How to Appreciate Paintings #2: See it on the wall
The best way to view a painting is to see it “live” on a wall: you can examine the painting in its original colours; you can feel the size of the painting; you can notice the textures in the painting.
An image of the painting in a book or on the screen has its colours distorted from the original painting due to the filtering in the production process: the photography, the printing, the physical paper and screen. The colours in a painting can never be 100% replicated onto the paper or screen because humans can create new colours that machines cannot yet recongise.
While information on the dimensions of the painting is always available, an image of the painting in a book or on the screen cannot give us the actual experience of feeling the size of the painting when we confront it on the wall. The size of the painting affects our impression; a huge painting can overwhelm us while a tiny painting can dazzle us.
An oil painting is not a flat drawing. It has layers of paint applied according to the artist’s decisions. This three dimensional texture in a painting is lost when viewed as an image in the book or on the screen.
Always seize the opportunity to see a painting “live” on a wall. Be aware of these differences when you continue to enjoy the painting later in a book or on the screen.
How to appreciate paintings? Look at paintings on the wall, wherever possible.