Modern Times Artwork and Critical Analysis Essay

Part 2 Cumulative Project

Modern Times Artwork and Critical Analysis Essay

Artists make thoughtful choices about the elements of art and the principles of design when they create artworks in their chosen style.  In this cumulative project, you will make a portrait, landscape, genre, or still life painting that reflects one or more of the abstract styles found in Fauvism, Cubism, Abstract Expressionism, or Surrealism. In your work, you will effectively use the elements of art and principles of design, as well as the defining characteristics of your chosen style. When your artwork is complete, you will write a four-page critical analysis of your artwork.

Modern Times Artwork

Materials: Complete the abstract artwork portion of your cumulative project using the media of your choice. You are welcome to create your work with paint, color pencil, crayon, digitally, or other media of your choice. Select the materials that you work best with and are readily available in your area. The critical analysis portion of your essay must be typed using a word processing program such as Word or Open Office.

Studio Instructions

Before You Begin

Gather objects or images that you might like to use for reference. Prepare the work area with newspaper, recycled printer paper, or other similar paper; paint, paintbrushes, and paint palette; paper towels; and water container, or other materials you plan to add color to.

Step 1: Choose a Subject and Style

Choose a subject that complements the style you will be working in. For example, you might choose to paint an interior genre in the Fauvist style, a Cubist still life, an Abstract Expressionist portrait, or a Surrealist landscape. Or, you may want to combine features of more than one style and create your own abstract style.

  • Still Life: If you decide to paint a still life, gather some objects for reference and set them up in an area where they will remain undisturbed for the duration of the project.

  • Landscape or Genre Painting: If you are creating a landscape or genre painting, choose a scene or location where you would like to paint, or gather your own photographs or photographs from books and magazines as inspiration.

  • Portrait: If you are making a portrait, you may ask someone to pose for you, you may use a photograph as inspiration, or you may make it a self-portrait by looking in a mirror.

Step 2: Sketch and Draw

You can work in one of the abstract styles that you learned about or combine elements from different styles to create your own style. Refer to the sections below on Line, Shape, and Space below to help you decide the effect you want to create. Make several quick thumbnail sketches to help you plan your painting and decide how to arrange the composition. Once you have decided on a final composition, lightly draw the elements on a new piece of paper. Finalize the sketch into a finished drawing by smoothing and darkening the lines and by erasing any unwanted lines.

Line and Shape

You can use curving lines for a whimsical effect as Surrealist Joan Miró did. Or, as the Fauvist Matisse did, use graceful, flowing lines, repeating them to create an overall pattern. Or, as Abstract Expressionist Willem de Kooning did, use expressive, gestural lines. Think of ways to simplify the shapes of the figures and objects and to eliminate details that you feel aren’t necessary in your composition. Think about the shapes in some Modernist artworks that you’ve studied.

  • Fauvist Shapes: Like the Fauvist Henri Matisse, you could draw simplified, flattened shapes and repeat them to create a pattern.

  • Surrealist Shapes: Like Surrealist Joan Miró, you could draw imaginative, amoeba-like shapes to create abstractions of real objects Or, use Surrealist Salvador Dalí’s technique of distorting the shapes of recognizable objects.

  • Cubist Shapes: Like the Cubist Picasso, you could disassemble and reassemble an object into fragmented geometric shapes that intersect. Show the objects as if they have been cut apart and the pieces have been put back together in slightly different positions or at different angles. Sketch the objects from several different angles, paying special attention to the shapes and forms you see when you turn them.

Space: Decide whether you want your painting to have a flattened sense of space or a deep

sense of space.

  • Flattened Space: If you choose to create a flattened sense of space as the Fauves did, avoid using one-point perspective. Instead, make simple, fl at shapes and bold, overall patterning as the Fauves did. Or knit together the fractured shapes of objects and background as the Cubists did. Or merge the objects and background as Abstract Expressionist de Kooning did, by overlapping and knitting together expressive lines and shapes. You can create abstractions of real objects as Miró did by using imaginative, amoeba-like shapes. You can distort the shapes of recognizable objects as Dalí did.

  • Deep Space: If you choose to create a sense of deep space, like that used by Surrealist Salvador Dalí, for example, make distant objects smaller and closer to the horizon line than objects in the foreground. Within a realistic, deep space, add unexpected, distorted objects from your imagination or a dream.

