High School Art Lesson: Artist Research Scrapbook

Artist Research Scrapbook

Submitted by: Cindy M. Blackmon
Arts and Crafts Teacher in Canada
Title of Lesson: Artist Research Scrapbook

Length of Lesson: Five class periods for research and five periods for design and creation
Grade level / Age: 9-12


Goals / Objectives:

  • Students will select and research a contemporary artist and create a scrapbook about his/her life, artwork, and artistic style.

  • Students will analyze and explain the distortion, colors, scale, and content found in artwork of the artist they are researching.

  • Students will describe how each of the elements are used to express mood in an image they select.

  • Students will analyze and write about the media of an artist and explain how the choices of materials affected the artwork.

  • Students will analyze the work and style of an artist and explain how the social, economic, and political influences are reflected in the artwork.

  • Student will research and explain the intentions of the artist they have selected.

  • Students will analyze and write about the effects of society on the interpretations and messages in artwork they have selected.

  • Students will compare and contrast two works by the same artist to identify elements, images, and content found in the works.


Materials Needed:
Artist Research Scrapbook Handout DOC
Artist Research Scrapbook Rubric DOC
Computers with internet access
Printer paper
Scissors., Glue Sticks., Rulers.
Scrapbook paper, Construction Paper. (8" x 8" / 20 x 20 cm minimum), other colorful and decorative papers such as Tissue paper.
Various other materials for covers and pages

(Click on the images for full size)


Lesson Description:

  1. This a research project about an artist (1950's to present), his/her style, the society in which the artist lived and worked, and the impact of the artwork created. Instead of an essay, the finished product is a unique scrapbook that reflects the work of the artist being researched.

  2. Each page of the scrapbook is dedicated to a specific part of their research. Most of the pages are associated with a particular California Visual and Performing Arts Content Standard for Grades 9-12, Advanced. If you are using other standards, the pages can easily be modified to meet your needs and research goals.

  3. I begin by providing the students a copy of the Artist Research Scrapbook Handout DOC and having the student read it and take notes about questions or concerns they have about the project. I also show samples of finished research scrapbooks so they can see the finished work (although each scrapbook will be different depending on the style of artwork and artist they select to research).

  4. 2

    As a class we then go through the handout to make sure all the students understand each aspect and to answer questions or concerns they had about it when reading it on their own.

  5. I have had students do the research portion of this assignment in two ways. They have either chosen to do all of the research in the computer lab at school during one consecutive week or they have chosen to do the research over the course of 5 weeks (devoting 1 day per week to research). Each way has its benefits and drawbacks. For example, some students forget what they have been researching and what their notes mean when we break it up over 5 weeks. But when researching for an entire week, other students get fatigued over doing so much at once. I usually allow the class to make the decision after I explain to them the pros and cons of each.

  6. The students use their Artist Research Scrapbook Handout to take notes on the information they locate and write the websites they use for later research and reference.

  7. Most students are able to do the research in 4 class periods and spend the fifth day in the computer lab typing up their information to print and use on their scrapbook pages.

  8. I encourage students to save their information on a portable thumb drive or to email it to themselves so that they can access the material at home to work on.

  9. Five class periods are spent on designing and creating the pages and covers. I review with the student the expectations for the scrapbook such as color and design choices that reflect their artist’s style, cutting neatly and carefully and gluing securely without letting the glue get all over their pages. I remind students about 90 angles and the saying "measure twice, cut once".3

  10. The Artist Research Scrapbook Rubric DOC has space provided for my notes about each page’s layout and research content so that when I return their projects with the rubrics students have immediate and detailed feedback on their scrapbook and grades.


While students are in the computer lab doing their research, I am assisting, guiding students to credible websites, helping with formatting pages when typing, and a variety of other tasks. During this time, I able to assess whether or not the students understand the objectives and the questions for each page, what they are reading on the internet, and how to formulate their position on the various subjects being written about.


Summative assessment grades are determined by the Artist Research Scrapbook Rubric when the research and bookmaking are complete.


I assign two final grades, one for the page layout and one for the research content that they included in their book. By turning a research project into an art project it allows students who may not be strong in the research and writing area to succeed in the artistic and creative realm.



