ARTH101: Activities & Discussion


Topic: 1.3 Subjective/Objective Perspective–
Discovering the meaning of certain art and why…I am trying to find out why the early Greeks, Crete, etc…used the double headed axe as a signature for their art…helpful info appreciated. :sunny:


thank you so much for your input I will put your input in with my notes…! :smile_cat:


My great grandmother was a painter and so I was exposed to her artwork from an early age. My mother and two of my cousins developed a passion for painting because of her. My grandmother on my father’s side of the family loved to do photography. I have always appreciated their artwork but felt as though I was not artistic. It wasn’t until the last two years or so that I began to find my own passion and willingness to explore art both from an appreciation level and from a making level. I have now began to draw and paint some and am also getting into photography. This new passion is why I decided to join this course in fact. I am hoping it increases my appreciation of art.


I feel that art is completely subjective and not something that can be agreed upon. Graffiti would be considered art by some people but not everyone would agree to that. Television, movies, jewelry making, painting, photography, scrapbooking, writing, music, all could be considered forms of art by some people but not by everyone. Music to many is an art form however, it is not visual. Cooking could be considered a form of art and can be visual, tactile, and involve taste and smell. Art is art because it evokes feelings, but not everyone will feel the same way about the artwork and not all pieces of art will evoke feelings in all people. This is why I feel art is completely subjective and difficult to begin to define. I suppose I would define art as something that evokes emotion in an individual.


What has been your prior exposure to visual art? Has it been primarily from your family? School? Social activities? Personal explorations? Do you make art? If so, what kind? What is the medium you use? What kind of style is it? Who is your audience? If you haven’t made any art, have you ever wanted to? What kind?

I have never had any prior exposure to visual art, or at least not that I can recall. Art has never really been in my family or been something I have taken an interest in. My school has never gone to a museum or any place where we can see visual art. I have only seen art in pictures but never in person. I have never made art either, because I am not very good at creating or making art.


What has been your prior exposure to visual art? Has it been primarily from your family? School? Social activities? Personal explorations? Do you make art? If so, what kind? What is the medium you use? What kind of style is it? Who is your audience? If you haven’t made any art, have you ever wanted to? What kind?

My prior exposure to art includes the brief art classes that I had no other choice to take in elementary and middle school where I don’t think the teacher was very fond of me. However, I do enjoy making art, even if I can’t do it. I have this knack to envision something in my mind and then attempt to put in on paper or canvas and it in no way resembles what I had in mind. So I just forget about it. Every summer I volunteer at a Music and Arts camp held at my church and the kids have an opportunity to do an art class. This past summer, there were enough canvases that the helper could make their own artwork. We used a gel medium that the kids referred to as ‘glop’ and ‘frosting’. It was a really cool project that I liked a lot. I think my audience would mostly be me because I think as long as I’m happy with my art, I don’t care what other people think.


What has been your prior exposure to visual art? Has it been primarily from your family? School? Social activities? Personal explorations? Do you make art? If so, what kind? What is the medium you use? What kind of style is it? Who is your audience? If you haven’t made any art, have you ever wanted to? What kind?

Growing up, I had very little exposure to art through to the lack of interest of my family; and having found it difficult at school, it seemed to me to be an unnecessary distraction.

My interest really developed through spending 2-3 years learning photography, spending time with other photographers and regularly visiting art galleries and watching films, and have learned to love how art (apart from it’s aesthetic value) provides a window into all aspects of the world, be it historical events, social conditions, the human psyche, etc.

I’ve spent a large part of the last 3-4 years backpacking around Europe and met and worked with many street artists who develop their work as a living (with various degrees of success) from musicians to creators of paintings, photographs, jewellery, clothes…and even sand art! So, these days I also remember that art comes from a desire to document or communicate something of our experience of the world.


I had very little exposure to visual arts growing up, but as an adult I have lived in St. Petersburg, Russia and now live in DC where I have access to a wealth of visual arts and find I don’t know enough about it to appreciate it properly. My artistic background is as a singer. I have never done any visual arts and find I would like to learn some basic skills in that as I get older too.


The art I see the most is my sister’s and my own. My sister’s paintings are realistic, but my art style is more like anime. I think my best paintings/drawings are the ones I used models for or the ones I prayed about before I began sketching.


