6 The Arts

EE Sample 6.1 - Paul Klee, CoBrA and children's art

The following extended essay has potential for scoring well on the assessment criteria because the research question is so carefully and effectively formulated. It reads: "What are the unique features of children’s art that inspired Paul Klee and the CoBrA artists, and how did they apply them to their own art?" 

Read the sample essay and assess it according to the criteria. Compare your marks to the examiner's marks. How do yours compare? What improvements could be made to this essay in light of the assessment criteria and the points made below ('when writing about the arts')?

When writing about the arts

There are a few points worth considering when writing an EE in the arts. Take these into consideration when reading the following essay: 

  • Be careful not to summarise secondary sources (i.e. history books on art).
  • Focus on applying theories and ideas on art to particular artists.
  • Avoid writing a biography on an artist.
  • There should be evidence of critical analysis of primary sources (i.e. artwork).
  • Try to come to a personal conclusion that is based on an orginial argument. 
Child's Bust by Paul Klee (1933)
A good essay on the arts will include primary sources. 

EE Sample 6.1 

Title: Paul Klee, CoBrA and children’s art
Research question: What are the unique features of children’s art that inspired Paul Klee and the CoBrA artists, and how did they apply them to their own art?
Word count: 3,851

Introduction

Paul Klee and some of those in the CoBrA movement were inspired by children’s drawings. This essay explores the features of children’s art and what it was in this art that inspired the artists. People have a general view that children’s art is not much more than ‘primitive’, whereas there is much more to read from one drawing. A child’s drawing may say so much about the well-being of the child or their thoughts. Modern artists have adapted these techniques and incorporated this into their own work. The guiding research question, “What are the unique features of children’s art that inspired Paul Klee and the CoBrA artists, and how did they apply them to their own art?” is worthy to study because everyone has been a child, and gone through the developmental stages of life, and we can relate to these drawings and to a certain extent understand the artists who use these drawings as a source for their own work. This essay addresses how and why artists have done so.

Different art styles stir people’s perception and appeal to their ‘sense of beauty’. When we observe art, we expect it to come from an artist, someone whose income depends on it; however there may be alternative ways to define an artist. For example, children’s art is sometimes seen as an exclusive style. Others disagree, and believe that children’s art is primitive, and merely a sign of a developing mind and brain. The similarities and differences of a true artist their art and children’s art will be analyzed and how this adds to the originality of the artist’s, such as Paul Klee and also the CoBrA artists’ style.

Introducing children’s art

For children, drawing and being creative is a natural skill. We aren’t taught how to make primitive scribbles on paper or how to express ourselves, but it is a human instinct, and we use it as a method to reflect our thoughts and feelings, even at the very first stages of life. Much research has been done by therapists on children’s art and its underlying meanings. Cathy A. Malchiodi states “In all my encounters with children, I have been repeatedly fascinated and surprised by what they communicate through their drawings and have learned a great deal about them through their art expressions.”[1]

Throughout our lives we undergo a metamorphosis from child to adult, and this counts for our art as well. We also undergo changes from being very young children to older children, where our scope of knowledge broadens. We notice this by looking at the art of children from different age groups. A very young child will have a different outcome than that of an older child. “Children…are compelled to make scribbles at young ages, are eventually capable of combining these elements in drawings with themes and personal meaning.”[2] Looking at children’s art is extremely interesting, but it remains a challenge, since children often express their thoughts and feelings through their art rather than verbally, and therefore we can usually only get to know details about an individual child by looking at one of their drawings. For example, a 10-year-old girl, Sasha, was asked to carry out an exercise. She was given an outline of a body and asked to fill it in by colouring and drawing how she was feeling. The result (figure 2) shows happiness due to the use of bright colours, the depiction of rainbows, flowers, a sun, smiley faces etc.[3]

Reading children through their art is also used in therapy, “Those who work with children realize that drawing is a child-appropriate form of communication, that it allows a level of comfort and a sense of safety sometimes not found through talk therapy alone, and can provide an alternative way of interacting with children in treatment.”[4] Figure 1 shows the drawing of a 6-year-old girl with leukemia, who drew images reflecting her feelings. This one shows all the red apples falling out of an apple tree, and a red spotted sun, this is a common depiction for children with leukemia.[5]          

