2What to look for in paintings... SubjectTechniqueSymbolismSpace & LightHistorical StyleYour Personal Interpretation
3SubjectIs the subject religious, mythological or secular? Why did the artist make this choice?Does the painting tell a story you know—or should know? Is there a message?What assumption is the artist making about his audience? For whom does he paint?
4Technique What medium did the artist employ? What material is he painting on? Canvas? Wood? Plaster?What material is he painting with? Oils? Pastels? Water colors?
5Symbolism Objects carry meaning. Search the whole painting for clues. Artists use allusion and allegory to add depth to what they are trying to tell you.An allusion calls something to mind without expressing it directly. An allegory is an object that represents an idea.
6Space & LightAn artist uses space and light to create a three-dimensional effect in two dimensions.Artist or artistic movements have signature approaches to dealing with the issues around space and light.
7Historical StyleEvery historical period develops a recognizable style.Each style starts in reaction to the artistic movement that preceded it.Styles often reflect the times in which they began or were later popular.Each period’s artists lead the way.
8Your Personal Interpretation Art, at bottom, is one person talking to another. The language may be unusual, but it’s still communication.Remember that what you like in art says more about you than it does the work itself.Knowledge of art history, symbolism and technical skill will help you understand art.
9So, what makes a masterpiece? VirtuosityInnovationPatronage (with some notable exceptions)Artistic VisionRole of the Artist
10VirtuosityHow do we judge outstanding performances in athletes... musicians... actors...?A great artist must have complete mastery of the physical skills required for the job.An artist also should have the knowledge and imagination to use these skills to new limits.
11Innovation Does the artist rewrite existing rules of art? Does the artist offer an new visual language?Does it challenge—and extend—existing artistic boundaries?
12PatronageBefore 1800, most major works of art were commissioned by wealthy patrons.These patrons told the painter what to paint.After the Romantic Movement (early 1800s) were painters seen as isolated artists who painted their inner vision.
13Artistic VisionGreat art express the artists’ total belief in, and commitment to, what their patrons ask them to paint.In other words, artists had to believe in their paintings.
14Role of the Artist Great art is not discovered posthumously. Great art must stand out from the crowd, which takes courage and individuality.Great art stands the test of time.