Writing the A2 Art Personal Study: examples, help and guidance

Last Updated on April 2, 2023

This article has been written for CIE A Level Art students who are working on their A2 Art Personal Study . It focuses purely on how to write the text of the Study; a previous article outlines how to come up with a good topic ; a future article will address the illustrations and presentation methods.

The Personal Study is an area of uncertainty for many A Level Art students. It differs from projects that are usually completed within high school Art programmes, as it involves a substantial written component (maximum 3,500 words) – something which can intimidate students, especially if they are unfamiliar with how to critically analyse an artwork, make informed judgements and write personal evaluations. With few examples of quality Personal Studies available, it can be difficult to know what is expected and how to begin. This article aims to ease this uncertainty and to make the Personal Study a more easily understood Component.

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A2 Art personal study

1. Research thoroughly

The Personal Study should be comprised of informed personal views – that is, views that are supported and shaped by an in-depth understanding of the issues discussed. Before starting the project, students should conduct thorough background research, selecting and recording information from second-hand sources (such as books, websites and other publications) and first-hand sources (interviews with artists, studio visits / gallery visits etc). Interviews with artists should be planned thoroughly, after preliminary second-hand research has been completed (as findings from research will suggest important issues to discuss with the artist).

Students are often uncertain about how to phrase questions, so sample questions have been included below (the exact questions asked will depend on the topic and focus of the study):

  • Please talk me through the process you follow when designing your paintings. Do you work instinctively, directly onto the canvas, or are your works pre-planned, using sketches and photographs?
  • What influences your choice of colour? I am interested particularly in the colours used in [insert name of painting/s]. Could you explain your thought process behind the use of colour in this work, particularly the [give example]?
  • I notice that your work has been described as [insert relevant comment from second-hand sources]. Do you agree with this statement? How do you respond to this?
  • I notice that [insert an aesthetic feature of their artwork i.e. ‘angular line’ or ‘organic form’] is a dominant feature of your work. Is this strongly connected to the ideas that you are exploring? Have you used these elements deliberately?
  • Can you show me work in progress or semi-complete artwork? I would love to understand the process you go through and how you apply media at different stages.
  • Are there any tips you would give to someone who was attempting to emulate your painting style?
  • Which artists have influenced your work? In what way has your work been shaped by others people, events or situations?

2. Evaluate and interpret research findings

Conducting research is critical for creating an excellent Personal Study, however, it should be noted that submitting research on its own will not gain a student any marks. Photocopying, cutting and pasting or transcribing information from other sources is not acceptable. Examiners do not want to read long lists of facts or chronological sequences of events. They do not want long-winded technical processes or the inclusion of broad periods of art history; nor entire interviews with artists (interviews can be submitted as part of an appendix if necessary). Students should not include an extensive artist biography (only brief and relevant details are needed) nor include vast passages of text that have been regurgitated from other sources.

Instead, students must select the information which is relevant and analyse this in detail, evaluating and interpreting findings in relation to the focus of their study . Research should be used to help form intelligent, knowledgeable, personal responses : to explain, justify or support the viewpoints, judgements and conclusions that are presented.

Evidence of research might be demonstrated, for example, through the use of carefully chosen quotes (to support or contrast the student’s own ideas) or through the inclusion of correct terminology and background knowledge to communicate an in-depth understanding of relevant issues. Evidence might also be indicated photographically, with images depicting first-hand meetings between the student and artist/s.

This Personal Study by CIE A2 Level Art and Design student Alice Ham, from  ACG Parnell College , shows a cleverly selected quote alongside images by New Zealand charcoal artist Liam Gerrard . Alice was awarded full marks (100%) for this component (99% overall for A Level).

100% A Level Art Personal Study

3. Structure the Personal Study in a logical and clear manner

Before writing the Personal Study, students should plan the content, order and structure of their study thoroughly (often in conjunction with planning the layout of their project – this will discussed in more detail in a subsequent post). This should include headings and subheadings of material discussed and rough diagrams indicating how this will be supported by images. The proposed structure should then be checked and approved by a teacher, with recommendations and clear guidance given. While the structure of each Personal Study will differ, depending on the topic chosen, every study should follow the basic format outlined below:

  • Introduction . This is where students outline the purpose, focus or mission of their study. This may include question/s they are going to answer; themes they are going to explore; issues they hope to address etc. It should set the scene for the project and may include reasons for selecting a topic and an indication of how / why the topic is of personal relevance or interest to the student. It is important that the intentions of the project are clearly set out in this section, so that the remainder of the project can be structured accordingly.
  • Body . This is the main part of the Personal Study and will need careful thought. It is usually organised into separate sections (which may be formal chapters, or simply different areas of a visual study), usually with individual headings and sometimes sub-headings. (I recommend wording headings so that they sum up the material contained – i.e. ‘ Analysis of Composition: [artwork title] ’ rather than ‘ Chapter 3 ’. This means that the examiner is able to see immediately that the student has covered a range of appropriate areas). The sections should be ordered logically and address the focus of the project; they should NOT ramble haphazardly from one issue to the next. High school Art students have a tendency to write without any preconceived order or structure, discussing issues spontaneously as they think of them. While this can be a suitable approach for more creative writing tasks – and can pulled off by certain students – this strategy runs the risk of creating a muddled and incoherent Personal Study.
  • Conclusion . This is where students summarise key points from the project, arrive at final conclusions and make considered personal judgements about what has been learnt.

This is one of the concluding paragraphs in a Personal Study by Nikau Hindin (who achieved 98% for CIE A Level Art while studying at ACG Parnell College), entitled ‘ Identity, Consumerism & Popular Culture: How composition conveys a message ‘. The project was focused upon the analysis of artwork by New Zealand artist Kelcy Taratoa , with comparisons made with the work of American artist Bill Barminski :

Taratoa’s use of composition helps convey his message concerning identity construction. The arrangement of elements is symbolic of an unconscious hierarchy within his paintings that forces the viewer to question and analyse them. The contents of the paintings can be identified, as they reflect New Zealand society. Taratoa’s use of colour is vibrant and modern, echoing the technological era we live in. Barminski has a more dynamic and humorous approach to conveying his message. He mocks consumerism with his witty and blunt slogans and replications of consumer products. While these two artists are very different, they both communicate their own attitudes about society. Making a political statement through your paintings forces an audience to engage. Ultimately we want our art to be remembered and admired and I think if the message of a painting is clear then the viewer is more likely to go away and think about it. Paintings are a powerful tool to communicate a meaning that is deeper than the 2mm of paint on a canvas. Paintings are an artist’s voice.
  • Bibliography / References / Acknowledgements . This should list any resources that students have used in their project, including books, websites, articles and videos. It might also include sources of first-hand information, such as museums, galleries or websites, as well as acknowledgements, thanking the artist for their time.

4. Write clearly and coherently

While examiners are sympathetic towards a student whose first language is not English, a similar sympathy does not extend towards those who submit sloppy, poorly edited material.

Just as it is expected that a Coursework project should contain beautiful well-composed artwork, a Personal Study is expected to contain well-structured, well-edited material. Even if a student has chosen to produce a largely visual project, submitting a sequence of annotated images, the text should communicate with intention and the writing quality should match that achieved by an A Level English student. Poor grammar, spelling errors and ‘txt’ speak are inexcusable.

As with any important written project, drafts should be rewritten and refined several times: chapters re-arranged; paragraphs and annotation reorganised; repetitive material, waffle and unnecessary regurgitation eliminated. Teachers, parents and friends can all be recruited to read through drafts, highlighting spelling errors and identifying areas where the writing is muddled. While the work must of course remain entirely that of the student, feedback from a fresh set of eyes is invaluable.

5. Use subject-specific vocabulary

A Personal Study should include an appropriate range of Art related terms and vocabulary. While the exact words used will be dependent upon the nature and focus of the study, there are a number of general Art-specific terms which students should be familiar with (these will be listed, with their definitions, in an upcoming article). Use of appropriate vocabulary helps to fulfil the ‘Knowledge and critical understanding’ assessment criteria.

6. Make it PERSONAL

As the title indicates, a Personal Study must communicate distinctly personal opinions, insights, judgements and responses, demonstrating a clear engagement with the artwork studied.

This excerpt from an 100% OCR A Level Art Personal Study by Yantra Scott entitled ‘ An investigation into gender roles in contemporary art ‘ illustrates this:

I first encountered Sarah Lucas whist briskly strolling through the crowded rooms of the Tate. Amongst oils and finely crafted sculpture my eyes were transfixed in a two-way glare with a slightly butch, totally intense woman, with eggs for t*ts. Ever since then I’ve been hooked.

It is evident that Yantra not only visited and viewed artwork in the flesh, but had a strong personal reaction to it. It could never be assumed that this segment had been reworded from a textbook: it is absolutely the words of a passionate high school Art student. Although Yantra uses coarse language within her study (something which should be emulated with caution) this project is an exceptional example of an intelligent and personal response to a topic. (More of Yantra’s work, as well as the entire text of her study, can be read in full on the great Julia Stubbs’ website ).