Paul Klee

The German/ Swiss artist Paul Klee who lived, worked and struggled through the late 19th century to the early 20th century adopted some features of children’s art. Life was different for an artist then compared to now, especially since he had endured the First World War and was still able to create astounding works of art, which remain influential. Klee was influenced by expressionism, cubism and surrealism[7] and with these three styles he created a change in art for that time period, especially since he was living in an age where there was much conflict and grievance. Klee created new and unique works of art with much colour and abstractness and is now classified as a ‘modern artist’. Klee’s work was influenced by children’s art and this allowed for him to move away from the oppressive society and create his own exclusive style (see figure 3). Much of his work was based on his own drawings as a child, and later his son’s drawings which can be recognized in his works of art (figures 7 & 8, page 13). He was so influenced and inspired by children’s art more generally that “after Klee’s breakthrough in the art market at the end of WWI art critics … saw the ‘apparent awkwardness’ as a special quality in his art and they considered Klee to be an artist with the view of a child but the age of a man.”[8]

CoBrA art

Like Paul Klee, the CoBrA artists strived to achieve something different, in difficult times. The CoBrA movement came together after the Second World War. Some of the Dutch participants of the movement were already working as a group before that but it was only in 1948 that the movement was founded. The main members came from Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam, hence the letters in the word ‘CoBrA’ and included Asger Jorn (from Copenhagen), Joseph Noiret (from Brussels), Corneille and Karel Appel (from Amsterdam)[9]. Besides the usage of letters in the word ‘CoBrA’ to represent the country names, the literal connotation also relates to the actual movement. The dangerous snake ‘cobra’ referred to the meaning of the movement because it symbolized a new, unique and rebellious age in art. The members were taking a risk in starting something with spontaneity in such an oppressive time. CoBrA art also derived from the ‘Naïve art’, and shared many similarities, yet there was something fresh and different about CoBrA. CoBrA artists wanted to be spontaneous and to express themselves instead of painting and creating what the audience wanted, instead they did it for themselves, and again this showed signs for a new beginning. “The CoBrA artists painted directly and spontaneously. Just like children, they wanted to work expressively without a preconceived plan, using their fantasy and much colour.”[10] When a young painter starts his career, he is nervous and tries his best to compete with other young artists, whereas older artists paint mostly for themselves, and at that stage have developed their own style, CoBrA art was being the ‘old artist’ for the participants of the movement. The new movement allowed the artists to express themselves in a contemporary manner which nobody had seen before since they worked ‘spontaneously with much colour’. One of the main features which allowed CoBrA art to be different was that their inspiration mainly came from children’s art, which had never been done before except by Paul Klee (see Figures 4&5).

The reason for bringing both Klee and the CoBrA artists together is because they share their influences and worked similarly. “Just like Klee, Jorn and Corneille collected children’s drawings, which were an important source of inspiration for them.”[11] They both worked through times of struggle although Klee had developed himself and his art before the CoBrA movement was established.

Unique features of children’s art used as inspiration

The originality of children’s art often allows for it to be seen as an individual art style, even though some people may disagree. Children think and express in different manners than adults since they are not fully developed yet, which means their art is also very different to that of any adult artist, and this makes it more interesting for artists to use as a source for their inspiration. Language, communication, expression of inner feelings, and entertainment are some of the reasons why and how children create art. “Studies have shown that art created by children is a direct reflection of their inner worlds.”[13] Children’s art often allows subconscious communication between us as the viewer and the child. We are given information about the child’s feelings and emotions and they often don’t realize that they are presenting this through their art (see figures 1 & 2). Some artists have been captivated by children’s art because of its unique style. They are fascinated by it because children create with other purposes than adult artists; and because it varies from their own work. Artists create art with so much intention and so much thought, whereas a child creates merely for their own purposes yet still presents a scope of their inner thoughts and feelings. “Children bring their own unique thoughts, perceptions and feelings into their creative work”[14]

