Thursday, October 11, 2007

Even more on the Painting Marathon

How to Read a Painting, Part 2

Here are some questions you can use to help you evaluate and understand a painting.

  1. Is the painting representational or abstract?
  2. Can you tell at a glance what the subject of the painting is? (Most likely the painting will be representational in this case.)
    1. What kinds of objects/subjects are in the picture?
    2. Is anything out of place?
    3. If there are people, what are their expressions and what are they looking at?
    4. Does any particular object stand out? How? What captures your attention first? Why might this relate to the meaning?
    5. Are there other more subtle ways other supporting objects stand out?
  3. Are there any symbols used? Do you know what they mean? How do they fit in context?
  4. Is the painting style one you recognize? Why do you think the artist used this style?
  5. How are you feeling as you view the painting? Do you think the topic is serious? A joke? Ironic? Sad? Angry? Lustful? Happy? Do you think the painting is a statement about something or an answer?
  6. How are the basic elements employed?
    1. Line
    2. Shape
    3. Form
    4. Space
    5. Texture
    6. Color
    7. Value
    8. Pattern
  7. After asking yourself how the elements are used specifically first, do you agree at this point with the artist’s choices? Are you finding a specific meaning or emotion in the painting?
  8. Is there a social context that’s relevant? Does the painting suggest a comment or reaction about something that has recently happened?
  9. How are they using general design principles, like balance, variety, contrast, and proportion? Are elements symmetrical? Asymmetrical? Does this lead your eye around the painting in a certain way?
  10. Do you like it? Not like it? Why?

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