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One of the main goals of art is to not only create original and exquisite pieces but to provoke the audience’s mind as well. If a work of art is viewed by two individuals, there will be two different interpretations of it; and once the piece has been interpreted, it is impossible to receive the same interpretation again, even by the same viewer. Each time you see an image, you view it in a changed way, whether it is the tiniest of details you missed the first time, or altered circumstances in which you experienced the viewing. Either way, it is ever-changing.

To assist viewers in achieving a more explorative understanding and deeper appreciation for the visual arts, as well as for just images one sees in everyday life, the Toledo Museum of Art has developed a useful, six-step process called “The Art of Seeing Art.”

The Six Steps of “The Art of Seeing Art”

  1. LOOK
  3. SEE

The six steps of the Toledo Museum of Art’s “The Art of Seeing Art” consists of looking, observing, seeing, describing, analyzing, and finally, interpreting. After focusing on each of the first five steps, in order and with patience, clarity, and intent, one should be more prepared to interpret the subject matter in a more comprehensive and meaningful way.

When utilizing this strategy, one should identify and think about the elements of art in the piece, like the colors, lines, shapes, spaces, and textures. One should also consider its principles of design, such as balance, emphasis, harmony, movement, proportion, rhythm, unity, and variety, as well as its form, ideas, meaning (theme or “story”), and use of symbols. After analyzing these factors and intertwining them with your true reactions and emotions, you should be able to evaluate everything together to formulate a great interpretation of the work. Just remember, there is no wrong answer here!

If you are interested in learning more about “The Art of Seeing Art,” or just art in general, there are countless resources online that are readily available, 24/7.