My Eye- Opening Art Appreciation Class

When I took an art appreciation class at my local college, I had no doubt that I would enjoy it because I have always wanted to learn about artists and the process of creating art as well as what inspired artists to create what they did. I just didn’t realize how much I would learn from the class and how much of an effect it would have on my own art. Yes, it has truly been an eye- opening experience.

One of my favorite parts of the course was analyzing and interpreting works of art. One of the paintings that I selected to analyze was The Night Cafe by Vincent van Gogh. I had always been interested in his life and art and from the course; I learned that the colors and the lines that he used for the painting really set a mood for how he must have been feeling at the time.Night Cafe in Arles, watercolor, 1888, by Van Gogh

We know of some of the stories of how van Gogh suffered from periods of deep depression and he was deeply affected by color. The colors that he used for this painting was to get an emotional response from the viewers. When I first saw this painting I did’nt think of it in a menacing way because I tend to like bright colors in my work as well as in others but in the course of the study I began to see this painting as well as others in a different light. Red in the painting can arouse feelings of anxiety and maybe even anger and aggression. The café itself is not a fun, cheerful place and is rather  a not so pleasant place to be. So perhaps the painting also reflected how he was feeling. There were other significant things going on in the painting that you might be observing about this painting.

We learned as a class to better analyze many works of art as well as our own. Toward the end of the course we were asked to create a self-portrait in the style of one of the art periods that we had studied and analyzed. There were many art periods that I enjoyed learning about such as neoclassical, and impressionism but I chose to do a self-portrait in the Byzantine style from the Middle Age period. My choice was based on the use of the rich gold that was used in the art of that period. Although some of the characteristics of the period was the use of icons and religious subjects, I wanted to give my painting a more modern look but still using some of the features of the period.

This is my self-portrait.The class was indeed an eye-opening experience. It taught me to appreciate the works of artists more and to think about the process and decisions that went into the creation of their work. It helped me to approach my work with new “eyes” and it helped me to see that many of them had the same struggles and feelings that I have in my process of creating art. This was indeed an eye-opening experience.102_0409

Topics: Art Appreciation


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