painting for a drawing portfolio.

Water theme. Water as metaphor.

Documentary style photography of local veterans who fought in Afghanistan--2D Design.

Tattoo drawings

Animal shelter drawings


Here are a few that I have to add that can work out well...Shari Williams, Benton High School

Light and Shadow in Cityscapes - This one worked well because the student started with photos that he took on a trip to NYC. In his concentration, he used actual photos; he altered photos (transfers, layered with paint); he did a watercolour and a pastel of a couple of photos; he did a couple of works where he played with abstraction and arbitrary color...I just felt this concentration really allowed him to explore the used of value and color as well as composition and he had many pieces to chose from to send in.

Altered Art - In this one, the student took apart her own works of art and combined pieces to make new pieces incorporating various types of paper as well as media. She grew so much as an artist through this concentration because she started to see possibilities and work outside her comfort zone. She also ended up with more than enough work to be selective on what she sent in.

Expression and Gesture - I was not really happy with this student's effort, but thought it was a great idea. It started out well, but she blew it at the end by waiting to the last minute and trying to force work created outside the concentration into the concentration and by rushing other work. She wanted to study how artists convey personal feeling through color and gesture.....kind of answering the question ,what visual clues does a viewer pick up on to get the feeling or emotion the artist wants to elicit?



  1. Crushed objects that have been altered by the effect of gravity orhuman intervention.
  2. Things forgotten. Abandoned buildings, old train tracks, etc…
  3. Hands as an expression of feeling. Young to old…
  4. Surrealism and Dreams.
  5. Non-objective, or abstract designs based on different cultures and their mythology such as the Austrian Aborigines, etc.
  6. Evolution and or disintegration on an object.
  7. A close up view or extreme perspective.
  8. Seasonal changes.
  9. Inner landscapes
  10. Useless objectives
  11. Narrative self- portraits (illustrating a headache).
  12. Illustrating fears and other emotions.
  13. Duality and relationships; a comparison Man/woman, mother/child,light/dark.
  14. Generation gap
  15. llustrating folds and fabric with patterns.
  16. Human form in motion.
  17. Modern day fairy Tales – original story with illustrations.
  18. Original Comic book
  19. Making your own creative book.
  20. Structure in nature –insects.
  21. Circus – color, movement, excitement, etc.
  22. Time travel
  23. Transformation.
  24. Juxtaposition of objects.
  25. Reflections – metal, water, etc.
  26. Medical/scientific illustrations.
  27. Household appliances.27. Household appliances.
  28. Different kinds of shoes from different points of views.
  29. Types of costumes from different places – textiles from Indonesia.
  30. Nightmares.


From Eileen Mandell
From Digital Arts/Illustration:

  • Dance
  • Movement
  • Design from Nature/Nature as Design
  • Music
  • Packaging designs
  • Creating Design from Man-made Objects

Photography Concentrations:

  • Design in Architecture to Creation of Design from Architecture
  • Nature Close-ups/Abstractions from Nature
  • The Body as Shape
  • Lines/Creating Depth through Lines
  • Multiple Views/Hockney style

Jeanne Bjork, Art Educator- Pewaukee High School
Abandonment both places and people. Student works at a nursing home so some of the images had to do with that idea and some were of abandoned places. (2D Design: Photography)

Evolution of Illness: Student' s grandma had Parkinson's disease and so she illustrated through photographic collage, stitching and writing the process of that illness on her grandma's memory, physical ability. Each image (portrait of grandma) had a poem she'd written about the grandma interspersed. She printed images on silk organza and layered them with drawings that depicted anatomical body parts effected by the disease. The portrait became blurrier and blurrier with each image. (2D Design mixed media)

Identity: Hiding behind masks and other roles that we play, specifically women. The student started out photographing people wearing masks, but eventually move away from this and developed a broader interpretation of how we hide behind our roles as women "masking" who we are. (2D Design Photography)


Ruth Wilson

  • Illustrating a field trip to a historical farm emphasizing theantiques, tools, etc of the historical period.
  • Painting their friends in different historical time periods through costumesand settings. Each friend was illustrated in an era and costume that was theircurrent passion like dance, acting, etc.
  • Illustrating a story using an artistic style like fauvism

Beth Heisey

  • an examination of what is real or mirage using faces and masks
  • illustration of a story about a girl building a sailboat, losing it, and buying it back
  • freedom of expression: what it looks like
  • portraits of the everyday moods of my dog
  • overcoming depression
  • athletic trophy as empty compared to the fulfillment of running and playing soccer
  • resistance

Susan Kidera

  • Stillness (from a kid who was adhd)
  • Motion (from a kid who well....kind of a slug)
  • Seven deadly sins with the addition of her own 5
  • Textile design
  • The human figure as shape (graphic design)
  • bareness (both literal and metaphorical)
  • vegetables
  • the dramatic figure (figures with theatrical lighting)
  • dance movements from different cultures
  • Idiosyncrasies (portraits revealing this in her friends)

Elaine Strompolos

  • cultures - began with ethnic cultures expanded to includes tourists, homeless, etc
  • feather
  • loneliness/estrangement
  • Little Red Riding Hood illustrations
  • interpretations of famous Fairy Tales
  • micro views - which become abstractionmicro views - which become abstraction
  • body language
  • white Tshirt and a cap
  • loss of father - the missing person at seminal events
  • environmental consciousness
  • capturing the mood of music
  • capturing the rhythm of music
  • fabric textures

Judie Jacobs

  • a cross country meet
  • construction
  • road trip across the United States
  • rear view mirrors
  • glamorized 1940s jewelry
  • barriers
  • bras
  • members of my family through portraits of their feet
  • old fashioned circus
  • porches in my neighborhood
  • fashion and heavy machinery in rural Vermont
  • smaller than normal size

Chris Mason

  • Alice in Wonderland theme comparing parts of the story to a teenagers' life;
  • Items in nature and looking at the cell life and incorporating that as a patterned background;
  • Roller coasters and their structure turning it into abstract design
  • The jungle and concrete jungle-starting with the jungle and inserting
  • Elements of the city life taking over the jungle.

Audrey Brown

  • Flight ( these were extremely technical drawings and paintings which included sinking helicopters in the jungle as well as birds on a wire, ufo's over the southwest.
  • Winged Creatures- drawn in high detail-moths , bats, bees
  • Longboards -seen from 1 pt, 2pt 3 pt and 5 pt perspective
  • Color and Form in manmade play structures ( digital photography)
  • Landscapes from my route home from school.
  • Bottles
  • Groups of Friends
  • Telephone Poles

3D Design Ideas

Barb Cortese

  • Some successful examples from the past few years were:
  • Snakeskin as pattern on ceramic pottery (Wheel thrown)
  • Birds in flight constructed from found objects, exaggerating scale
  • Fences-What they divide
  • Retelling old stories-Repurposing old books

Lori Guntzel

  • Greek mythology (This should have been narrowed down to one mytholgical figure or story)
  • positive/negative space
  • nature taking over man-made objects
  • site-specific work (see Andy Goldsworthy)
  • wave formations in many diffferent media such as: clay, wire, wood, cardboard

Jennifer Brown

  • This year a student took Picasso's Guernica and brought individual aspects into 3D.