Step 3: Choose Colors

Relax and have fun while you are painting or adding color with your chosen media! You can always paint or color over areas that you don’t like.

  • Fauvist Color Tips: Remember that colors don’t need to be representational. Choose pure, bold colors and use them abstractly. Consider the jarring, unnatural colors that Matisse use. Use intense colors straight from the tube or mix new colors on your palette. Use smooth, flat color without modeling to fill the simplified shapes of your drawing. Create clear outlines to define elements in the painting. To create strong outlines, layer wet colors on top of dry paint, or trace around dried shapes with a contrasting color by using a thin brush.

  • Cubist Color Tips: Choose a neutral palette if you are working in the Analytical Cubist style. Focus on using browns, grays, white, and black. To create strong outlines that define shapes, layer wet paint on top of dry paint. For the passage technique, leave one edge of a shape open so that it merges with a neighboring shape, by blending the paint colors while they are still wet.

  • Abstract Expressionist Color Tips: Choose bold, brash colors plus black and white to work in de Kooning’s Abstract Expressionist style. On a scrap piece of paper, experiment with thick and thin lines and broad strokes of color. Use visible, expressive, gestural brushstrokes to apply color, rather than smoothly applying the paint and adding outlines around the objects. In some areas, c  learly define the objects in your painting. In other areas, make object merge with the background by allowing lines, shapes, and colors to overlap objects and background. Experiment with layering patches of colors to create complex color relationships. Flattened space with bold, overall patterning.

  • Surrealist Color Tips: If you plan to blend colors, you may want to practice on scrap paper first. A Surrealist painting might contain bold colors based on your vision or imagination similar to the way that Miró used color. Or, consider Dalí’s use of both vivid and neutral colors in The Persistence of Memory. Dalí modeled his shapes by adding highlights and shadows. Where you want to blend and model colors for a realistic effect, you’ll have to work quickly with acrylic paint because it dries rapidly. For detailing, use a small paintbrush with a small amount of water and paint to create fine details and textures.

Step 4: Sign

  • Sign and date your artwork!

Step 5: Checklist

Look at your painting and answer the following questions:

□ Did you start by lightly sketching the composition?

□ Did you incorporate a Modernist style into your painting (Fauvism, Cubism, Abstract Expressionism, or Surrealism), or did you use a combination of styles to create an abstract painting?

□ Did you use a color palette that complements the style of the painting?

□ Did you sign and date your work?

Critical Analysis Essay

When your artwork is complete, you will write a critical analysis essay about your artwork. This essay must be at least four pages long and meet 11th grade MLA writing expectations. Type your essay your essay must be typed using a word processing program such as Word or Open Office.

Part 1: Description

In the descriptive part of your essay you will fully describe all details of your artwork. Include:

  • The title of your work, artist, and date the work was completed.

  • Description

  • Describe all of the images in the artwork.

  • What do you see?

  • What is in the foreground?

  • What is in the background?

  • How do the objects relate to each other?

  • Medium:

  • What is the work made of?

  • How was it created?

  • Describe the technique.

  • Style:

  • What Modern style is the artwork created in?

  • What are some defining characteristics of the Modern style you worked in?

  • What artists or famous artworks were used as inspiration for the artwork?

Part 2: Analysis

This is where you will describe how the still life is organized using the elements of art and principles of design. Include:

  • Explain how the colors in the artwork have been used to reflect the Modernist style you have worked in.

  • Explain how the shapes in the artwork have been used to reflect the Modernist style you have worked in.

  • Explain how the space (deep or flat) in the artwork has been used to reflect the Modernist style you have worked in.

Part 3: Interpretation

In your analysis, you will discuss the meaning of the work. Include:

  • What message did you intend to convey to your viewers?

  • What meaning do the objects you selected or other symbols in the artwork have?

Part 4: Evaluation

Give your personal opinion of why you think the work is or is not successful as a Modernist artwork. Include:

  • Does the artwork meet the defining characteristics of your chose Modernist style? Why or why not?

  • Is the overall composition a success in terms of elements, principles, and mood?

  • What is the most successful part of your artwork?

  • If you could improve one thing about your artwork, what would it be, and why?

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