Settling On a Theme

Sketchbook assignment
The first problem any painter faces is what to paint.  Before we lift a brush we need to know why.

We have been looking at different artists to try and help start up some inspiration within you, and to get you to think about what it is you have an interest in as an artist.  We have also looked at styles and themes.

With this assignment we will start thinking about a “theme” that can be a guiding principle for your work.

A Coherent Body of Work
The Exhibition, a component of your IB Art portfolio, requires your work to demonstrate a “theme” that unifies and connects all of the individual works in the show.  What they really mean is that it must look like a coherent body of work; works that show that you have a vision, style, or message and know how to convey that over a series of works.

A coherent body of work can be created two different ways:

  • Content.  The work follows the same topic, theme, or narrative throughout the work.  An example would be a series of paintings that talk about nature and man’s place within it, or a series of drawings dealing with feminist issues.
  • Style.  The works all fit with a technical or conceptual approach to art.  Cubism would be a fantastic example of this, but many of the art movements throughout history have had some level of visual cohesiveness in its approach to art production.

Examples of Content Cohesion
These 4 images are all by Mary Cassatt, an American Impressionist who depicted the day-to-day domestic lives of upper class women.  Even though there are some differences in stylistic appearance between the works, they all serve as this window into the private world of these women.

Examples of Stylistic Cohesion
All 3 works are by Pablo Picasso, painted using his Synthetic Cubism style.  While the topics of each painting greatly vary (still life, musicians, the horrors of war), they are visually cohesive for being painted in the same style.

Pick a Theme:  Round 1
I want you to pick a theme.  This may be the theme you already had from last year, or this may be something brand new.  Keep in mind, I’m saying theme, but I mean “coherent body of work,” so your theme can be a topic, and idea, or a style.

for your homework I want you to write a paragraph (or two, or three) stating/describing your theme or style that you want to explore.  Keep in mind this theme is to be used for any work that will be in your Exhibition.

Thumbnail Sketches
A thumbnail sketch refers to a quick small sketch than an artist makes to start planning out or visualizing something they want to make.  The name refers to the idea of it being a small sketch, but in truth they may be as large as a whole sketchbook page.  Quality-wise, they are somewhere between a doodle and a finished work of art.

For your homework assignment I want you to create 3 thumbnail sketches to go with your theme or style.   I want each thumbnail to be different, and yet still strive to match your stated theme or style.

So In total I want you give me the following

  • a paragraph (or more) stating your theme or style
  • 3 thumbnail sketches of ideas (paintings, sculptures, whatever) that can fit with that theme

This is due Tuesday, September 20th, by the beginning of class.  All writing and sketching should be in your sketchbook, and could serve as a process page.  This is a formative grade.