Many Modern artists, including Paul Klee and some of the CoBrA artists such as Karel Appel, Corneille and Constant, took their art to a new level and wanted to create and achieve something different than the art of their time. Paul Klee and some of the CoBrA artists shared something in common even though they had contrasting styles and ambitions. They both used the unique aspects of children’s art as their inspiration, but often also directly adopted them in their art which is repeatedly visible when observing their work. Spontaneity is one of the features both Klee and the CoBrA artist were seeking to achieve through their work and it is also part of what children use in their own art. “Klee strived for a synthesis, in which spontaneous creativity and controlled technique were not opposed but rather stimulated a creative process in which the artist did not abandon the simplicity of his childhood”[15] (see figures 3 & 8). In the art that children create, being spontaneous is not a purposeful act but rather more subconscious, since children create what is in their minds and this is one of the aspects which the artists would thrive to achieve in their own work. Yet the difference was a purposeful act from the artist and a non-purposeful act from the child. Klee stated “Don’t relate my work to that of children. These are two different worlds.... Don’t forget that the child knows nothing of art.”[16] Even Klee acknowledges that children create subconsciously. ‘Spontaneity’ was not the only feature of children’s art that artists such as Klee and some of the CoBrA artists used as inspiration for their own work. They were also intrigued by the freedom that children exploited in their art. Spontaneity and freedom are used in a complementary manner: they come together. Children also use spontaneity and freedom similarly. Children aren’t assigned and have no duty to create anything in particular and so they have the liberty to create whatever their mind cries out, and they use their freedom in a unique manner. It is again used subconsciously, since children are not aware that they have the liberty to create what they want and it allows the child to express themselves extensively, whereas an artist strives to have freedom. Klee and the CoBrA artists used the freedom that the child naturally obtains and expresses it in their art, and delivered that through their own work allowing the piece to be much more open, interactive and easier for the audience to look at, but it also portrayed a calm feeling since the artist wasn’t pressured to create something that society might or might not like. These aspects were the ones that created the unique styles of Klee and CoBrA. If an artist can use freedom in their work, they can also apply the spontaneity. “In the obituary for Klee and Helhesten in 1941 Carl-Henning Pederson describes Klee as a bridge-builder between the primitive past and a new, experimental art, but also as someone announcing a future in which art is free and artists (and non-artists) can create art as unchained spirits.”[17]

Other techniques that children use which further inspired Klee and the CoBrA artists are the colours, the style, the angles, the abstractness (sense of perception) and the composition (see figures 3 & 6). Children are not always aware of what and how they create, however what they are creating reflects their inner thoughts and feelings, which means that often the colours or composition of their art reflects on their emotions and well-being. “There are usually three ways that children arrive at the images they draw: memory, imagination and life.”[18] What the child creates often gives a direct insight into how the child is feeling. As people mature and develop their mind and brain they begin to view things differently, and as a child the undeveloped mind does not view life as adults do, and artists want to adapt that trait because it’s different. Upon looking at a child’s works of art we notice that their sense of perception seems distorted, but this is how they view life. Furthermore they are not able to correctly note reality as directly as an adult or an artist would. That is what makes the distinction between primitive and non-primitive art. Klee and other modern artists are perfectly able to sketch and draw accurately and realistically. However since they were influenced by children’s art, they started distorting the perception of their own art purposefully, to make it different and interesting, and that is exactly what art should be. The artists who used children’s art as their inspiration did not want to be naïve. Rather they wanted to show the expression and emotion that a child shows through their art. “The CoBrA artists did not want to be naïve, but were fascinated by children’s affinity with the living emotions of the unconscious mind.”[19] The naïve side of children’s art is what makes it unique because they don’t know the complicated aspects of reality and will only grow to learn this; however the child’s naïve character allows for their art to remain pure. Children also often use many vibrant colours, thick lines defining each individual shape, and very often don’t incorporate shades or highlights which creates a more unrealistic image. These are only some of the unique traits that artists like Klee and Appel have used to base their own work on (see figure 5).

Figure 5 shows one of Karel Appel’s famous paintings, which is displayed in the CoBrA museum in Amsterdam and titled ‘Man and Animals’. It was created on canvas with oil paint. We are now aware that various modern artists used children’s art as their inspiration; however it is difficult to visualize how they applied it to their own art, unless observing one of the artist’s pieces, such as the one above. Some of the characteristics from children’s art, such as the use of vibrant colours, have been used in the modern artists’ work which is clear in ‘man and animals’. Appel has used a vibrant shade of blue for many parts of the animal’s body, and around the man’s eyes. Appel used varying colours just like a child. The vibrant blue contrasts with the bright yellow dramatically. These colours reflect emotions or feelings which he tried to portray, children similarly do so when creating art. In this painting Appel has also created many distorted figures. Although we recognize what the shapes are, they don’t add up to reality. As established earlier, children also tend to create distorted drawings, since they aren’t fully aware of the proportions of reality. Apple created evident separating lines between each figure, just as children do and this allows for it to seem primitive, or naïve. Another feature which Appel has adapted from children’s art is the lack of highlights or shadows in the painting, which have purposefully been avoided, again creating a primitive-like feeling, which adds onto the paintings abstractness, since it doesn’t allow for there to be any realistic or three dimensional shapes looking shape.

