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Art history

What is Art? Who Makes Art?

Writing About Art

After exploring the links on the right, choose ONE to write about using ONE of the course Writing Styles.

Note to self- you are required to experiment with a DIFFERENT WRITING STYLE for each written sample you turn in in the SEE module.

If the minimum requirements of LABELING your written sample are not met, the rubric for grading will not apply. It is assumed you will compose each writing sample in your word editor such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs, then copy and paste them, one by one, into the assignment area.

FLASH, Shockwave, Quicktime or Windows Media Player are minimum technical standards for viewing. If one of the links on the right doesn’t open for you, just move on to another in the list because you only choose one to write about Who Makes Art? What is Art.

How do I begin?

  1. First, view all the possible choices in the list below, simply for fun and pure pleasure.
  2. Second, decide which one you want to write about (to dig deeper by writing about it).
  3. Third, use the artwork as a jumping off place for one of the five writing styles.

What is Art? Who Makes Art?

Writing Styles

Curators are curious about art and careful how they write about it. These six writing styles are examples that give the curator practice in being creative and putting their thoughts in print.  Each style expresses a unique approach to looking at art.  The six have been adapted from an early version of Rita Gilbert’s “Writing Guide and Projects Manual” for art. As an expert, you will want your writing and thinking to be viewed in the best possible light, so always compose your ideas in your word-processor, then save your work, use spell check, and grammar check before publishing. 

Study Tip!  Print this page.

List of Six Writing Styles

  1. 1. Using Adjectives
  2. 2. Tell a Story
  3. 3. Simple Outline
  4. 4. Compare and Contrast
  5. 5. Design Analysis
  6. 6. Poetry

Using Adjectives

The adjective style is the hardest to use effectively because each sentence is LOADED with poetic feeling throughout the ENTIRE (short) essay. In other words, the placement of each and every word counts, just like poetry. To start your essay, view the web site and jot down 6-10 adjectives that express your feelings about the interactive art then use some or all of them in a tightly constructed, descriptive essay. I want to be able to see, hear, feel, smell, even “taste” the aesthetic experience with the art.


  • Be poetic. Every word, each placement counts.
  • Exaggerate your use of adjectives.
  • Every sentence should be alive with adjectives.
  • Punch the first sentence with the power of expressive adjectives and maintain that emphasis in every sentence that follows (not easy to create that sort of consistency, you have to think a lot).


  • Don’t string together a list of adjectives with commas; instead empower each sentence with multiple adjectives.
  • Don’t wait until midway into your first paragraph to start using descriptive adjectives.
  • Don’t just go back and find the adjectives you happened to use in your essay and list those at the top in your labeling.

Identify a theme or any emphasis you see in the online artwork and let it act as a stimulus for an interesting story. Have the list below with you when you look at the online art and use it to “round out” your main character. Then, start your story.

* Main Character’s Sex: Male or Female

* Main Character’s Job or Profession: This element might be inspired by the online artwork’s theme or subject matter.

* An Archetype: This is a “type” of person, a typical psyche of an individual which a general person might identify. For instance, a story could be built around a beautiful princess like Cinderella, or an evil leader like Osama Bin Laden. Even, Lassie, the helpful dog has a personality. Decide on the psyche of your main character and this might be inspired by the theme or subject of the online art, too.

* A Key Object or Symbol: Is there an everyday object around which your story might develop? A house, a car, a lake, a key, a cat, a ring, a book? Use one of them as a prop for your main character.

* Setting: A time and/or place in which the story occurs. Is it an era, or is it an hour in which the action takes place?

Your story should have a beginning, middle and end – it should not just be a description of the artwork. 

An outline uses Roman Numerals. Make sure your outline uses Roman Numerals, to outline the following information. Make sure you provide two, yes, two, content descriptions because your second idea for content is probably going to be the more insightful one. I pay particular attention to Roman Numeral III dealing with the artist’s content:

I. Artist (or group)
a. age estimation, gender, education if known
b. country and/or city or origin

II. Structure of the artwork (what is the primary medium for the artist’s composition)
a. materials, size
b. subject, color, elements of design and composition

III. Content (What is the artist trying to say?)
a. your first idea
b. your second idea (must be different from your first idea)

Compare the work or artist’s style that you are viewing with other works you have seen, perhaps by the same artist, but not necessarily. Below is a list of factors to be considered. You don’t have to compare everything on the list, just choose a couple of items to compare and contrast. Compare means to point out similarities; contrast means to point out differences. 

1. subjects
2. time periods
3. media
4. cultures
5. style qualities
6. space or other design elements
7. how the works are used, where they are seen
8. emotional qualities  

Describe the artist’s emphasis of line, shape, space, color, value, texture or time. What is the artist trying to say by creating emphasis in this way? Be sure to include in your discussion, when appropriate, the use of the principles of art such as unity, balance, emphasis, dominance, focal point, proportion, scale or rhythm and why the artist used them. 


