How to Appreciate Paintings #88: The title of a painting (Part 9)

The title of a painting is a little “short cut” in the journey of appreciating a painting.  By telling us what the painting is, the title of the painting allows us to understand the painting faster.  

Knowing the title and knowing what the painting is, we do not have to grope about in the dark trying to figure out what is happening.  We can go straight into the significant details that show what the painting is.  We can directly proceed to think about how we feel about the painting.

We will still engage with the painting with this “short cut”, although there will a little less wondering and imagining.  For example, there will be no two stage experiencing (How to Appreciate Paintings #86).

The process of appreciating paintings becomes a bit more “efficient”, with lesser “guessing”, as the title provides clues to shorten the effort and time needed to make out what the painting is.  

This short cut is especially useful for those of us who are new to paintings, giving a much needed helping hand and a boost to their confidence when looking at paintings.  

But for those of us who are more experienced, try to rely a little lesser on the title, to enjoy a lot more of the painting. There is no need to strive for efficiency when appreciating paintings. 

How to appreciate paintings?  The title of a painting is a useful short cut to understanding the painting.  But if you rely a little lesser on the title, you will enjoy a lot more of the painting. 

How to Appreciate Paintings #87: The title of a painting (Part 8)

If we look at the painting before we look at the title, we will see the painting for what it is, with no preconceived expectations. Our minds are free to explore and imagine the painting.  We will form our own conclusions of the painting.  When we look at the title eventually, our minds will again ponder, whether to resolve the conflict or harmonize the agreement, between we had thought the painting to be and what the title had said the painting is.

Looking at the painting first before looking at the title of the painting allows us to engage with the painting twice, enhancing our experience and appreciation of the painting. 

Hence we should take our time to look at the painting and not be in a hurry to look at the title.  But most of us simply give a quick glance at the painting, read the title, and look at the painting again.  

While we do look at the painting first before we look at the title in this case, we did not give ourselves sufficient time to absorb into the painting before we look at the title.  We miss the opportunity to engage with the painting twice. 

Do not rush to look at the title.  Look at the painting and spend some time really looking at it.  Let your mind wonder, connect with your inner self, develop your own story of the painting. Do not shorten this engaging process, which is what appreciating paintings is all about.  

After reading the title, look at the painting again and spend some more time with it.  Let your mind wonder farther, connect more deeply with your inner self, form your own opinions of the painting.  Do not hasten this stimulating process, which is what appreciating paintings is all about. 

How to appreciate paintings?  Do not rush to look at the title of the painting.  Spend time looking at the painting first before looking at the title. 

How to Appreciate Paintings #86: The title of a painting (Part 7)

When we look at a painting and then look at the title, we experience the painting twice: the first time we look at the painting, we form our own story of the painting; the second time we look at the painting after looking at the title, we reconcile our story with the artist’s story from the title.

Both are very fulfilling experiences.

When we look at the painting for the first time without knowing the title, we take our time to slowly discover the painting by ourselves. It is exciting to examine the painting to make out what the painting is, absorbing to figure out our feelings to the painting, stimulating to shape our own opinions to the painting. It is an engaging and mindful experience that requires us to focus on the moment, on the painting in front of us.

When we look at the painting after knowing the title, we re look the painting with fresh eyes, promoting another study of the painting. We could be satisfied with the agreement of our understanding of the painting and look at the painting again to find the areas of alignment, strengthening our feelings and thoughts to the painting.

We could be surprised at such a divergence with our understanding of the painting and look at the painting again to analyse the reasons for the differences. We may emerge from this round of thoughtful searching armed with new insights to accept or disagree with the artist’s point of view. It is an intellectual and emotional experience that requires us to reflect upon ourselves and open our minds and hearts to possibilities that had not occurred to us.

How to appreciate paintings? Looking at the painting first before looking at the title of the painting allows us to engage with the painting twice, enhancing our experience and appreciation of the painting.