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Visual Analysis: Murals

Project 1 Instructions: 3-5 pages, APA formatting

3 sources, References page
Initial Draft Due: 1/8
Polished Draft Due 1/15

Select a mural in the Downtown Phoenix area.

There is no single correct way to structure a visual analysis, however, as with all good writing, it
should engage the reader and convey a sense of the writer's views supported by appropriate
evidence or examples.

Simply by selecting particular qualities of the work to discuss, you are forming and expressing an
opinion about their importance. In effect, your analysis should persuade your reader that your
interpretation and evaluation are valid. Keep this idea in mind when structuring your paragraphs to
ensure that the information they contain is relevant. Each paragraph should advance your
argument towards the conclusion, where you will draw together and reflect on the observations
you have made.

Writing a visual analysis is partly a technical activity, but it is also a reflective and subjective one
where your personal responses are central. Your analysis should therefore integrate the descriptive
language of formal observation with phrases which are more speculative. The language of your
visual analysis should be simple and precise. When describing the object or artwork, use the
present tense to reveal the work from the viewer's perspective. The object or artwork itself is often
the subject of the description, rather than the artist or designer.

Your description of the technique involves explaining and detailing the means by which the
designer or artist has achieved a particular effect. Use evidence or examples from the work to
demonstrate what you mean. Be evocative. Think about how you would describe the artwork or
design to someone who has not seen it. Which features are most intriguing? How do they contribute
to the overall effect? How does it make you feel?

These descriptions of the object and technique form the basis of your interpretation of the meaning
or intention of the work. Often, you are only guessing at the artist or designer's meaning and this
uncertainty can be conveyed through verbs ​like evokes, creates, appears​ and ​suggests​ which reflect
thinking or guesswork. Other conditional forms, such as ​may, could​ and ​seems​ can also be used.


The introduction to your visual analysis could consist of sentences that provide some context for
the artwork or design. These sentences could also indicate your attitude toward the work or your
response to it. Alternatively, you might like to begin your analysis with a strong statement that
grabs the reader's attention before going on to explain why this observation is significant.
Visual Analysis: Murals


Visual Elements:
What do you see? How do the light, color, form, and size together create an impression?
Color-How is color used?
Scale-What is the scale? How does it compare to other media?
Light-How did the artist use light? Is one area brighter?
Lines and Forms- Where do the lines lead your eyes? Do you see solid, stable shapes or lots
of curves and diagonal lines suggesting unrest and movement?

Rhetorical Situation:
The text itself, the mode or forum for communication, how this is presented
The author and his/her credentials or right to offer this piece
The audience (who is this meant for?) and the assumptions made by the author about said
The purpose the mural serves
Major appeals (ethos, pathos, logos)? How are they used? Are they effective? Why or why

The setting (timing, place, environment surround the moment of communication)
What is the Context of the mural?
Social context- Who are the people who made it? How does it fit into the community?
Physical context-Where is it?
Political context- What is its purpose? Does it sell, promote, inform, inspire?
Historical context- When was it made? What difference does that make?

Your conclusion should revisit the qualities of the work you’ve discussed and the formation and
expression of their importance. Offer a way of summarizing what you have experienced from this
piece (what we should have experienced). It should be a reminder of why this piece is/is not worth
viewing (a reminder of your central argument).


Composition: the arrangement of parts that together form a unified whole the parts of the environment
(physical, environment, historical, etc.) that surround something such as a word, passage, or work of art and can throw
light on its meaning
Depict: to represent in a picture
Façade: the face of a building
Juxtapose: to place side by side
Historical context: the events that took place around something through which you understand that thing
Impression: an effect, feeling, or image retained after an experience
Media: forms of expression determined by materials or creative methods
Physical context: the physical environment around something
Political context: the environment in which something is produced indicating it's purpose or agenda
Ssocial context: the environment of people that surrounds something's creation or intended audience
Subject: the main theme of a work of art