Assignment: Writing a formal analysis based on an artwork

Due Date: Check the course syllabus


This assignment is geared toward helping you develop visual literacy. Visual literacy is essentially the ability to recognize and understand ideas conveyed through visible actions or images (such as pictures).


  • To articulate through writing what you see.
  • To use formal analysis vocabulary.
  • To analyze the visual ideas in an artwork.

Step 1: Finding the artwork

  • Visit any public work of art. You can find public art by going to the Arts Council for Long Beach site ( for a map to public works of art in the area. Choose a work of art that interests you.
  • Take enough paper to create a drawing and notes.
  • Write down the title of the artwork, date created, where it’s located, it’s size, materials, and the name of the artist/architect (if known).
  • Take a picture of yourself with the art.
  • Sketch the art in as much detail as possible. This exercise is to help you see the artwork reflectively, not to grade your art skills.
  • Describe the image in detail. This will be incorporated into the formal analysis of the image.
  • Discuss the content and possible meaning of the piece. Record directly as many details as possible. Do not rely on your memory.


Step 2: Formal Analysis

  • Write a formal analysis based on the notes you took at the site. A formal analysis provides the whole in which we see the parts of description and describes the effect of the art.
  • Describe the composition as a whole, then break down sections of the composition to describe the form. Analyze line, color, shape, texture, mass, space, volume, proportion, balance, scale, light & shading, etc.
  • If you need to review this information, go to Module 1 on Canvas for the Introduction pdf and Khan Academy essays.
  • Khan Academy video on formal or visual analysis –


What is the difference between description and formal analysis?

Description alone is an impersonal inventory of the form, for example, “Figures sit and stand in a landscape.” Much of formal analysis will consist of this kind of description and you should try to carefully observe the image to give an accurate description.  However, formal analysis also describes how the form takes on meaning.  In the case of the above statement, one might ask how the description of the figures sitting and standing in a landscape takes on meaning. A formal analysis might tell us that “Elegant figures dressed in fine pastel silks are placed strategically throughout a lush, green landscape which helps to draw the viewer’s eye from the foreground to the background. In the background, four figures appear to be boarding a small boat that floats on calm blue water.” The second example creates more of a visual impact.


Step 3: Putting the paper together (the final product)

  • The paper should begin with a thesis where you introduce the work of art and give whatever specific data there is about the work, for example, artist, date, size, location, and/or media.
  • The thesis statement for a formal analysis does not need to be original. Here’s an example of a thesis statement: “Prince Khunera as a Scribe, a free-standing Egyptian sculpture 12 inches tall, now in the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, was found at Giza in a temple dedicated to the father of the prince, King Mycerinus. The limestone statue may have been a tribute to that Fourth Dynasty king. The prince, sitting cross-legged with a scribal tablet on his lap rests his hands on his thighs. He wears only a short skirt or kilt.” [1]
  • Note: this is not a research paper. I inserted a footnote because I’m quoting from A Short Guide to Writing About Art by Sylvan Barnet.
  • Three full pages double spaced of detailed formal analysis (250 words/page).
  • Use 12 pt. font that’s easy to read like Times New Roman or Arial.
  • Indent paragraphs about ½”.
  • Number the pages.
  • Turn in (upload) your paper along with the sketch and notes on time (check the syllabus)!

Grading Rubric:

  • 30 points – Relevance – your paper should meet the assignment criteria including submitting the picture, sketch, and notes along with your paper.
  • 30 points – Detailed – your paper should go into detail regarding the following as they apply to the artwork: composition, line, space, proportion, texture, light & shadow, size, color, & mood.
  • 10 points – Cohesive – your paper should be cohesive in that you introduce the artwork, follow with complete formal analysis, and end with a conclusion.
  • 10 points – Organization – your paper should be organized and well-thought out. For example, when discussing the variations of texture, did you interject a sentence on mood that is out of place? Or, are you repeating statements without going further in depth?
  • 10 points – Terminology – use the terms that have been introduced in class whenever possible. For example, use the term ‘sculpture in the round’ instead of ‘statue’. Keep superlatives (words like amazing, beautiful, awesome) and to a minimum
  • 10 points – Grammar & spelling – your paper should be free of grammatical and spelling errors.