Similarly, this quote from an 88% OCR A2 Art Personal Study (one of the examples given in the OCR A2 Art Exemplar Work – Personal Study document ) shows a personal response integrated within the analysis of Damien Hurst ’s work, illustrated below.

The glass is thick, so thick that it is intimidating. It is as if it is holding something terrible back. It makes you question the formaldehyde and query, what if the tank did break? The formaldehyde is not clear as I expected but is quite strongly coloured by a blue and green pigment. This colour is very clinical and has the connotations of a hospital…

The musings about the tank breaking and the formaldehyde differing from expectations are clearly the individual thoughts of a high school art student.

modern art by damien hurst

7. Understand ‘cultural context’

Within the Personal Study, students must demonstrate an understanding of cultural context –  an understanding that an artist does not create work in isolation, but rather creates work that is shaped and influenced by the circumstance/s they finds themselves in. This might mean that discussion of the influence of natural, social, political or cultural environments is appropriate, or that – as is more common – the influence of other artists is discussed, with comparisons made between artwork that has been created in similar or differing contexts.

Akif Hakan Celebi photographer

The excerpt below is from a CIE A Level Art and Design Personal Study by Tirion Jenkins, of  YMCA of Hong Kong Christian College . Titled ‘Alternative Fashion Photography’, her Personal Study was awarded Best in Hong Kong (2012) and includes analysis of ‘One night in Mong Kok’ by photographer Akif Hakan Celebi . Tirion demonstrates a clear understanding of the interrelationship between a photographer’s work and the setting in which it was created.

The setting itself creates an intoxicating atmosphere with the rows of fluorescent light bulbs and layers of luminous signs that form an endless maze of gaudy colours. However, the setting does not overwhelm the two models who draw my eyes despite the signs above them. They create the focal point of the image through the use of the rule of thirds as they are placed off-centre and through their quirky appearance which magnetises the eye towards them. They seem to belong to a different world to the passersby behind them with their flare of red hair and audacious choice of feathered flittered clothes. Akif has further crafted the image through the use of makeup as their chalk white faces further segregates and emphasises their surreal doll-like appearances. …Akif’s pictures are reminiscent of Japanese cinema which he says he is so influenced by. “I like…its writhed and crazy stories; I feel very close to that way of looking at the world.” This photograph is particularly mystical due to the vibrant and decorative bokeh of Hong Kong’s street lights in the background.

8. Critically analyse artworks

The core of the A2 Art Personal Study is the in-depth analysis of selected artist works. Some of these artworks must be viewed in person, however it is common (and completely acceptable) for students to analyse work from a combination of primary and secondary sources.  In the best studies, artworks are chosen specifically to facilitate the discussion of issues which are relevant to the study.

The advice in this section is particularly important and should be read closely by students who are hoping to achieve a high grade for their Personal Study.

When analysing artwork, it is helpful to analyse the work in terms of composition, format, structure and visual elements (such as shape, line, texture, colour, space, tone) . Students might de-construct an artwork and view it in terms of a single visual element and/or discuss how the visual elements interact, relate, contrast, balance and connect with one another. Descriptions of important terms have been included below to aid this process:

  • Composition is the placement or organisation of visual elements within an artwork – the way these have been composed, combined or ‘put together’. Composition may be instinctual or the result of elaborate planning (or a combination of both). A ‘compositional device’ is an aspect of a composition which has a certain effect (such as the use of frames within frames, which might help create a sense of distance or space within an artwork).
  • Format is the overall shape, size and orientation (portrait or landscape) of an artwork, i.e. whether a work is painted on a long, horizontal oblong canvas, or upon a vertically orientated A4 portrait board. Format can be influenced by practical considerations (i.e. the nature and shape of the object or scene depicted) as well as being an active decision by the artist to help communicate a particular meaning or idea.
  • The structure of an artwork is the organisation of basic forms within a composition (this will be illustrated in more detail in the subsequent post focusing on imagery).
  • Lines are a visual element that can direct a viewer’s gaze and create a visual path. These can direct attention to a focal point and create depth through perspective or horizon lines. Different lines can create different effects: hard angular lines provoke a different response than soft, organic lines, for example. Repetition of lines can create a sense of movement or rhythm.
  • Shape is a visual element that is created by the junction of lines or changes in tone: the perceived boundaries of form. Larger shapes can become dominant focal points within an artwork; similar shapes can be repeated to create balance and create unity / visual harmony. Shapes can be symbolic, i.e. they can represent more complex forms and carry meaning. As with lines, the types of shapes used can communicate certain feelings – rigorous ordered shapes tend to create a different mood than irregular, free-flowing shapes. Shapes might also be used to create borders / frames and boundaries that connect, overlap or intersect, perhaps helping to draw viewers from the foreground / middle-ground to background.
  • Space – the absence of form – is an often overlooked visual element. Described as being either positive (the space contained within the boundary of an object) or negative (the background space in and around an object), space can determine how busy and cluttered a painting is. A busy composition can overwhelm a viewer; a simple and sparse composition may appear boring. Careful integration of space is fundamental to any artwork.
  • Form is a visual element that is usually discussed more easily in relation to three dimensional objects (as three-dimensional forms are usually described within two dimensional works in terms of shape, tone and line).
  • Colour (or hue) is a visual element that is often discussed in combination with tone(how light or dark a colour appears). Colour can affect the mood of an artwork due to colour associations – i.e. blue might indicate sadness. Tone can help to communicate a sense of distance (items that are further away generally appear lighter – due to ‘atmospheric perspective’). Both tone and colour can be used to create contrast within an artwork, attracting the viewer’s attention and helping to create focal areas. Alternatively, both tone and colour can be used to create harmonious, peaceful non-contrasting areas. Use of light and shadow or warm and cool might also be an important area to discuss.
  • Texture can be real (the result of brush strokes, irregularities in materials, and the application of a range of materials) or implied…i.e. a surface that is made to looktextured. As with the other visual elements, texture should be integrated so that it balances and becomes an aesthetically pleasing addition to an artwork. Surface qualities – along with other detailed areas and intricate patterns – are only able to be appreciated fully when viewed in person.

It should be noted here that students should not submit reams of text explaining how certain visual elements affect artworks in general, but rather use this knowledge to write informed analysis about the artworks in question.

Here is another example by Nikau Hindin, discussing the use of line in paintings by Kelcy Taratoa. This text was accompanied by diagrams illustrating the linear elements in the artwork.

…Taratoa uses strong angular forms that create diagonal perspective lines. These lines are called ‘leading lines’ and direct us to the focal point of this painting, which is a portrait of Taratoa. They also lead our eyes past him and make us look at the background. This helps to convey Taratoa’s message that one’s identity is linked to social circumstance, upbringing (background) and popular culture.  Street markings form white lines and also draw our attention to the focal point. Street markings represent paths and therefore they may be paths to finding and constructing ones identity. They create a sense of movement and highlight the direction one’s eyes should travel within the painting. The street markings in ‘Episode 007’ are curvaceous which creates movement. The curvy lines mirror the organic forms of the superhero’s muscular body, creating a visual link. In ‘Episode 0010’ the repetition of line of the zebra crossing creates a sense of rhythm and leads us to the portrait of Taratoa in the left corner. Horizontal lines are repeated in the background of the painting to unite separate parts of the painting.

As well as the aesthetic qualities discussed above, most students also include sections where they analyse artwork in terms of materials, processes, stylistic influences, techniques (use of media) . For some, this is the primary focus of the Personal Study. This might include analysis of the way an artist has applied paint to a canvas (mark-making, brush strokes), the sequence of building up layers of paint over a prepared ground, or the sequence of events involved in creating a graphic design: from conceptual sketches, development of ideas, construction in Photoshop, through to proofing, paper selection and final printing. It might involve discussion about the way a composition is planned and designed and then the various processes that are undertaken in its completion. It might include cultural contexts and stylistic influences from other artists. In any sections of the Personal Study which are dedicated to process and technique, it is important to note (as mentioned above) that the examiners do not want the regurgitation of long, technical processes, but rather would like to see personal observations about how processes effect and influence the artwork that has been created.

In all analysis of artwork, whether this involves discussion of composition, aesthetic qualities, cultural contexts, use of media, or approach to a theme, it is important that students move beyond simple observations and add perceptive, personal insight. For example, if a student notices that colour has been used to create strong contrast in certain areas of an artwork, they might follow this with a detailed and thoughtful assumption about why this is the case: for example, perhaps the contrast was created deliberately to draw attention to a focal point in the artwork, helping the artist to help convey thematic ideas. These personal insights could be backed up by earlier research, confirmed or suggested by the artist, or might be educated assumptions made by the student, based upon their own responses and personal interaction with the artwork.

Some final recommendations are included below:

  • ‘Analysis of artwork’ does not mean ‘description of artwork’ . Analysis means taking an artwork apart (thinking about it in terms of individual elements, such as line, or colour or technique), analysing these individually and/or in terms of how they relate to one another, and making personal observations and judgements, connecting this to the theme or focus of the assignment.
  • Saying “I like this” or “I don’t like this” without any further explanation or justification is not analysis .
  • Writing should be carefully integrated with the images , so that it is clear which text relates to which images (this will be discussed more in the subsequent post).