What has been your prior exposure to visual art? Has it been primarily from your family? School? Social activities? Personal explorations? Do you make art? If so, what kind? What is the medium you use? What kind of style is it? Who is your audience? If you haven’t made any art, have you ever wanted to? What kind?

My first experience with visual art was a phenomenon done not by a person but by nature: sunset/sunrise. i never really understood art, I always found it complicated trying to find the artists hidden meaning. at least that was my issue until I realized music is a form of art and not every song hits the same way. This realization is what set me on my own trek with artistic creation. I use wax based materials, be it candles or crayons, not to color with but to melt and let the forms and colors mix and do as they please. I would say it is a form of abstract impressionism. i use the color schemes to express my mood but don’t follow any single set of orders. My audience would have to be anyone that has ever looked at a painting or piece and thought " what the hell is that?". most artists create with a certain image in mind. my goal is to allow the looker to see what they find to see.


i find that creating for myself makes me less crazed about the vision. we are our very best audience.


Question: What has been your prior exposure to visual art? Has it been primarily from your family? School? Social activities? Personal explorations? Do you make art? If so, what kind? What is the medium you use? What kind of style is it? Who is your audience? If you haven’t made any art, have you ever wanted to? What kind?

My answer: My prior exposure to visual art was at a very young age. When I was about five, I found my mother’s art history textbook from college, and I looked at all the works shown in it. I was amazed by all the different paintings, sculptures, and other mediums it depicted, and while I couldn’t understand the descriptions, interpretations, and critique the authors provided, I simply appreciated the art superficially. That was what started my love for art and other products of creativity.

Throughout my whole childhood, I loved going to museums and galleries (I live rather close by to New York City, so the MOMA and Met were usual trips for me!) with my mother and grandmother, and I always was given a new book on art history on my birthday. So yes, unintentionally , my mother started my passion for art history all those years ago simply by leaving her old textbook on the shelf, when I just happened to grab it.

I did use to make art, primarily still life and landscapes when I was eight. They were done on canvas my mother purchased for me, and I had a whole set of different oil and acrylic paints, as well as watercolor. I also used pastels and pencil for various drawings I had done. However, my interest in actually creating my own works was lost after a while probably at the age of thirteen. I found that I appreciated art much more when I simply observed it, took some notes, and reflected upon the piece, the artist, its origin, etc,. I never really put myself down for painting art , it just wasn’t my favorite thing.

Overall, today I still am a passionate art lover, and I am taking this course along with other ones to further expand my education, in hopes I may have a career one day as possibly an art historian, curator, or even an art dealer and seller.


Unit 1 - Activity 1 – Briefly Describe a Work of Art

Description of the Work of Art I have chosen:

L’Impératrice Theodora au Colisée (The Empress Theodora at the Colosseum)
Oil painting by Benjamin Jean Joseph Constant (1845 – 1902), France

Image of the Work of Art I have chosen:

At first glance, the painting appears to be realistic; but after a closer look one can notice a certain level of abstraction blended both in the strong colored area of the painting as well as the light colored one. Moreover, it is difficult to form an initial objective view of the painting, as its warm colors and soft tones give me an immediate sense of comfort and delight. I know I must examine the painting much further to truly analyze its elements in order to have a better chance at understanding its deeper meaning.

From my perspective, it depicts the inner conversation the empress is struggling with while needing to dutifully attend whatever spectacle du jour may be taking place in the Colloseum located in the background. I can tell that her inner struggle takes precedence over what is occurring in the stadium, as the colors used to depict her and her immediate surroundings are more vivid and complex than those used to illustrate the stadium. The colors used in the foreground are extremely rich and warm. They can express an extreme level of royalty, wealth and power but also a world filled with stormy and uncertain worries.

I think the painting has a dual role. Firstly, as the subject’s face can only be seen from the side rather than the usual forward-looking portrait pose, I believe it acts as an “informal” portrait. In other words, it acts as a means to convey what kind of life such a royal would have. Perhaps the role of this painting is to show the audience that despite possessing vast riches even royals have troubles and worries just like us common people do. They too can be plagued with worrisome struggles. Despite this, the subject is gracefully able to maintain calmness and serenity as well as exude a confident ability to overcome such challenges.

