Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Visual Arts

Print this page

Learning in Visual Arts

Learning in Visual Arts involves students making and responding to artworks, drawing on the world as a source of ideas. Students engage with and develop knowledge of visual arts, skills, techniques and processes, and use materials as they explore a range of forms, styles and contexts.

Through Visual Arts, students learn to reflect critically on their own experiences and responses to the work of artists, craftspeople and designers and to develop their own arts’ knowledge. They learn, with growing sophistication, to express and communicate experiences through and about visual arts.

Students apply their knowledge and understanding through the appropriate and skilful use of visual arts practices. As students progress through the levels of Visual Arts, their knowledge, understanding and practice as artists and viewers increases through exposure to a breadth of artists, craftspeople and designers. Students engage with artworks, visual arts ideas, practices, histories and theories. They discover new ways of representing and expressing their observations, ideas and imagination.

Through learning in Visual Arts, students consider how cultures and societies shape visual arts practice and how artists and viewers contribute to a creative society. They consider how historical forces and critical commentators shape the contribution of artistic ideas to society and culture. Students learn how formative contexts such as personal experience, family, education systems, values, beliefs, culture, class and society shapes the visual arts practices of both artists and viewers.

Through learning in Visual Arts, students consider how cultures and societies, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and histories, shape visual arts practice and how artists and viewers contribute to a creative society. 

For advice about how schools might implement the curriculum respectfully and with cultural awareness and understanding, please refer to the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Inc (VAEAI) Protocols for Koorie Education in Victorian Primary and Secondary schools and the Department of Education and Training's Koorie Cross-Curricular Protocols (click here for a PDF copy). 

Making and Responding in Visual Arts

Common to all The Arts curriculum, each Arts discipline incorporates two interrelated principles:

  • Students learn as artist and viewer
  • Students learn through making and responding.

Making includes learning about and using knowledge, skills, techniques, processes, materials and technologies in visual arts practices, and to make visual artworks that express ideas and intentions.Making involves students expressing their ideas and intended meanings in different art forms. They explore experiences, ideas and feelings through making visual artworks in different art forms and styles. They develop knowledge, understanding and skills as they learn and apply techniques and processes using materials to achieve their intentions in two-dimensional (2D), three-dimensional (3D) and four-dimensional (4D) forms.

Responding includes exploring, analysing and interpreting artworks. Students discuss, analyse, appreciate, interpret and evaluate artworks and the practices used to create them. They view the exhibition of artworks in different locations and cultures and develop an understanding of the values and belief systems of the artists, communities and cultures that have created artworks. Students develop an understanding of aesthetic knowledge when they view artworks and view, discuss and evaluate the characteristics of artworks from different cultures, locations and periods of time.

Making and Responding are intrinsically connected. Together they form the practice of an artist and provide students with knowledge, understanding and skills as artist and viewer. As students make they consider both the viewer and their own response to the developing artworks as an artist. As students respond to artworks, they draw on the knowledge, understanding and skills acquired through their experiences in making artworks. Both making and responding involve developing practical and critical understandings of the intentions of an artist to communicate meaning and how viewers analyse, interpret and evaluate artworks. Students consider the critical and affective potential visual arts through both making and responding. They use critical analysis to refine their own artistic endeavours, developing expertise and increasing aesthetic expression.

Visual conventions

Students explore traditional, contemporary and evolving visual conventions used in artworks of diverse styles and composition. These may include combinations of the:

  • conventions such as composition and style, the art elements of line, shape, colour, tone, texture, form, sound, light and time
  • art principles of emphasis, movement, rhythm, unity, variety, space, repetition, balance, contrast and scale.


In both Making and Responding, students learn that meanings can be generated from different viewpoints and perspectives and that these shift according to different world encounters. As students make, investigate or critique artworks as artists and viewers, they may ask and answer questions to interrogate the artists’ intended meanings and the viewers’ interpretations. Meanings and interpretations are informed by the contexts of societies, cultures and histories, and an understanding of visual arts practices. These questions provide the basis for making informed critical judgments about their own art and design works and other artworks they see, hear and interact with as viewers.

The complexity and sophistication of such questions will change across Foundation to Level 10. In the later years, students will consider the interests and concerns of artists and viewers regarding time, place, philosophies and ideologies, critical theories, institutions and psychology.

Techniques and processes

Through Making and Responding, students develop knowledge, skills and understanding of their art making by becoming increasingly proficient with art, craft and design techniques and processes. As they progress in Visual Arts, students develop perceptual skills in observation and the ability to respond and view artworks critically. Students develop the conceptual capacity to develop ideas and express them visually. They identify, analyse and interpret meaning in artworks from diverse contexts. They develop communication skills as they intentionally plan, design and make artworks for various viewers. As they progress through the bands, students develop technical proficiency and expertise with materials and techniques and become skilful practitioners.


In developing knowledge and skills in Visual Arts, students learn to manipulate and adapt a wide range of physical materials and technologies. These may include traditional materials such as paint, dyes, charcoal and ink, and contemporary or emerging materials, such as digital media, the body and sound.

Information Communication Technologies and The Arts

Information Communication Technologies (ICT) are powerful tools that can support student learning. Students can develop and demonstrate their understanding of concepts and content in The Arts through using a range of ICT tools. It is also important that students know how to use these ICT efficiently and responsibly, as well as learning how to protect themselves and secure their data.

Details of how ICT can support student learning in The Arts is set out in the attached Information Communication Technologies and The Arts pdf.


Scroll to the top of the page