Writing for Artists: Getting it Write

This post will lean more towards your resume – which I will begin to discuss in the next post – discussing punctuation that is essential in formatting and consistency. A must when listing your successes and achievements the right way. These forms of punctuation, of course, refer to narrative text as well (artist statement, bio, etc).
The Apostrophe: This can be confusing but I hope that this clarifies things for you.
An apostrophe is used for….
1. To form the possessive case of a singular noun, add an apostrophe and an “s.” Picasso’s painting, O’Keeffe’s Black Iris, Giacometti’s sculpture
2. To form the possessive case of a plural noun ending in s, add only the apostrophe
i.e i.e. Diane Arbus’ photograph, Thomas Eakins’ Biglin Brothers Racing, Edgar Degas’ Ballerina, Eva Gonzales’ Portait of a Girl Holding a Sparrow
Note The few plural nouns that do not end in s, form the possessive by adding the apostrophe and a s just as singular nouns do. i.e. women’s studio, children’s art
3. Personal pronouns in the posessive case (his, hers, its, ours yours, theirs, whose) do not require an apostrophe.
Incorrect: I thought the paint brush was her’s.
Correct: I thought the paint brush was hers.
Incorrect: You have seen the museum at it’s best.
Correct: You have seen the museum at its best.
Incorrect: Do you know who’s sculpture this is?
Correct: Do you know whose sculpture this is?
4. When two or more persons posssess something indvidually, each of their names is possessive in form. i.e. Picasso’s and O’Keeffe’s paintings
5. The words minute, hour, day, week, month, year etc., when used as possessive adjectives, require an apostrophe. Words also indicating an amount in dollars or cents (when used as possessive adjectives) also require an apostrophe.
Singular: a minute’s work / Plural: five minutes’ work
Singular: a day’s work / Plural: three days’ work
Singular: one cent’s worth / Plural: five cents’ worth
6. To show where letters have been omitted, or when you are bringing two words together such as: don’t (do not), won’t (will not), it’s (it is).
7. To form the plural of letters, numbers and signs and of words referred to as words.
i.e. Mississippi is spelled with four s’s, four i’s, and two p’s.
Instead of a three and an 8, she wrote two 3’s.
How many +’s in that piece of writing?
Count the number of and’s in that paragraph.
The Hyphen: Please note that there is a difference between a hyphen and a dash. The dash will be explained below. A hyphen is….
1. Used to divide a word at the end of a line. Make sure that you use the hyphen after a syllable – such as (contest>con-test). This especially helps you break up a “widow.” Writing in some ways is visual as well. A widow is dangling single words or three or four words that stand out at the end of a paragraph.
2. Used with compound numbers. Such as: twentyone to ninetynine.
3. Used with prefixes such as ex-, self-, all- with the suffix -elect, and with all prefixes before a proper noun. exdirector of the museum, selfimposed, allstar, Senatorelect, etc.
4. Add to a compound adjective when it precedes the word it modifies (see the last post about adjectives and modifiers). Examples: A secondstory studio, doortodoor selling.
5. Used to prevent confusion or awkwardness. re-collect (prevents confusion with the word recollect). reform (prevents confusion with the word reform)
The Dash is….
1. Used to indicate an arupt break in thought . i.e. He might and according to plans, should have painted the corner of that canvas again.
2. To mean namely, in other words, that is, etc. before an explanation.
the teacher had it in his power to prevent the disruption he could have asked everyone to sit down.
In this case, the dash means “that is”.
Parentheses: Used to enclose incidental explanatory matter which is added to a sentence but is not considered of major importance. For example:
Retired City Councilman Peter Vallone, Sr. (Astoria, New York) is a member of the arts and the city committee.
The exhibitions included several artists (see the catalog) who’s work is considered Post-war Modern.
Tip: Very often commas, dashes and parentheses are interchangable. It depends on how much you want to offset the meaning of what you are saying. Commas and dashes are used more frequently than parentheses.
She said, by the way, that she really liked the art.
She said by the way that she really liked the art.
She said (by the way) that she really liked the art.
Brackets: In ordinary writing you probably won’t use this but I wanted to add it just so that you are absolutely sure when to use them and when not. They cannot be substituted for parenteses. Brackets are used to enclose explanations within parentheses or in quoted material when the explanation is not part of the quote.
i.e. Picasso accepted the award by saying “I am honored by it [the award] and am aware of the prestige, value and responsibility associated with it.
Quotation Marks vs. Italics and Underlining: basically these are all interchangeable when you are using a title of an article, publication or book. Most common is to use quotation marks but I think it looks much more sophisticated and clearer to read if you use italics.
i.e.
Dale Chihuly: A Celebration by Rock Hushka.
“Dale Chihuly: A Celebration” by Rock Huschka
Dale Chihuly: a Celebration by Rock Huschka
You decide.
Use quotation marks to offset something that someone says in a narrative form.
Picasso said “The matter of my exhibition at the Salon is completely up to Gertrude Stein.”
Use quotation marks to offset slang:
She said the artist was “looney.”
or
She said the artist was so talented that he was “over the top.”
You can also use quotation marks to bring importance to something.
i.e Her work is “amazing.”
That formally ends the section of this post on grammar. I hope that you don’t think that it’s boring. It should help you become a better writer.
The bottom like is “Yes you can write!” You can speak right? It’s just a matter of knowing how to format it when you’re writing so that it comes across properly and as an added benefit you will become even more articulate about you work.