Alice Ham, a Year 13 student at  ACG Parnell College  (awarded 100% for her Personal Study) has produced some excellent analysis of artwork by  Liam Gerrard :

In most works (the exception usually applies to those done in commission) the focus of the piece is centred, surrounded by empty space and never grounded through shadow or the like. This is another way in which Gerrard plays with commonly held opinions. Typically, a most aesthetically pleasing composition will follow the rule of thirds – a well known ‘rule’ that correlates to the focus of artworks being offset within the composition, and the entire image being visually divided into 3 sections. Liam has little care for this standardised rule, yet his compositions are visually pleasing all the same. I believe this could be because of the negative space, there is no overcrowding and it allows the viewer to focus on the subject. I also think this space is played upon in the display of the artwork. Galleries in general will have white or very light coloured walls so as not to distract from what is on display. By placing these white canvases on the white walls, hung without obvious framing, the artwork is allowed to ‘flow’ into the viewer’s world, there is no line of separation. This forces the viewer to study Gerrard’s pieces, and perhaps consider the personal message they address for the viewer in everyday life.

Analysis of artwork

Some of the text above has been reproduced here to aid ease of reading:

The expression on the pig’s face is perhaps what would draw the viewer into this picture the most. It directly contradicts the gruesome depiction of decapitation and appears almost to be laughing. This work like most of Gerrard’s others is a single object centred on a stark white background. The amount of empty space in this picture is very eye catching and directs the viewer’s vision inwards, there is no chance of distraction by details in a menial part of the work. Once again Gerrard uses charcoal in his personal style, leaving the artwork in black and white. This lack of colour is cold, it presents the reality of the grisly scene without the embellishment of colours. This does not allow the audience to be caught up in what is ‘pretty’ but forces them to take in every details in it’s highly realistic, and perhaps disturbing, state. The shock factor of this piece is emphasised ten- fold by the sheer size. It cannot be realised until you view this piece in reality, but being dwarfed looking up into a pig’s head captured mid laugh brings upon you a bizarre sense of fascination.

9. Explain the relationship to Coursework (if appropriate)

As explained in the previous post about topic selection, it is no longer necessary that the Personal Study relate to a student’s Coursework project. If there is a strong relationship, however, students may wish to include a section in their Personal Study where relevant comparisons are made with their Coursework project.

10. Don’t exceed the word count

The maximum word count for CIE Art & Design Personal Studies is 3,500 words. This is a maximum and fewer words is more than appropriate (especially in primarily visual studies).

If a student is slightly over the word count, this is unlikely to be an issue (it is rare that examiners would know your exact word count, as no-one is likely to count every word in a project from start to finish); however, if a student is significantly over the word limit, this is obvious and a problem, running the risk that the examiners will run out of time (or enthusiasm) to read your project in its entirety. Almost all cases of word count breaches come from students who have attempted to bulk up their study with unnecessary information from second-hand sources. If you are encroaching the word limit, you should immediately ensure that you have not included supplementary research material or unnecessary information summarised from textbooks. If you are still battling with the word count and inclusion of material from second-hand sources is not an issue, you should re-edit your project, eliminating waffle, and ensuring you communicate succinctly.

Final Notes

I encourage teachers to locate and print the excerpts from Personal Studies that are included in the 9704 Standards booklet on the CIE Teachers’ password protected site , which can be downloaded as a PDF document from the A Level Art & Design page. This document is invaluable.

Finally, we are actively looking for more examples of high achieving Personal Studies to share on the Student Art Guide. If you or someone you know someone who excelled in this Component, please read our submission guidelines for more information.

If you found this information helpful, you may wish to read the previous article in this series: How to select a great A2 Art Personal Study Topic  or our overview of the CIE A Level Art: Personal Study .

Amiria Gale

Amiria has been an Art & Design teacher and a Curriculum Co-ordinator for seven years, responsible for the course design and assessment of student work in two high-achieving Auckland schools. She has a Bachelor of Architectural Studies, Bachelor of Architecture (First Class Honours) and a Graduate Diploma of Teaching. Amiria is a CIE Accredited Art & Design Coursework Assessor.


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Essays About Art: Top 5 Examples and 9 Prompts

Essays about art inspire beauty and creativity; see our top essay picks and prompts to aid you.

Art is an umbrella term for various activities that use human imagination and talents. 

The products from these activities incite powerful feelings as artists convey their ideas, expertise, and experience through art. Examples of art include painting, sculpture, photography, literature, installations, dance, and music.

Art is also a significant part of human history. We learn a lot from the arts regarding what living in a period is like, what events influenced the elements in the artwork, and what led to art’s progress to today.

To help you create an excellent essay about art, we prepared five examples that you can look at:

1. Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists? by Linda Nochlin

2. what is art by writer faith, 3. my art taught me… by christine nishiyama, 4. animals and art by ron padgett, 5. the value of art by anonymous on arthistoryproject.com, 1. art that i won’t forget, 2. unconventional arts, 3. art: past and present, 4. my life as an artist, 5. art histories of different cultures, 6. comparing two art pieces, 7. create a reflection essay on a work of art, 8. conduct a visual analysis of an artwork, 9. art period or artist history.

“But in actuality, as we all know, things as they are and as they have been, in the arts as in a hundred other areas, are stultifying, oppressive, and discouraging to all those, women among them, who did not have the good fortune to be born white, preferably middle class, and above all, male. The fault lies not in our stars, our hormones, our menstrual cycles, or our empty internal spaces, but in our institutions and our education–education understood to include everything that happens to us from the moment we enter this world…”

Nochlin goes in-depth to point out women’s part in art history. She focuses on unjust opportunities presented to women compared to their male peers, labeling it the “Woman Problem.” This problem demands a reinterpretation of the situation’s nature and the need for radical change. She persuades women to see themselves as equal subjects deserving of comparable achievements men receive.

Throughout her essay, she delves into the institutional barriers that prevented women from reaching the heights of famous male art icons.

“Art is the use of skill and imagination in the creation of aesthetic objects that can be shared with others. It involves the arranging of elements in a way that appeals to the senses or emotions and acts as a means of communication with the viewer as it represents the thoughts of the artist.”

The author defines art as a medium to connect with others and an action. She focuses on Jamaican art and the feelings it invokes. She introduces Osmond Watson, whose philosophy includes uplifting the masses and making people aware of their beauty – he explains one of his works, “Peace and Love.” 

“But I’ve felt this way before, especially with my art. And my experience with artmaking has taught me how to get through periods of struggle. My art has taught me to accept where I am today… My art has taught me that whatever marks I make on the page are good enough… My art has taught me that the way through struggle is to acknowledge, accept and share my struggle.”

Nishiyama starts her essay by describing how writing makes her feel. She feels pressured to create something “great” after her maternity leave, causing her to struggle. She says she pens essays to process her experiences as an artist and human, learning alongside the reader. She ends her piece by acknowledging her feelings and using her art to accept them.

“I was saying that sometimes I feel sorry for wild animals, out there in the dark, looking for something to eat while in fear of being eaten. And they have no ballet companies or art museums. Animals of course are not aware of their lack of cultural activities, and therefore do not regret their absence.”

Padgett recounts telling his wife how he thinks it’s unfortunate for animals not to have cultural activities, therefore, can’t appreciate art. He shares the genetic mapping of humans being 99% chimpanzees and is curious about the 1% that makes him human and lets him treasure art. His essay piques readers’ minds, making them interested in how art elevates human life through summoning admiration from lines and colors.

“One of the first questions raised when talking about art is simple — why should we care? Art, especially in the contemporary era, is easy to dismiss as a selfish pastime for people who have too much time on their hands. Creating art doesn’t cure disease, build roads, or feed the poor.”

Because art can easily be dismissed as a pastime, the author lists why it’s precious. It includes exercising creativity, materials used, historical connection, and religious value. 

Check out our best essay checkers to ensure you have a top-notch essay.

9 Prompts on Essays About Art

After knowing more about art, below are easy prompts you can use for your art essay:

Essays About Art: Art that I won't forget

Is there an art piece that caught your attention because of its origin? First, talk about it and briefly summarize its backstory in your essay. Then, explain why it’s something that made an impact on you. For example, you can write about the Mona Lisa and her mysterious smile – or is she smiling? You can also put theories on what could have happened while Leonardo da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa.

Rather than focusing on mainstream arts like ballet and painting, focus your essay on unconventional art or something that defies usual pieces, such as avant-garde art. Then, share what you think of this type of art and measure it against other mediums.

How did art change over the centuries? Explain the differences between ancient and modern art and include the factors that resulted in these changes.

Are you an artist? Share your creative process and objectives if you draw, sing, dance, etc. How do you plan to be better at your craft? What is your ultimate goal?

To do this prompt, pick two countries or cultures with contrasting art styles. A great example is Chinese versus European arts. Center your essay on a category, such as landscape paintings. Tell your readers the different elements these cultures consider. What is the basis of their art? What influences their art during that specific period?

Like the previous prompt, write an essay about similar pieces, such as books, folktales, or paintings. You can also compare original and remake versions of movies, broadway musicals, etc.

Pick a piece you want to know more about, then share what you learned through your essay. What did the art make you feel? If you followed creating art, like pottery, write about the step-by-step process, from clay to glazing.

