Sample questions to use when discussing a picture
The students will remember the works of art more if they participate in the discussion each time. Encourage each student to become actively involved in the lesson. Have the students gather round you and the work of art for a close-up view. Use the following questions as a guide in preparing your presentation. Pose questions that open up new avenues of discovery. Be sure to keep each lesson age-appropriate by maintaining communication with the teacher.
Arouse suspense! Keep the students engaged and eager to learn about the picture. Keep control of the class by asking students to raise their hands before they speak. It is a good idea to let the younger students get up and move around in an orderly fashion during the lesson.
Compare the featured painting to one of an Old Master. As you look at these two paintings, do they look the same? What makes them look different? This is a good start to explain Impressionism, post-Impressionism, abstract and modern paintings.
Is the main theme of this picture a person, place, or thing? Use the terms portrait, self-portrait, landscape and still-life. Show the students other paintings of each theme in order to teach this concept.
What medium is used to create the picture?
Is there a wide range of color used?
Where are colors used repeatedly?
Why was this color chosen? Warm colors always attract attention and seem to “jump out” at us. Cool colors recede.
Did the artist use color to attract your eye?
Where is the action? What attracts your eye? What object, line and color create movement?
Are shapes repeated? What are the shapes used?
How would you describe the brush texture?
Are there a variety of lines – thick, thin, wavy, fast, angular, etc?
How often did the artist repeat a color, diagonal line, brush texture?
Where is the source of light? Are there shadows? Is the picture dimensional or flat?
Are the people and objects clearly painted or are they blurred?
Can you identify the details of the painting when you sit close or farther away from the picture?
What season is it?
Where was the artist as he/she created this?
Did the artist use the “whole space” for the picture or is it cropped?
Can you tell how long ago this picture was painted by the people or objects in the picture?
Why did the artist include the objects that s(he) did in the picture?
How would you rearrange the objects in this picture?
Does the artist have a unique style?
Are there other artists who have a similar painting style?
What meaning or feeling do you think the artist wanted to convey?
Discuss senses. If you were inside this picture, where would you choose to be? What sounds would you hear? What are the smells? How would you feel or need to act? What would you touch first?
How do you feel in this picture? What is the mood? Are the colors warm or cool? Ask the students to list words that describe the setting, mood, or feeling.
If you could change one thing about this picture, what would it be?
What would the title be if you had created this?
Would you want to hang this picture in your house or bedroom? Why?