2d Design Shape Assignment Abroad

Knowing how to write a formal analysis of a work of art is a fundamental skill learned in an art appreciation-level class. Students in art history survey and upper-level classes further develop this skill. Use this sheet as a guide when writing a formal analysis paper.Consider the following when analyzing a work of art. Not everything applies to every work of art, nor is it always useful to consider things in the order given. In any analysis, keep in mind the following: HOW and WHY is this a significant work of art?

Part I – General Information

  1. In many cases, this information can be found on a label or in a gallery guidebook. There may be an artist’s statement available in the gallery. If so, indicate in your text or by a footnote or endnote to your paper where you got the information.
  2. Subject Matter (Who or What is Represented?)
  3. Artist or Architect (What person or group made it? Often this is not known. If there is a name, refer to this person as the artist or architect, not “author.” Refer to this person by their last name, not familiarly by their first name.)
  4. Date (When was it made? Is it a copy of something older? Was it made before or after other similar works?)
  5. Provenance (Where was it made? For whom? Is it typical of the art of a geographical area?)
  6. Location (Where is the work of art now? Where was it originally located? Does the viewer look up at it, or down at it? If it is not in its original location, does the viewer see it as the artist intended? Can it be seen on all sides, or just on one?)
  7. Technique and Medium (What materials is it made of? How was it executed? How big or small is it?)

Part II – Brief Description

In a few sentences describe the work. What does it look like? Is it a representation of something? Tell what is shown. Is it an abstraction of something? Tell what the subject is and what aspects are emphasized. Is it a non-objective work? Tell what elements are dominant. This section is not an analysis of the work yet, though some terms used in Part III might be used here. This section is primarily a few sentences to give the reader a sense of what the work looks like.

Part III – Form

This is the key part of your paper. It should be the longest section of the paper. Be sure and think about whether the work of art selected is a two-dimensional or three-dimensional work.

Art Elements

  1. Line (straight, curved, angular, flowing, horizontal, vertical, diagonal, contour, thick, thin, implied etc.)
  2. Shape (what shapes are created and how)
  3. Light and Value (source, flat, strong, contrasting, even, values, emphasis, shadows)
  4. Color (primary, secondary, mixed, complimentary, warm, cool, decorative, values)
  5. Texture and Pattern (real, implied, repeating)
  6. Space (depth, overlapping, kinds of perspective)
  7. Time and Motion

Principles of Design

  1. Unity and Variety
  2. Balance (symmetry, asymmetry)
  3. Emphasis and Subordination
  4. Scale and Proportion (weight, how objects or figures relate to each other and the setting)
  5. Mass/Volume (three-dimensional art)
  6. Rhythm
  7. Function/Setting (architecture)
  8. Interior/Exterior Relationship (architecture)

Part IV – Opinions and Conclusions

This is the part of the paper where you go beyond description and offer a conclusion and your own informed opinion about the work. Any statements you make about the work should be based on the analysis in Part III above.

  1. In this section, discuss how and why the key elements and principles of art used by the artist create meaning.
  2. Support your discussion of content with facts about the work.

General Suggestions

  1. Pay attention to the date the paper is due.
  2. Your instructor may have a list of “approved works” for you to write about, and you must be aware of when the UALR Galleries, or the Arkansas Arts Center Galleries, or other exhibition areas, are open to the public.
  3. You should allow time to view the work you plan to write about and take notes.
  4. Always italicize or underline titles of works of art. If the title is long, you must use the full title the first time you mention it, but may shorten the title for subsequent listings.
  5. Use the present tense in describing works of art.
  6. Be specific: don’t refer to a “picture” or “artwork” if “drawing” or “painting” or “photograph” is more exact.
  7. Remember that any information you use from another source, whether it be your textbook, a wall panel, a museum catalogue, a dictionary of art, the internet, must be documented with a footnote. Failure to do so is considered plagiarism, and violates the behavioral standards of the university. If you do not understand what plagiarism is, refer to this link at the UALR Copyright Central web site: http://www.ualr.edu/copyright/articles/?ID=4
  8. For proper footnote form, refer to the UALR Department of Art website, or to Barnet’s A Short Guide to Writing About Art, which is based on the Chicago Manual of Style. MLA style is not acceptable for papers in art history.
  9. Allow time to proofread your paper. Read it out loud and see if it makes sense. If you need help on the technical aspects of writing, use the University Writing Center (569-8343) or On-Line Writing Lab. http://ualr.edu/writingcenter/
  10. Ask your instructor for help if needed.

Further Information

For further information and more discussions about writing a formal analysis, see the following. Some of these sources also give a lot of information about writing a research paper in art history, that is, a paper more ambitious in scope than a formal analysis.

M. Getlein, Gilbert’s Living with Art (10th edition, 2013), pp. 136-139 is a very short analysis of one work.

M. Stokstad and M. W. Cothren, Art History (5th edition, 2014), “Starter Kit,” pp. xxii-xxv is a brief outline.

S. Barnet, A Short Guide to Writing About Art (9th edition, 2008), pp. 113-134 is about formal analysis; the entire book is excellent for all kinds of writing assignments.