This paper is not:

  • A personal essay – limit your use of personal pronouns.
  • A research paper – do not include contextual information.
  • A personal critique of the art – while your observations of the artwork are important, keep your opinions to a minimum.
  • A biography about the artist.

Note: It seems to be the law of paper-writing that papers always take longer than expected! Give yourself plenty of time to write any of your papers. Students often procrastinate because they don’t clearly understand how to begin the assignment. If that describes you, please email me! 

[1] Sylvan Barnet. A Short Guide to Writing About Art, 10th edition. Prentice Hall, 2011, p.53.

Quick Quote

Approximately 250 words
Total price (USD) $: 10.99

Spend Hours doing a Paper or spend less and LET OF STRESS!

Read Reviews from Clients Ordered this Assignment

Grace Potter

What I received was great. I forgot to mention in the instructions field that I needed reference page and by default, there was 0 in the number of references. I was surprised to see a full-fledged reference page in my paper with relevant citations. Bravo!

Grace Potter

Rebecca Chang

After ordering with you I decided to recommend this place to my friends. This is my token of appreciation for your good work.

Rebecca Chang

Zane Sheridan

Good experience. I received a B for the paper you’ve written. Thank you so much. You’ve found a returning customer.

Zane Sheridan

Jonathan Stone

They are a marvel. I love their support team, they are so polite, it’s like speaking to a butler or something. Very pleasant people and good service of course.

Jonathan Stone

Derek Holland

You guys made me rethink the whole thing. I received my paper according to my instructions and way before my deadline. I am so hopeful about this.

Derek Holland

Thomas Long

The first time I ordered here and it was a success. I received my order on time and according to my instructions, the professor gave me. The two points they claim to excel in are true. Thank you!

Thomas Long

Joyce Lee

Thanks for the excellent job. Swift and on the subject, just the way I like it. The Support team was quite nice to me, helped me with the order placing process.

Joyce Lee

James Matthew

Thank you for the help, I took my time and ordered a 14 days long essay. It came much earlier, around 7 days after I ordered it. Oh, and it was good, of course. I like the writer who did that, will definitely use again.

James Matthew

Confidentiality Guaranteed

We value your privacy and deserve your complete trust. Our privacy guarantee provides you with security in regard to your personal information. We won’t share these details with anyone, for any reason


Plagiarism Free

Our Professional Team of Writers understand and upholds Plagiarism Rules and always work towards presenting Plagiarism Free work in order to achieve High Quality Essays. Additionally, we employ Quality Control tools such as plagiarism and grammar checkers while at the same time a Quality Assurance Team to ensure your assignment is a Plagiarism Free masterpiece ready for submission.

On-time Delivery

It’s normal to forget an assignment that is due in a few minutes or even hours. Our Professional Team of Writers and 24 Hour Support/Response are always here to help you with an Urgent Essay while at the same time providing you with a High Quality Essay and On time Delivery. Our Team has always been subjected to more tough conditions and have always endured and delivered essays on time.

How to Place an Order

24 Hour Support/Response

At, We have a 24 Hour Support/Response. Our 24 Hour Support/Response Team can be reached through Whatsapp, Facebook, Email or a Phone Call

Let’s face it, It can get quite nerve-wracking doing homework assignments especially on a tight deadline by yourself. At, we have dealt with enormous types of Essay Writing Assignments within different sets of conditions and time frames and we have received more than exceptional results from our customer reviews. Our Professional Team of Writers is always ready to help and provide High-Quality Essay Writing at flexible pricing within any level of urgency. Our academic paper writers have profound experience in what professors are looking for and are able to tailor-make any paper to your requirements! Our Essay Writing employs Quality Control Tools to make sure what you get matches the price.

You can order any type of content at Do you need an essay for the social science class? No problem. Do you want a lab report for your chemistry course? We can complete it for you! How about multiple-choice questions for the marketing course? We’ll assign a marketing expert to solve them for you! From simple essays to programming assignments to entire dissertations, you can order any kind of academic paper at our website. That’s exactly why so many students from all around the world choose us as their faithful companions throughout their academic journey. We give them the self-confidence they need, so they can continue their studies without being scared that they would fail because of a simple essay