Visual analysis is a way to understand art centered around what the eyes can process. It includes elements like texture, color, line, and scale. For this prompt, find a painting or statue and describe what you see in your essay.

Since art is a broad topic, you can narrow your research by choosing only the most significant moments in art history. For instance, if you pick English art, you can divide each art period by century or by a king’s ruling time. You can also select an artist and discuss their pieces, their art’s backstory, and how it relates to their life at the time.

If you are interested in learning more, check out our essay writing tips !

personal essay about art

Maria Caballero is a freelance writer who has been writing since high school. She believes that to be a writer doesn't only refer to excellent syntax and semantics but also knowing how to weave words together to communicate to any reader effectively.

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Essay on Art

500 words essay on art.

Each morning we see the sunshine outside and relax while some draw it to feel relaxed. Thus, you see that art is everywhere and anywhere if we look closely. In other words, everything in life is artwork. The essay on art will help us go through the importance of art and its meaning for a better understanding.

essay on art

What is Art?

For as long as humanity has existed, art has been part of our lives. For many years, people have been creating and enjoying art.  It expresses emotions or expression of life. It is one such creation that enables interpretation of any kind.

It is a skill that applies to music, painting, poetry, dance and more. Moreover, nature is no less than art. For instance, if nature creates something unique, it is also art. Artists use their artwork for passing along their feelings.

Thus, art and artists bring value to society and have been doing so throughout history. Art gives us an innovative way to view the world or society around us. Most important thing is that it lets us interpret it on our own individual experiences and associations.

Art is similar to live which has many definitions and examples. What is constant is that art is not perfect or does not revolve around perfection. It is something that continues growing and developing to express emotions, thoughts and human capacities.

Importance of Art

Art comes in many different forms which include audios, visuals and more. Audios comprise songs, music, poems and more whereas visuals include painting, photography, movies and more.

You will notice that we consume a lot of audio art in the form of music, songs and more. It is because they help us to relax our mind. Moreover, it also has the ability to change our mood and brighten it up.

After that, it also motivates us and strengthens our emotions. Poetries are audio arts that help the author express their feelings in writings. We also have music that requires musical instruments to create a piece of art.

Other than that, visual arts help artists communicate with the viewer. It also allows the viewer to interpret the art in their own way. Thus, it invokes a variety of emotions among us. Thus, you see how essential art is for humankind.

Without art, the world would be a dull place. Take the recent pandemic, for example, it was not the sports or news which kept us entertained but the artists. Their work of arts in the form of shows, songs, music and more added meaning to our boring lives.

Therefore, art adds happiness and colours to our lives and save us from the boring monotony of daily life.

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Conclusion of the Essay on Art

All in all, art is universal and can be found everywhere. It is not only for people who exercise work art but for those who consume it. If there were no art, we wouldn’t have been able to see the beauty in things. In other words, art helps us feel relaxed and forget about our problems.

FAQ of Essay on Art

Question 1: How can art help us?

Answer 1: Art can help us in a lot of ways. It can stimulate the release of dopamine in your bodies. This will in turn lower the feelings of depression and increase the feeling of confidence. Moreover, it makes us feel better about ourselves.

Question 2: What is the importance of art?

Answer 2: Art is essential as it covers all the developmental domains in child development. Moreover, it helps in physical development and enhancing gross and motor skills. For example, playing with dough can fine-tune your muscle control in your fingers.

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Mastering the Art of Personal Essay Writing: Tips and Techniques

Mastering the Art of Personal Essay Writing: Tips and Techniques

Writing a personal essay is an art that requires the mastery of words, emotions, and storytelling. It is a form of writing that allows the author to express their thoughts, experiences, and ideas in a way that captivates readers and leaves a lasting impression. Whether you are an aspiring writer or a seasoned blogger, the art of personal essay writing is something that can be learned and perfected.

One of the first things to keep in mind when writing a personal essay is that it should be personal. This means that it should reflect your own experiences, emotions, and point of view. You should aim to create a personalessay that tells a story about yourself and evokes a strong emotional response from your readers. This can be achieved by using descriptive language, vivid imagery, and powerful storytelling techniques.

Another important aspect of personal essay writing is organizing your thoughts and ideas. Your essay should have a clear and logical structure, with a beginning, middle, and end. Each paragraph should focus on a specific theme or idea, and should be connected to the previous and next paragraphs. This will help your readers follow the flow of your essay and understand your thoughts and emotions.

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When writing a personal essay, it is also important to find your own voice and style. Don’t feel pressured to write in a certain way or follow a specific guide. Instead, let your own unique voice shine through your writing. Write in the first-person, use your own words, and don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and honest. It is your personal essay, after all.

In order to master the art of personal essay writing, you need to read. Read essays by other writers, both established and emerging. Read nonfiction books and poetry. Look for inspiration in the words of others. This will not only help you find your own style, but also give you a better understanding of what makes a great personal essay.

Another tip for writing a personal essay is to write about something that you are passionate about. Choose a topic that excites you and that you have a lot to say about. This will make the writing process easier and more enjoyable. Your passion will shine through in your words and will captivate your readers.

Finally, don’t be afraid to edit and revise your personal essay. Writing is a process, and your first draft is unlikely to be perfect. Reread your essay, check for spelling and grammar mistakes, and make sure that your ideas are clear and well-organized. You may even want to ask a trusted friend or family member to read your essay and provide feedback.

Mastering the Art of Personal Essay Writing

When writing a personal essay, it is important to find your own writing style and voice. This includes proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Remember that this is a representation of your thoughts and ideas, so make sure to proofread and edit your work before finalizing it.

In personal essays, it is common to use the first-person perspective. This allows the readers to connect with you on a more personal level. You can share your own experiences, thoughts, and feelings, making your essay more relatable.

Furthermore, personal essays are not confined to a specific structure or format. You have the freedom to be creative and experiment with different writing techniques. You can include quotes, specific prompts, or even incorporate elements of poetry or photography to enhance your narrative.

One important aspect to keep in mind is to stay on point and focused. Make sure that every paragraph and sentence in your essay is relevant to the main theme and serves a purpose. Avoid going off-topic or including unnecessary information.

Another key feature of a well-crafted personal essay is the inclusion of cultural and social references. This adds depth and context to your writing and shows that you are well-informed and in touch with the world around you.

As you write your personal essay, think about your target audience. Who are you trying to reach? What kind of language and tone would resonate with them? Understanding your readers’ needs and preferences will help you tailor your writing to their interests.

Finally, remember to have fun with your personal essay. Let your creativity and imagination run wild. Think of it as a form of self-expression, a way to express your thoughts and ideas in a unique and captivating manner. Embrace your inner writer and let your personal essay be a confection of words that inspires and engages your readers.

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So, whether you are a seasoned writer or a beginner, mastering the art of personal essay writing is an exciting journey. Take the time to explore different writing techniques, find your own voice, and create memorable moments through your words. With practice and dedication, you can become a master of the personal essay.

Tips and Techniques

When it comes to writing personal essays, there are several tips and techniques that can help you master the art. Whether you’re a seasoned writer or just starting out, these strategies will enhance your skills and engage your readers.

1. Find your unique perspective: To stand out in the crowded world of personal essays, you need to find your own voice and perspective. Think about what sets you apart and write from that place.

3. Structure your essay properly: A well-structured essay will make it easier for your readers to follow along and understand your main points. Use paragraphs and subheadings to organize your thoughts.

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4. Use creative and lyrical language: Personal essays are an opportunity to showcase your writing skills. Use vivid descriptions, metaphors, and poetic language to make your essay more engaging and memorable.

5. Show, don’t tell: Instead of simply stating your opinions or experiences, try to show them through anecdotes and vivid storytelling. This will make your essay more engaging and relatable.

6. Write in the first-person point of view: Personal essays are typically written in the first-person perspective, as it allows for a more intimate and personal connection with the reader. Use “I” and “me” to make your essay more personal.

7. Don’t be afraid to get personal: Personal essays are meant to be personal, so don’t shy away from sharing your emotions and vulnerabilities. Be honest and open with your readers.

8. Edit and proofread your essay: Before you publish your essay, make sure to thoroughly edit and proofread it. Check for spelling and grammar errors, and ensure that your ideas are clear and concise.

9. Choose a creative title: A catchy and intriguing title can draw your readers in and make them curious about your essay. Take some time to brainstorm and come up with a title that reflects the essence of your essay.

10. Share your work: Once your personal essay is complete, consider sharing it with others. You can submit it to a literary magazine, self-publish it online, or even start a blog where you share your essays with your audience.

By following these tips and techniques, you’ll be able to write personal essays that captivate your readers and leave a lasting impression. Remember, personal essay writing is a creative process, so don’t be afraid to experiment and find your own style!

Understanding the Structure

The body paragraphs of a personal essay are where the writer explores their ideas and experiences in more detail. Each paragraph should focus on a different aspect or topic related to the overall theme of the essay. The writer can use specific examples, anecdotes, or quotes to support their ideas and make their writing more engaging. It’s important to use clear and concise sentences that flow well and connect the paragraphs together.

