Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Describing paintings in English


Describing paintings is an ideal way to make students practice their vocabulary in all sorts of fields and language levels. It is also suitable for the advanced learner of English as a complete description should include the artist’s intention and the impression on the viewer.
  STRUCTURE AND CONTENT
  It's not easy to follow a picture description if the writer jumps randomly from one point to another.  Therefore, make sure that your picture description is logically structured, for example: 
     - From left to right (or from right to left)
     - From the background to the foreground (or from the foreground to the background)
     - From the middle to the sides (or from the sides to the middle)
     - From details to general impressions (or from general impressions to details)
The structure you finally choose depends on your taste and the picture you want to describe.
PICTURES IN GENERAL
    - Short description of the scene (e. g. place, event)
    - Details (who / what can you see)
    - Background information (if necessary) on place, important persons or event
PAINTINGS
   - Name of artist and picture, year of origin (if known)
   - Short description of the scene (e. g. place, event)
   - Details (who / what can you see)
   - Impression on the viewer
   - Artist's intention
   - Perspective, colours, forms, proportions etc.  
TIPS
 If you want to practice describing paintings, check out the websites of some galleries and write down expressions that might be useful for your descriptions. 
On the website of the National Gallery in London for example you'll find lots of interesting paintings with descriptions.
The website of the Metropolitan Museum of Art  provides a detailed description of a painting with interesting background information, e. g. how to use colours, how to give the impression of movement or perspective etc.
Without having to “travel” so far, Bilbao Fine Arts Museum offers both a wide range of paintings and descriptions on line which you can access from here   as well as some educational programmes for teenagers
A pack of on-line resources to help you work on Art in your classroom can be found on the website of the Tate Gallery in London
 LANGUAGE SCAFFOLDING

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