We always seem to be doing similar projects around the same time! I am in the midst of doing a research "book" with my 7th graders. I have them pick an artist off of a list and then they get a checklist of information that they need to find on the internet. I give them a starting place, but then they really have to go on a "treasure hunt" and find and format all of the appropriate info. They will be taking the info and making a 10 page accordian fold book in my class. I did this last year with my 6th graders, but we made posters instead. I have a lesson plan and worksheets if you would like to see it, but basically I have them find biographical info such as birth date and place, family info, education, medium, style of art, definition about the style of art a quote by or about the artist, personal opinion/feedback about the work, a photo or portrait of the artist and examples of the artists work.
I'm not sure if you are loking to write more of a "research" paper, but I have found that the kids like this format because it doesn't feel like they are forced to write another paper.
Contact me if you aould like the lesson plan.
Northport Middle School