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Viewing art is more than just looking a the pictures

David Dornan - Helper

For many people viewing art is just a walk through a museum or gallery.

But for some it is almost a science.

Viewing a visual image should be more than just looking and reacting without much thought. Viewing is an interaction between the viewer and the art object.

Although most art works are constant, the interaction varies with each viewer because of the viewer's own varied perspectives and associations.

Here are some ideas to make viewing art more than just a passing peek.

•Participate in viewing art works and discussing them with others. Have an open mind about artwork. Assume that the artist had something to communicate.

•Look for the artists name and the label on the art. Why did he or she name it what they did. Who is the person that created it?

Janet Bergera - Helper

Find out as much about the work and the artist as you can. Art works should provoke thought in the viewer. If you are given the thought or the answer before you experience the artwork, your own creative thinking might be bypassed and your experience with the artwork may be lessened.

•Remember a first impression of the art and record the first spontaneous reaction to the artwork in your mind. By the end of the process you may understand your first impression better or you may even change you mind. There are no wrong answers. Unfortunately, this step is where many people stop when they are looking at artwork.

•Create a description of the work in your mind. You want to come up with a list of everything you see in the work. The key here is to stick to the facts. Imagine that you are describing the artwork to someone over the telephone. This can be a long and detailed process if done with thought.

•Analyze the work. Try to figure out what the artist has done to achieve certain effects. You should refer to your first impressions and try to explain how the artwork achieves that reaction.

Here are some questions that everyone should ask themselves when viewing art and analyzing it.

•How are the elements of art (color, shape, line, texture, space, form, value) and the principles of design (balance, contrast, emphasis, movement/rhythm, unity, variety) used in the artwork?

•What do you notice about the artist's choice of materials?

•What grabs your attention in the work?

•At what do you think this artist worked particularly hard at while he/she did this work?

•What mood or feeling do you get when you look at this work of art?

Lindsey Frei - Helper

•What "qualities" do you see in this work?

•Interpretation is important. Try to figure out what the artwork is about. Your own perspectives, associations and experiences meet with "the evidence" found in the work of art.

All art works are about something. Some art works are about color, their subject matter, and social or cultural issues. Some art works are very accessible, that is relatively easy for the viewer to understand what the artist was doing. Other works are highly intellectual, and might not be as easy for us to readily know what the artist was thinking about.

Here are some questions to ask when interpreting art.

•What is the theme or subject of the work?

•What is the work about; what so you think it means?

•Why do you think that artist created this work?

•What do you think the artist's view of the world is?

•Finally make an informed judgment about the work. This is a culminating and reflecting activity. You need to come to some conclusions about the artwork based on all the information you have gathered and on your interpretations.

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