The psychology of a child is one of the most influential features of a child’s art because a child is not aware of the insight they are delivering to their audience into their well-being. The modern artists using children’s art as their inspiration found many techniques and features which would be adapted in their own work, and the whole psychology behind children’s art allows the topic to be more intense and allows the artist to use their art in different forms. Klee discovered this later “During his Bauhaus period the child theme in Klee’s work is usually in a symbolic or poetic context; only at the end of the 1920s is there an increased interest in the psychology of childlike behavioral and relational patters.”[21]  Paul Klee used children’s drawings to his full advantage and incorporated them into his work as well as using them for his inspiration, since he first used his own drawings from when he was a child, and later got inspired from his son, Felix’s work (see figs 7 & 8). This allowed him to have a psychological and emotional connection to his work, because it was personal. Some of the members in the CoBrA movement such as Karel Appel, likewise used children’s art in a personal manner. Appel portrayed this through his project ‘Questioning Children’ which was a series of works inspired by the homeless children he had seen by the roadside in Germany after the Second World War (see figure 6). He had taken an aspect which affected him and applied it to his art. Appel literally used children for his work, and used their art as an influence for his own art. A child’s psychology is interesting even on its own, however when the child includes that into its art it makes it even more interesting, because we can see what the child is thinking and experiencing. Therapists, like some artists take advantage of this, since sometimes it’s easier to read a child’s art than to question him and allow them to express themselves verbally. Klee and the CoBrA artists used the child’s psychology as a large part of what they were influenced by. Some of the artists also incorporated their own thoughts, feelings, emotions and memories into their art. This allowed for their work to be much more interesting, because it contains a deeper underlying meaning, which the artist’s audience can interpret in any way they want to.

Conclusion

In the past children’s art has never been explored by artists as much as it was in the period when Klee and some of the modern artists from the CoBrA movement had done so. It is evident that the influence of children’s art had something to do with the rebellious period of time during and after the First and Second World Wars because that is when it was introduced and intensely applied to some of the work the modern artists had created. Children think differently to the adults and this made it more interesting for the artists to use the children’s art as inspiration. Klee and the other modern artists applied the features of children’s art to their own by collecting many children’s drawings and studying them. “Just like Klee, Jorn and Corneille collected children’s drawings, which were an important source of inspiration for them.”[25] To conclude, Klee and some of the CoBrA artists were inspired by the unique features of children’s art, such as the vibrant colours, composition, style, and the perception; however the freedom, spontaneity and the expression and emotion was what attracted the artists the most. The artist’s applied these unique features to their own art by embodying the character and mind set of the child to create art with similar intentions which would allow for a new, unique and diverse art style, also allowing for these artists to move away from their oppressed society.

Bibliography

Books:

  • Malchiodi, Cathy A. Understanding Children's Drawings. New York: Guilford, 1998. Print.
  • Baumgartner, Michael, Kirsten Degel, Katja Weitering, Els Drummen, and Lieke Feijen. Klee En Cobra: Het Begint Als Kind. [Antwerpen]: Ludion, 2012. Print.

Museums:

  • The Cobra museum for modern art, Amstelveen (Amsterdam)
  • Het Stedelijk museum Amsterdam

Internet:

  • Saylor, Donn. "The Psychology of Children's Art." EHow. Demand Media, 04 Sept. 2009. Web. 20 Oct. 2012. <http://www.ehow.com/about_5378055_psychology-childrens-art.html>.
  • "Paul Klee." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 20 Oct. 2012. Web. 20 Oct. 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Klee>.
  • "Schools." CoBrA. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2012. <http://www.cobra-museum.nl/en/cobra.html>.

