Sunday, August 28, 2011

Looking at Art

evening on the water for blog and e-mail I have a couple of paintings almost done, this is new but it isn’t one that I’m talking about. I’m going to spend some time looking at the others to decide if they’re done or need some tweaking.  That made me think about looking at art. 

I was in a gallery the other day and listening (I do eaves drop now and then) to a couple looking at a painting I had just looked at.  They wondered why it warranted wall space in a gallery.  It was a good piece but there were a lot of splatters and drips, something I love to see in a watercolor while others think it’s just plain sloppy.

There is no right or wrong here but it helps to know a bit about why the one that you wonder about is in that gallery or museum and sometimes you have to study it awhile to figure it out, especially if you don’t particularly like it.

To help, most museums have docents who can point out what makes a painting work.  Galleries don’t generally have docents, they have sales people and while they do want to help you, they’re still sales people.  In order to enjoy looking and to learn more about what you like and why you like it,  here are a few general questions that docents at the Grand Rapids Art Museum ask.  They’re good ones to ask yourself when you’re looking:

1. What’s going on in the painting?

2. What do you see that makes you think that?

3.  Is there an element that makes your eye move around the painting to see what’s going on?

4. Does the title tell you what’s going on?

5. What images/objects do you see? 

6. Is there a dominant color? What is it and how does it make you feel?

7. To really stretch yourself try imagining the main color area as a different color. Would you still respond to the painting in the same way?

These are general questions.  Another time I’ll deal with looking at specific subject matter.


Dean H. said...

I like your painting at the top of this post, Helen!

Those are interesting questions. Will have to try them on for size with future paintings.

Catherine Kendrick said...

Hi Helen.. I thought I posted on this. I guess I did it went to your wall!
All the same.. Great set of questions that one should deal with when approaching their art.
Love the painting btw. Looking for more to follow!

suzannepaints said...

Helen, My mother was Mary Joyce. She didn't care for the sound of a double name. She convinced her friends and family to start calling her Meredith. She is now 84 years old. Some of my sisters had given their children the Mary part of Mother's name and were a little piqued she should change. My dad even went along with the name change and put both names on her birthday cake and on their answering machine. It is one of our favorite family stories of my accomplished mother!

suzannepaints said...

Love your thought-provoking comments and the painting at top.

Joan T said...

Good to see that you found time for a vacation as well as being creative. Glad to see you are doing the Sketchbook Project again. I am having fun with mine and will work on it again now that I am back home.

Diahn said...

What a great list! I'm definitely going to be printing it out for the next time I take the boys to the art museum - what a wonderful way to get them to really see the art. Thanks for posting!