Have you ever seen a painting or any kind of work of art and suddenly you feel a lack of vocabulary when it comes to putting your thoughts into tangible words? It is very important to know how to properly construct a comment on a work of art. This feat, like almost everything in life, has its own and very particular techniques. Apart from learning some data by heart (something that nobody can help you with), you have to know which aspects of said art you have to focus on. In the case of a painting, you can talk about the theme on the painting, the composition as a whole, the technique used to give it life, the treatment of light given by the artist and many more details better suited for an Art history class.
It is very important that you are aware of the correct order when making a description or a comment: don’t go jumping around from one aspect to another without any sense or pattern. Having a fixed pattern is very useful for this and you can have them prepared from home. For example, you can design a scheme to comment on a painting, another one for sculpture and another for architecture. At the time of doing your examination of the piece, you will only have to go point by point according to what you have thought.
An outline for architecture might go telling its name and date of creation, some known facts (what was the purpose of said building, its location) then you can talk about its construction technique and materials used on it, and wrap everything up commenting about its decoration and some less-known facts. But don’t panic, down below, we’ll elaborate more.
Scripting Your Scheme
Precisely due to the fact it’s a structured task (commenting artwork) it is possible to follow a fixed script with the fields to be covered in the comment. There isn’t a single structure to organize this information, so it is a must to pay attention to the preferences of each person so they understand your message in a better way.
Describe the Image
What you see in the image is the first thing you should start with, being the easiest part, let your eyes do the hard work here, and try not to include your own feelings, just a description of what’s shown is more than enough.
No matter what you’re looking at, stating what you see (as obvious as it may seem) is necessary, whether it is an architectural work, a painting, a sculpture, you continue with its name or title and afterward you state its location in time and space.
Analysis of the Artwork
Now the part when you need to start elaborating begins. Take off by stating the topic of the work, what’s the theme? Was it a military building, or a temple perhaps? Is it the portrait of an old king or emperor?
What function did the building have? What’s the symbology of these pieces? Here it can turn a little subjective because it’s all about themes, symbols, and functions.
Formal Analysis of the Artwork
After making the previous analysis, you have to go through the technical aspects that make that work, a work of art, start with a description of its forms, then move to the function of its elements, its organizations, the materials used and their qualities, and finish off by describing the technique and/or system used to give it life and last but not least, its state of conservation.
To finish your comment, talk about the circumstances in which said artwork was made, list the traits that relate the work to its historical context may the be artistic, political, religious, social, philosophical or all of the above.