Describe what you see – take an inventory. What materials has the artist used? What colors (if any) has the artist chosen? Does the surface have a texture? Can you see the brush strokes or the way the paint was applied? If writing about a sculpture, ca

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Formal Analysis Essay

During the semester we will visit the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) during our class time. While we are there, select an artwork you’d like to write about. Gather information about the artwork and the artist while we’re at the museum. A good way to do that is to take a picture of the artwork (ask permission first) and a picture of the information card next to the artwork.In many cases, if you Google the title of the work and add DMA to your search, a great photograph of the work and more information will be available online.

Take notes while looking at the painting:

Describe what you see – take an inventory.

What materials has the artist used?

What colors (if any) has the artist chosen?

Does the surface have a texture?

Can you see the brush strokes or the way the paint was applied? If writing about a sculpture, can you see evidence of the artist’s marks, finger prints, or the like?

What do you notice first?

What do you notice only after you look for a while?

Make notes on the artist, title, date, size of the work.

What does the information card tell you about the painting?

Can you tell what the artist was trying to convey?

Here is a format to follow:

Paragraph 1: Introduction

In this paragraph, tell the reader what artwork you have selected, the artist’s name, and generally outline your purpose for writing this paper. Write a good thesis statement by telling the reader what you will be discussing in the paper.

Paragraph 2: Visual Description of the Artwork

Describe the artwork in a formal analysis. Discuss the Elements and Principles of Art described in Unit One of the textbook in depth. Please refer to this Unit when you write this portion of your paper. Use the vocabulary we learned in Units 1 and 2 in your paper.

Paragraph 3: Biographical Information

Give general biographical information about the artist and include information specific to who, where, and how the artist lived during the time your selected artwork was created. If the selected artwork is a cultural artifact, describe the culture from which the art object came. Research topics for this paragraph online, and cite them appropriately in a Works Cited page (separate page after your essay.)

Paragraph 4: Contextual Information

Describe the artist and the artwork’s place in art history. What makes the artist (or culture) and this artwork important? Discuss the style of the artwork as it relates to the style(s) of artwork from the time period in which it was created. Did the artwork go against any convention of the time period? What was the message of the artwork and how was it received? Is/was it controversial in any way? How has the artwork/style influenced later art? It is important to acknowledge and compare at least two perspectives in this paragraph. Research topics for this paragraph online, and cite them appropriately in a Works Cited page (separate page after your essay.)

Paragraph 5: Conclusion

Conclude the paper by offering your personal insight. Did you enjoy the artwork visually? Intellectually? Have your initial assumptions about it changed through your research? Do you agree or disagree with the information you included in Paragraph 4 or do you have an entirely different view of the work?

Rules of Thumb for College Writing

  • Use standard written English, avoiding too conversational a tone and without using slang or common idioms.
  • This paper is a personal analytical paper, so use “I” when you’re writing about your opinion.
  • The paper due date is timed within the semester so that we will have covered all the painting vocabulary and general visual art concepts before you write.Use the correct words and concepts in your paper.
  • Check spelling, grammar, punctuation.Then check again.Proofread.Read aloud. Every college paper you hand in should represent your very best work at the time.Errors such as these make your work look hurried and/or sloppy.

Style Guidelines for Writing the Paper:

  • Length:2 full pages, with some text on a third page
  • Font Size: 12 point
  • Use a header for your name, title of paper, and course name/number
  • A minimum of 3 MLA parenthetical citations must appear in the body of your paper
  • Create a Works Cited page as a separate final page (doesn’t count towards the two page minimum)
  • Attach an image of your artwork after the Works Cited page
  • Your total paper will have at least 5 pages:
    • Introduction includes title of painting, artist’s name, date, and correct name of the museum (don’t abbreviate) where you viewed the painting
  • 3 pages of text (2 full pages, 1 partial page; 4 pages max)
  • Works Cited
  • Appendix A (your image)

If you have a question how to do a citation in your text or on the Works cited page, go to the MLS Style Guide at PurdueOWL: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/section/2/11/

Source ideas:

Your textbook would be 1 great source!Almost all objects at the Dallas Museum of Art have photos and brief descriptions online.Google “dallas museum of art <title of the work>” and you should find a great photograph and a paragraph.You can also use this search page for any artwork in the permanent collection of the Dallas Museum of Art:

https://collections.dma.org/search/

Information from these websites is credible and can be trusted:

artnet.com

artdaily.com

arthistory.net

artic.edu

dma.org

metmuseum.org

munal.mx/munal/

britishmuseum.org

College writers never cite Wikipedia as a source.If you use Wikipedia, scroll to the bottom of the webpage and look at the citations there – any of those citations would be good places to research your artwork or artist.

Grading Rubric

Total possible points:15

Format

.5 Font, type size, margins and spacing

.5 Minimum/maximum length requirements met

Thesis Statement

Description

2.0 Concise but complete description the elements of the painting

1.0 Description is tied to the thesis statement

1.0 Correct vocabulary is utilized

Analysis

2.0 Logical interpretation of important elements

1.0 Analysis is tied to the thesis statement

1.0 Paper uses correct vocabulary and concepts to communicate

Evaluation

  • Argument regarding the strength of your thesis statement based upon your description

and analysis

1.0 Paper uses correct vocabulary and concepts to communicate

Conclusion

1.0 Clear restating of thesis statement and summary of argument

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