Poetry Visually Defined:

The following is a list of poetry types and styles that comes from Millcrest Academy:

ACROSTIC POEM: A poem in which the first letters of each line form a word or message relating to the subject.

BALLAD: A narrative poem which is, or originally was, meant to be sung. Ballads are the narrative species of folk songs, which originate, and are communicated orally. The narrator begins with the climactic episode, tells the story by means of action and dialogue, and tells it without self-reference or the expression of personal attitudes or feelings.

CINQUAIN: A poetic form invented by Adelaid Crapsey, an American poet. The five lines of the poem contain, in order, two, four, six, eight, and two syllables. Iambic meter prevails.

CHORUS: Among the ancient Greeks the chorus was a group of people, wearing masks, who sang or chanted verse while performing dancelike maneuvers at religious festivals. Choruses also served as commentators on the characters and events who expressed traditional moral, religious and social attitudes. During the Elizabethan Age the term “chorus” was applied to a single person who spoke the prologue and epilogue to a play and sometimes introduced each at as well.

COUPLET: Two successive lines of poetry with end-words that rhyme.

FREE VERSE: A fluid form of poetry which conforms to no set rules

HAIKU: A Japanese form of poetry, which gives a brief description of nature. Haiku consists of three unrhymed lines of five, seven and five syllables.

LIMERICK: A light or humorous verse form of five lines in which lines one, two and five are of three feet and lines three and four are of two feet, with a rhyme scheme of aabba.

NURSERY RHYME: A short poem for children written in rhyming verse and handed down in folklore. 


Writing creatively can be challenging. Formatting and labeling writing can also seem dreadfully tedious, but, a curator follows guidelines when authoring their prose.  Study Tip!  If you want full credit for your SEE work, the place to start is with the labeling format you see in “How to Label Your Writing”.

The writing style choices 1) Adjectives, 2) Story, 3) Outline, 4) Compare & Contrast, 5) Design Analysis, and 6) Poetry help give your mind focus when approaching unconventional works of art in this SEE section. Implementing a writing style can help postpone what might be an early bias, judgment, or opinion about a work of art because it doesn’t fit standard definitions. Remember, the works of art in SEE are Way Out There! They don’t fit traditional categories for drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture. These works are a new medium, expanding into new media and often existing only on the world wide web.

(Use the Template provided.  The following information is requested for each chapter choice)

(CHAPTER #) from the this list of five chapters in the SEE module, which are:

What is Art? Who Makes Art?
Essential Elements of Art
Principles of Design
Techniques, Materials, and Form
The History of Art


(SITE / ARTIST / SPONSOR) Use the hyperlinked name of the online website to which you are linked in each chapter.

(WRITING STYLE of your choice)

Do not repeat writing styles, experiment with five out of the six.

Here is the example if you use the adjective style: 

ADJECTIVES: colorful, expressive, delicate, droopy, huge, brilliant, disbelieving

(Curator’s Title, CREATIVE TITLE here)
“My Walk in a Website of Color”

**REMEMBER:  You must choose 1 (one) artwork from each of the 5 (five) SEE module chapters.  You must write about each work using a different writing 


Gallery of Student Writing

Shernel Woodman
Principles of Design
“Train of Thought” by Leo Bridle

“A Journey for Love”

I. Leo Bridle and Ben Thomas were the film makers.
a. I believe they are in their late 20s and early 30s, and they graduated from the Arts Institute at Bournemouth.

b. From the United Kingdom.

II. The basic structure of the artwork is Film.
a. Material used was digital compositing software and all the animations were done by hand and not the compositing software.

b. The subject of the seemed to be the young artist and he seemed to have been in search of someone. Everything seemed to be between and a gray/sepia scale with a design using cut outs and wooden toys.

III. I think this whole film was based on love.
a. My 1st idea is that he is trying to find the woman he loved. He may have seen her before at the station and drawn her out of memory and may have come back to find her there. When he didn’t, he hopped on the train in search for her only to come up empty. I believe he used his drawing pad as some sort of map as to where she may have been. When he doesn’t find her, he returns to the station once again and this time, he finds her. He then realizes that she may be an artist as well and may have gone through the same processes to find each other.

b. My 2nd idea is that he may have drawn her as well as the other drawings in his book subconsciously and realized this was a woman he had to meet. He then returns to the train station, which is the setting of his drawing. When she doesn’t come, he hops on the train and then goes in search for the woman that he loves. When he doesn’t find her he returns back to the station and that is where he finally sees her. They go towards each other and hold hands, seeming like they both went through the same measures to find each other.

I think the way the film makers used photography and film made this a very interesting form of media. Everything looked cartooned and real at the same time. The train station and the train themselves looked like they were made out of wooden toys and the people all looked like cut outs that were animated to look like they were moving, inside of their cut out frames. This was a well done film and they filmmakers did a wonderful job. I must say it sure caught my attention.

