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Topic: Drawing as critical thinking


Students will consider the critical thinking process of artists by researching and analyzing the use of preparatory drawings/cartoons by a Renaissance artist of their choice.

Critical thinking helps us learn, develop new ideas, and formulate theories. What is critical thinking? “Critical thinking” has been defined as “self-guided, self-disciplined thinking which attempts to reason at the highest level of quality in a fair-minded way” (Critical Thinking website). Sometimes artists use drawing as a visual process of critical thinking. The critical thinking process allows artists to see their subject from numerous perspectives within numerous contexts. Critical thinking can also be found in the schematic and preliminary drawings of modern artists, including sculptors and architects.

Step 1: Research
With the sites listed below, or comparable sites, research Renaissance drawings, schematic drawings, and architectural renderings. Major artists of the Renaissance produced large quantities of “cartoons”–sketches used as studies for larger works. Although these drawings were not usually considered art at the time, many did survive and are now proudly exhibited in museum collections.

Recommended Research Sources:

The Smithsonian American Museum of Art

Metropolitan Museum of Art, Materials and Function

Metropolitan Museum of Art, Albrect Durer

Art History Blogger

Studies for the Sistine Chapel Frescoes

Drawing, Sculpture, and the Sistine Chapel Ceiling

Step 2: Writing
Essay (800 – 1200 Words)

First, insert an image file of the Renaissance preparatory drawing you have chosen to write about. Identify the artist who created the drawing, the subject of the drawing, and explain how the artist is using the art as part of their critical thinking process.
In your essay’s body paragraphs, explain what the artist was studying. Begin your draft by considering the following questions: What did this artist hope to accomplish? Were preliminary sketches a normal part of the artist’s process? Was it common in their era or their chosen field, or was this an individual choice. Many artists are famous for their notebooks. Has this artist’s notebooks been published, or are they works of art in their own right?
Conclude by explaining why critical thinking furthers this artist’s studies, plans, and goals, and how drawing aids them in this process.
Basic Information for all Essay Submissions:

Create a “Works Cited” section that lists your various sources in MLA Style format at the end of your minimum 3-paragraph essay. Be sure you have properly cited any direct quotes you use in support of your own writing.


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