3 things to see in a painting

I’ve never understood painting, but was more attracted to words or music. Art was to me a foreign code, which I couldn’t make sense of – what to appreciate in a painting? what is the artistry in a painting?

I can’t say that now I understand art, but I have come to some sort of empirical approach. I either look for a few things in a painting, like colours or ideas, but most of the time I just check out if it makes me “feel” something. If it stirs some feeling or thought, I look on, searching for what it is that touches me. Usually it’s a particular quality of the colours or lights, like Van Gogh’s paintings, which all look as if the substance of the landscape is made up of innumerable little waves. But other times it’s the tricky visual “effect”, the bravado of an image accompanied by its name, like Magritte’s pipe and its motto “this is not a pipe”.

And recently I read online comments on paintings that reflected my own former doubts: is this art? what’s the big deal about this painting? And I felt I wanted to give away my own empirical approach, empirical because I developed it simply through experience, not through readings from art theory.I’m anything but an advisor on art; but I think I have learned some first steps towards it. And it’s really a pity, if there is some beauty, to be locked away from it. Maybe my three things to see in a painting might open up some tiny secret doors.