Fall ’20 – Artist Essay Template

Fall ’20 – Artist Essay Template

Artist Essays

  • Your Art Activity blog posts can be casual.
  • Your essays about Artists should be 4-paragraph, college-level writing.

Sample 4-paragraph Artist Conversation

Before your 4 paragraphs, you should put an info block:

Artist: Maccabee Shelley
Media: Ceramics, Glass, Mixed-Media, Installation
Website: MaccabeeShelley.com
Instagram: maccabeeshelley

1 About the Artist

In this paragraph, you can provide a little background information on the artist. What are their interests? What ideas does their work explore?

2 – Formal Analysis

We often care a lot about the content of a work of art: what is it saying? When we look at new art or art from cultures we are unfamiliar with, it can be challenging to "read" the content. A nice way to start thinking about a work is to think about the form of the work. Even if you are not ready to explain what a work of art "says", you can start by talking about the form: is it large or small? Brightly colored or monochrome? And so on.

For this section describe the work. The “formal” qualities. The media or materials. The nature of the

  • line
  • shape
  • color
  • rhythm
  • scale
  • texture
  • cadence
  • and so on…

Is it

  • Straight?
  • Jagged?
  • Undulating?
  • Sinuous?
  • Staccato?

Is it

  • Black-and-white?
  • Muted pastel colors?
  • Vivid primary colors?

Is it

  • so tiny that you must come in close to see it?
  • so massive and so much larger than you that you get a visceral, gut reaction when standing near it?

3 – Content Analysis

What is it about? Relate the ideas you get from your conversation with the artist here. What’s on their mind? What are they thinking about? What ideas are they trying to explore?

Good Questions: Bad Questions
Students instinctively want to ask:

Where do you get your inspiration?

This is a reasonable and normal question. But, please understand that this is not the way artists think. It is a dead-end question that doesn’t open up a conversation with the artist. You can have a better conversation with the artist if you ask a variation on this question, like

Can you talk a little bit about the ideas you’re exploring in this work?

Separate Paragraphs
Please do not combine Formal Analysis and Content Analysis into a single "Formal Analysis / Content Analysis" section. Each of these areas is worthy of one thoughtful paragraph from you. Please take the time to write an honest and compelling piece.

4 – Synthesis / My Experience

What does it mean? In this last section, it’s about you! Synthesize the gestalt of this exhibition and how it resonates with you. How do the formal nature of the work and the artist’s ideas resonate with your ideas, perceptions, and perspectives? Do things from your life experience, your academic experience, and other sources resonate here?


Almost everyone makes small typos, awkward phrases, and other simple but distracting mistakes.
Proofread! Proofread!! Proofread!!!

3 Free Tools!

Here are 3 great, free tools available to help with your writing!

Writing well is important because:

  • You should feel proud about writing a clean, coherent essay that tells a compelling story
  • For your future career, developing the ability to Write and Speak well may be the most important abilities you develop here at Long Beach State
  • You are the first person to write about this young artist! We owe them good writing. Imagine if I wrote a letter of recommendation for you. Imagine that I said all kinds of great things about you and your work, but I misspelled your name! You’d feel bad. You wouldn’t want to show this to anyone. Let’s do our best to avoid mistakes.

3 Free Writing Tools

  • Grammarly is a free writing tool that can help with your spelling and punctuation. It is a browser extension that can work as you type. Or, you can go to the Grammarly website and type there and copy/paste to WordPress or another destination when you’re done.
  • Hemingway is a free writing tool that can help improve the clarity and power of your writing. It will help you write simpler, clearer, more impactful sentences.
  • The University Writing Center offers free help with your writing. Grammarly and Hemingway are great online tools. At the UWC you can get help from an actual human being!

The University Writing Center offers:

  • 45-minute one-on-one writing appointments
  • 15-30 minute drop-in tutoring sessions
  • Small-group tutorial sessions for 2-4 students from the same class working on the same assignment (arranged in advance)
  • Workshops on key writing concerns
  • Workshops on the GWAR Placement Exam (GPE)

  • Student Success Center (SSC) – 245
  • Monday-Thursday: 9-5, Friday: 10-3
  • 562-985-5162
  • uwc@csulb.edu
Let Love In screenprint by LBSU Printmaking grad student Bobi Bosson

Comments? Questions? What great art did you see, make, or experience today?

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