Visual art: Tips to look at a painting

Art can be challenging and sometimes a bit intimidating to the average viewer. But with these tips, you can become an art expert.

Previous knowledge is not required

Understanding art and paintings is not an innate skill, it is something to be learned. You do not need exact prior knowledge of art history to enjoy a work of art or to develop your own taste. You just need to know how to look at art. Just a few points are necessary for you to know how. And maybe you will soon become an art lover yourself.

Simple but very effective points

Point 1: A closer look

Sounds obvious, but it’s not. Unfortunately, many people often do not take enough time to look at them. Visitors to a museum spend an average of 15 seconds in front of a painting. So just start by taking more time to contemplate and be aware of what you actually have in front of you. Let the size, colors, and materials of the work of art affect you.

Point 2: Realize what is in front of you

Knowing is not the same as looking. When you look at something, the point is to describe what is in front of you. It is only when you try to discern what is in front of you that you add meaning to what you see. In the visual arts, one speaks here about iconography.

Point 3: thinking

The last point is all about thinking about what you see. The point is to connect the first two points and think about possible interpretations. Giving something meaning is extremely subjective; it’s not about facts.

But it makes sense to put an image in a broad context. Information from stickers and descriptions help fill the context. You can assign the work to a specific period or relate it to an artist or a movement.

By combining all of the elements of these three items, you can give meaning to an image.