1. Read the image as you would read text. Begin on one side and work across, relating what you see, or find the most important part of the image and read from that point. Do not skip around. You can even do this aloud to a friend or family member as a warm-up practice. Don’t show them the artwork and then verbally tell them about everything you see in the painting. Then show them the artwork and see what you left out! 2. Describe some important details and/or discuss the materials or methods used to make the artwork. 3. Summarize the overall appearance of the piece. 4. Try to avoid too much interpretation about the artist’s biography or cultural context. Focus on description. 5. Discuss SOME of the visual elements: Color, Value, Line, Shape, Form, Texture, Space. Note that you will not have a successful essay if you attempt to write about every element. Focus your thesis on the most important elements and those which make the artwork interesting or unique. Think about how those elements affect you as a viewer and how the elements might help the artist achieve his or her goal. 6. Discuss SOME of the principles of design: Balance, Proportion, Rhythm, Emphasis, Unity, Contrast, Variety. 7. Review: “Helpful Hints for Writing an Art History Paper.” Your essay should be a formal, concise, grammatically correct piece of writing. Pay attention on writing style, sophistication of your thoughts, utilization of art historical vocabulary, and overall flow. • You must write a specific thesis statement about your chosen artwork. Include that thesis in your introductory paragraph. If your essay lacks a thesis or structure and organization, your grade will suffer. An example thesis might be: “In Raphael’s Marriage of the Virgin, the artist uses one point perspective, balanced composition, and vibrant primary colors to convey a sense of stability and order, thus representing the Christian narrative in the idealized, harmonious aesthetics of the Renaissance.” Why is this a strong thesis? It lists the artist and title of the work, provides specific formal elements and principles of design which will be the focus of the paper AND explains what those formal elements achieve in the artwork. • Anytime you reference the title of your image, please italicize that title. Be certain to introduce the artwork’s artist, title and date in the first paragraph. • This essay does not require the use of secondary resources. However, if you do reference another scholar, citations must be used and a bibliography must be included. This includes the wall text from the museum. Please implement MLA or APA style for any references. Wikipedia is not a valid resource in my courses. However, the point of this exercise is not to regurgitate someone else’s thoughts but to voice your own. Remember: plagiarism is borrowing anyone else’s thoughts, words, or ideas without giving them due credit.
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