R. J. Belton, Art History: A Preliminary Handbookhttp://www.ubc.ca/okanagan/fccs/about/links/resources/arthistory.html is probably more useful for a research paper in art history, but parts of this outline relate to discussing the form of a work of art.

All artists who participated in the exhibition were invited to share an assignment.
Link to the Exhibition
Pdf files of all submitted assignments are below.
These assignments were compiled in a booklet that was available for all artists in the exhibition, and a group of these assignments were presented by the artists at the Mini-Conference on April 2nd at Monmouth College.
Please contact us at MonmouthArt@gmail.com if you find an error with your information or file.

The Assignments:

An Inside-Out Mine Tunnel - 3D Design
Marin Abell, Washburn University
File Size: 2456 kb
File Type: pdf
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Four Grid Composition - 2D Design
Jordan Acker Anderson, Mount Mary University
Platonic Structures – 3D Design
Josh Anderson, Mount Mary University
File Size: 5868 kb
File Type: pdf
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Transitions – drawing and collage
Brian Baugh, Monmouth College
File Size: 532 kb
File Type: pdf
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Text as Image – Art & Ideas / 2D Design
Stephanie J Baugh and Stacy Lotz, Monmouth College
File Size: 5917 kb
File Type: pdf
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Perspective & Collaborative Drawing
Jessica Bingham, Bradley University (grad student)
File Size: 5898 kb
File Type: pdf
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Compositional Analysis: Geometry of Painting
Heather Brammeier, Bradley University
File Size: 2611 kb
File Type: pdf
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Wall Shape “Drawings”
Robert Bubp, Wichita State University
File Size: 3989 kb
File Type: pdf
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​Line Postcard Series
Chung Fan Chang, Stockton University
File Size: 3680 kb
File Type: pdf
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Universal 2+2- Wood Sculptures
Shaila Christofferson, Chicago State University  
File Size: 7076 kb
File Type: pdf
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Animated Color Wheel
John H Clarke, Central Michigan University
Positive/Negative Shape Metamorphosis
John DenHouter, Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville
File Size: 5832 kb
File Type: pdf
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Creative Value
Dawn Martin Dickins, Middle Tennessee State University
File Size: 1441 kb
File Type: pdf
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Papercraft Self
Adam Fotos, Chicago State University & College of DuPage
File Size: 1950 kb
File Type: pdf
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Pet Art- Painting
Anita Giddings, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
File Size: 2168 kb
File Type: pdf
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Influence & Inspiration- Digital Photography
Michael Godsil, Knox College
File Size: 2911 kb
File Type: pdf
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​Planes- Photography of Art Process
Phillip Hanson, Saginaw Valley State University 
File Size: 6487 kb
File Type: pdf
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Self Portraits: Composing with Color
Craig Hawkins, Valdosta State University
File Size: 22019 kb
File Type: pdf
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Drawing Organic Objects
David Marshall Hicks, Herron School of Art and Design
File Size: 1763 kb
File Type: pdf
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Graphic Notes: History of Graphic Design
Laura Rodman Huaracha, Carthage College
File Size: 1117 kb
File Type: pdf
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Research Collage
Leah Schreiber Johnson, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
File Size: 790 kb
File Type: pdf
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The Sculpture Project
David Kamm, Luther College
File Size: 12124 kb
File Type: pdf
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Cut Line and Shape
Margaret Lanterman, De Paul University
File Size: 466 kb
File Type: pdf
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​Pattern, Variety, Shape and Meaning
Stacy Lotz, Monmouth College 
File Size: 282 kb
File Type: pdf
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2D-Design Project: Color Transcription
Damon McArthur, Western Illinois University 
Process/Outcome Animals
Rob Millard-Mendez, University of Southern Indiana 
Exploring the Plane in Space: Cut and Fold
Tybre Newcomer, Monmouth College
Solids & Planes-3D Design
Cozette Phillips, Blackhawk College
The Evolution of Idea: Form + Content x Three
​John Saurer, St. Olaf College 
Soft Sculpture Trophies
Ian Shelly, Western Illinois University 
File Size: 2833 kb
File Type: pdf
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Altered Book Narrative
Natalie Shelly, Monmouth College 
File Size: 3822 kb
File Type: pdf
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2D Design: Narrative
Emily Sullivan Smith, University of Dayton
File Size: 1019 kb
File Type: pdf
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​Repair to Transform
Astri Snodgrass, Richard J. Daley College
File Size: 8130 kb
File Type: pdf
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The Burning House-Drawing
Meredith Starr, Suffolk County Community College
File Size: 2537 kb
File Type: pdf
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Achromatic & Monochromatic & Value Use- Painting
Diane Staver, the Art Institute of Indianapolis 
File Size: 210 kb
File Type: pdf
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Tom Suter, Ohio University Southern
​Topography of Fabric- Drawing
Megan Vossler, Macalester College
File Size: 9195 kb
File Type: pdf
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Progression, Luminosity and Space/Tunnel book
Sandra Williams, University of Nebraska, Lincoln
Squared Metaphor-Digital Imaging
Eric Wold, Clarke University 
File Size: 1820 kb
File Type: pdf
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Plant in Three Values- Ink
Ken Wood, St. Louis Community College
File Size: 820 kb
File Type: pdf
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​Observation and Beyond-Drawing
Annie Lee-Zimerle, Cedarville University

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