One way to structure the body paragraphs is to use a topical format. Each paragraph can represent a different topic or sub-topic related to the main theme of the essay. Another option is to use a narrative format, where the writer tells a story or recounts specific moments and experiences that are relevant to the overall theme. Whichever format is chosen, it should be consistent and easy to follow for the reader.

Overall, understanding the structure of a personal essay is crucial for writing a compelling and well-organized piece. By following these tips and techniques, anyone can master the art of personal essay writing and become a more creative and effective writer.

Developing Powerful Ideas

First, it’s important to tap into your own experiences and emotions. Personal essays are a place for you to express yourself and share your unique perspective. Think about moments in your life that have had a profound effect on you, whether they be traumatic events or moments of joy.

Another way to develop powerful ideas is to draw inspiration from the world around you. Read books, articles, and essays that tackle the issues you’re passionate about. Follow top bloggers and digital magazines that cover topics you’re interested in. This will not only help you stay informed, but it will also give you a sense of what other writers are exploring.

Once you have a topic in mind, you can begin to brainstorm ideas using writing prompts or through freewriting exercises. Write short paragraphs or bullet points that capture the essence of what you want to explore in your essay. Don’t worry about proper grammar or form at this stage – just let your creative mind roam free.

From these initial ideas, you can start to craft a powerful essay. Remember to develop a clear thesis statement, which should be both specific and debatable. This will guide your writing process and ensure that your essay stays focused.

When it comes to writing your essay, consider using the first-person point of view. A personal essay is about your experiences and your perspective, so it makes sense to write in a personal voice.

One of the most important aspects of developing powerful ideas is to show, not just tell. Use vivid descriptions and concrete details to bring your experiences to life. This will help your readers connect with your story on a deeper level.

Lastly, don’t forget to edit and revise your essay. This includes checking for grammar and spelling errors, as well as ensuring that your essay flows smoothly and logically. You may also want to ask others to read your essay and provide feedback. This can help you see any blind spots or areas where your essay may need improvement.

Engaging the Reader

Remember, the goal is to engage the reader right from the start and keep their attention throughout the essay. By using these techniques, you can create an engaging and memorable personal essay that will leave a lasting impression.

Inspirational Quote of the Day

Starting your day with an inspirational quote can set the tone for a positive mindset. The quote above, by the iconic actress Audrey Hepburn, reminds us that anything is possible if we believe in ourselves.

Why Quotes Matter

Adding quotes to your personal essay.

When incorporating quotes into your personal essay, there are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Choose quotes that align with your essay’s theme: Select quotes that reflect the main ideas or themes you’re exploring in your essay. This helps create a cohesive narrative and adds depth to your writing.

2. Give credit where credit is due: Always attribute the quote to the original author. This not only demonstrates respect for their work but also adds credibility to your own writing.

3. Connect the quote to your own thoughts: After including a quote, take a moment to explain why it resonates with you or how it relates to your personal experience. This adds your unique perspective to the quote and helps establish a deeper connection with your reader.

Remember, quotes are not meant to replace your own original thoughts and ideas. Instead, they should complement and enhance your personal essay, providing additional insights and perspectives.

So, next time you sit down to write a personal essay, consider incorporating an inspirational quote to motivate both yourself and your readers. It could be the spark that ignites your creativity and helps you craft a truly memorable piece.

What is personal essay writing?

Personal essay writing is a form of writing that allows the author to share their personal experiences, thoughts, and feelings with readers. It is a genre of nonfiction writing that often explores the author’s unique perspective on a particular topic.

Can you provide an example of a personal essay topic?

Sure! Here is an example of a personal essay topic: “The Moment That Changed My Life Forever: Overcoming Fear and Pursuing My Passions”. This topic allows the author to share a personal experience of facing and overcoming a significant fear or obstacle and how it impacted their life and choices.

Alex Koliada, PhD

By Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD, is a well-known doctor. He is famous for studying aging, genetics, and other medical conditions. He works at the Institute of Food Biotechnology and Genomics. His scientific research has been published in the most reputable international magazines. Alex holds a BA in English and Comparative Literature from the University of Southern California , and a TEFL certification from The Boston Language Institute.

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Michel de Montaigne and the Art of the Personal Essay

Montaigne invented the essay genre after deciding he wanted to write a literary self-portrait of himself. This turned out to be an impossible task.

chateau st michel de montaigne

Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) is one of France’s most celebrated literary giants . Born into a noble Catholic family from South West France, he spent many years sitting in Bordeaux’s parliament. But after 15 years working in the legal and political sphere, Montaigne retired to his country estate in Dordogne.

It was here, inside a small library within one of his chateau towers , that Montaigne began writing the Essays . He published the first two volumes of these essays in 1580, followed by a third in 1588. Within their pages he wrote chapters of varying lengths (sometimes only a few paragraphs, sometimes hundreds of pages long) on a wide array of topics ranging from architecture to child-rearing. His writing style was unusual in the 16th century for its complete honesty and informality.

The Essays: Michel de Montaigne’s Personal and Historical Context

Michel de Montaigne portrait

Before we dive into the essays themselves, it’s helpful to understand Montaigne’s mindset when he first began writing in 1571. The nobleman had already suffered a series of personal tragedies by the time he put quill to parchment. His close friend Étienne de la Boétie passed away in 1563, followed by Montaigne’s beloved father Pierre only a few years later in 1568.

In fact, Montaigne was arguably surrounded by death throughout his life. He and his wife Françoise had several children, but only one daughter, Léonore, survived childhood. Furthermore, France was embroiled in a bloody civil war between Catholic and Protestant factions for much of the latter half of the 16th century. This violence reached the walls of Montaigne’s chateau on many occasions. Montaigne himself was twice accosted by spies and soldiers who wanted to kidnap or kill him, but in both cases he managed to talk his way out of trouble.

chateau michel de montaigne

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In this context of grief and bloody violence, Montaigne began to look inwardly to himself. After all, his external reality, which was filled with family tragedy and religious massacres, didn’t seem to be making much sense. It’s hardly surprising that in his famous preface to the Essays , the author expresses a belief that his own death will occur fairly soon. Therefore his writing will serve as a legacy, a reminder of his character and personality once he is dead.

This is where the unique nature of Montaigne’s writing comes into play.  In the Essays he wants to try and pin down his own thoughts and feelings on paper, amid the uncertainty and violence of the world around him. He accepts that there are plenty of things he knows very little about, which is why he often defers to other people by including direct quotations from ancient philosophers and historians in his writing. But what he can do is draw on his own experience, i.e. his memories, personal events etc. and combine it with the books and philosophies that have shaped him, in order to try and sketch a self-portrait of himself.

The Essays were printed and widely disseminated throughout Europe, bringing Michel de Montaigne a large degree of fame during his lifetime. He continued to write and rewrite previous editions of his work, resulting in several versions of the Essays in circulation. Eventually, after some brief periods of travel across France and Italy, ill health confined Montaigne to his chateau once again. He died of quinsy at the age of 59.

The Unique Composition of the Essays

montaigne portait

As you may have guessed, the Essays (in French: Essais ) are an unusual collection of writing. The word ‘essay’ itself comes from the French verb ‘essayer’ i.e. ‘to attempt’. Each chapter is Montaigne’s attempt to explore a particular topic, whether it be child-rearing or suicide , by capturing the natural flow of his thoughts as they enter his mind. In a chapter on politeness, for example, he might begin by discussing a famous quote on being polite, then compare this with what various philosophers say on the matter, before finally reflecting on his own attitude towards politeness.

Despite being a member of the upper classes, Montaigne discusses historical events and philosophical questions alongside personal anecdotes and health issues (including his bowel movements and napping schedule!). Although it’s now a common literary genre, this free-flowing essay form was completely new to 16th century audiences. The Essays represented the origins of an entirely new way of writing.

What makes Michel de Montaigne’s writing even more unique was his insistence on constantly revising what he had already published. In later editions, he added hundreds of annotations (sometimes several paragraphs long) or hastily deleted sentences and quotes he no longer liked. In fact, this constant rewriting highlights just how difficult it is to paint a literary self-portrait. Our ideas and opinions on subjects are constantly changing over the course of our lifetime. The Essays are a record of how Montaigne’s own mindset evolved as he grew older, read more books and experienced even more of life.

Montaigne and the Act of (Re)writing

michel de montaigne essays frontispiece

Indeed, the rewriting process feeds into this problem which Montaigne encounters during his writing. In a chapter entitled ‘On Repentance’, he ends up discussing how difficult he finds it to record himself through the medium of writing: “I can’t pin down my object. It is tumultuous, it flutters around” (Montaigne, 2007). Then he asserts one of his most famous dictums: “I don’t paint the being. I paint the passage” (Montaigne, 2007). Here he illustrates what he believes to be one of the key conditions of human existence: that all human beings are constantly in flux.

Michel de Montaigne can never truly give a single self-portrait of himself through his writing. Because he, like us, is constantly changing over time. His body is aging, his emotions change from day to day, his favorite authors and philosophers evolve as he reads more books. He cannot write the ‘being’ because it’s constantly in flux, so he can only record the ‘passage’ of himself as it changes from day to day, minute to minute.

