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The following categories, questions and elements are intended to assist teachers in having discussions about works of art as a pre-writing activity.


What kind of art is it?

(Painting, sculpture, portrait, landscape, manuscript, etc.)

Each art form has its own history and traditions. Are any of these traditions relevant or interesting?

What is the medium?

What materials and techniques were used to make it?

Have materials been used in a new way?

How does the process affect the meaning of the work?

Was it made quickly, or over a long period of time?

Is the artwork damaged, or are there parts missing?

Has it been repaired or renovated?

What is the size of the artwork?

What is the subject matter?

Can you recognize any of the people, places, and things portrayed?


How are the elements in the work of art arranged?

What do you notice about the composition of the artwork?

How has the artist used the elements and principles of design within the format to best express his or her idea, message and feelings?

Here are some different elements to consider for your analysis:


Are there thick, thin, curvy, jagged, or straight lines?


Is there a range of tones from dark to light? (Squint your eyes).

Where is the darkest value? The lightest?


What colours have been used? What is the colour scheme? (Many colours, only one or two, light colours, dark colours, etc)


Does there appear to be a strong sense of light in the image?

Is it harsh or soft? Is the light coming from a particular direction?


Do you see geometric or organic shapes? Do positive shapes, such as objects, dominate the composition, or are there more negative shapes that represent voids? Is there one principle shape or is it composed of interrelating combinations of shapes?


Is the space deep or shallow? How has the artist created a sense of space? (By overlapping objects, position on the picture plane, linear perspective, atmospheric perspective, other ways?)


Do you see the illusion of textures within the image? Is there an

actual texture on the surface of the image?


Close your eyes. When you open them and look at the image, what is the first thing that you notice? Why? What does the arrangement of the parts of the picture or sculpture draw your attention to in the image?


Are there strong visual contrasts between lights and darks, textures, solids

and voids, etc.?


Repetition of visual elements can create unity a sense of order or wholeness that holds the work together visually. What elements are repeated? Do they form a strong visual rhythm? Do they form a pattern? Do they contribute to a sense of unity?


How does your eye move around the format? How do rhythms and

patterns contribute a sense of visual movement?


Variety creates interest. Can you see a variety of visual elements such as different values, different shapes, textures, etc.?


Is the visual weight on one side of the image about the same as the other? How about the top to bottom and diagonally? Is the work symmetrical or asymmetrical?


Does the work hold together as an overall entity, or does it have some pleasing parts but doesn’t really work as a whole?