Seeing Works of Art

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Go to a Museum and spend time with at least one work of art. The Carnegie Museum of Art is free to CMU students and open every day except Tuesday: see

Pick one realistic painting and one abstract painting that you find compelling and spend 30 minutes (at least) looking at each painting, let your eye wander over the painting, let yourself free associate any ideas and impressions you may have.

After you have looked for a while, take notes on your thoughts and impressions. Use the ideas and tools you have been learning in class to write notes on how each painting "functions." How do the composition, color, shapes, spaces, foreground & background relationships etc., enhance the overall effect of each painting? Using the information about how the human visual system works, write down how the abstract painting plays with perception, what thoughts come to mind when you look at it, what elements in the painting cause these ideas to surface? Finally try to compare these paintings to each other, do they have suprising similarities or differences? Does the thought of one influence the way you look at the other? Keep all these notes and use them to write a 1 page paper on the experience of looking at these paintings.

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