Art History – December 2020

We had our first meeting on Zoom in early November when we looked at six paintings on the subject of ‘Autumn Harvest’.  We enjoyed being able to comment and discuss the art works with each other and plan to have another online session in December, when the subject will be ‘Seascapes’.

I continue to update the group by email and phone.  The museums and galleries are working hard to put new content onto their websites and it is worth signing up for updates or just having a browse from time to time.  For those not on the internet, there is a good variety of art programmes on the television and radio.

Research has found that the average time people spend looking at a painting in a gallery is 16 seconds. The National Gallery has been offering ‘slow looking’ on their website, which is a five minute meditation on some of their most popular paintings. Even if you can’t visit a gallery or view online, this method of really looking can be used with a print on the wall or image in a book. Here is a guide to slow looking, with thanks to the National Gallery and Tate Galleries.

  • Make yourself comfortable in a quiet place.
  • Focus on the painting. How does it make you feel – calm, happy, agitated, excited? Don’t worry if nothing comes to mind at first.  Forget any expectations, as well as anything you ‘know’ about the artwork.
  • Consider one of the following themes as an entry point: texture, colour, shape, symbols, story, or perspective.
  • Let your eyes wander. Try and spot the details hiding in plain view.
  • Imagine yourself in the painting. Feel the air, listen to the sounds.  If it’s a portrait, imagine yourself as that person or in their posture.
  • Share your findings. This could be in your head, or with others.
  • Look again. Try a different artwork, the same artwork, straight away, after a coffee break, on a different day. What do you notice?
  • Enjoy slow looking!

My best wishes for the festive season and with hope for a better New Year.

Angela Deane.