Reflect Before You Write

Teresa Cochran | In the Know, Reflection & Growth | July 28, 2020

To write clearly and powerfully about your art, it is important to take a moment before you pen to paper to reflect. For many people, reflecting, especially on their own artwork, does not come naturally.

Engage Art’s free Choose Your Own Art-venture eCourse and Workbook prepares you to create meaningful art, to reflect on it, and to communicate about it. This blog post references parts of that eCourse specifically meant to prepare you to write about your submission, because your writing is an important part of what our jurors will be looking at when they review your work.  Module 5 focuses on reflecting and writing about your artwork and about yourself as an artist. It includes many worksheets to help you do the best job you can—for our contest and for your art career. To learn more and download any modules you’d like (for free!), go here.

When you are ready to reflect on your artwork, here are some steps you can take. As you reflect, think about how you would explain this artwork to your audiences (or one of their representatives). You can find more about defining your audiences in another blog post or in Module 5. We suggest you name the representative for your audience and write a short profile of them.

Considerations When Creating

Then consider your art in these ways, taking note of the things your audience would find compelling about the answers:

  • Analyze your Engage Art submission for topic, theme, and plot. Module 1 demonstrates how to do this, and there are worksheets in both Module 1 and Module 5 that can guide you. Fill it out for this artwork now. Try to analyze your art with some distance. Don’t report what you were planning to include—write about what you can see in the work.
  • If you used the workbook pages in Module 2 to develop your theme, review the final art against those. When you look back at your planning documents, you might be reminded of some things you integrated so well that you have forgotten them. Are they important clues for your audience to understand this work? If it’s helpful, you can fill the worksheets out again, based on how the artwork evolved.
  • Think about the skills you developed and your experimentation during the time you’ve been making this art. How does your time working to advance your artistic ability show up in this artwork? This part of your reflection may just be for your own self-satisfaction or it may have relevance to your submission or other writing. Has this piece been instrumental in your development as an artist? How so? What are the techniques or processes used in this work? What would your audiences find interesting about how you made this work? About how you’ve grown? We cover how to be a lifelong skill developer and art experimenter in Module 4, if you’re interested in exploring that.
  • Consider your own artwork critically, like you would any other artwork. This has nothing to do with criticism in the normal way we use that word, and it has everything to do with being able to evaluate art, just like you’d evaluate a significant purchase or where the best place to put a garden is. Here you can use the skills you’ve honed evaluating other people’s art and apply them to your own work. If you want to brush up on how to do that well, we walk you through the process in Module #3. But you can start here: What do you notice artistically? Technically? What really works? How can you educate your audiences about what’s “really going on” in the artwork?
  • Now that you’ve reflected and thought through various aspects of this artwork, use your favorite technique (or try a new one!) to determine the most important things for you to share about this artwork. Find more information in Modules 2 and 5.

3 Effective Brainstorming Activties

— Brainstorming and Free Writing help you come up with ideas.

— Mind Mapping helps you visualize the relevant topics and how they relate to each other. Your mind map can become a kind of outline for your writing. Or you could just outline what you have to say if you’re more comfortable working that way.

— Interview yourself (or have someone interview you, or pretend your fictional audience representative is talking to you) about the artwork and your experience creating it. By answering a good set of questions, you can explore and think through the things you want to say.

There are workbook pages at the end of Module 5 to help you work through as many of these exercises as you find helpful.

This blog post was drawn from Engage Art’s free Choose Your Own Art-venture eCourse and Workbook. Module 5 is all about reflecting and writing about your artwork, and it includes many worksheets to help you do the best job you can. Being able to express your intentions for your art—especially the theme you are working with to reflect the Spiritual Battle—is important for this contest. To learn more and download any modules you’d like (for free!), go here.

Submit Your Artwork Today!

Curious? Interested in submitting artwork to our contest? Know someone who might be? Through April 14th, 2022, the Engage Art Contest is open to the whole world! Get your foot in the door by claiming your Artist Page now!