Lesson 1

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What is Style?

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  • Students point to differences in the styles of objects made in different places and times.
  • Students identify values (lights and darks) within an artwork.

Arizona Visual Arts Standards

  • EVALUATE: Art Issues & Concepts: PO 202 & 302: Debate whether art is different from visual culture in general.
  • RELATE: Artworlds: PO 206: Discuss how artworks reflect ideas, images and symbols from the culture within which they were made.
  • RELATE: Elements & Principles: PO 101, 201 & 301: Identify (Analyze) visual/tactile characteristics of artworks from diverse cultures, different places or times.


  • Preview What is Style? PowerPoint. Decide whether you might want to bring in examples of music, fashion, etc., that were fashionable when you were the students’ age for comparison with today’s styles.
  • Preview Linda Tracy Brandon’s Portrait Demonstration PowerPoint, and decide whether you want to show it as an introduction to her work in the Faces exhibition before visiting the TCA.
  • If students have studied a particular artist (e.g. Georgia O’Keeffe or Vincent Van Gogh) or a particular art movement (e.g. Impressionism or Cubism) or the style of a particular culture (Ancient Egyptian or Hopi), consider reviewing stylistic characteristics of that artist, movement or culture to illustrate individual or group style.


Unit Preview: Introduce the theme in life, that “groups of people often share ideas, yet each individual makes his or her own personal choices” by discussing ideas, values or experiences shared in families, neighborhoods, regions or countries. If you chose to bring in examples of music, fashion or other objects from your youth, ask students to compare the earlier style with today’s. Explain that we may have our own individual style but that we might also share the style with others in a group, for example, jock style, Goth style, geek style, preppy style and others.

Introduce the theme in life, that “artists’ styles are both personal and influenced by the world around them” by explaining that some groups of artists work in a similar style (like a Disney cartoon style or a Japanese illustration style) and some artists develop their own special look or style. If your students have previously studied an artist, movement or culture you can display several reproductions in one style and ask students to identify stylistic characteristics of that style.

Introduce the three key questions students will be working with in the unit.

  1. What are the distinctive characteristics of an individual artist’s style?
  2. How do artists use value (light and dark)?
  3. How do parts of a face fit together to make a portrait?

Definition and Examples
Display the What is Style? PowerPoint to:

  • introduce the idea of style,
  • show examples of styles of particular places (traditional buildings) and times (cars),
  • show several examples of one artist’s individual style (Frank Lloyd Wright’s textile block style) and
  • define value as black, white and grays.

Guided Practice
Use the What is Style? PowerPoint to introduce:

  • practice comparing styles of sculptures by Reidy and Nelson and
  • practice analyzing values in a Faigin drawing from the Tempe Center for the Arts Faces exhibition.

Transfer to TCA
Explain that students will have an opportunity to

  • see how artists use value in images of faces and
  • compare individual artists’ styles at the Tempe Center for the Arts – or using the Faces exhibition online preview.


  • Style
  • Unique
  • Flat plane
  • Materials
  • Accomplishment
  • Detailed
  • Value
  • Mass
  • Characteristic
  • Portrait
  • Texture
  • Individual
  • Simplified shape

Assessment Checklist
Students can point to differences in the styles of objects made in different places and times. (Discuss during PowerPoint presentation or with examples from everyday experience.)

Students can identify values (lights and darks) within an artwork. (Use Faigin artwork reproduction in Faces Exhibition Preview PowerPoint.)