The Art Merit Badge: Your Ultimate Guide In 2020


Art may be a difficult and enriching lifetime pursuit, but it can also be one of the simplest and most enjoyable merit badges you’ll ever earn. If you’re looking to spend an afternoon drawing, but are in Scouts, this guide is your key to learning the steps and answers needed to earn the Art merit badge.

A quick brief before jumping into the guide: Aside from visiting a museum, gallery, or art exhibit, the rest of the requirements for this easy badge can be completed in under two hours. Keep in mind you’ll need a few tools, but nothing will cost more than $10. In this guide, I’ll be giving you the answers to all of the knowledge requirements needed to earn your Art merit badge!

In total, you’ll need to understand the information in this guide and draw five pictures: four will be done by using different mediums to draw the same subject. As for the last, I would recommend you create a logo to put on a piece of Scouting equipment. However, there are other options. I’d bet you’re already thinking about where on your sash to place your new badge!

Ready? First, take your time to read through the official requirements for this badge. After you’re finished, we’re ready to get you started!

The Art Merit Badge Requirements

  1. Discuss the following with your counselor:
    a. What art is and what some of the different forms of art are
    b. The importance of art to humankind
    c. What art means to you and how art can make you feel
  2. Discuss with your counselor the following terms and elements of art: line, value, shape, form, space, color, and texture. Show examples of each element.
  3. Discuss with your counselor the six principles of design: rhythm, balance, proportion, variety, emphasis, and unity.
  4. Render a subject of your choice in FOUR of these ways:
    a. Pen and ink,
    b. Watercolors,
    c. Pencil,
    d. Pastels,
    e. Oil paints,
    f. Tempera,
    g. Acrylics,
    h. Charcoal
    i. Computer drawing or painting
  5. Do ONE of the following:
    a. Design something useful. Make a sketch or model of your design. With your counselor’s approval, create a promotional piece for the item using a picture or pictures.
    b. Tell a story with a picture or pictures or using a 3-D rendering.
    c. Design a logo. Share your design with your counselor and explain the significance of your logo. Then, with your parent’s permission and your counselor’s approval, put your logo on Scout equipment, furniture, ceramics, or fabric.
  6. With your parent’s permission and your counselor’s approval, visit a museum, art exhibit, art gallery, artists’ co-op, or artist’s workshop. Find out about the art displayed or created there. Discuss what you learn with your counselor.
  7. Find out about three career opportunities in art. Pick one and find out the education, training, and experience required for this profession. Discuss this with your counselor, and explain why this profession might interest you.

Now, onto the requirements! The bolded and italicized sections are the official requirements, with the section below that being my researched approach to best answering the question (I’ve bolded the direct answers for you). Be sure to do your own research and only use my guide as your starting point. This badge is a lot of fun (I’ve earned it too), so let’s get to it.

1) Discuss the following with your counselor:

1a) What art is and what some of the different forms of art are

Although the art merit badge mainly focuses on visual representations, art can take many forms. The definition of art is difficult to pin down. However, art is generally thought of as the deliberate creation of something beautiful and expressive using skill and imagination. In the same way that a painting could be considered art, a musical rendition, article of clothing, or performance could also fall under the category of ‘art’.

In this merit badge, some of the art forms that you’ll be learning about will be drawing, painting, digital art, collage, and sculpture making. While these forms of art seem very different, they share similar principles of design which can make them more or less artistically appealing to the viewer. This guide will teach you what those principles of design are, and how you can use them to create more impactful and better art.

1b) The importance of art to humankind

Art is the foundation of culture, and humankind has been creating art even before the beginning of recorded history. From cave paintings to modern-day graphic design, art has always been a way that humans have conveyed emotion and evoked an emotional response from others.

By allowing humans to more effectively convey their emotional state, art provides a free expression of self. Both creating and appreciating art can be immensely fulfilling, which is why different forms of art have been so important to humankind throughout our entire history.

1c) What art means to you and how art can make you feel

There’s no one to better answer this question than yourself. When looking at a painting, what do you feel? What do you find beautiful? Can you somehow relate to the artist’s emotions just through an image of their art? Do you maybe even see a reflection of yourself? Discuss.

An example answer could be that some art makes you feel happy and uplifted. Listening to a great song makes you forget about your troubles, and watching an inspiring film gives you hope. A great painting is no different. The right image can make you feel free and limitless, and similarly, any piece of art can have the same effect.

2) Discuss with your counselor the following terms and elements of art: line, value, shape, form, space, color, and texture. Show examples of each element.

  • Line: Line creates direction. By affecting how the viewer’s eye moves over the work, line creates a ‘route’ within the artwork. Line can be thick or thin, long or short, and can invoke different emotions. Long and wavy lines can be calming, whereas short and jagged lines may cause a more anxious feeling.
  • Value: Value describes the tint and shade of the pigment. For instance, sepia pictures have a low color value, whereas a very saturated image would have a high color value. A higher color value will provide more contrast for the viewer and will convey different feelings.
  • Shape: The two main types of shape are geometric and organic. Organic shape uses natural object curves, similar to what is found in nature. Geometric shape uses straight lines and edges to create skyscraper-like elements, not found in nature.
  • Form: Form describes the physical nature of the artwork. Is it a sculpture, painting or display? Different forms can change the meaning of the piece of art.
  • Space: Space can give your picture perspective and depth. It can also be used to affect the relative size of your shapes and lines.
  • Color: There is a strong association between color and feeling. While some colors can excite, others can calm. By using many colors in your artwork, you can create contrast and complex emotion.
  • Texture: Texture relates to the physical feel of the artwork. This could mean that the piece is actually rough, or that the artist just gives the illusion of texture. This technique can be used to make your art convey a physical sensation to the viewer.

