What is Art and Design?

What is Art and Design?

Art and Design is a subject that is taught in primary school and secondary school. According to the national curriculum, a high-quality art and design education should engage, inspire and challenge pupils, equipping them with the knowledge and skills to experiment, invent and create their own works of art, craft and design.

The word ‘art’ encompasses vast swathes of human imagination and creativity. Visual art, painting and sculpture are the fields we most often associate with art, while music, film and a wide range of other disciplines also qualify.

‘Design’ refers to planning, coming up with ideas and putting in measures so that ideas become reality. Design includes architecture, engineering and production. It’s a broad field and all creative work depends on a good design process.

The key difference between art and design is that art is subjective and design is objective. Regardless of whether you think a building is beautiful or not, if it’s designed badly, it won’t function properly. Design has clear goals where art may not. Design aims to solve problems while art may function to create problems.

Despite the differences, the two fields are interconnected, and an understanding of both will allow you to support children when developing their own ideas in art and design!

What do children study in Art and Design?

The national curriculum aims to ensure that all pupils:

  • produce creative work, exploring their ideas and recording their experiences
  • become proficient in drawing, painting, sculpture and other art, craft and design techniques
  • evaluate and analyse creative works using the language of art, craft and design
  • know about great artists, craft makers and designers, and understand the historical and cultural development of their art forms

What do children gain from studying Art and Design?

Art and design makes future artists, designers, and creative professionals. They also benefit all students regardless of their main interests, because art:

  • Nurtures the imagination
  • Serves as a creative outlet
  • Encourages original artistic ideas
  • Develops visual perception
  • Is relaxing and enjoyable
  • Helps children explore their feelings
  • Improves fine motor skills
  • Is great for hand-eye coordination

What are the benefits of art for children?

Art can help children:

  • develop mentally, socially, and emotionally
  • develop creative problem-solving skills
  • feel more self-confident and proud of their creative achievements
  • understand difficult concepts by presenting them visually
  • with the development of motor skills, language skills, decision-making, risk-taking, and inventiveness
  • boost critical thinking, teaching children to take the time to be more careful and thorough in how they observe the world
  • connect with their own culture as well as with the wider world
  • develop creative thinking, independence, problem-solving, hand-eye coordination and communication

What equipment do I need to teach art and design?

There’s lots of great, useful equipment that can help with teaching Art and Design. Knowing what’s needed in advance can save time that would usually be spent on preparation.

Tools to draw

The first thing that’s needed when doing Art and Design is pencils. These are the best tools for drawing because you can rub it out easily if there’s a mistake. If you’ve got pencils then you need rubbers too, or you could get the pencils with rubbers on the top. Then it’s always good to have some pens handy. A good selection of felt tips will do perfectly and how about some coloured pencils too?

The next thing that’s needed is materials to draw on. When it comes to what material to draw on there’s tons of choices. First up is the classic A4 paper, this is available almost anywhere and a great for all Art and Design activities. If you’re thinking of painting then some thicker A4 sketching paper is a fantastic choice, then the paints are less likely to run through the sheets. The next two materials to draw on are also wonderful for painting, these are canvas and watercolour paper. Watercolour paper is designed so that the colours don’t run as much as normal paper and canvas is lovely for all purposes.

The last thing that’s needed is some imagination. Anyone can get creative, even if it’s just a few lines drawn with pencil it’s art. Anything you can put on paper can be art if you want it to, there’s no limits.

Painting with BBC Teach

KS1 Art and Design

During KS1 Art and Design children are taught:

  • to use a range of materials creatively to design and make products
  • to use drawing, painting and sculpture to develop and share their ideas, experiences and imagination
  • to develop a wide range of art and design techniques in using colour, pattern, texture, line, shape, form and space
  • about the work of a range of artists, craft makers and designers, describing the differences and similarities between different practices and disciplines and making links to their own work.

You can find the KS1 primary resources here.

KS2 Art and Design

During Key Stage 2, Art and Design is about fostering children’s creativity and imagination by building on their knowledge, skills and understanding of materials and processes, through providing more complex activities.

We’ve got resources that are created by teachers and specialists in line with the national curriculum, so teaching art for children at KS2 has never been easier.
In KS2, children will:

  • create sketchbooks to record their observations and use them to review and revisit ideas;
  • improve their mastery of art and design techniques, including drawing, painting and sculpture with a range of materials;
  • know about great artists, architects and designers in history.

Click on the curriculum criteria above to browse our linked teaching resources. You can access the primary resources for Art and Design here.

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