Art works (in order of appearance):

  1. Karel Appel’s drawing in coloured pencil, no title (1949) Baumgartner, Michael, Kirsten Degel, Katja Weitering, Els Drummen, and Lieke Feijen. Klee En Cobra: Het Begint Als Kind. [Antwerpen]: Ludion, 2012. Print. (page 39)
  2. A six-year-old leukemia patient from the book, Malchiodi, Cathy A. Understanding Children's Drawings. New York: Guilford, 1998. Print.
  3. A 10 year-olds drawing with coloured pencil (2012) from own research
  4. Klee, Paul. Child's Bust. 1933. N.p.
  5. Corneille. Fete Nocturne. N.d. Oil on canvas. Cobra Art Museum of Modern Art, Amsterdam.
  6. Appel, Karel. Man and Animals. N.d. Cobra Museum of Modern Art, Amsterdam.
  7. Appel, Karel. Questioning Children. N.d. Het Setedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Amsterdam.
  8. Klee, Felix. Landscape, Train and Sea. N.d. N.p. (1913)
  9. Klee, Paul. Railroad Train. 1939. N.p.

Footnotes


[1]Malchiodi, Cathy A. Understanding Children's Drawings. New York: Guilford, 1998. Print. (page xi)

[2] Malchiodi, Cathy A. Understanding Children's Drawings. New York: Guilford, 1998. Print. (page 64)

[3] Experiment carried out by author

[4]Malchiodi, Cathy A. Understanding Children's Drawings. New York: Guilford, 1998. Print. (page xiii)

[5] Malchiodi, Cathy A. Understanding Children's Drawings. New York: Guilford, 1998. Print. (page 199-120)

[6] Malchiodi, Cathy A. Understanding Children's Drawings. New York: Guilford, 1998. Print. (page 199-120)

[7] "Paul Klee." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 20 Oct. 2012. Web. 20 Oct. 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Klee>.

[8] Baumgartner, Michael, Kirsten Degel, Katja Weitering, Els Drummen, and Lieke Feijen. Klee En Cobra: Het Begint Als Kind. [Antwerpen]: Ludion, 2012. Print. (Page 14 )

[9] "Schools." CoBrA. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2012. <http://www.cobra-museum.nl/en/cobra.html>.

[10] "Schools." CoBrA. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2012. <http://www.cobra-museum.nl/en/cobra.html>.

[11]   Baumgartner, Michael, Kirsten Degel, Katja Weitering, Els Drummen, and Lieke Feijen. Klee En Cobra: Het Begint Als Kind. [Antwerpen]: Ludion, 2012. (Page 8)

[12] "Collection." Collection. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Dec. 2012.

[13] Saylor, Donn. "The Psychology of Children's Art." EHow. Demand Media, 04 Sept. 2009. Web. 20 Oct. 2012. <http://www.ehow.com/about_5378055_psychology-childrens-art.html>.

[14]Malchiodi, Cathy A. Understanding Children's Drawings. New York: Guilford, 1998. Print. (page 40)

[15] Baumgartner, Michael, Kirsten Degel, Katja Weitering, Els Drummen, and Lieke Feijen. Klee En Cobra: Het Begint Als Kind. [Antwerpen]: Ludion, 2012. Print. (Page 14)

[16] Baumgartner, Michael, Kirsten Degel, Katja Weitering, Els Drummen, and Lieke Feijen. Klee En Cobra: Het Begint Als Kind. [Antwerpen]: Ludion, 2012. Print. (page 15)

[17] Baumgartner, Michael, Kirsten Degel, Katja Weitering, Els Drummen, and Lieke Feijen. Klee En Cobra: Het Begint Als Kind. [Antwerpen]: Ludion, 2012. Print. (page 42)

[18] Malchiodi, Cathy A. Understanding Children's Drawings. New York: Guilford, 1998. Print. (page 20)

[19] Baumgartner, Michael, Kirsten Degel, Katja Weitering, Els Drummen, and Lieke Feijen. Klee En Cobra: Het Begint Als Kind. [Antwerpen]: Ludion, 2012. Print. (page 28)

[20] Cobra museum of modern art Amstelveen (Amsterdam)

[21] Baumgartner, Michael, Kirsten Degel, Katja Weitering, Els Drummen, and Lieke Feijen. Klee En Cobra: Het Begint Als Kind. [Antwerpen]: Ludion, 2012. Print. (page 15)

[22] "Google Afbeeldingen." Google Afbeeldingen. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Dec. 2012. ( Het stedelijk museum Amsterdam)

[23] Baumgartner, Michael, Kirsten Degel, Katja Weitering, Els Drummen, and Lieke Feijen. Klee En Cobra: Het Begint Als Kind. [Antwerpen]: Ludion, 2012. Print. (page 19)

