Looking at Art


"If there is anything that we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves." (Carl Jung)

What colours does the artist use?
What colour is the background?
Does the artist use vibrating colours (refer to the colour wheel)
Does the artist use blended colours?
Is the picture …

  • happy
  • sad
  • relaxed
  • warm
  • cold
  • angry

Which colours created this feeling?
Does the artist draw attention to or highlight anything by using a particular colour?

How do lines affect pictures?
Horizontal lines can draw your eye into the distance.
Triangular shapes reflect and balance each other.
Circular shapes fix our attention.
Strong vertical lines give a feeling of space and light.
Lines can be curved/vertical/diagonal/curved.

Why were portraits painted?
Before the invention of photography, rich people had portraits painted of themselves and their relatives.
What can we look for in a portrait?
You might like to find out more about the person.
Does the sitter’s expression tell me anything?
What about clothes? Expensive?
Where is the sitter?
What does the setting tell me?


Painters create perspective by …

  • using lines which would all meet at one point if you joined them up;
  • using size by drawing things in the foreground bigger than in the same sort of things in the distance;
  • drawing people or things so that the ones in the foreground block out part of the things behind them;
  • making textures like grass, fur or stony ground clear and recognizable in the foreground but muzzy in the distance;
  • using paler, bluer colours for things in the distance.

Shadows create drama or mystery.
Shadows can give depth and solidity to people and objects.
Where is the light coming from? behind/one side/ above/below

Van Gogh’s paintings are highly textured.

What is happening in the picture?
What is it about?
What do you see? What else do you see?
What kind of place is it?
What kind of light is there? How do you know? Where is it coming from? How do you know?
What time of day or year is it? Why do you think so?
What part did you notice first?
What colours stand out most? Why? What are the surrounding colours like? What colours are used more than once?
Is the paint thick or thin? rough or smooth, creamy or runny?
Does the surface look shiny or polished, or heavily textured?
Can you see the brush marks the artist made?
Are the edges of things clear and sharp, or soft and fuzzy?
What is the mood or atmosphere of the picture? How is it created?

What part catches your eye most?
What part is brightest, darkest, busiest, quietest?
Do some parts seem closer and others further away?
Which colours seem closer to you and which seem to move away?
Do some shapes overlap?
How does the artist suggest movement?
Can you think of words to describe the edges of things?
Does the whole painting look flat or does the artist suggest space?
Is a mood dominant? What mood? How is it created?


A Personal Response

  • Yourself
  • Your World
  • Your Experience


Looking at the Subject

  • Content
  • Message
  • Title
  • Theme
  • Type/Genre

Looking at the Subject

  • Colour
  • Shapes
  • Marks
  • Surface
  • Scale
  • Space
  • Materials
  • Process
  • Composition

Looking at the Context

  • When was it painted
  • Where was it painted
  • Who paited it
  • History
  • Others Arts: (Science, da Vinci)
  • Other field of knowledge
  • The present
  • The Hang
  • Interpretation
  • The environment

What tools did the artist use?
Do you like it? Why?
If you met the artist what would you ask her/him?
Does it make you feel happy or sad?

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