#2: The best way to look at paintings? On the wall.

The best way to look at paintings_Rue d arcade is an oil painting by Singapore artist Low Hai Hong

The best way to look at paintings is to see them “live” on a wall.

When we look at a painting on the wall, we can examine the painting in its original colours; we can feel the size of the painting; we can notice the textures in the painting.
 
When we look at paintings on the wall, we see the painting in its original colours. An image of the painting in a book or on the screen has its colours distorted from the original painting due to the production process: photography, printing, physical paper and screen.  The colours in a painting can never be 100% replicated onto the paper or screen because humans can create new colours that machines cannot yet recongize.    

When we look at paintings on the wall, we feel the size of the painting. While information on the dimensions of the painting is always available, an image of the painting in a book or on the screen cannot give us the actual experience of feeling the size of the painting when we confront it on the wall.  The size of the painting affects our impression; a huge painting can overwhelm us while a tiny painting can dazzle us.  
 
When we look at paintings on the wall, we notice the textures in the painting. An oil painting is not a flat drawing.  It has layers of paint.  This three dimensional texture in a painting is lost when viewed as an image in the book or on the screen (with advances in technology, we can now see texture in more paintings online).

Read: #6: How to look at paintings in an art exhibition – every painting deserves three looks

Always seize the opportunity to look at a painting “live” on a wall. Be aware of these differences when you continue to enjoy the painting later in a book or on the screen.

Read: #1: The No 1 Rule in Art Appreciation

How to appreciate paintings?  The best way to look at paintings is to see them “live” on the wall. Grab all opportunities to look at physical paintings face to face: attend exhibitions in museums or galleries, go to art fairs, visit artists’ studios.

Painting Image: Rue d Arcole by Singapore artist Low Hai Hong / ARTualize.com.sg