The Art of Visual Listening

The Art of Visual Listening 1: Introduction – What is Art?


This is the first in a series of posts about visual listening. As an art history professor for, well . . . let’s just say beaucoup years, I’ve taught thousands of students how to look at art and how to learn its visual language. In all those … read more

The Art of Visual Listening 2: Why Is Art?

by Eugene Delacroix commemorates the overthrow of King Charles X of France in 1830
The Purpose of Art

Not only is art everywhere (as noted in my introduction to this series, What is Art?), but research suggests our species, Homo sapiens, has been making art for at least … read more

The Art of Visual Listening 3: Art and Beauty

Beauty and the Beast illustration by Jennie Harbour, 1921 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 Having already explored “What Is Art?” and “Why Is Art?” we’re now ready to consider the sticky role beauty plays in … read more

The Art of Visual Listening 4: Seeing, Perception, and Creativity

The Sleeping Tiger by willustration

Now that we’ve examined What Is Art?, Why Is Art?, and the issues surrounding Art and Beauty, it’s time to move on to the process of seeing … read more

The Art of Visual Listening 5: Form and Content

Image by Dan Novac from Pixabay

I don’t know much about art, but…

That familiar expression—“I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like—would be more accurately phrased this way:

“I don’t know much about art, but I like what … read more

The Art of Visual Listening 6: Visual Elements—An Introduction

The Visual Language

The great thing about visual communication is it has the potential to transcend both cultural and time barriers.  It can do this because it doesn’t depend on arbitrary memorized symbols like written language does. Visual communication depends on the universal language of the observable world around … read more

The Art of Visual Listening 7: Line and Shape

Untitled by Roger Mendes (permission granted from the artist)

This essay begins our detailed discussion of the visual elements and what they can convey. Knowing how these elements communicate in art can help us determine how effectively they’ve been used—a valuable tool … read more

The Art of Visual Listening 8: Into the Depths

Thomas Cole, , 1836 [Public Domain]

Like the other visual elements, the illusion of depth or three-dimensional space in art is based on the way we see things in the real world.

Whether an artist wants to create a sense of depth or avoid it, she needs to know what … read more

The Art of Visual Listening 9: The Value of Light

Halong Bay, Vietnam, photo by Roger Mendes (permission of the artist)

The visual element—value—refers to light and is defined as the relative lightness or darkness of what we see. Our vision relies on light and it’s variations of value.  If there’s too much … read more

The Art of Visual Listening 10: The Wonderful World of Color

Electric Prisms by Sonia Delaunay, 1914 [Public Domain] via Wikimedia commons

Of all the visual elements, color is the most complex and the most powerful. Whether it’s nature or art, color is often the first thing we notice. When we’re outside on a sunny spring day, we delight in how blue … read more

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