How to Appreciate Art Paintings (A Beginners Guide)

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Appreciating a Good Art

How do you view an art painting?  Do you just skim over the surface?  Or do you spend long time looking at it?

If you are of the first type, I can guarantee you don’t have the skills to appreciate an art painting.  So, how do you improve your skills?

What are the things you should be looking in a painting? Besides, where do you start?

In this post, we will talk about the basics of understanding an art painting.  So, next time when you see a painting, you could easily enjoy and appreciate the art.

So, quickly, let us see them in detail.

What to Look in an Art Painting

Know the Artist  – To know the artist is the first step towards appreciating any art painting. Getting to know who created the painting will help you greatly in admiring any piece of art. Once you get familiar with the paintings from a particular artist, you will start to identify his paintings, thanks to the unique style of an artist. This may not come to you that easily, but it will, with years of art appreciation.

Know the Type of Art and Medium Used – Identifying the artist behind a painting is never the easiest of jobs but, identifying the type of art is. Although there are different styles and types of art painting like realism, surrealism, impressionism etc, for you being a beginner, it is better to keep it simple and straight.

So talk about whether the painting follows figurative style or abstract style. Figurative style uses material subjects like humans, animals etc to depict emotions. When it comes to abstract style, colors, lines and shapes are used to depict emotions.

Understanding the medium used to create the art painting will only add to your knowledge. In fact, you will find the information lucrative. But yes, you may not always be able to guess the medium used for a painting correctly. When this happens, the best thing to do is to ask the artist or the curator.

Understand an Art Painting

Understand the Meaning – This is the hardest part, isn’t it? To read between the colors and lines of the painting, to understand what the artist meant, is never easy. A simple art painting might give out different meanings to different people.

Reading a figurative painting is rather easy because of the straight and honest depiction of emotion on the canvas. Still, it doesn’t mean that what you grasp from the painting is same as what the artist wanted you to. Again, if you want to give it a double-tap, ask the artist or curator about the meaning of the painting.

However, things are a bit different with abstract paintings. These abstract paintings do their magic with colors and lines, not with real life objects. Even if you ask the artist to explain their work of art, they will find it rather difficult.

To explain the work of art, as a whole, might be difficult. But the illustrated emotions are easy to understand. You can understand the emotions just by looking at the lines drawn and the colors used in the painting.

Search for Emotions  – Not every work of art will grab your eye or emotions at first sight. You have to give these artworks some time to flesh out. Some of these artworks have very subtle emotions and takes time to reach you. Explore the artwork with your eyes.

Take the example of any portrait painting. At first sight, these portrait paintings have nothing more than a person staring at you. But a closer look and the subject’s face will start to give out emotions you never saw in the first place. Mona Lisa is a good example.

What you find interesting in the art – When you look at the painting for the first time, something might strike your imagination for a moment. Something might stir up your senses. Something you find interesting in that particular work of art. If you are asked to talk about the art painting, this is the one thing that could make a real difference. It could be the objects or emotions or even the ideas in the painting that might strike your senses.

Identifying that one thing might be all you need to appreciate a piece of art. But, it’s always easier said than done! You need the eyes of an eagle to circle-in on that one striking feature. But, once you do, you can clout it with the ferocity of the same eagle.

The most important thing to remember here is, when it comes to interpreting an art painting, there is no right or wrong. It’s your imaginations that works and it can never go wrong.

Once you know these things, appreciating an art painting can melt from thick and hard ice to free flowing water. After spending some time with the paintings, you will start to identify the artist, style, medium used and even the meaning of these paintings. From now, you won’t mind being on any side of the question, ‘What do you think about this piece of art?

Now it is your turn. Have you ever come across an art painting which you find emotionally strong? What emotions in an art painting attract you the most? Have your say in the comments section.


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About Harikrishnan G

Harikrishnan is the Chief Content Writer at He loves to hang out on the internet and make friends on Facebook. You can connect with him on Facebook, Google+ or LinkedIn.

2 Responses to “How to Appreciate Art Paintings (A Beginners Guide)”


  2. Excellent and brief. Thanks a lot

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