The Philosophical Significance of the Essays

english edition montaigne essays

So if we’re constantly in flux, how can we ever do what a philosopher wants to do best and try to find truth? After all, Montaigne acknowledges that learning and attempting to find truth in the world is often portrayed as the most distinguished way to spend one’s time: “We are born to seek out truth…the world is nothing but a school of learning” (Montaigne, 2007).

Montaigne suggests that we humans possess a strong desire to fulfill our curiosity. Furthermore, when Michel de Montaigne discusses truth, he often uses verbs such as ‘to seek’ or ‘to search’ but never claims to have finally ‘found’ the truth. This suggests that he believes truth-seeking to be an open-ended journey, one which will never quite be fully realized. This is mirrored in the writing of the Essays themselves, which were edited and re-edited by their author, before subsequently spawning a long tradition of academic scholarship which still debates the meaning of Montaigne’s writing today.

portrait michel de montaigne dumonstier

In a temporal world , learning and accessing truth is challenging. Montaigne often uses the French word branle (which roughly translates as ‘inconstant movement’) to describe time. Time’s inconstancy affects us every single day. Montaigne points out that each new day brings new feelings and flights of imagination, leading us to flit between different opinions. Time’s inconstancy isn’t just reflected in the external world i.e. through the changing seasons, but it also affects the inner essence of our being. And we humans allow ourselves to drift along in this way, stating an opinion then changing it an hour later, for the entirety of our lives on earth: “It’s nothing but inconstancy” (Montaigne, 2007).

When it comes to pinning down a literary self-portrait, Montaigne struggles due to the impermanence of living in time: “If I speak of myself in different ways, it’s because I view myself differently” (Montaigne, 2007). However, his commitment to writing and rewriting his thoughts shows his determination to try and find truth in the world despite all of its uncertainty. Even though human beings exist in temporal flux, we still have a brain and rational tools which allow us to live in time. Truth-seeking means doing what Montaigne is doing with his writing: drawing on your own experience and writing down your thoughts to try and know yourself. After all, the one thing that humans can reliably claim to know about is themselves.

Michel de Montaigne’s Literary and Philosophical Legacy

michel de montaigne 1590 portrait

The Essays are celebrated due to their inventive nature. In the end, Montaigne didn’t care that he would never be able to represent himself faithfully through writing. He accepts that this is the way of the world, and puts quill to parchment anyway. Scholar Terence Cave once described the Essays as “the richest and most productive thought-experiment ever committed to paper” (Cave, 2007). Furthermore, as stated above, the clue is in the name essay , which means ‘attempt’: as he reflects on the French civil war or the nature of custom, his thoughts shift and change. He is trying, and that’s all we can ever do.

Montaigne has also defied classification as a philosopher. Sometimes he favors Stoicism as a world view, at other times he prefers the Skeptics. And unlike many philosophers who are seeking a way to live in the world , Michel de Montaigne refuses to give a final judgment on whatever topic he is writing about. His personal anecdotes and moral reflections always lead towards open-ended conclusions. He doesn’t seek to provide his readers with absolute answers to life’s major questions. What he does do is attempt to record himself searching for those answers in vain.


Terence Cave, How to Read Montaigne (London: Granta, 2007)

Michel de Montaigne, Les Essais , ed. by Jean Balsamo, Michel Magnien & Catherine Magnien-Simonen (Paris: Gallimard, 2007)

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By Rachel Ashcroft MSc Comparative Literature, PhD Renaissance Philosophy Rachel is a contributing writer and journalist with an academic background in European languages, literature and philosophy. She has an MA in French and Italian and an MSc in Comparative Literature from the University of Edinburgh. Rachel completed a PhD in Renaissance conceptions of time at Durham University. Now living back in Edinburgh, she regularly publishes articles and book reviews related to her specialty for a range of publications including The Economist.

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Works Cited:

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  • Germer, C. K. (2009). The mindful path to self-compassion: Freeing yourself from destructive thoughts and emotions. Guilford Press.
  • Gilbert, P. (2014). The origins and nature of compassion focused therapy. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 53(1), 6-41.
  • Hölzel, B. K., Carmody, J., Evans, K. C., Hoge, E. A., Dusek, J. A., Morgan, L., ... & Britton, W. B. (2010). Stress reduction correlates with structural changes in the amygdala. Social cognitive and affective neuroscience, 5(1), 11-17.
  • Rizzolatti, G., & Craighero, L. (2004). The mirror-neuron system. Annual review of neuroscience, 27(1), 169-192.

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The Art of the Personal Essay

Phillip Lopate

Nonfiction | Essay Collection | Adult | Published in 1994

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35 Words to Describe Art

By Med Kharbach, PhD | Last Update: February 24, 2024

personal essay about art

Art, in its myriad forms, speaks a universal language, yet our interpretations are deeply personal, filtered through the lens of our experiences, emotions, and cultural backgrounds. By equipping our learners with a diverse arsenal of descriptive words, we empower them to articulate their perceptions, emotions, and connections to art with greater clarity and depth. This linguistic toolkit not only enhances their ability to engage in critical analysis but also fosters an environment where art becomes accessible to all, demystifying the often intimidating world of art critique.

Whether it’s the vibrant energy of a Pollock, the haunting melancholy of a Munch, or the serene minimalism of a Rothko, every piece of art has a story to tell. By enriching our students’ vocabulary with precise and evocative adjectives to describe art , we open up new avenues for expression, allowing them to engage more deeply with the art they encounter and, ultimately, with the world around them.

In this blog post, we’ll explore a palette of words that go beyond the basics of “beautiful” or “interesting,” diving into the nuanced spectrum of adjectives that can help articulate the complex emotions and thoughts art evokes.

From the ethereal to the provocative, the luminous to the textured, each term offers a new shade of meaning, enabling students and art enthusiasts alike to paint their impressions with the full color and vibrancy they deserve.

Related: 20 Amazing Science Facts for Kids

Words to Describe Art

Here’s a curated list of adjectives and words to describe art:

  • Vibrant : Bursting with life and color, vibrant art leaps off the canvas, demanding attention.
  • Ethereal : Art that feels otherworldly, as if it exists in a realm between dreams and reality.
  • Provocative : Art that challenges, questions, and pushes boundaries, often sparking intense discussions.
  • Sublime : Capturing beauty and greatness, often in a way that seems almost beyond human achievement.
  • Minimalist : Art that strips away the superfluous, focusing on the essence of form, color, and line.
  • Whimsical : Playful and fanciful art that often carries a sense of light-heartedness or humor.
  • Haunting : Art that lingers in the mind long after you’ve looked away, often evoking a sense of mystery or melancholy.
  • Textured : Art that invites a tactile response, rich in materials that create a sense of depth and dimension.
  • Luminous : Art that seems to emit its own light, glowing from within and captivating the viewer.
  • Surreal : Art that bends reality, creating a dream-like atmosphere where the impossible seems possible.
  • Innovative : Art that breaks new ground, offering a fresh perspective and challenging preconceived notions.
  • Dynamic : Art characterized by energy and movement, often creating a feeling of action or change.
  • Intimate : Art that feels personal, drawing the viewer into a close relationship with the subject or story.
  • Timeless : Art that transcends the era in which it was created, holding relevance and resonance across generations.
  • Melancholic : Art imbued with a sense of sadness or contemplation, often reflecting deeper emotional layers.
  • Majestic : Art that conveys grandeur and awe, often on a grand scale or with a noble subject.
  • Intricate : Detailed and complex, capturing the viewer’s attention with its elaborate patterns or fine craftsmanship.
  • Soulful : Art that seems to convey deep, emotional resonance, often reflecting the artist’s inner experiences or the essence of humanity.
  • Revolutionary : Art that marks a departure from tradition, often heralding new movements or perspectives.
  • Elegant : Graceful and refined, with a simplicity that belies its sophistication.
  • Raw : Art that feels unfiltered and unrefined, often powerful in its directness and honesty.
  • Mystical : Infused with a sense of the spiritual or the enigmatic, inviting contemplation and wonder.
  • Bold : Art characterized by strong, confident strokes or choices, not afraid to make a statement.
  • Poignant : Deeply moving, often evoking a keen sense of sadness, nostalgia, or empathy.
  • Rustic : Art that embodies the simplicity and charm of rural life, often with a rough or textured quality.
  • Saturated : Rich and intense in color or emotion, often creating a strong visual or emotional impact.
  • Transcendent : Art that goes beyond the ordinary, offering a glimpse into something beyond our everyday experience.
  • Abstract : Art that eschews direct representation, instead using shapes, colors, and forms to achieve its effect.
  • Expressive : Art that conveys emotion or ideas powerfully, often through dynamic composition or vibrant color.
  • Serene : Art that evokes a sense of peace and tranquility, often with a soothing or calming effect.
  • Gritty : Art that is unpolished and raw, often portraying the harsh realities of life with unvarnished truth.
  • Wholesome : Art that radiates positivity, often evoking a sense of warmth, comfort, or nostalgia.
  • Avant-garde : Art that is ahead of its time, experimenting with new techniques, ideas, or forms.
  • Futuristic : Art that looks forward, often incorporating elements of science fiction or forward-thinking design.
  • Nostalgic : Art that evokes a longing for the past, often through style, subject matter, or a certain quality of light.

