By Jude Barrett
Learning Officer

How long would you normally spend standing in front of a painting? Why not try looking at art a little more slowly?

What is 'Slow Art'?

Most of us are used to looking at art for short amount of time, in passing.

‘Slow Art’ was created to encourage us all to look at art for a little longer, in the hope that we not only see more, but also get to know the works in greater detail. Exploring artworks more slowly can help us to form more stories, feelings, and opinions, about the works.

The idea is to spend some quiet time with a painting. You don’t have to know about the history of the painting or the artist, you only need to look and enjoy it. You may want to do some research of your own afterwards, to find out more. The artwork might even inspire you to draw or paint something yourself, or to write a story or poem, or create anything at all, inspired by what you have seen.

How do I start?

To get you started we have chosen 3 paintings for you to look at slowly.

We have given you the title and date of each painting, along with the name and dates of the artist. All 3 works are oil paintings on canvas.

  • We suggest that you look closely at the artwork, in a large web broswer, so that you can see it in detail.
  • Try to spend at least 5 minutes looking at it, taking in details and thinking about what you see.

At the end of your longer look at the painting, take a step back and look at the whole artwork again. Appreciate the composition of the work.

How it makes you feel?

Does it reflect a place you have been, someone you know, or somewhere you would like to see?


  • Colour and pattern
    Examine one area, how many colours are used to achieve the overall colour you see?
  • Composition
    Each part of the painting is placed where it is for a reason. Examine the foreground, closely. What detail do you find in the distance?
  • Harmony
    Colour harmony, how the colours blend to give the impression of detail, and the atmosphere this evokes.
  • Perspective
    Foreground, vanishing point/s. Is there any deviation from perspective as we would expect it. For example, is it painted from an unusual position? Consider angles, height, and distance.
  • Texture and colour
    There is a lot to look at in these paintings.
  • Use of paint
    The use of brush strokes, layering of paint, contrast between light and dark, rough and smooth.
  • Size
    Try to imagine the size of each of the paintings.
  • What's in the painting?
    Think about the subject of the painting. What is the painter saying about the subject? What impression did the subject want give the viewer?
  • Who is in the paintings?
    In the case of the Manet and the Gertler paintings, what conversations and decisions do you think the subject and the artist might have had/made? What kind of relationship might they have had, did they know each other well, or were they virtual strangers?


We hope you found this time relaxing and engaging. Remember: there is no wrong way to interpret or enjoy art, so take as long as you like to get the most out of the experience.

You can search for more artworks, to enjoy more slowly, on our Collections Online website.