I would categorize this painting as Fine Art which also indirectly incorporates elements of Decorative Arts as seen in the subject’s clothes, jewelry, makeup and hairstyle, as well as with other decorative and architectural elements.

  • Dan Fournier, 2015-09-24


Unit 1 - Activity 2 – Style, Form, and Content

Comparing and Contrasting the three works of art: Totem Pole, Giotto Crucifix, and Minoan Snake Goddess

I would categorize each of the three works as Fine Art but with each having a distinct objective and cultural purpose. Their styles and appearance differ, but all seem to convey somewhat naturalistic attributes. The Giotto Crucifix is perhaps the most naturalistic of the three, as it depicts a human being – Christ – as its central figure. The other two seem to represent deity figures with recognizable and fairly discernible attributes.

All three works are similar in that they seem to convey a higher power. All three figures have elevated arms for which at least two of them – Totem Pole and Minoan Snake Goddess – convey a sense of power and/or authority. All three offer a similar meaning in that the subject must be respected and revered. While all three subjects have something over their heads, the Totem Pole and Snake Goddess subjects both depict an animal; this could signify that such animals are above or more important than the human figures represented. Similarly, the halo above Christ’s head also signifies a higher realm of importance. As for differences, two of them have distinct genders while the Totem Pole’s subject can be male, female, or another gender altogether. In addition, only the Totem Pole work is placed in context (a natural background environment) while the other two have no backgrounds whatsoever; this offers the viewer some assistance or clues in ascertaining the meaning of Totem Pole (assuming of course the viewer has no knowledge of either subject). Finally, the colors for each work differs: Totem Pole mostly has shades of gray while the other two have a much larger palette of colors for the viewer to both appreciate and analyze. Finally, all three figures have distinct facial expressions. In brief, all three works have similarities but their meanings should be interpreted individually, as they must all come from different and perhaps very distinct cultures.

Now let’s take a closer look at each of these three works in order to further explore their cultural, religious, and aesthetic attributes.

Totem Pole
The deity or figure represented in this work is most likely related to nature or the natural environment, as its context shows a rich forest and long grass. Moreover, the bird-like figure on the head of the main figure could convey a sense of harmony between man, nature, the animal kingdom, and perhaps even the spiritual realm. The patterns on both the animal and “human” figure can easily suggest ones that are representative of some kind of aboriginal peoples. As with most aboriginal tribes or peoples, deities related to the natural environment such as animals are often respected and revered. The closed eyes, open mouth and arms of the central figure can represent warmth, openness, and a welcoming sentiment to those willing to worship it. Furthermore, the animal figure on the top conveys a message of harmony between the followers and the natural environment and animal world in which both cohabit.

Giotto Crucifix
Similar to the Totem Pole, one could argue that this work also has two figures. The obvious one is Christ while the less obvious one is the cross which is a powerful religious symbol in itself. You could also add a third if you wanted – the halo. In Christianity the halo represents a saintly figure or a divine or spiritual light. All of these elements combine as a powerful religious force in which its worshippers will revere in spiritual and devout fashion. From a cultural perspective, the crucifixion of Christ on the cross signifies the ultimate price one can offer in order to help and guide humanity to greater harmony. Aesthetically, soft shades and tones coupled with fine drawing strokes sharply distinguish the human figure – Christ – from that of the more “rough” object on which he lays. Perhaps this is meant to signify that Christ himself and his sacrifice is the more important aspect or meaning this work attempts to convey.

Minoan Snake Goddess
From my perspective, this work offers the most aesthetic and artistic properties, not to mention more distinct colors. Although the work comes from ancient Minoan (Greek) civilization, it seems to share the same tri-color attributes or tones that we often see in the famous sancai (three color) ceramics from the Tang Dynasty era of Chinese civilization. Both dark blues and oranges (two sancai colors) are strongly present in this work and could also convey a special meaning within this culture. The figures attire (dress and hat) also must represent some aspects of the Minoan culture. I am unsure about the patterns which appear on the front side of her dress as well as the shape of her hat, but they must likely have some cultural and/or religious connotation. The Goddess holding the two snakes also conveys a strong sense of power which could have been significant to the people in the Minoan civilization. It is not clear what animal or thing lies on her head but it is possible that she is protecting it from the dangers of snake bites. So, perhaps this could signify that she is a deity in which the followers must respect and pray for safety during their dangerous life journeys.