Linda Hoffman-Ostroff
Techniques, Materials, and Form
Introduction to the Drinking Maiden Exhibition

“A Maiden in Born”

My color is milky white and thus a maiden is born… I was created by the great sculptural artist Ernst Wenck in 1901. He created my soft white body by using his strong meticulous hands. He is indeed an artist. I was created in a time when conservatism was not very popular. Because of my intricate detail and the delicate image I carry I became a model for porcelain miniatures.

If you study my structure you see the qualities that may have lead to my continued popularity. I lean forward and you see the muscle tone of my leg by the light that is reflected from my body. My body is heavy while I lean so far forward and place the weight of my body on my knee. You can see my smooth silhouette. My arm and leg conceal my privacy. This image of me captures my long wavy hair and cast a heavy bun on the back of my head. I have small facial features and they project from my sculpture in a way that makes me fragile and still.

I have reached the cold wet refreshing spring water. I bring it to my soft white face and the next moment in time is captured.

Carrsandra Thompson
What is Art? Who Makes Art?“How to be Alone “by Tanya Davis


To be alone sounds so sad and blue
But that existence does not have to be true
Be patient in finding what is inside of you
There are so many hobbies that you can do
Spending time alone doing things that you like
Like reading, dancing and riding a bike
For all of the things that you do and say
Learn to be happy with “you” everyday

Chris Kelly
Principles of Design
“Design and the Elastic Mind” by Paola Antonelli


“The word design is both a verb and a noun, thus design is both a process and a product” (Sayre 5th ed). Design and the Elastic Mind is an exhibition, at the New York Museum of Modern Art, of approximately 200 pieces involving science and technology. Paoloa Antonellie, the shows curator, described the pieces as “running the gamut from minute chemical innovations to cutting-edge computer and sophisticated data visualizations, effectively chronicling the expansive breadth of design today”.

The pieces in the exhibition are all different in their design, materials, and purpose, but they all have a scientific or technology aspect about them. One piece in the exhibition is titled “Mapping the Internet”. This piece is a colorful representation of the major internet connections around the world. This piece is described as a graphical map, with the brightest nodes, representing the locations with the most incoming and outgoing connections. This piece was designed for aesthetic purposes. It shows one of the modern world’s most innovative technologies, the internet or a representation of it, in a colorful creative way.

Another piece in the exhibition is titled “Bees”. This piece is a very intricate handmade glass device with two separate chambers. The piece is described as being a prototype for a medical diagnostic device. The device was designed to assist with diagnosis of diseases by utilizing bees heightened perception of odor. The process involves a patient blowing into one end of the glass devise, and bees trained to detect a certain disease entering another separate chamber guided by a trained odor response. This piece, unlike the previous piece is an actual device that serves a purpose. Even though they are both beautiful in their design, one piece services dual purpose by having functionality.

Shawn New
Essential Elements of Art
Build a Bot Website

“Mechanical Personalities”

This site is an interactive experience designed to challenge the notion of beauty, while at the same time allowing the creator to defile the sacred images of our society. The designer of this site is merely a facilitator, providing the viewer with the tools to create. Here, meaning is derived through use of proportion, color, space, unity and balance.

On a blank grid, the viewer assembles a bot from a selection of body parts — an eye from one source, an ear from another. All of these are taken from popular icons – Darth Vader is one example. By enlarging a particular feature, the viewer-artists can create dominance and a focal point for her/her work. And because the pieces can be resized, the viewer-artist is using proportion. However, while this principle is often used to create a sense of depth or size, with the bot the proportion is distorted. This is a desired effect for this exhibition; the popular icons that society worships are larger than life. We give them a disproportionate amount of validity.

The bots are composed of 3-dimensional illustrations, yet they never come off as more than a 2-dimensional collage on the screen. This is significant, because it speaks to the lack of depth our sacred icons have. The bots also lack unity and balance, and it is through this that the site designers again reinforce their message. Finally, the colors of the various parts do not match; the left eye is a difference color than the right eye, the skin tones vary from part to part, etc.

The point here is to distort the elements of design to attack the popular images of our culture that are so burned into our minds. By deconstructing them and reassembling them as something grotesque, the creator can see them for what they truly are.

Karen Hughes
What is Art? Who Makes Art?
The Blue Chicken, by Spassmonkey
: sonorant, unfocused, stagnated, faded, spectacular, upbeat, solitary, eremitic, intoxicating, stark, unblemished, alabaster, dazzling, enlightened

“A Bird’s Eye View”

The sonorant, external stimulus emanating from “The Blue Chicken”, artwork by Spassmonkey, slams into my unfocused retina. It vibrates to my stagnated cerebral cortex allowing filtration through my being, a sorting of the senses is occurring. The fourth role of the artist, “to help us see the world in new and innovative ways”, has been accomplished and a transformation for this viewer is achieved. I am jousted out of my complacency, uprooted from narrowed expectations of art, and forced into seeing life anew (Sayre, 3rd ed.) 

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