Writivity Essentials #1: About the Reflective Journal

Welcome CSEC Visual Arts Students and Teachers. In this article, we will be: 

  • Introducing the CSEC Visual Arts Reflective Journal. 
  • Discussing the importance of journaling for visual artists.
  • Highlighting some of the requirements for the CSEC Visual Arts Reflective Journal.
  • Introducing selected online information sources that can assist students in developing the Journal.

The Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) Visual Arts Reflective Journal is a body of work reflecting the student’s exposure to the theory, process and practice of Visual Arts with special reference to the Expressive Forms studied1. It was implemented for CSEC Visual Arts as part of the examination grading process. The Journals provide evidence to teachers and examiners of how the students developed their artworks for the School Based Assessment (SBA) and can be a useful tool for students to monitor their own development as young artists. As a CSEC Visual Arts student, your journal allows you to intimately engage with your artistic progression and reflect on the influences of other artists on your artworks. 

What is the importance of Journaling in Visual Arts?

Journaling is one type of documentation that is used by professional visual artists and has been an important part of their various creative processes. Artist journals are extremely valuable to art researchers who study them as a way to gain deeper understandings of the way visual artists think, process the things they are influenced by, as well as to form and present opinions about the world they live in through imagery. Jamaican artists such as Barrington Watson, Edna Manley and Milton George like other local and international artists have, throughout their careers, dedicated scrapbooks and notebooks to documenting their artistic process. These types of journals explored ideas, through sketches, collected cut-outs and other kinds of samples to help bring their final works of art to existence. 

They have used journaling to:

  • Write about and make experimental drawings 
  • Collect other images that allowed them to explore options in the use of the elements and principles of art 

Requirement Highlights for the CSEC Visual Arts Journal

Through the CSEC Reflective Journal, you (the student) can demonstrate your understanding of the theory, process and practice of Visual Arts through the Expressive Forms that you have chosen. Similar to professional artists, an important part of the journaling process for you is to include examples of photographs, samples, interviews, critiques, descriptive and personal statements in your Reflective Journal. Your Reflective Journal must be presented in a booklet no smaller than 21cm x 30cm and no larger than 30cm x 40cm. It should also contain approximately 1000 words. Your journaling process should reflect your:

  • Conceptualization (brainstorming, noting and sketching ideas for your project),
  • Research (be sure to record all your sources) 
  • Documentation (ensure that your materials are properly organized and labeled). 

At the end of the process, your Reflective Journal must have the following sections as outlined by the CSEC Visual Arts Syllabus (effective from May/June 2011). These sections include:  

  1. A Title.
  2. A Brief Statement outlining reasons for selecting the Expressive Form.
  3. A definition of terms and concepts used in the Journal.
  4. Illustrations, drawings, photographs, maps, digital documentations or any other supportive visual materials relevant to the Expressive Form. Images should be properly labeled with titles as well as other information where relevant (artist or craftsperson, date, materials, dimensions, location).
  5. Background information related to the Expressive Forms – historical or cultural information as it relates to the period, group, country and region.
  6. Student’s analysis of the object, artwork, design, artist/craftsperson, place or materials in terms of style, content, influences, form and function; interpretation, evaluation referencing specific examples.
  7. Preparation and process.
  8. Use of material – traditional, contemporary or experimental.
  9. The student’s own experience in the use of particular materials and process.
  10. Student’s artistic statement and reflection connecting the research to their own art work.
  11. Bibliography.

As you develop your Reflective Journal, it is important to ask yourself these questions:

  • How is my idea important to the Expressive Form I selected?
  • Why did I select this particular Expressive Form?
  • What background information is available on this expressive form?
  • Are there other artworks that are similar to what I am doing that I can reference and if so, where can I find them?
  • Which Visual Artist can I use as reference?
  • What materials are most appropriate to produce my artwork?
  • How will I record my step-by-step approach to producing this artwork?
  • What will I use to record my process? 

Be reminded that as you complete your Reflective Journal, it is important for you as the artist to make notes on your challenges, successes and overall experience of the process.

Additional Online Resources

For further information on developing CSEC Visual Arts Reflective Journal, we recommend that you check out the list below for some materials published by Visual Arts teachers and students who have already done the reflective journal project:

  All the best! 


 1Quote taken from the Caribbean Secondary Examination Certificate Visual Arts Syllabus, effective from May/June 2011, page 18.

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