University of Oregon Visual Analysis of A Painting Essay


Your Visual Analysis MUST include at least 15 visual elements and principles of design, which you will set out either in bold, or underlined, for easy recognition by the reader

you will not write about the feeling you have for the work or about the meaning of the work since it is formal.

includes the name of the artists, artwork, date, medium, size of art work.

General Introduction: State the content in the work, ie. seated woman, group of trees, non-objective forms, etc.

In writing a formal analysis or visual analysis paper, the most important thing to remember is that you are talking about visual elements. No personal opinion, please!!!

When you first approach the art object, take plenty of time to note down all the visual details of its form that you can. As you look carefully, you will begin to sense an overall organization in the work of art.

As you are looking, consider:

Medium (what the object is made of):
Be attentive to particular kinds of elements such as brushstroke, layering, finger mark, or other ways in which the artist handled the substance that forms the object.

Technique (how the object was made):
Notice whether the object was drawn, painted, engraved, carved, cast, etc., and how the artist carried out those processes.

Size: Is it large or small, what are the dimensions.

Composition (the arrangement of elements in the work):
Is there a focal point? Is the composition crowded, open, varied, or repetitious? How does your viewpoint affect the work?

Space: Which methods are used to create space, or is there a denial of space? How does the object relate to the space around it? 

When writing, try to express what you see with as much precision as possible. Remember the following formal terminology:

Color: Elements of color
Intensity OR Saturation
Local color, Optical color, Arbitrary color

Line: Uses of line

  • Description
  • Expression

relative light and darkness in the work, implied light or light source, etc.

Space: Methods for creating space in a 2-D object

  • Figure vs. Ground
  • Modeling
  • Overlap
  • Reduction in scale (but remember exceptions to this convention)
  • Foreshortening
  • Atmospheric Perspective: “Blueing out”, reduction of detail, reduction of value contrast
  • Vertical Perspective
  • Axonometric Projection
  • Linear Perspective.\

A knowledge in art terms is preferable because the correct terms must be used and the skills to describe thr work

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