As part of your Personal Investigation project, you are required to produce an essay that is linked to the theme of your practical project. Your project should be based around a topic you are passionate about, so you should have a lot to say about it! Below is a guide so you have an idea how to go about it.
The basics
  •  It must be between 1000-3000 words
  •  It must be continuous prose
  •  You must talk about all four of the assessment objectives
  •  It must contain a bibliography to help you avoid being accused of plagiarism.
  •  It should include images to help illustrate what you are saying in your writing.
How to begin
Once you have decided on your theme, you need to start researching around your theme. Use the Internet, books, magazines and talk to people who might know something about your ideas. You should then create a clear plan for your essay: introduction, discussion/argument, questions, conclusion.
Choosing a title
This is something many students leave until the end. Sometimes a title can limit you. Check out our guide to choosing an effective title here:
  •  What are the main themes and ideas that you’ve chosen to investigate in your project?
  •  Why have you chosen them?
  •  What do you hope to achieve?
The body of your essay will be a discussion/argument which can be organised in sections or parts.  
Contextual References / Artists/ Photographers
An important part of your essay will be to discuss how the artists (or other contextual references) have influenced you in your artistic journey. 
Write at least one paragraph for each artist, following these questions for each:
  •  Did you see their work in a gallery? If so, does it look better than in pictures?
  •  Who are they?
  •  Are they associated with a particular era of art history?
  •  What does their work look like and what do you like/dislike about their work?
  •  What ideas/techniques/processes/etc. might you take from their work and what might you discard?
Use the following headings to analyse artworks in detail:
  -  Content & Context –the subject of the work, concepts or meanings that can be read, as well as taking a wider view of when it was made and where it was seen
  -  Form –the formal elements (composition, shape/form, colour, line, tone, texture, scale, space, perspective, proportion, structure, techniques, processes and materials, etc.).
  -  Style –how its appearance may have been influenced by other art of the time or art from the main periods in art history.
  -  Process –how the work has been developed and made.
  -  Mood –the communication of moods and feelings in the work. Are there any conceptual aspects to the work that add meaning? (symbolism or representation).
If you can visit any art exhibitions relating to your chosen topic it will help to contextualise your work well in your essay. It isn't compulsory, but seeing art/photography in the real world is invaluable to having a successful creative career.
  •  What was it like? 
  •  Analyse some of the work you saw in as much depth as you can.
Your Artwork / The Journey
Discuss what you have learnt from undertaking this project. It is a process of discovery, so explain how your ideas evolved and changed as your investigation unfolded. 
  •  Having been inspired by a selection of artists, what are you going to do next?
  •  Are you going to take different things from each artist and add some ideas of your own?
  •  How are you going to experiment in order to create an exciting project that is both informed by your artists as well as personalised and made your own? Refer to the following:

            Experiments with different materials
            Experiments with different techniques and processes
          Experiments with different ideas
Your Final Piece / The Destination
  •  What have you decided to do for a final piece?
  •  How does your final piece reference each of the artists you studied?
  •  Which materials, techniques, processes and ideas did you decide to pursue from your experimentations and which did you decide to discard? Why?
  •  What are the main ideas/concepts/issues that you are communicating through your work?
  •  How is your final piece personal to you?
At the end of your essay you might wish to include some 'extras' that aren't included in the word count, but which you have referenced in your essay. For example, if you have analysed a work of art you might include it as an appendix with annotations over it. 
Below is an example of a poem that informed a previous student's project. It includes a little sketch at the bottom that illustrates her idea for a final piece composition.
If you read the poem above and the annotations, you will understand what significance of the different elements of her painting to the right.
A detailed guide to writing your essay:
Click on the image below for more guidance about the personal investigation essay.
Student Art Guide:
Click on the image below to see examples, help and guidance from the Student Art Guide website.