3) Discuss with your counselor the six principles of design: rhythm, balance, proportion, variety, emphasis, and unity

The six principles of design are the fundamental building blocks of any artistic work. By using these principles effectively, you will be able to create visually appealing designs and more effectively capture the audience’s attention. However, many artists disagree on what the 6 principles actually are…

Below are the 6 most commonly-cited principles of design. Watch the following video (3:59) and read through the bullet points to see some of the differences and similarities:

  • Rhythm: This describes how the viewer’s eyes are lead throughout the design. The shading and pattern, like a musical flow, can create a rhythm which the eyes follow.
  • Balance: This can be either symmetrical or asymmetrical. If it is symmetrical, then the design is given equal representation on both sides of the piece. An asymmetrical balance would have something on one side of the piece, and nothing on the other side.
  • Proportion: Proportion is used to show the relative size of objects within the space. This can elicit feelings ranging from comfort to overwhelm. By framing things as larger than others, the artist can direct the viewer’s perspective.
  • Variety: Variety is the difference in shapes, objects and colors shown throughout the piece. A piece with no variety is usually boring. However, too much variety can overwhelm the viewer and take away from the artwork’s focus.
  • Emphasis: Emphasis is used to highlight the focus of a design. It is how the artist directs the viewer to the most important part of the piece. This can be done by using colors, repetition or movement.
  • Unity (also called Economy): Unity refers to how the piece uses all of the elements of design. If a design has unity, all of the components are working together to elevate the piece. If some parts of the design overshadow others, the artist did not put enough focus on unity.

4) Render a subject of your choice in FOUR of these ways:

(If you need to buy any of these mediums at a good value, click the links above to be directed to Amazon. I will earn a small commission from your purchase, at no additional cost to you, which will be used to support ScoutSmarts! Thank you. 🙂 )

You can also purchase most of these supplies in your local supermarket. However, the typical scout will probably only need to buy one of the above, as they likely already have a pen, pencil, and computer (smartphone). I’d recommend downloading a smartphone app to draw in if you do decide to create your art digitally. 

Once you’ve gathered your four art mediums, draw the same subject in four different ways. Take your time and notice the differences between each piece. I would suggest drawing on a smaller piece of paper, or cutting a regular sheet of paper in the fourths and drawing on those. Once you’re done you can paste your pictures in a grid and have a really cool piece of artwork.

5) Do ONE of the following:

a. Design something useful. Make a sketch or model of your design. With your counselor’s approval, create a promotional piece for the item using a picture or pictures.
b. Tell a story with a picture or pictures or using a 3-D rendering.
c. Design a logo. Share your design with your counselor and explain the significance of your logo. Then, with your parent’s permission and your counselor’s approval, put your logo on Scout equipment, furniture, ceramics, or fabric.

While you can choose to do any of these requirements, if you’re wanting to finish this badge quickly I would recommend 5c (designing the logo). Create a cool design and then redraw it on something you own. Finished already? Great, you’re almost done earning this badge.

6) With your parent’s permission and your counselor’s approval, visit a museum, art exhibit, art gallery, artists’ co-op, or artist’s workshop. Find out about the art displayed or created there. Discuss what you learn with your counselor.

With the help of your parents, go online to look for art exhibitions near you. Most of these places should be free and open during regular hours. Go when you have the chance and learn about the artwork there. Discuss it with your counselor afterward.

7) Find out about three career opportunities in art. Pick one and find out the education, training, and experience required for this profession. Discuss this with your counselor, and explain why this profession might interest you.

Here are three career opportunities in art which you can discuss with your counselor:

  • Graphic designer: Most graphic designers have a bachelor’s degree in design or a related field. These individuals create visuals for consumers using either computer software or by hand. To be hired as a graphic designer, you should have a portfolio demonstrating your prior work.
  • Painter: A painter may benefit from a college education, but most painters are hired based on their portfolio. There are many different types of painters, from mural painters to painters who mainly do artwork on canvas. There are art schools were painters can train and hone their skills.
  • Interior design: Those with an eye for aesthetics can also become interior designers. Most interior designers have a bachelor’s degree in topics like fine art, art history, or industrial design. In some states, interior designers must pass the NCIDQ exam. Interior designers create artistic and safe interior spaces in homes of offices.

There are plenty of other career opportunities in art. While some careers don’t require much interviewing, others do. If you’d like to learn how to use Scouting examples to crush any of your upcoming job interviews or college apps, check out my article on 5 Scouting Skills To Ace Your Next Interview!

Conclusion

Art has an enormous depth that this merit badge only begins to uncover. Being able to create and appreciate art will give you access to a greater level of satisfaction and freedom in your own life. There is a reason why so many people dedicate their lives to pursuing art. I hope you’ve found my complete guide helpful, and again encourage you to only use it as a starting point for future research on the merit badge requirements.

If you’ve been following along, you’ve just completed the 7 easy requirements and have now earned your own Art merit badge! I personally had a lot of fun earning this badge while a scout, and hope you did as well. For the guides to 2 other easy merit badges that you can earn in an afternoon, check out my article here. I wish you the best of luck in your Scouting adventure, and hope to see you back at ScoutSmarts soon!


Cole

I'm constantly writing new content for this website because I believe in Scouts like you! Thanks so much for reading, and for making this world a better place. Until next time, I'm wishing you all the best on your journey to Eagle and beyond!

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