Art Appreciation - How to enjoy the Arts - How to appreciate art. This is an article about how I've found my passion and little niche in the art world and how I've discovered that they are all connected. Learning to appreciate the art is a pleasure and a joy; it is fulfilling and not as hard as some make it out to be.
Why are the arts so important? Why should you support the arts?
I've always been a lover of the Arts. I enjoyed literature, history, musicals, ballet, vocals ... I also loved to sing, dance, write, paint and decorate. I appreciate elegant design.
It was only recently that I discovered that these arts are somewhat related to each other in one or more ways. For instance, there are cross influences between the ballet and the opera, the ballet and literature, music and the musical theatre, dance and music, design and the stage, art history and architecture etc.
How to get started in Art Appreciation
How do you learn to appreciate art?
Not many of us were privileged enough to be exposed to the arts. Thus, when we have an opportunity, we don't find them at all fantastic. Or we simply don't see what the big deal is.
We wonder what we're missing.
Also, Art appreciation has had a snobby reputation. Many businesses or organizations out there charge an arm or a leg for Art Appreciation courses ... and then you emerge from the course feeling that you've gained not much.
Don't really know how to 'appreciate' the arts? Never mind, at least you're honest.
There are some people out there who seem to know a lot about a painting or an artist or an opera. Some of them are real art enthusiasts, though not all. Some are just being pretentious. Don't worry if you can't understand what they're saying. You can be honest and just say, "Sorry I don't know much about that."
Feeling Awkward about the Arts
For a long time, I felt quite awkward around these sophisticated sorts. Instead of shying away, I tried to read up on art history, go to museums and study several artists.
I wasn't trying to be sophisticated nor am I really motivated by hoping to speak the 'arts' lingo. I was genuinely trying to understand why these artists were so great.
Despite my personal attempts, I didn't feel the "love of the arts". I just didn't get it.
I just didn't get it. I didn't know how to appreciate the arts.
Find your place in the arts
Discovering my niche - my place in the arts
However, I later discovered my little niche in the arts world and it propelled my art appreciation progress naturally. I've since realized that there's a place in the art world for everybody - art is for everyone - it is just a matter of finding an entry; or a small component of the art world that means something to you.
I started with three 'arty' things that I loved to do. I loved to read, dance and I loved music.
Since I enjoyed reading, I started to pick up famous books in literature. I read as many of the Great Classics as I could.
I then read commentaries such as Sparks Notes on these great books - to see how it was interpreted, how it has influenced thinking or philosophy, and culture.
I fell in love with it and found it fascinating.
I was looking for a way to keep fit, and so I went back to dancing ballet. Through this I started to pick up a little bit of French, and was exposed to really famous Classical music pieces by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Jean-Baptiste Lully, Cesare Pugni and Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky and modern day composers such as Phillip Glass.
I started to love and appreciate these beautiful music pieces.
I'm not sure what clicked. Perhaps it is the repeated exposure to dancing to such music in class, and watching classical ballets. Now when I drive, I'm usually on the Classical music channel. In the past, I tried listening to the same channel but it was empty. The music didn't engage me. It had no meaning. However, that's all changed now.
Through watching classical ballets, it gave me more exposure to literature and cultural history. I explored the historical significance of the story of Romeo and Juliet, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty etc.
I sang when I was a child, and now the only singing I do is in Church during the praise and worship session. However, I have a great love of musicals, and had grew up with them. I love both the musicals in films such as Annie, The Sound of Music or any of the Disney ones like The little Mermaid and the Broadway/stage ones such as The Phantom of the Opera , Les Miserables , Singing in the Rain etc.
I decided to take some singing classes. Brandon, my teacher, is a classical singer. He taught me many things about the great classics and as a result I was exposed to the Opera and many languages such as Italian and German. I had to sing and memorize songs in those languages! He also taught me how to perform and present myself.
Though I know very little, that exposure has increased my appreciation for the opera and classical music.
I also played the classical piano when I was child but I had forgotten everything. I decided to pick up the piano again. However, this time, playing the piano is just for recreation and relaxation. Thus, I only picked books such as 42 Famous Classics for Easy Piano where I learn how to play simplified versions of famous classics.
It helps me appreciate the real classics at a deeper level.
Learning to appreciate these beautiful masterpieces is more fun than I thought. It is as though my brain has unlocked a code. I can understand more why those masterpieces became great classics. And all the more I am glad they are preserved and continually being 'passed down' to future generations.
What exactly is Art Appreciation?
Arty Factory defines it well: Art Appreciation is the recognition of those timeless qualities that characterize all great art.
Learning to recognize the timeless qualities simply means that you start exhibiting these timeless qualities and in a way, grow more beautiful (though not just for that reason, but read on).
Art Appreciation: A Sign of 'Richness'
Should we ignore the arts then, if we don't seem to understand it? Definitely not! Why?
If you look around you in wealthy countries, the first few signs that a country is doing well is when the Arts scene is flourishing. For the arts scene to flourish, the people in those lands must a sense of art appreciation. They place a high value on it by showing their support. Similarly, you will find that most of these people are involved in the arts one way or another. They are refined and cultured (and they not necessarily have a lot of money).