[24] Baumgartner, Michael, Kirsten Degel, Katja Weitering, Els Drummen, and Lieke Feijen. Klee En Cobra: Het Begint Als Kind. [Antwerpen]: Ludion, 2012. Print. (page 19)

[25]   Baumgartner, Michael, Kirsten Degel, Katja Weitering, Els Drummen, and Lieke Feijen. Klee En Cobra: Het Begint Als Kind. [Antwerpen]: Ludion, 2012. Print. (page 8)

EE Sample 6.1 - RPPF 

RPPF

Student's comments

First
reflection

Children’s art is not well known as a source of inspiration for artists, since it is often not seen as art. However the CoBrA artists recognized the unique aspects of children’s art. I know that they used it as a source inspiration for their own work, because I learned about this during a visit to the CoBrA Museum in Amstelveen. In this light, I wonder how children’s art inspired the CoBrA artists. I also have an aunt who is a child psychologist, and I know that she uses children’s drawings as a means of getting to know her patients. I wonder what she would think of these works of art by, Noiret, Appel and Corneille. I have spoken with my supervisor, who is my visual arts teacher. She has suggested that I go to the CoBrA Museum again, visit the Stedelijk Museum as well, do some simple online research, and try to formulate a good research question for the next session. (161 words)

Interim
reflection

I have narrowed down my research question, with the help of my supervisor. At first I wanted to study CoBrA works as a backlash to the WWII, inspired by Paul Klee and his view of WWI. I wanted to do a pyscho-analysis of their works of art, as a modern-day psychologist would analyse children’s drawings. My supervisor’s advice, to ‘keep it simple’, led me to focus more on the works of one artist, Paul Klee. She also told me that there’s a special exhibition going on there now on his work specifically. I’ve already seen some of his works online through a simple Google search, and I’m fascinated by his use of simple abstractions, light and colour. I’m going to focus on the exact aspects of children’s art that inspired him, such as the importance of memory, imagination and life, and show how his art inspired other artists during the CoBrA movement. My aunt has helped me acquire some typical drawings made by children, and we’ve had conversations about what typifies children’s style. I will go back to the CoBrA Museum to find evidence of this style in Klee’s artwork this weekend. (192 words)

Final
reflection
(viva voce)

After I visited the Paul Klee exhibition in Amstelveen, the essay seemed to write itself. It was difficult to narrow down my research to a few paintings, because there were so many great ones. At first I went a little overboard on Klee, and my supervisor reminded me to connect him to later CoBrA artists. I found that it was easy to comment on Karel Appel though, because it’s so easy to see how he was inspired by Klee, and how Klee was inspired by children’s art. I also found it easier to write the essay once I knew that I would focus on certain aspects of children’s art that were typical of their drawings, such as spontaneity, freedom, colours, style and angles. Once I broke down my EE into smaller chunks of research and writing, I found it easier to write. (142 words)

Teacher's comments

I think ----- did a great job on her extended essay. At first I had to steer her in the right direction. I was worried that after she talked to her aunt about children’s art, that this essay would turn into an essay on child psychology. I knew she had been to the CoBrA Museum. In class we had talked about the CoBrA movement and Karel Appel. I could tell she was enthusiastic, but her understanding of the era was rather simplistic and reductive at first. I’m happy she went back to the museum again and found the Paul Klee exhibition so useful for her essay. Her knowledge and understanding of how children’s art inspired Paul Klee grew through discussion and research. Inserting a few works of art into her essay helped her keep focused. In the end I felt she was consistently relevant in answering her research question. It was a pleasure working with her. 

EE Assessment criteria

Criterion A: Focus and method

Level 0

The work does not reach a standard outlined by the descriptors below.

Level 1-2

The topic is communicated unclearly and incompletely.

  • Identification and explanation of the topic is limited; the purpose and focus of the research is unclear, or does not lend itself to a systematic investigation in the subject for which it is registered.

The research question is stated but not clearly expressed or too broad.

  • The research question is too broad in scope to be treated effectively within the word limit and requirements of the task, or does not lend itself to a systematic investigation in the subject for which it is registered.
  • The intent of the research question is understood but has not been clearly expressed and/or the discussion of the essay is not focused on the research question.

Methodology of the research is limited.

  • The source(s) and/or method(s) to be used are limited in range given the topic and research question.
  • There is limited evidence that their selection was informed.

Level 3-4

The topic is communicated.