Final thoughts

The adjectives we’ve shared are invitations to dialogue, keys to unlocking deeper layers of understanding, and bridges connecting us to the very essence of creativity. As we conclude this exploration, it’s important to remember that the power of art lies not only in its visual impact but in its ability to communicate, to provoke thought, and to evoke emotion . By enriching our language with a diverse array of descriptive words, we enhance our ability to share in this experience, to articulate our perspectives, and to engage in meaningful conversations about art.

personal essay about art

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personal essay about art

Meet Med Kharbach, PhD

Dr. Med Kharbach is an influential voice in the global educational technology landscape, with an extensive background in educational studies and a decade-long experience as a K-12 teacher. Holding a Ph.D. from Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, Canada, he brings a unique perspective to the educational world by integrating his profound academic knowledge with his hands-on teaching experience. Dr. Kharbach's academic pursuits encompass curriculum studies, discourse analysis, language learning/teaching, language and identity, emerging literacies, educational technology, and research methodologies. His work has been presented at numerous national and international conferences and published in various esteemed academic journals.

personal essay about art

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$ 545.00

Have you had life experiences or unique perspectives that you’re compelled to share with others? In this 8 week course, you will learn how to write publishable personal essays that have the power to reach a wide audience. Through weekly instruction on literary techniques specific to the personal essay, you will explore topics you wish to write about and create your own personal essays. Topics can include travel, love, health, family, childhood, work, friendship and other relationships, the body, or any other subjects of interest to you.

You will learn about the strengths of your writing and receive detailed instruction on further development through weekly constructive, in-depth instructor and student feedback. We’ll look at a range of personal essays by critically acclaimed authors and discuss the literary techniques that make them successful. By the end of the course, you will have discovered how to access the power and strength of your essay writing skills and give voice to your unique perspective(s) on life and other matters. Included are strategies on how to become your own best editor.

Margo had great feedback, and all her responses to students’ writing were thorough, positive, and extremely helpful. She was encouraging and kind during all interactions, and all her comments were very meaningful. —Rebecca Schechter

Learning Objectives for Students

– To understand and be familiar with personal essay writing as a process

– To critique writing (one’s own and that of others)

– To develop an authentic, individual voice

– To understand basic elements of successful personal essays

– To apply the tools of the workshop in editing and revision

– To cultivate and explore ideas in personal essays with greater assurance and precision

Instructional Methods

The course will be taught through instruction on craft, the examination of a range of personal essays, class discussion, weekly writing assignments, and critique of student manuscripts.

Week One: Structure of the Personal Essay and the Creative Process

We’ll look at what makes a piece of nonfiction writing a “personal essay” and explore different techniques to help you write the best you can.

Week Two: Voice and Point of View

What is your narrative “personality”? What makes your writing most authentic to your own individual sensibility and aesthetic? We’ll also be looking at the ways you can use different points of view in the personal essay.

Week Three: Imagery and Exposition

When to “tell” and when to “show” in a personal essay, and how to strike the most effective balance between the two.

Week Four: Characterization

The people you write about, as well as yourself, are multilayered characters. We’ll discuss how to present them in a nutshell and reveal enough to make the “whole” of them real and engaging to your readers.

Week Five: When to Include Conversation, and Not

A discussion of authentic dialogue and the importance of including what your characters don’t say.

Week Six: The Importance of Setting

We’ll explore how the time and place in which the experience(s) you describe provide vital context, reflection, and “grounding.”

Week Seven: “Real” vs. “Story” Time

This week we’ll be examining a variety of “time” used in the personal essay, including “real” time, and the ways in which is time is compressed and/or lengthened to heighten drama.

Week Eight: Theme/Premise, Beginnings and Endings

We end the course with a focus on the importance of conveying meaning in the personal essay, and how to create the most impactful beginnings and endings.

Student Feedback for Margo Perin:

Margo is a fantastic teacher!  She gave so much attention to every single piece of writing including all the critiques.  I was extremely satisfied with the class content. I was sorry to see the workshop come to an end. I would absolutely recommend it.  Madlyn Springston

This was an excellent class and one that gave me a weekly opportunity to flesh out ideas and get real-time responses. Margo is knowledgeable and compassionate, with a keen eye for strengths and areas of growth.  Tom Lorio

Margo was attentive and understanding as an instructor. She provided useful critiques and wise guidance. She was also kind in giving criticism, a skill not mastered by all instructors. All the lessons were adequately described and the lecture notes and supplemental readings were very detailed and clear. The assignments were challenging and interesting... I would and I have recommended your classes to many friends... Your attention to and care for your students is admirable. I am very happy to have found your website. Sia Corrina Durocher

Margo had great feedback, and all her responses to students' writing were thorough, positive, and extremely helpful. She was encouraging and kind during all interactions, and all her comments were very meaningful. Rebecca Schechter

I found Margo to be highly sensitive to our abilities, both in terms of our gifts as well as challenges as writers.  I really appreciated her attention to subtle but powerful details.  Her suggestion of what seemed like a simple one-word change were profound and helped me see my writing process in new, advanced ways.  Terilee Wunderman

I was very happy with the class content. Margo gave truly helpful comments and was extremely supportive.I would and have extolled this program to many people. I got exactly what I'd hoped for, and I think it's a really high-quality operation. Molly Cheek

Margo is an excellent teacher, great critiques, motivational and sincere in her feedback. I found this class a perfect fit for me to assist me with my short story writing. The assignments were spot on, the plot, point of view and scene building assignments were eye opening to me. Also, the online classroom was great. I will take another class.  Mike Karpinski

[Margo] has a way of bringing out the best in each of the writers. She always provided constructive feedback. I looked forward to hearing what she had to say and learned a lot from her feedback, not just for me but for everyone. I thought the class lectures and assignments really helped me think about what I wanted to say and how I should say it. They were the right mix of challenging but not overwhelming. I am impressed the course offerings provided by Writers.com. I am currently taking another class and plan to take others.   Abigail Aguirre

“Margo is a fantastic teacher! She gave so much attention to every single piece of writing including, all the critiques. I was extremely satisfied with the class content. I was sorry to see the workshop come to an end.” —Madlyn Springston

Margo Perin

About Margo Perin

Margo Perin’s publications include  The Opposite of Hollywood,   Only the Dead Can Kill: Stories from Jail ,  Plexiglass , and  How I Learned to Cook & Other Writings on Complex Mother-Daughter Relationships . She is the poet of San Francisco’s permanent memorial  Spiral of Gratitude . A nominee for the Pushcart Prize, she has been featured in numerous national and international media, including Heyday/PEN’s  Fightin’ Words ,  The San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Magazine ,  O, The Oprah Magazine , Mexico’s  El Petit Journal , Holland’s  Psycologie ,  KRON 4 TV ,  NPR’s Talk of the Nation , and  KALW, KPFA , and  WAMC . Her passions are teaching and writing, especially memoir and autobiographical fiction and poetry. She has taught for more than thirty years, including M.F.A. and M.A. Creative Writing at USF and New College, at UC Berkeley Extension, California Poets in the Schools, and in the U.K., Mexico, and Italy. She is pleased to be back at Writers.com after a hiatus when she focused on teaching personal narrative to adults and youth incarcerated in California jails and prisons. Please visit her at  www.margoperin.com  and see her work at  www.margoperin.com/essays–poetry.html , and view her  Writers.com interview  on autobiographical writing.

Margo's Courses

Let’s Get Personal: The Art and Craft of the Personal Essay In Your Own Words: Transforming Life Into Memoir and Fiction Craft Your Story: Short Fiction and Memoir Live Workshops

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Penguin Random House

The Art of the Personal Essay Reader’s Guide

By phillip lopate.

The Art of the Personal Essay by Phillip Lopate

Category: Essays & Literary Collections | Reference | Writing | Literary Criticism

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Introduction, questions and topics for discussion.

1) In his introduction, Lopate suggests that the personal essay implies a "certain unity to human experience." Does this principle of universality apply across different eras, different cultures? * How does a contemporary reader find meaning in such essays as Seneca’s "On Noise" and "Scipio’s Villa," Montaigne’s "Of Books," or even Orwell’s "Such, Such Were the Joys…"? Can you read your own concerns and experiences into the framework of these essays? * Choose an essay (or essays) from the "Other Cultures, Other Continents" section. To what extent does its theme have meaning for you despite the aspects of its content that may be alien to you?

2) Tanizaki’s "In Praise of Shadows" is a value-inverting essay, meaning that the writer takes something usually denigrated or despised and shows its worth–or takes something usually valued and cuts it down to size. Compare Tanizaki’s approach with other value-inverting essays: Montaigne’s "Of a Monstrous Child," Cowley’s "Of Greatness," Hazlitt’s "On the Pleasure of Hating," Stevenson’s "An Apology for Idlers," Chesterton’s "On Running After One’s Hat," Beerbohm’s "Going for a Walk," Lopate’s "Against Joie de Vivre." What elements and/or techniques seem common in this type of essay?

