What is the subject represented in the painting or sculpture?
Discuss this work of art in terms of A) What does the work express ? and B) How does it do so ? Specific reference to the THEME (what is being represented) and aspects of STYLE (how is it represented) must be made if you are to effectively deal with this work.
In your discussion make sure that you describe the work fully IN YOUR OWN WORDS so that you accurately convey to the reader the appearance of the painting or sculpture. Following are some of the questions that you should bear in mind when describing the work:
1) What is the subject represented ? What idea or theme is expressed.
2) Are there figures in the work, if so, who are they and what are they doing ? Where are they placed ? How are they dressed ? What is their relationship, their mood, their thoughts ? Is anything happening ?
3) Describe the setting. How does the setting affect the meaning of the work ? If the figures are set in landscape, does the landscape dominate ? Is it a safe place or are the figures threatened by the landscape ?
4) If the painting is a landscape, describe the different elements of nature seen.How important is the sky ? Does the landscape create a mood?
5) If you have chosen a portrait, where is the sitter placed and how much of the figure is seen ? Where does the figure look ? Is there a facial expression and sense of interior life ? Are the hands visible and do the hands tell us anything ? Is there a background of furnishings that might tell us more about the figure ?
6) Does the artist create a believable space, that is, a recession into depth ? If so how does he/she achieve this ? If not, why is there no convincing space ? Is this intentional ?
7) Is there an emphasis on line in the work ? Do the figures look sculptural ? Or is there a more painterly approach where contours are blurred and indistinct ? How does line or the absence of line affect the work?
8) Are the colours descriptive of nature or are they used arbitrarily ? Are the colours predominately cool ( blues, greens) or warm ( reds, yellows, oranges)? Is colour an important element in the work, if so, why ?
9) Is light important ? Is it natural or artificial ? What effect does it create ?
10)Does surface texture play an important part ? If so, why ? Describe the textures present. Is there any visual texture ? i.e. has the artist simulated on a flat surface natural textures such as fur, hair or fabric, or the textures of fruit and vegetables in a still life ?
11)Is the composition i.e. how the elements are arranged, an important factor in determining the meaning or content of the work ?
12) Was the work commissioned? Did the artist choose the subject ? Are these important factors in the understanding of the work ?