Seminar: How to Read a Painting (Part 2)

Ref: C3747302

Art can be elusive, made up of concepts, codes and signs not always easily read or made sense of. Indeed, paintings are often impenetrable, even intimidating things; but, by taking the time to look, they can become much less so. Understanding art does, in fact, have as much to do with looking as it does with art historical study. So, for the viewer time is your friend. Paintings are usually made to be experienced on an intuitive level, so even if you are clueless about where to start, just looking at a work of art will tell you a lot about it. Artists work intuitively and the viewer too can gain much from this approach. Following on from How to Read a painting, this part two class will consider a select range of art historical methodologies to come to some understanding of the meanings and motivations behind some masterpieces and, therefore, perhaps, uncover why they are valued artifacts that people travel the world to see 'in the flesh'. Let the journey begin!

Course aim

This lecture is intended to provide some tools to help you read and make sense of paintings through selected art historical methodologies and discussing and analysing an array of both famous and lesser-known examples drawn from the history of art.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • endeavour to make sense of paintings with confidence
  • discuss paintings in an informed manner
  • appreciate the structure and meaning of paintings from an art historical persepective

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor

What else do I need to know?

  • If you wish to make notes, writing materials will be required

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required

What can I do next?

Download full course information sheet

Seminar: How to Read a Painting (Part 2)


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you enrol. Please check the details below to ensure you meet the basic eligibility critiera:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
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  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2020
  • You declare that the address you provide is correct and that you will provide evidence of this and your eligibility to live and work in the UK
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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