Books on artists since the 1950's:

The Bay Area School: Californian Artists from the 1950s and 1960s - Tracing the development of Abstract Expressionism and the counter-blast of Figurative art on the West Coast of America during a decisive period, this important publication marks a milestone in the on-going understanding of the post-war art scene in the United States.

The American Century: Art and Culture, 1950-2000 - In this expansive volume Lisa Phillips explains the excitement and inventiveness of American artists in the context of the varied and sometimes turbulent social environment as well as the expanding economy of postwar America. Essays by experts in related fields illuminate parallel and diverse developments in architecture, dance, music, literature, painting, sculpture, cinema, and design.

Lives of the Great Modern Artists - This book will help with students creating their artist biographies for their books. 105 artists are presented in lively short biographies, and each entry is illustrated with important works, self-portraits, and photographs.

National Visual Arts Standards Covered: (http://artsedge.kennedy-center.org/)

California Visual and Performing Arts Content Standards for Grades 9-12 Advanced
1.1 Analyze and discuss complex ideas, such as distortion, color theory, arbitrary color, scale, expressive content, and real versus virtual in works of art.
1.6 Describe the use of the elements of art to express mood in one or more of their works of art.
1.8 Analyze the works of a well-known artist as to the art media selected and the effect of that selection on the artist's style.
3.1 Identify contemporary styles and discuss the diverse social, economic, and political developments reflected in the works of art examined.
3.2 Identify contemporary artists worldwide who have achieved regional, national, or international recognition and discuss ways in which their work reflects, plays a role in, and influences present-day culture.
4.2 Identify the intentions of artists creating contemporary works of art and explore the implications of those intentions.
4.3 Analyze and articulate how society influences the interpretation and message of a work of art.
5.2 Compare and contrast works of art, probing beyond the obvious and identifying psychological content found in the symbols and images.

Visual Arts http://artsedge.kennedy-center.org/educators.aspx
Grade 9-12 Visual Arts Standard 1
Content Standard Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes
• Students conceive and create works of visual art that demonstrate an understanding of how the communication of their ideas relates to the media, techniques, and processes they use

Grade 9-12 Visual Arts Standard 2
Content Standard Using knowledge of structures and functions
• Students demonstrate the ability to form and defend judgments about the characteristics and structures to accomplish commercial, personal, communal, or other purposes of art
• Students evaluate the effectiveness of artworks in terms of organizational structures and functions

Grade 9-12 Visual Arts Standard 3
Content Standard Choosing and evaluating a range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas
• Students reflect on how artworks differ visually, spatially, temporally, and functionally, and describe how these are related to history and culture
• Students apply subjects, symbols, and ideas in their artworks and use the skills gained to solve problems in daily life
• Students describe the origins of specific images and ideas and explain why they are of value in their artwork and in the work of others
• Students evaluate and defend the validity of sources for content and the manner in which subject matter, symbols, and images are used in the students' works and in significant works by others

Grade 9-12 Visual Arts Standard 4
Content Standard Understanding the visual arts in relation to history and cultures
• Students differentiate among a variety of historical and cultural contexts in terms of characteristics and purposes of works of art
• Students describe the function and explore the meaning of specific art objects within varied cultures, times, and places
• Students analyze relationships of works of art to one another in terms of history, aesthetics, and culture, justifying conclusions made in the analysis and using such conclusions to inform their own art making
• Students analyze and interpret artworks for relationships among form, context, purposes, and critical models, showing understanding of the work of critics, historians, aestheticians, and artists
• Students analyze common characteristics of visual arts evident across time and among cultural/ethnic groups to formulate analyses, evaluations, and interpretations of meaning

Grade 9-12 Visual Arts Standard 5
Content Standard Reflecting upon and assessing the characteristics and merits of their work and the work of others
• Students describe meanings of artworks by analyzing how specific works are created and how they relate to historical and cultural contexts

Grade 9-12 Visual Arts Standard 6
Content Standard Making connections between visual arts and other disciplines
• Students compare characteristics of visual arts within a particular historical period or style with ideas, issues, or themes in the humanities or sciences
• Students synthesize the creative and analytical principles and techniques of the visual arts and selected other arts disciplines, the humanities, or the sciences



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