As an artist, something that I hear a lot is "I don't get art," or questions like "What should I look for in your work?" or simply "What is this a painting of?"  So, without getting too technical, here's what I hope you will do when confronted with one of my pieces:

Think, for example, of the act of listening to a piece of classical music.  We've all had the experience of being in a room in which classical music is playing, but think of how you would go about listening to one, deliberately, from start to finish.  If you are anything like me, you wouldn't worry yourself with what the song is about, as there aren't words.  And you wouldn't spend your time thinking about its influences, its time period, or the social or political context in which it was written until after it had ended, because those thoughts would distract your mind from actually listening.  You would simply turn off the other sounds in the room, or put your headphones on, and allow yourself to get lost in the music.  You might notice its mood - happy or sad, triumphant or meandering - and you might contemplate how the notes you are hearing make it that way.

This is exactly how I imagine someone looking at one of my paintings.  How does the piece affect you?  What about it does that?  Is it a series of colors you find?  Is it the density of the represented objects? Or the energy of the piece? Or maybe it's one stroke of the paint brush that you keep coming back to, like a theme in a song, from which you can venture out into the painting.  The most important thing is not be shy about taking a long time to look.  The first minute or so can be a bit self-conscious, but if you have in front of you a painting that you respond to, you'll soon find yourself getting into it.

Now, as an art educator, I cannot help but give you a concrete example.  Below is a song by Chopin and a picture of one of my paintings for you to practice on.  Enjoy!

-O'Neill Cushman