Conceptual and Technical Development

This Page summarises the practical, theoretical, conceptual and disciplinary knowledge relevant to art, craft and design.

As students create and make art and design, conceptual and technical knowledge can be taught as principles, theories and rules, and acquired and applied experientially in projects and lessons.

They are sometimes described as the theory (as in colour theory), or the rules (as in rules of composition or perspective) which define the knowledge and learning associated with particular ways of working or creating.  

This knowledge can be acquired as factual knowledge, for example, learning about the theory of colour, which becomes embedded before being more widely applied through experiential learning (Kolb, 1984) i.e. following colour matching and mixing activities where students learn about primary, secondary, and tertiary and complementary colours, tints and tones, warm and cool colours.

Learning these concepts as explicit knowledge before making it experiential can at times be helpful to develop understanding, particularly when applied in a project context, or before being embedded when practised as a skill.

This is what we mean when we describe ‘powerful’ knowledge' (Young, 2008). The knowledge associated with these concepts, processes and techniques is powerful because they empower students to understand, apply and implement, becoming more skilful, confident and effective. 


  • Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development. Englewood Cliffs, N. J., Prentice-Hall.  
  • Meyer, J. H. F. and Land, R. (2003) Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge 1 – Linkages to Ways of Thinking and Practising in Improving Student Learning – Ten Years On C.Rust (Ed), OCSLD, Oxford  
  • Young, M. F. D. (2008). Bringing Knowledge Back In: From Social Constructivism to Social Realism in the Sociology of Education. Oxford, Routledge. 
  • Perkins, D. (1999). The Many Faces of Constructivism, Educational Leadership, Volume 57, Number 3, November 
  • Francis. C. and Nicholls. J. Art Pedagogy 
  • JCQ. (2023) guidelines Instructions for conducting non-examination assessments 
  • NSEAD. (2023). Sketchbook Guidance
  • NSEAD. (2023). Sketchbook Circle 
  • NSEAD. (2023). Finding creative Careers
  • ART UK. (2023). Examples of Art & Design selected from across Public Art Collections, UK 
  • The Creative Industries Council. (2023). Official Website 
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