Roy Lichtenstein, 'I...I'm Sorry!', 1965,1966

Fundamentals: How to read an oil painting

Art has a visual language on its own. Verbal or written derivations about artworks can enable us to understand the image and learn more about the process of creation. However, words can only give a hint of the painting and what the artist wants to convey.
You can have a personal opinion about a painting. To define what you like or dislike about painting there are certain elements to understand first. These key components are surface, paint and material, style and technique, signs and symbols and composition.
Surface: All types of the plane in any form. It can be a rectangular, oval, circle canvas or a reshaped, cut, perforated one.
Paint and material: oil or acrylic. Oil paintings have more depth as the material dries slowly.
Composition: Independent elements are brought together to create harmony or disharmony.
Style and technique: Developing a signature technique can create a certain style. A combination of style and technique affects our way of seeing. It reflects the content of the artwork and the uniqueness of the artist.
Signs and symbols: Certain codes and levels of meaning can be identified through the sings and symbols present in the artwork implicitly or explicitly.

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