Your True View

Questions to Help you Find Your True View

The following tips come from David Perkins' excellent book "The Intelligent Eye," (p. 52-53) If you are interested, you can read Chapter One, "Art and the Art of Intelligence".

Note: The linked works go to a dictionary definition.

Specifically, you might try these questions suggested by Perkins:

Ask "What's going on here?"
If there's an event of story you haven't figured out, do so.

Look for surprises.
Is there a startling color, an odd object, an unexpected relationship? Where and how does the work surprise you, in big ways or little ways?

Look for mood and personality.
What mood or personality does the work project? Never mind if it doesn't show a person or animal. Strong moods or personalities often shine through abstract works, landscapes, or still lifes.

Look for symbolism and meaning.
Does the artist have a message? What might it be?

Look for motion.
Many works depict motion directly and vividly - running horses, a bird in flight. Others do not represent action, but the lines, the texture, the spatial form, carry a message of motion [or rhythm] anyway.

Look for capturing a time or place.
Many works engulf the viewer in a very specific spatial and temporal locus: for example, Paris in the fog, 1890.

Look for cultural or historic connections.
Something like, "the car as central to the American way of life."

Look for space and negative space.
Sculpture and many works of art on a two-dimensional surface represent bodies in space. Look for the shapes of the bodies, and the shape of the space itself, including the space around the objects, often called the "negative space."

Look for specific "technical" dimensions.
Ask yourself to notice colors and how they relate; the major shapes and how they balance or unbalance one another; the use of line, jagged, smooth, quick, careful. (These refer to the "Elements of Design" displayed in the "Eyes on Art" Visual Glossary.)

Shift your scale.
Look for the big things, the small things, overall structure, detail.

Look for virtuosity.
What features of the work appear really hard to do? What features appear easy but might actually be hard?

December 1995.
Last revised February, 2014
By Tom March, tom at ozline dot com