Art appreciation: How to read a painting

Ever puzzled over what a work of art is saying? Discover how to analyse the best paintings from the past and present to arrive at a fresh understanding of visual language. This course is guaranteed to elevate your enjoyment of the art hanging on your walls, and to whet your appetite for cultural travel.

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Teacher Date Day Time Sessions Fee Enrol
Roy Forward 7 February Tuesday 6-8pm 8 $310 Enrol now

Course outline

  • Week 1: The language of line
    • Dot and space, line and space, verticals, horizontals,
    • Straight, curved, energetic and broken lines; Hogarth’s Line of Beauty
    • Outlines, solidity, contours
    • Leonardo da Vinci; disegno e colore debate
    • George Lambert, Paul Klee, Grace Crowley, Stuart Davis, Bernice White, Nigel Hall, Victor Vasarely, Bridget Riley
  • Week 2: The language of tone
    • Caravaggio, Rembrandt: chiaroscuro
    • Monochromatic painting
    • Whistler, Seurat, Lambert
    • Max Meldrum, W.B. McInnes
    • Optical illusions
    • Colour hue and colour tone
    • Symbolism of tone
  • Week 3: The language of colour
    • Colour families, complementary colours, warm & cool colours
    • Hue, tone, saturation
    • Duccio, Titian, El Greco, Rembrandt, Turner, Corot, Whistler, Monet, Gauguin, Matisse, Robert &
    • Sonia Delaunay, Josef Albers, Ellsworth Kelly
    • Edge fluting, crispening effect, tone shift (and Bartleson-Breneman effect), saturation shift, and hue shift
    • Matching colour to music
  • Week 4: The language of space
    • Two-dimensional composition
    • Rule of thirds, Golden Section, format lines
    • Depth assessment
    • Perspective
    • Lou Guan, Jan van Eyck, Piero della Francesca, Paul Cézanne, M.C. Escher, William Robinson
  • Week 5: The language of texture
    • The materials of art: Sonia Delaunay
    • Tactile values: Giotto
    • Rough versus smooth: Rembrandt, Willem Kalf, Gainsborough, Goya, Ingres
    • Pastel: Degas
    • Monet versus photography
    • Mary Cassatt, Florence Rodway, R.B. Kitaj
    • Braque and 'palpable space'
    • Picasso, Motherwell, Auerbach, Richter, Close, King, Kiefer, Cherry Hood, Dale Frank, Chris Ofili,
    • Ben Quilty
    • Rendering paintings
  • Week 6: How to read intentions
    • Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook, The class
    • Gustave Courbet, The quarry; The wheat sifters
    • James Abbott McNeill Whistler, At the piano
    • Winslow Homer, The Gulf Stream
    • John Singer Sargent, The daughters of Edward Darley Boit
    • Sigmund Freud on Leonardo da Vinci
    • Hans Haacke: art as propaganda
    • Wang Guangyi: deliberately cool
    • Ding Yi: is an artist always trying to say something?
    • Gustave Courbet, Burial at Ornans
  • Week 7: How to get the context
    • Realism in portraits: Claus Sluter; self-portraits; wood-carvers
    • Baxandall on context; gestures: Masaccio, Fra Angelico, Mantegna, Botticelli
    • John Robinson; Arthur Jacques LeDuc; Lucas Cranach the Elder; Thomas Baines; Robert Boynes;
    • Noel Counihan, Hans Heysen, Eva Hesse; Roy Lichtenstein; Imants Tillers
  • Week 8: How to get the allusions
    • Seeing connections to other art
    • Making connections to the real world
    • Knowing connections to literature
    • The biography of the artist – is it relevant?
    • Verticals, horizontals, and diagonals

Full notes will be emailed during the course.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, you should have a thorough knowledge of how to read and appreciated art and artists.

Who should enrol

Anyone with a passion to learn more about art.

Updated:  22 November 2016/ Responsible Officer:  CCE Manager/ Page Contact:  CCE Webmaster