In conclusion, it is always advantageous to look for both similarities and differences in different works of art (no matter how different they are), as it will give you a greater probability of interpreting the true meaning of each work. Moreover, one must always take into account the context, culture, religious, and aesthetic attributes in all works of art in order to gain a deeper understanding of its meaning as well as a greater appreciation of its uniqueness.

Dan Fournier, 2015-09-24


My exposure into the world of art has always been my sister. She studied Fine Arts and always drew and knew about artists because of her. Then I discovered the world of art through Khan Academy, and still learn through it. I draw sometimes, with my phone mainly, but also in paper. I don’t have any audience though, but I’d say that could be anyone.


Discussion Topic: Exposure to Art
Question: What has been your prior exposure to visual art? Has it been primarily from your family? School? Social activities? Personal explorations? Do you make art? If so, what kind? What is the medium you use? What kind of style is it? Who is your audience? If you haven’t made any art, have you ever wanted to? What kind?
Answer: I have been exposed to art ever since I can remember. My mother practiced some art making when I was a child, which is when I started myself. I’ve also taken art classes all through out my academic schooling and some during summers for extracurricular. I’ve always explored different mediums of art in search of my particular style and for enjoyment. Now I focus mainly on acrylics, watercolor, and prismacolors. I would say the style I’ve developed could be considered pop surrealism. My audience for now is mostly friends and family and anyone who choses to visit my art page. Although, I plan on expanding my audience soon by becoming part of more art shows and galleries.


My previous exposure to art has mostly been through my daughter, who completed her Bachelor Fine Arts degree with majors in painting and photography. On a personal level, ever since I was a young girl I’ve wanted to be an artist but that was not a practical option on the farm where I grew up. Instead I became a plant scientist.

I was privileged to visit many art galleries in my life and from them gained a better understanding of art appreciation. At the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, NB, Canada, I saw Salvador Dali’s
Santiago el Grande and works by Emily Carr, Cornelius Krieghoff, etc. While visiting Ottawa in 1999 I took a tour of the Ottawa Art Gallery, and while in Montreal in 2000, we visited the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, where I saw a Picasso and a Rembrandt for the first time.
My most memorable visit to an Art Gallery, though, was in Melbourne Australia to see the Impressionists. The art that touched me most deeply was the series of Water Lilies by Monet.

I do make art now, sporadically, here and there, though I admit that I still have that need to create on a more continuous basis from when I was young. My works are mainly acrylic paints and mixed media on canvas, and I do a lot of photography, with some digital elements from
Photoshop thrown in, on occasion. I don’t have an audience because I do art mainly for myself. My photography is mostly shared on my blog, which deals with nature and dreams.


Although I have not been to many art museums, I have always enjoyed viewing the work of artists such as Leonard da Vinci, Bernini, Picasso, and Monet. I have also found the works of Van Gogh and Courbet to be interesting.


My first exposure to art was through school.


Discussion Topic 5: Objective Description and Subjective Analysis

Object 1 (2D): The Annunciation by Botticelli

This is a wooden panel painting. It is painted in tempera and gold, making use of a limited palette of reds and blues, white and gold. It makes use of one point perspective to give an illusion of depth of space. It makes strong use of lines to define the architectural forms depicted.

I find this painting to be exquisitely executed, especially in the figures but I find it a little stilted, the architectural division of the two figures leaves me with the feeling of two separate images rather than the exultant moment that is supposed to be depicted.

Object 2 (3D): First Nations Ancient Sun Mask

This is a carved wooden piece, in alder and stained with vermilion. It makes use of repeated patterns using strong lines to create a border. It is too large to be worn as a mask by a human and looks to have greater mass than would be advisable for this purpose. The exaggerated shapes that make up a face show the intent was to over emphasise the features of the mask.

This piece leaves me awed by the heavy presence it seems to exude, one can see why it might have been emblematic of the presence of a deity/mythic ancestor.