A Question Guide to Discussing Art

A Question Guide to Discussing Art

Art by Polly Castor

I think it is important to talk about art, but many people don’t know where to begin. This question guide could be used to get more out of a museum visit, or as a tool for classroom children or homeschooling parents. I have edited this list some, but got the germ of the original list here. See two of my paintings above and below, and enjoy discussing art in general with this useful guide!

QUESTIONS ABOUT ART CONTENT:

• What are we looking at?
• What is in the picture?
• What do you think the work is about?
• What can you see in this work?
• Do you think the artist looked at a subject or used memory or imagination?
• What time of day/year was it?
• If there are people in the picture, what are they doing?

QUESTIONS ABOUT THE FORM OF ART:

• What colors can you see? What colors have been used?
• Is there one main color or several?
• Why do you think the artist used these colors?
• Are there any light or dark parts?
• Are there any patterns?
• Is there a shape or a combination of shapes?
• Has the artist used line or tone in the work?
• Can you see lines/colors/textures/shapes/patterns in the picture?
• Does the work have a texture?
• Do you think that it is old or new?
• What might it be used for?

QUESTIONS ABOUT ART PROCESS:

• What was the picture made of?
• Do you think the artist used sketches, or photographs, or something else?
• What materials were used?
• What tools may the artist has used?
• How long do you think it took to paint it? A short time or a long time?
• How do you think the picture was made?
• How do you think the artist started this work? Which part came first and which last?
• Have you seen anything like this before?

QUESTIONS ABOUT THE MOOD OF THE ART:

• Is there a mood or a feeling about the piece?
• What do you thing the artist was feeling during the making of the work?
• Can you associate any smells or sounds with the work?
• Is it quiet, noisy, happy, sad, frightened or calm?
• Where would you like to be in the picture?
• How does the work make you feel?
• How does the work feel?

QUESTIONS ABOUT THE ARTIST:

• What sort of person do you think he/she was?
• Where did he live?
• What was his lifestyle like?
• What sort of person do you think he was and why?
• How do you think his life would have influenced his art?

ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS FOR ALL ART:

• What is art?
• Who is an artist?
• How does art make us think better?
• What makes my art look good?
• What inspires me?
• Why is art necessary?
• How do people express themselves through art today?
• How has art changed through time?
• What choices must a painter make before beginning a work?
• What choices must a sculptor make before beginning a work?
• How does art help us think about people from the past?
• How does art help us tell people our feelings?
• How does art help us learn about other people?
• How do I use art in my everyday life?
• What problem solving skills do I need to create art?
• How do I use my knowledge of art vocabulary to create art?
• What skills and vocabulary do I need to appreciate visual art?
• How do I use my knowledge of art skills to create art?
• What is my favorite thing to do in art?
• What do I love about art?

QUESTIONS ABOUT ART PRODUCTION:

• What choices must an artist make before beginning a work?
• What factors influence artists and artistic expression?
• How/where do artists get their ideas?
• How do artists choose tools, techniques, and materials to express their ideas?
• Why and how do people create?
• Why create art?
• What is the artistic process?
• Are some media better than others… (for communicating particular ideas, emotions to particular audiences)?
• How can we use design principles to organize ideas? an color (rhythm, etc.) affect mood/emotions?
• Is the “medium the message”?
• Do artists have a responsibility to be pc?
• How does art help us tell people our feelings?
• What makes my art look good?
• What do I love about art?
• What inspires me?
• What is my favorite thing to do in art?Critique
• What makes art “great”?
• How can we ‘read’ and understand a work of art?
• What is beauty?
• Why do certain themes recur in art?
• How is feeling or mood conveyed – musically?, visually?, through movement?
• What makes a work of art great?
• (If the work has subjects or characters) What is their relationship? What would they be thinking? Saying?
• What would this art sound like?
• What do you think the artist was trying to say?
• Why did the artist create this artwork?
• How does this art make you feel? Why does it make you feel that way?
• Do you think there are things in this artwork that represent other things, symbols?
• Is this art good enough for a museum?
• What do you think the artist was trying to say?
• Why did the artist create this artwork?
• Do you think there are things in the artwork that don’t make sense?
• Why is this work important?

QUESTIONS ABOUT THE HISTORY OF ART:

• What can artworks tell us about a culture or society?
• In what ways do artists influence society?
• In what ways does society influence artists?
• How do artists from different eras present similar themes?
• What can we learn from studying the art of others?
• In what ways have artistic traditions, cultural values, and social issues influenced and/or given rise to new traditions/artistic expressions?
• In what ways has technology enhanced and increased the value of the image as a form of communication?
• How do people express themselves through art today?
• How has art changed through time?
• How does art help us think about people from the past?
• What makes art modern?
• Why are there so few great women artists?
• What does it mean to be a “successful” artist today?

OTHER GENERAL QUESTIONS ABOUT ART:

• What do I love about art?
• What is art?
• Where can we find art?
• How does art communicate?
• How does art reflect culture?
• How does art shape culture?
• What kinds of things can be used to make art?
• Is a “picture worth a thousand words”?
• Do artists have a responsibility to their audiences?
• Do artists have a responsibility to society (e.g., to produce work that does not continue stereotypes or further prejudice)?
• Should we ever “censure” artistic expression?
• What is the role(s) of a museum?
• How do museums reflect continuity and changes in art?
• Why is art necessary?
• Who is an artist?
• Can art help me understand other subjects?
• Can other subjects help me understand art?
• What makes an artist successful?
• How does an artist use their art to communicate?
• Is ________ art? (graffiti, a t-shirt, an orange square in a frame, etc.) Why?
• How does art make us think better?
• How does art help us learn about other people?
• How do I use art in my everyday life?
• What makes a piece of visual art compelling?
• What makes me respond to art work?
• When I look at all forms of visual art can I see how the elements and principles have been applied?
• What makes art enduring?
• How is it a reflection of its time?
• How is art relevant in my life?
• How do I use the elements and principles of design to create effective art works?
• How can I effectively communicate my ideas to others?
• How can I apply the creative process beyond this subject area? (other subjects, real world)
• Do you like the work of art? Why or why not? Does it have artistic merit?
• Can I appreciate the design elements of a variety of works of art even if I don’ like them?
• How do the elements and principles help create a meaningful piece of art?
• What cultural influences have affected the artist or art work?
• What is art?
• Who is an artist?
• How does art make us think better?
• What makes my art look good?
• What inspires me?
• Why is art necessary?
• How do people express themselves through art today?
• How has art changed through time?
• What choices must a painter make before beginning a work?
• What choices must a sculptor make before beginning a work?
• How does art help us think about people from the past?
• How does art help us tell people our feelings?
• How does art help us learn about other people?
• How do I use art in my everyday life?
• What problem solving skills do I need to create art?
• How do I use my knowledge of art vocabulary to create art?
• What skills and vocabulary do I need to appreciate visual art?
• How do I use my knowledge of art skills to create art?
• What is my favorite thing to do in art?

Art by Polly Castor

Colors of Ridgefield (acrylic) by Polly Castor

I work to amplify good wherever I find it. I love color, texture, beauty, great ideas, nature, metaphor, deliciousness, genuine spirituality, and exploring new territory. I encourage authenticity, nurture creativity, champion sustainability, promote peace, and hope to foster a new renaissance where we all are free to be our most fulfilled, multifaceted, and terrific selves. Read more here.

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