What we See
Look at a painting and list either on paper or in your mind everything you see. This might include individuals – are they male/female, wealthy/poor, powerful/meek, religious/non-religious, happy/sad etc. We might look at an individual’s position in a group, if one exists. Is one person shown above the group or below the group, are we looking up or down at the individual?
Artists often manipulate eyelevel when painting individuals, for example, in paintings of Napoleon the eyelevel is low to give the impression we are looking up at the individual, because he is seen as important Whereas the eyelevel is often raised when painting peasants or individuals demeaned of lesser importance. We then appear to be looking down on the individuals. The artist will often use this technique to tell us something of the status of individuals. You may also consider is the head straight or tilted? Is the figure gesturing in some way? What does this imply, What else can be seen?
Consider place, is the painting set inside or outside, palace/hovel, bedroom/kitchen, stormy sky or calm sky? What objects can you see: a dog, a pipe, a mirror, a bowl of flowers, a skull or maybe an empty chair?
When we have finished making these considerations we need to think about what all this might mean. Consider this as individual items and in relation to each other. This might require a certain amount of knowledge and experience.