  • Identification and explanation of the research topic is communicated; the purpose and focus of the research is adequately clear, but only partially appropriate.

The research question is clearly stated but only partially focused.

  • The research question is clear but the discussion in the essay is only partially focused and connected to the research question.

Methodology of the research is mostly complete.

  • Source(s) and/or method(s) to be used are generally relevant and appropriate given the topic and research question.
  • There is some evidence that their selection(s) was informed.

If the topic or research question is deemed inappropriate for the subject in which the essay is registered no more than four marks can be awarded for this criterion.

Level 5-6

The topic is communicated accurately and effectively.

  • The research is clear and appropriate.

The research question is clearly stated and focused.

  • The research question is clear and addresses an issue of research that is appropriately connected to the discussion in the essay.

Methodology of the research is complete.

  • An appropriate range of relevant source(s) and/or method(s) have been applied in relation to the topic and research question.
  • There is evidence of effective and informed selection of sources and/or methods.

Criterion B: Knowledge and understanding

Level 0

The work does not reach a standard outlined by the descriptors below.

Level 1-2

Knowledge and understanding is limited.

  • The selection of source material has limited relevance and is only partially appropriate to the research question.
  • Knowledge of the topic/discipline(s)/issue is anecdotal, unstructured and mostly descriptive with sources not effectively being used.

Use of terminology and concepts is unclear and limited.

  • Subject-specific terminology and/or concepts are either missing or inaccurate, demonstrating limited knowledge and understanding.

Level 3-4

Knowledge and understanding is good.

  • The selection of source material is mostly relevant and appropriate to the research question.
  • Knowledge of the topic/discipline(s)/issue is clear; there is an understanding of the sources used but their application is only partially effective.

Use of terminology and concepts is adequate.

  • The use of subject-specific terminology and concepts is mostly accurate, demonstrating an appropriate level of knowledge and understanding.

If the topic or research question is deemed inappropriate for the subject in which the essay is registered no more than four marks can be awarded for this criterion.

Level 5-6

Knowledge and understanding is excellent.

  • The selection of source materials is clearly relevant and appropriate to the research question.
  • Knowledge of the topic/discipline(s)/issue is clear and coherent and sources are used effectively and with understanding.

Use of terminology and concepts is good.

  • The use of subject-specific terminology and concepts is accurate and consistent, demonstrating effective knowledge and understanding

Criterion C: Critical thinking

Level 0 

The work does not reach a standard outlined by the descriptors below.

Level 1-3

The research is limited.

  • The research presented is limited and its application is not clearly relevant to the RQ.

Analysis is limited.

  • There is limited analysis.
  • Where there are conclusions to individual points of analysis these are limited and not consistent with the evidence.

Discussion/evaluation is limited.

  • An argument is outlined but this is limited, incomplete, descriptive or narrative in nature.
  • The construction of an argument is unclear and/or incoherent in structure hindering understanding.
  • Where there is a final conclusion, it is limited and not consistent with the arguments/evidence presented.
  • There is an attempt to evaluate the research, but this is superficial.

If the topic or research question is deemed inappropriate for the subject in which the essay is registered no more than three marks can be awarded for this criterion.

Level 4-6

The research is adequate.

  • Some research presented is appropriate and its application is partially relevant to the Research question.

Analysis is adequate.

  • There is analysis but this is only partially relevant to the research question; the inclusion of irrelevant research detracts from the quality of the argument.
  • Any conclusions to individual points of analysis are only partially supported by the evidence.

Discussion/evaluation is adequate.

  • An argument explains the research but the reasoning contains inconsistencies.
  • The argument may lack clarity and coherence but this does not significantly hinder understanding.
  • Where there is a final or summative conclusion, this is only partially consistent with the arguments/evidence presented.
  • The research has been evaluated but not critically.

Level 7-9

The research is good.

  • The majority of the research is appropriate and its application is clearly relevant to the research question.

Analysis is good.

  • The research is analysed in a way that is clearly relevant to the research question; the inclusion of less relevant research rarely detracts from the quality of the overall analysis .
  • Conclusions to individual points of analysis are supported by the evidence but there are some minor inconsistencies.

Discussion/evaluation is good.

  • An effective reasoned argument is developed from the research, with a conclusion supported by the evidence presented.
  • This reasoned argument is clearly structured and coherent and supported by a final or summative conclusion; minor inconsistencies may hinder the strength of the overall argument.
  • The research has been evaluated, and this is partially critical.

