Give the title of the works, the names of the artists who created them, if known, the country and time period when it was created, and the museum where it now exists. Make a note of the date of your visit to the museum.
Is the work a painting, a graphic, a sculpture or a piece of architecture? What materials were used: tempera, acrylic, oil, stone, wood, metal, ceramic, etc.? What technique was used: engraving, lithography, etching, low or bas relief, high relief, casting, carving, etc.?
Why did you select a given work or works? What interested you?
Context and Subject Matter:
What was the cultural context of the work? What meaning did it have for the people that created it?
What is represented? Is it a portrait, a genre scene, a mythological or biblical scene? Are there symbols in the work? What does it mean? If you know the source of the story, for example the illustration of an ancient myth or a biblical story, give the appropriate citation. How is the subject portrayed? What is its emotional context?
Artists use the formal elements of line, color, value, texture, shape, and rhythm to describe form, space, plane, and mass. Space can be three dimensional, as in sculpture or architecture, or two dimensional as in a painting. Artists may use devices like linear perspective to give the illusion of three dimensional space on a two dimensional surface, or they may use the properties of color and line to create spatial movement on the surface plane. Plane refers to flat two-dimensional space and generally refers to the surface of a painting or graphic. Mass, which is also known as “volume” refers to three dimensional space.
Answering the questions will help you to analyze how the artist used the formal elements of art to create the work of art you are considering. If you are writing about a piece of sculpture, just use the questions that apply. Try to use as many as you can.
Do the lines go primarily in horizontal and vertical directions, echoing the frame of the work, or are they primarily diagonal? Are the lines flowing or jagged? Can you follow the edges of the forms? Are the edges of the forms sharply delineated or are the brush strokes obvious, tending to obscure sharp edges and lines?
Are the forms arranged in orderly patterns or do they seem chaotic? Do they seem to be static, or do they create a sense of movement? Do the forms create an illusion of three dimensional space or do they seem to lie flat on the surface? Is there a strong sense of three dimensional mass or is the emphasis on surface texture? Is the texture smooth or rough?
How does the artist use light? Does the light come from a consistent source? Does it seem to mold objects into three dimensions or does it flatten them? Are there strong contrasts of light and dark or only subtle modulations? What sort of emotional effect is produced by the light and dark?
What colors does the artist use? To what degree are the colors saturated (intense hues) or grayed? Are the colors complementary or analogous? Is the color used realistically, symbolically or expressively?
Use the conclusion to sum up your reaction to the work. Here are some questions you may wish to answer. In what way do the formal elements support or contradict the ideas implicit in the subject matter? How was the work displayed and what effect did that have on your appreciation of it?
The title page should contain your name, the title of your essay, the class for which you are writing the paper, and the date. You may wish to prepare a cover sheet with an image of the work that you are discussing, perhaps from a post card you purchased at the museum or from an image you downloaded from the web. If you use
footnotes, be sure to use the correct format.