A high school visual art educator, along with 20 students enrolled in this teacher/researcher's Advanced Placement (AP) studio course, investigated the processes involved in creating artwork. Understanding artistic processes beyond skills and techniques is significant for curriculum development, but it is also key in conceptualizing art as a way of knowing. The arts based research strategy utilized in this study was a/r/tography, which focuses on the interconnectedness between artist, researcher, and teacher/learner. This highly reflective form of action research allowed the researcher and students to uncover new understandings of what it means to be an artist-researcher through a combination of knowing, doing, and making. Student-researchers learned several arts based forms of inquiry by analyzing the processes of contemporary artists. They were invited to record and reflect upon their own processes in a research journal as they generated artworks. The teacher-researcher also kept an intensive reflective journal concerning artmaking, but also included pedagogical concerns, questions, observations, and insights. At the conclusion of the semester, students were taught to analyze their own artistic process via their sketchbook entries by creating two visualizations: a mind map and an artwork as a data visualization of their process. Several important understandings are drawn from this study that transform this educator's practice as an artist-educator. These include the following concepts: not knowing as an artist, researcher, student and teacher; anxiety may be a necessary factor in artistic creation and pedagogy; and pretending is a strategy that allows one to productively move through uncertainty, ambiguity, and anxiety.



College and Department

Fine Arts and Communications; Visual Arts



Date Submitted


Document Type





art education, A/r/tography, creative process, artistic process, creativity, Advanced Placement, arts based research



Included in

Art Practice Commons