Striking a balance between formalism and expression in visual arts practice and visual arts education

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Education


School of Education


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Dr Judith Dinham


This creative arts project is an exploration of the benefits of an approach to visual arts education that balances the need for both formal (i.e. visual arts language, knowledge of skills, techniques and processes) and expressive content. As an artist, my tendency to focus on formal concerns can override the effective of expressive content of my artworks. I recognize the potential for my artwork to become static when the expressive elements are given insufficient consideration. Whilst acknowledging the importance of formal content an increasing awareness of the value of expression in artwork has led to a philosophical re-evaluation. This in turn has impacted upon my teaching practices as a balance between formalist and expressive approaches is pursued. This creative arts project followed an action research process where I explored ways of incorporating increasingly expressive elements in my artwork. I identified and documented evidence of change. A series of visual diaries that recorded the development of ideas accompanied the creative project, as does an exegesis. Through the research I explored whether it was possible to resolve the inherent tension between formalism and expressionism in both visual arts practice (my art work) and visual arts education (my work as an art teacher). I believe the Western Australian Curriculum Framework has sufficient scope to address the need for both formalism and expression in visual arts education. This Creative Arts Project was predicated on the belief that although The Arts Outcomes made provision for the exploration of both formal and expressive concerns, in practice the focus was on form and the production of outwardly “successful” art works. Through the research project I aimed to strike a balance where the two components of art production lent their strength to each other. This was evidenced by student achievement and increased expressive content within my own artwork.

LCSH Subject Headings

Edith Cowan University. Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences - Dissertations

Art - Study and teaching - Western Australia


Access Note

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