How do we learn most things in life?  By practicing as much as we can. 
The same applies to appreciating paintings.  We learn to appreciate paintings by practicing often, by looking at painting after painting.
The more we look at paintings, the more we know about paintings – styles, mediums, movements, genres, artists, art history.  When we look at a painting, we also usually read any accompanying text, thus learning something about the painting, and also about paintings in general.  This informal way of gaining knowledge of art is slow, but does not overwhelm us, piques our interest to find out more, and enables us to retain our knowledge better.  
The more paintings we look, the more we discover our own preferences in art.  We start to observe that we are attracted to paintings of a certain movement, paintings of particular artists, paintings in specific mediums.  We learn that we are drawn to colours in paintings, or that we are inclined to paintings that require mental analysis, or we that like paintings that let us get in touch with our feelings. 
How to appreciate paintings?  Look at as many paintings as you can.  The more paintings you look at, the more you learn about paintings, and the more you build your own opinion of art. 

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