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Investigating Three Artists:  Shahzia Sikander, Nell Blaine & one more . . .

Due:  October 25, 2019                  11:59 pm                                 25 points

This paper is to be 2 1/2 to 3 pages.   Respond to the two required artists, one full page apiece.   Then give a short response (paragraph or so) to the third "your choice" artist.   Attach visual examples for all three at the end of the written paper. 

In your discussion, demonstrate that you took your investigation beyond a web search for images of the artist's watercolor paintings.   For example, you might mention something of interest from the Shahzia Sikander video and describe how it added to your understanding of the work.    

Currently, our studio focus is on the expressive side of watercolor.  We’re exploring methods that give priority to something other than descriptive accuracy.  We’re interested in visual texture, brushwork, marks and patterns as a way to let paint offer an element of surprise and creative interpretation.  In this paper, you will investigate three artists who are in love with the expressive potential of watercolor–sometimes in a quiet way, sometimes bold. 

These artists work(ed) in a range of painting and drawing media.  Look at it all!  Then, for our purposes, please concentrate on watercolor/watermedia (gouache is ok).  Within their body of watercolor paintings, focus on expressive brushwork, visual texture, marks and patterns.   

Three Artists 

The provided links offer a starting point–then explore beyond . . .  

1) Shahzia Sikander

https://art21.org/watch/art-in-the-twenty-first-century/s1/shahzia-sikander-in-spirituality-segment/ (Links to an external site.)

2)  Nell Blaine 

Look to museum websites and art history texts for a discussion of this famous painter.  

3) Plus one more . . . choose from this list

Maurice Prendergast                  Georges Seurat  

Childe Hassam                                 Paul Signac      

Sophie Von Hellerman                                

https://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/video/reflections-on-watercolour-workshop (Links to an external site.)


  • Research the artists, look at their work, note how they describe (or art historians/critics describe) their artmaking process.  Try not to confuse an artist’s style with their perspective on art.  You may dislike the work and yet be intrigued/inspired by their insights. 
  • For each artist, select an artwork that demonstrates their approach to expressive watercolor.  In your discussion, refer to the image and support your ideas with specific examples.  
  • Attach images of the artwork examples at the end of the paper (in addition to your written discussion).  There will be three artwork examples, one per artist. 
  • See formatting guidelines (below) for information on how to lay out the paper, how to label artwork examples, and how to cite sources.

Required!  For each artist, discuss the following 3 questions:

How does the artist expand upon our current interest in expressive watercolor?  

How do they approach visual texture/brushwork/marks and patterns, how is this given importance?

What effect does it have on the finished work (descriptive/expressive impact)? 

Choices!  Respond to any of these questions or make up your own: 

How did this artist expand your ideas about the look of watercolor or the goals of art?  

What does it make you want to try–with expressive methods–in your own work? 

What’s important to the artist?  What are they in love with/obsessed with/curious about?  

What’s a quote from the artist that struck you as interesting and why?  

An artist hopes to bring some kind of meaning to the work–something for the viewer to experience and respond to.  What response does the artwork bring up for you? 

What do you like or dislike about the work?  Why?

Formatting Guidelines

  • The paper will consist of a heading, a body of discussion, one or two pages of artwork examples, and source citations.
  • HEADING is to be single-spaced and take up no more than 4 lines of the page.
  • BODY, or written discussion, is to be 2 1/2 to 3 pages. The written text is to be double-spaced with 1” margins.   
  • IN ADDITION to the 2 1/2 to 3 written pages, attach one or two pages with an example of each artist’s artwork.  Refer to the images to support your ideas.  Label image with artist, title, year, materials (watercolor on paper, for example) and the source (the museum or artist’s website, for example). You may not be given all of this info, include as much as you can.
  • Painting examples must be large enough to show detail.  Images must be roughly 1/3 of a page or bigger.
  • If you summarize, use quotes or state facts, cite the source as follows:  Author, Date, Book/Journal Title or Name of Site. (Oregon Art Beat 2005, Season 6, Episode 19, for example).  You can also use a link:  Author, Date, Title, Retrieved from: cite URL.  

Good to Know

  • Conversational tone is fine, in fact, preferable, to a formal academic (impersonal) report.  Approach this as a response paper, offer personal ideas /opinions and back them up with examples.
  • Respect intellectual/creative property:  give credit to the artist or author.  Cite your source.
  • Avoid ”filler” biographical info.  If interesting, give it a brief mention.  Avoid lingering on where they went to high school or lists of exhibitions and awards.     
  • Focus on the questions and examine the artwork.  That’ll fill your pages, easy.