3) On page xxix of the introduction, Lopate probes some of the differences between autobiographies and personal essays. With these distinctions in mind, think about the pieces listed in the Contents by Form under "Memoir." How (other than in economy of space) do these pieces differ in focus from traditional memoir writing? When you tell a story from your own life, do you use similar techniques?

4) How do the authors of memoir essays (or any that take their own lives as their subjects) keep from sounding egotistical and self-absorbed? Do they ever seem self-indulgent to you?

5) In "Once More to the Lake," E.B. White presents a more or less idyllic picture of an American boyhood tinged with innocence. Compare to the boyhoods in Stevenson’s "The Lantern-Bearers," Orwell’s "Such, Such Were the Joys…," and Baldwin’s "Notes of a Native Son."

6) Many of these writers (quite self-consciously) use contradictory arguments to make their point. How do you see this technique used in Montaigne’s "On Some Verses of Virgil," Lamb’s "A Chapter on Ears," Stevenson’s "On Marriage," Tanizaki’s "In Praise of Shadows," and Hoagland’s "The Threshold and the Jolt of Pain"?

7) In a slight variation on the above technique, an essayist may adopt a tone that seems inappropriate to his or her subject, even perhaps to the point of undermining it. Consider Cowley’s sincerity in "Of Greatness," Edgeworth’s in "An Essay on the Noble Science of Self-Justification," Hazlitt’s in "On the Pleasure of Hating," and Beerbohm’s in "Laughter." In each case, does the essay’s tone provide an implicit commentary on its content? What effect does this tactic have on you?

8) Compare White’s description of a spectacle in "The Ring of Time" with Hazlitt’s "The Fight" and Turgenev’s "The Execution of Tropmann."

9) Compare Didion’s way of handling a physical problem (discussed in "In Bed") to Lu Hsun’s illness, Fitzgerald’s crack-up, and Hoagland’s stuttering.

10) Examine the personas of one or more of these essayists. What sort of man does Montaigne strike you as being? How does Lamb present himself to the reader? (How about Thoreau or McCarthy?) List their traits and characteristics: Which of these does the author admit to and which do you deduce by reading between the lines? Do you find these personas sympathetic or unappealing?

11) In any given essay, how does what the author conveys to you about him or herself affect your reading? How important is it to you to find the author sympathetic?

12) "The enemy of the personal essay is self-righteousness," writes Lopate. How does the essayist put forth a strong opinion without falling back on this vice?

13) Compare Thoreau’s approach to nature in "Walking" with Hoagland’s in "The Courage of Turtles," Berry’s in "An Entrance to the Woods," and Dillard’s in "Seeing."

14) Lopate finds ample support for his description of the personal essayist’s "idler" persona in the many essays included in this anthology simply on the subject of walking. Compare the content and tone of these essays by Steele, Hazlitt, Stevenson, Beerbohm, Woolf, and Thoreau.

15) Unlike the more meandering tone of some of these essays, a number of them begin very suddenly, with a strong first line that grabs the reader’s attention immediately. Look at the beginnings of such essays as Seneca’s "On Noise," Mencken’s "On Being an American," Fitzgerald’s "The Crack-Up," and Sanders’s "Under the Influence." How might you read these differently from the other pieces in the anthology?

16) What other contemporary authors have you read whose writings might be called personal essays? What qualities do their pieces have in common with the essays in this anthology?

17) If you were to write a personal essay, what topics would you consider appropriate or interesting? Do you see it as a format for light, diverting commentary or for more weighty issues and assertions (or both)? What experiences of yours might you draw on to get your point across?

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    Fine Art Personal Statement Example 5. Time after time I am engaged with the subjective viewpoint that art conveys. Art is grounded in beliefs, ideologies and feelings, three features that depict humans, shape individuals and craft individualism.

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    History of Art Personal Statement Example 2. If I had to pinpoint one of the moments in my life where I knew I would dedicate my life to art, it would be when I was ten years-old standing in front of 'Le Penseur' at the Musee Rodin. While wondering why groups of people stopped to take pictures of a "statue of a sitting naked man", I was ...

  10. A Personal Essay on the Dfinition of Art

    Like language, art speaks up for a society; it is the soul of a society, and it evolves with it. Art unfolds the story of our history and nurtures our culture. Art is something that can be enjoyed by everyone. Art is art even if it is not for auction, if it is not known and no one can appreciate it. Art is part of every culture.

  11. Preparing for the Personal Study

    Focus on a specific artist/photographer or art movement (or alternatively, a concept or artifact). Be related to your own investigations and practical (course)work. Include supporting images - from your chosen focus, your own work, and relevant wider connections. Include a bibliography (see below).

  12. Mastering the Art of Personal Essay Writing: Tips and Techniques

    Writing a personal essay is an art that requires the mastery of words, emotions, and storytelling. It is a form of writing that allows the author to express their thoughts, experiences, and ideas in a way that captivates readers and leaves a lasting impression. Whether you are an aspiring writer or a seasoned blogger, the art of personal essay ...

  13. Michel de Montaigne and the Art of the Personal Essay

    Michel de Montaigne and the Art of the Personal Essay. Montaigne invented the essay genre after deciding he wanted to write a literary self-portrait of himself. This turned out to be an impossible task. Aug 15, 2022 • By Rachel Ashcroft, MSc Comparative Literature, PhD Renaissance Philosophy. Château Michel de Montaigne, rebuilt in the 1800s ...

  14. My Experience With Art Essay

    807 Words 4 Pages Open Document Essay Sample Check Writing Quality Show More "My Experiences With Art" I believe art is all around us, whether it is something we see, or something we hear. Art has always been something very important to me. I'm not sure where my love of art began but it has always been something that is fun to me.

  15. The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology from the Classical Era to

    Amazon.com: The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology from the Classical Era to the Present: 9780385423397: Lopate, Phillip: Books Books › Literature & Fiction › History & Criticism Enjoy fast, free delivery, exclusive deals, and award-winning movies & TV shows with Prime Try Prime and start saving today with fast, free delivery Hardcover $22.02

  16. Personal Opinion Regarding Various Pieces of Art

    Personal Opinion Regarding Various Pieces of Art. In the 1960's, the museum setting was starting to be looked down upon. There were elitist qualities about the abstract expressionism, such as the art only being able to be viewed in museums. Only people who were educated about art would understand the value of the artwork, and average citizens ...

  17. The Art of the Personal Essay

    The Art of the Personal Essay is the first anthology to celebrate this fertile genre. By presenting more than seventy-five personal essays, including influential forerunners from ancient Greece, Rome, and the Far East, masterpieces from the dawn of the personal essay in the sixteenth century, and a wealth of the finest personal essays from the ...

  18. The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology from the Cl…

    The Art of the Personal Essay is the first anthology to celebrate this fertile genre. By presenting more than seventy-five personal essays, including influential forerunners from ancient Greece, Rome, and the Far East, masterpieces from the dawn of the personal essay in the sixteenth century, and a wealth of the finest personal essays from the ...

  19. The Art of the Personal Essay Summary

    In his nonfiction book The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology from the Classical Era to the Present (1994), American literary critic Phillip Lopate explores the history of personal essay-writing, from the first century C.E. up to the modern era in America. Lopate finds these essays to be a crucial component to understanding the lifestyles and social mores of people throughout history.

  20. 35 Words to Describe Art

    Art, in its myriad forms, speaks a universal language, yet our interpretations are deeply personal, filtered through the lens of our experiences, emotions, and cultural backgrounds. By equipping our learners with a diverse arsenal of descriptive words, we empower them to articulate their perceptions, emotions, and connections to art with greater clarity and depth.

  21. Let's Get Personal: The Art and Craft of the Personal Essay

    - To critique writing (one's own and that of others) - To develop an authentic, individual voice - To understand basic elements of successful personal essays - To apply the tools of the workshop in editing and revision - To cultivate and explore ideas in personal essays with greater assurance and precision Instructional Methods

  22. From The Art of the Personal Essay

    The Art of the Personal Essay is the first anthology to celebrate this fertile genre. By presenting more than seventy-five personal essays, including influential forerunners from ancient Greece, Rome, and the Far East, masterpieces from the dawn of the personal essay in the sixteenth century, and a wealth of the finest personal essays from the ...

  23. The Art of the Personal Essay Reader's Guide

    The Art of the Personal Essay is the first anthology to celebrate this fertile genre. By presenting more than seventy-five personal essays, including influential forerunners from ancient Greece, Rome, and the Far East, masterpieces from the dawn of the personal essay in the sixteenth century, and a wealth of the finest personal essays from the ...

  24. The Art of the Personal Essay

    The Art of the Personal Essay is the first anthology to celebrate this lively, fertile genre, featuring selections from every part of the globe, chronologically arranged from ancient Rome to the present. SENECA Seneca the Younger (c. A.D. 3-65) was born in Córdoba, Spain, about the same time as Christ; his father, Seneca the Elder, was an ...

  25. The Art of the Personal Essay by Lopate, Phillip

    The Art of the Personal Essay is the first anthology to celebrate this fertile genre. By presenting more than seventy-five personal essays, including influential forerunners from ancient Greece, Rome, and the Far East, masterpieces from the dawn of the personal essay in the sixteenth century, and a wealth of the finest personal essays from the ...