Part 3: Reflection is Key to Building Art Thinking Skills

Teresa Cochran | Artist to Artist, In the Know, Reflection & Growth | January 27, 2020

How & Why to Build Your Art Thinking Muscles, Part 3 of 4

This is the 3rd part of a blog series on How & Why to Build Your Art Thinking Muscles. Building your capacity for “art thinking” is generally a lot of fun. It can be transformational. There are four basic things you need to do to build up the part of your brain that understands the arts.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 4

"I wanted to start a revolution, using art to build the sort of society I myself envisioned." 
~ Yayoi Kusama, 1929

Reflect on what you are learning.

Many of your experiences on this journey will be enlightening, pleasurable, stimulating and fun. You will learn a lot. You will get better at understanding the visual communication that surrounds us every day.

You will not like every work of art you experience. You may find entire types or genres distasteful. Much like your taste for vegetables, your taste in art is likely to evolve during your lifetime.

You will champion what some artists are doing with their art, and you will not agree with the goals or ideas of others. You will find compatriots who think similarly to you about art, who may have insights you find delightful, and you’ll hear opinions you disagree with vehemently.

All of that is to be expected. People disagree about all sorts of things.
Art appreciation is cumulative. Much like you learned addition, then subtraction, then multiplication, then division, you’ll also learn art appreciation one level of complexity at a time, each building on what came before.

"The most important function of art and science is to awaken the cosmic religious feeling and keep it alive."
~ Dr. Albert Einstein

You will become more confident about:

  • What the arts are and what they can do.
  • What types and genres of art are you most drawn to as an observer.
  • How to articulate your ideas about what you are experiencing with the art.
  • How to engage with others around art.
  • Enjoying a broader swath of the arts.
  • To get these benefits, you need to reflect on your art learning and art experiences:
  • Have a running dialog about the arts with friends who are also interested in them.
  • Keep a journal. It can be a mix of a scrapbook, your thoughts, impressions, and questions. You might include tickets, programs, pictures along with musings about what you noticed, conversations you had, things you learned, and things you may want to explore in your own work.
  • Continually ask yourself questions about the art you experience. Besides intent, theme, meaning, and technique questions, there are others. When you like (or don’t like!) an artwork, try to figure out why.
  • When you are resistant to having an art experience, but then end up enjoying it, try to determine what the hangup was. When you are eager to have an art experience and are disappointed, ask yourself why. When you have strong emotions about an artwork, work to understand how the artist evoked that response from you. Do you see patterns?

This blog post was drawn from Engage Art’s free Choose Your Own Art-venture eCourse and Workbook.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 4

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