Alanta Symphony Hall
Admittedly, some get involved in the arts because of tax, networking and socializing reasons.
The Arts can be anything from music, paintings, dance, vocals, opera, plays, theatre, musicals, literature etc. Now, this is a general definition - and I'm not here to discuss what constitutes 'real art' as what art connoisseurs do. I'm just for writing for people like me.
Also, I'm not saying that you need to know everything ... I'm just going to show you how you can start your art appreciation journey by finding out what you enjoy - then discovering they are somewhat linked to each other!
Art Appreciation: How to make Art personal
Loving some aspects of music and dance or literature is beneficial for your emotional health.
It brings a new perspective of life ...it helps you see life in a new lens. Einstein himself was a great classical music enthusiast. He often would play hours of classical music whenever he couldn't solve a problem. Many of his "Eureka! I've got it!" moments occurred during those times.
The arts are also a good way to develop/stretch/exercise the brain. It promotes man's sense of the ideal.
The arts are also a way to express yourself. It may act as a form of relaxation or release or entertainment!
Enjoy the Arts in your own Way
I feel that way whenever I chance on a favorite old classic. It may be an old favorite song in a musical. I may watch my most loved pas de deux (partner dance) in a ballet. When I do so, I feel emotional as my heart connects with it. There are moments when I feel tears welling up in appreciation of its beauty.
It may feel like an escape, or I feel as though I'm being transported to a dream. Those are some of my experiences in appreciating the arts.
I see my life through the arts sometimes. For instance, I recently learned a new song (to sing) called 'Caro mio ben ' by Giuseppe Giordani. In my research of how to sing it, I watch how others sing it on Youtube. The more I listen to how others interpret the song, the more I start to feel the feelings of the song.
Different singers might interpret the songs differently but I start to hear either the intensity of the loss, or a certain quiet sadness, or a passionate hope.
Sometimes I connect a personal experience to the song. Maybe a particular song reminds me of a particular person...so on and so forth.
When I see great dancing a pas de deux in a ballet, I admire of its beauty with my soul. It is quite an emotional experience.
I admire the ballerina's gracefulness, softness and elegance and strength and masculinity of the male ballet dancer.
I love identifying myself and the people around me in the characters of great books. I take my favorite songs in musicals and apply them to my life!
Those are some ways I enjoy and appreciate the arts.
As you now know, it all started with exploring my own interests - which I could connect them to the arts. That way I had an entry into this whole 'art appreciation' business.
That was a better way to launch myself into art appreciation and maybe it would work for you too. This way anyone can begin to enjoy the arts.
When you find your place in the arts world, you'll become familiar with it and that how you become more sophisticated in art appreciation. You've got to personalize the art.
Without cultivating a genuine art appreciation, I somehow feel that there is much to miss out! It may sound silly, but I feel life is more 'beautiful' with arts. After all, ART is devoted to beauty.
Art Appreciation: A Method of Refinement
Other than the wonderful emotions that arts can 'transport' your soul, I've noticed that spending time pursuing the Arts brings about a refining quality. I'm sure there are exceptions, but after some time, those who get involved in any aspects of the Arts, no matter rich or poor, speak with a polished and relaxed ease, with the right tone and pace of voice. Their posture seem to resemble nobility and their eyes widen with delight and grace when they find someone who loves symphonies as much as they do.
Art also awakens creativity. We all need to be creative in our everyday life, to solve problems, to bring a fresh approach in our relationships, decorate the house, pick an elegant present etc.
Lastly and importantly, art is a form of inspiration. I believe we need inspiration to live our life colorfully!
Anna Morgan says it best, she writes,
"Art is man's effort to produce the ideal. It divides itself into as many branches as there are vehicles used. A beautiful house, a magnificent temple, a jewel finely cut and uniquely set, the mind and character of a man suggested by the sculptor's hand in plaster or marble of by the painter's brush on canvas, a rug rare in design and coloring, a chair or table the form and color of which provoke our admiration, a song which is repeated by poet and peasant, each and all are works of art, vehicles used for the conveyance of the thought and emotion of man.
Find Your Place in Art
Finding your nice in art is what art appreciation is all about.
Pick something in any area that interest you that go from there:
1) Pick up a great classic book like War and Peace.
2) Read an introductory Art History for Dummies
3) Book tickets to the theatre (and read about it before you do).
4) Take singing (and you'll probably be learning Italian opera songs) or ballet lessons.
5) Take a literature class.
6) Join a book club.
7) Study acting.
8) Pick up the cello or the piano.
9) Take a oil painting class and create a masterpiece for your home!
10) Rent a movie musical.
11) Admire great artists - whether it is their work, dedication or passion.
12) Admire great works of art - learn about the process of how much time and effort it takes to create them.
There are more ways to get started in the arts than I can list. Can you think of any that might interest you?
Not only art will awaken your finer qualities, it will also bring your pleasure and joy like nothing else you may have experienced.
If you would like to learn how to appreciate art in the systematic way (instead of my haphazard way), here are some really good books that could point you in the right direction.
I would recommend these:
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