Level 10-12

The research is excellent.

  • The research is appropriate to the research question and its application is consistently relevant.

Analysis is excellent.

  • The research is analysed effectively and clearly focused on the research question; the inclusion of less relevant research does not significantly detract from the quality of the overall analysis.
  • Conclusions to individual points of analysis are effectively supported by the evidence.

Discussion/evaluation is excellent.

  • An effective and focused reasoned argument is developed from the research with a conclusion reflective of the evidence presented.
  • This reasoned argument is well structured and coherent; any minor inconsistencies do not hinder the strength of the overall argument or the final or summative conclusion.
  • The research has been critically evaluated.

Criterion D: Formal presentation

Level 0

The work does not reach a standard outlined by the descriptors below.

Level 1-2

Presentation is acceptable.

  • The structure of the essay is generally appropriate in terms of the expected conventions for the topic, argument and subject in which the essay is registered.
  • Some layout considerations may be missing or applied incorrectly.
  • Weaknesses in the structure and/or layout do not significantly impact the reading, understanding or evaluation of the extended essay.

Level 3-4

Presentation is good.

  • The structure of the essay clearly is appropriate in terms of the expected conventions for the topic, the argument and subject in which the essay is registered.
  • Layout considerations are present and applied correctly.
  • The structure and layout support the reading, understanding and evaluation of the extended essay.

Criterion E: Engagement 

Level 0

The work does not reach a standard outlined by the descriptors below.

Level 1-2

Engagement is limited.

  • Reflections on decision-making and planning are mostly descriptive.
  • These reflections communicate a limited degree of personal engagement with the research focus and/or research process.

Level 3-4

Engagement is good.

  • Reflections on decision-making and planning are analytical and include reference to conceptual understanding and skill development.
  • These reflections communicate a moderate degree of personal engagement with the research focus and process of research, demonstrating some intellectual initiative.

Level 5-6

Engagement is excellent.

  • Reflections on decision-making and planning are evaluative and include reference to the student’s capacity to consider actions and ideas in response to setbacks experienced in the research process.
  • These reflections communicate a high degree of intellectual and personal engagement with the research focus and process of research, demonstrating authenticity, intellectual initiative and/or creative approach in the student voice.

EE Sample 6.1 - Examiner's comments and marks

Criterion A – Focus and method

3 out of 6
 The topic is communicated. The candidate aims to show how the CoBrA artists were inspired by children’s art. The research question is clearly stated but the focus of the essay drifts away from the question, by exploring child psychology and generalising about the spontaneity of the artists. The method of this research is not clearly communicated. It seems that the candidate has read secondary sources and visited museums to experience the primary sources, but this process has not been made explicit. The candidate rarely analyses the primary sources. They are added to the essay as figures, but not explored in depth in the essay.

Criterion B – Knowledge and understanding
4 out of 6 - The candidate has good knowledge and understanding of the subject. The selection of the material is mostly relevant and appropriate to the research question. The drawings and paintings made by both the artists and the children are perfect illustrations. Unfortunately, the application of subject-specific knowledge to these works is rather limited. While terms like ‘naïve’ and ‘abstract’ are appropriate, there is room for deeper analysis. Furthermore, there is not much understanding of how Klee and CoBrA were received in their times.  

Criterion C – Critical thinking
6 out of 12  While the candidate clearly presents her research, a strong argument or conclusion is not constructed. Many of the statements seem to be ‘for your information’ only. There are quite a few generalisations, such as “children think and express in different manners than adults.” The page on Paul Klee is very descriptive, and the page on children’s psychology is rather open-ended. There is some analysis of Appel’s ‘Man and animals’ (Figure 5), which connect the arguments about primary colours and post-war trauma to the influence of children’s art. However, the essay has missed the opportunity to do more of this. Figure 8, the example of Klee’s train, is not explored in the essay, which is a missed chance to comment on how his child-like drawings were received in his times. 

Criterion D - Presentation
4 out of 4
- The candidate has used a clear layout and presentation. The table of contents, the use of figures and footnotes help the reader of the essay. 

Criterion E - Engagement

5 out of 6 
– It is clear that the student has an interest in the topic. The RPPF shows how the focus of the research and writing gradually became more focused on a particular artist, style and time period. While the supervisor admits to ‘steering’ the candidate, the candidate also sees the advantage of narrowing the scope of her question.