Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Library & The Internet

Library Websites:

Since a majority of your information must come from printed text, you are going to have to visit a library at least once. To save yourself time, search the catalogues to see what is available before you go. Write down the title and call #s. It will save hours if you do this before you go to the Library. Don’t be afraid to ask for help while there. In fact, if you go to MASS Art Library, they will be expecting you!

Your Best Bet for Art Research:

Mass College of Art (Green Line, E train near Northeastern & MFA)
Boston Public Library (Green Line, Copley Square)

I have also had students go to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and be let into the special archives room.
Boston College
Boston University
Or Google any other college library and browse its online catalogue before making the trip. You can call them and see their policies. Most are open to the public (except Harvard) but you will probably not be able to check out books.

Some good Art Magazines with websites.

Libraries will often have these archived. But you can see which issues, if any, relate to your artist before you go searching:
Art Forum
Modern Painters
It is also a good idea to Google your artist and see what scholarly work and books you can find. It is helpful to have a list of title from which to choose to look for before you go to the library. The more time you can save yourself, the more productive you will be.

Step 6: Research Cards and Citation Cards

Researching: Most of your research should come from books and journals, or magazines. The Internet can be helpful for general life and historical information, but make sure the site is reputable. NEVER USE WIKIPEDIA as a source (for the same reason you would not use an encyclopedia for this paper.) The web can also be a good place to find interviews with the artist. Read as many of these as you can. There is no better person to explain the purpose or goal of the artwork than the artist who painted it.

Assignment: Due Monday after break, April 28th:

1. a paragraph that explains your thesis--(this will probably be reworked.)

2. at least 50 Research Cards of information. You will need at least 25 primary source cards & 25 secondary source cards. (Thias is a minimum--you should have more!)

Here's what should be on the (Research Cards WHITE):

  • Topic of information (painting referred to if appropriate)
  • “Passage quoted directly” or paraphrased in your own words.
  • Include page number.
  • The number of the citation card for which the info refers to.


  • Your notes on significance, thoughts, etc.

3. You will also need 20 (Citation Cards YELLOW): –

Here's what should be on the (Citation Cards YELLOW): Do this every time you reference a book or website, copy down proper citation information. Even if it does not end up in Works cited, you will put in Works Consulted.

  • Proper citation information (See MLA Citation Guide) with a number next to information. This way, you will not have to waste time citing information every time you make a note card. Just write down the number of the citation. Make sure you get info right!
  • A brief summary--3-7 sentences summarizing the content of the source.

SRP: Developing a Thesis

At some point during your research, preferably sooner than later (but after you feel comfortable with your subject), you want to develop a thesis so that you can focus your research. Otherwise, you are wasting valuable time.

It also helps to start with a group of paintings that share a common thread—the dates they were crafted, titles, subject matter, they may be a part of a series, or you may find a interesting thread on your own.

Your thesis should partly respond to what ties the work together (what is in common) as well as argue a theory about the significance of the work. Your research should help prove your thesis.

When developing a thesis, think of big questions: How do these paintings explain a perception of the universe? How is the artist’s own life or philosophy portrayed in the paintings? How does the artist ask his or her audience to view the paintings (or the universe)?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Senior Research Paper: Steps 3 & 4

Step 3:

Spend the next ½ hour or so familiarizing your self with the artist and his or her work. Choose 1-3 paintings on which to turn your focus. By Monday at 3:00 p.m., you will post three pages (1000 words) on these paintings on your blog. See Step 4 for hints and practices for writing on art; how to turn an image, even the most abstract, into written discourse.

Step 4:

Choose 1 – 3 paintings and try to describe them to the best of your ability. Paint a replica of the image with your own words. Can you make your reader “see” what you are seeing. This is an important step in the process of writing this research paper for a few reasons: First, you will need this descriptive writing in your essay to aid your analysis. Second, you will learn things about the piece of art by forcing yourself to stare at it with the attention needed to describe it. Last, what you see may be different from what others do, not just the abstract work, but what are your eyes drawn to first? You will never be able to get this moment back--what your eyes noticed when you were first drawn to the painting / or piece of art. You will also need this writing when you start to compile your formal research paper.

“Helpful Hints” to enhance your descriptive powers:

  • Spend as much time as possible “free writing” about the image prior to doing any research. You can always edit this down if you feel that the writing is stale or redundant. Free writing is best done with fresh eyes as a first response, and can be edited after you know the image well. This can be tedious if you are in the middle of trying to arrange your argument and realize your paper is just not long enough.
  • When describing colors, expand your vocabulary. There is no such thing as pure yellow. Maybe you mean lemon yellow or canary yellow or cadmium yellow or saffron. Check out these colors for ideas, but stick to colors that your audience will be able to visualize. For example, I can’t picture alice blue, but I can picture aqua and royal blue.
  • If the image is particularly abstract, focus on the emotions that the artist is trying to express. Do the lines create a sense of movement? Does the painting seem to speed up time, or slow it down? Ask your self creative questions and answer them.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Senior Research Paper: Researching and Writing About Artists and Their Work

Overview and Steps 1-2

Overview: You will be choosing one artist, either from the following list or a contemporary artist (or 20th Century artist) of equal historic merit (he or she must have adequate primary and secondary source material from which to research). The research you gather will help you prove your thesis about specific pieces of art (1-5).

Choose an artist whose work you like, and even more importantly, who you think makes an interesting statement through his or her artwork that you think you can explain for about 15 pages.

Step 1: I have set up hyperlinks for about 40 artists. Spend the next 40 minutes or so choosing an artist that you would like to focus for the next few weeks. You will want to have a back-up choice or two for various reasons. I know a bit about each of these artists and have an idea of what you will face if you choose to research any of them. I’ll be around to answer questions. Enjoy.

For some of these artists, it is just as easy to do an image search.

Painters and Artists:

White Cube also has a good list of contemporary artists.

I chose these artists because they should be easy enough to find research on but have not been written on endlessly. If you have an artist in mind, I’d be happy to add it to the list.

Step 2: Post a Comment on which artist you want and why (brief). Check with me first. You can pick someone that is not on the list. I would also like you to hyperlink the title of an image that you like from the artist, so a quick minilesson:

Kevin Ta 5 said...Alright, here’s my quick mini lesson on how to hyperlink in comment boxes. Say you want to make a link like this. All you have to do is type the following into the comment box:
<"a href=http://www.google.com">"this"<"/a">
and get rid of the quotation marks. When you publish it, it will look like:
Replace the URL (making sure you have the http:// part) and the “this” and it’s as simple as that. Remember that the Preview button is your friend. Hope that helps.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Hamlet Web Goodies

Click here for the lyrics to "The Three Minute Hamlet" aka "Oer Hamlet".
here to hear the song sung by John Wesley Harding.

Hamlet Abridged "Puppet Show" from Act 3 Scene 2 to Finis!

You can also just type in Hamlet in youtube and spend countless hours bound inside a virtual nutshell and count yourself king of infinite space.