Understand art by knowing yourself

Becky Hendrick, who for years wrote art reviews and criticism for Art Lies and other regional and national art publications, is a wonderful educator with a talent for engaging students.

Becky Hendrick's book, Getting It
Becky Hendrick’s book, Getting It

Her inspired book on art appreciation, Getting It: A Guide to Understanding and Appreciating Art, is unique in the field and written to involve students in their own learning. It teaches us to ask questions and think about what we’re seeing.

My favorite exercise from her book is Becky’s List of Lists (derived from Marion Milner’s (aka Joanna Field), A Life of One’s Own.

You simply make a list of your “+” positives and “-” negatives – things you really like and strongly dislike in all areas of your life. That knowledge also sheds light on one’s biases and preferences in art. Which do you like more, artwork that deals with ideas or with the aesthetics of paint? Do you lean toward representational painting, abstract sculpture, performance art, what? Or is it the through-line of a concept regardless of the media that does it for you?

Trite but true: we know what we like. Sometimes our personal preferences, our likes and dislikes, can create obstacles to understanding art and appreciating it.

Once you understand  your preferences and dislikes more clearly you’re more likely to think about why you feel the way you do. That can open your mind to something new or different. Do you love pink and hate green? Why? Are you open to new ideas or really convinced about what you already know? Is a pile of bananas art?  Look at any artwork – do you love it or hate it? Then ask yourself why!

I love this exercise and have an ever growing list myself. Mine includes, on the positive side, enjoying a really good gelato every few blocks in Florence, Italy – and on the negative, car alarms going off at all hours! What are some of your plusses and minuses? Please share a few in the comments, and check out Becky’s books.

Becky Hendrick
Becky Hendrick

Getting It: A Guide to Understanding and Appreciating Art, by Becky Hendrick, 2013

Art Boom: Contemporary Art in El Paso, by Becky Hendrick, 113 pg.

Her online resource: Becky Hendrick: FREE IDEAS!

Becky Hendrick has been a painter for more than 4 decades with works in museum and private collections. In addition to writing art criticism and reviews, from 1990-2013 she taught classes on art appreciation and “Whole Arts” that integrated appreciation for all fine art forms. She and her sculptor husband, Willie Ray Parrish, host the Border Art Residency in La Union, New Mexico. They divide their time between their La Union residence and Puerto Peñasco, Sonora, Mexico.

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  1. […] Hendrick’s books of art criticism and art appreciation are available on LuLu.com. I posted previously about her art appreciation book. […]

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