Looking at Art

What strategies can we use to observe, describe and discuss visual art? With evidence, reason and make a hypothesis about the art, and support your argument with observations using the painting by Joan Miro, “The Farm”, 1921-22.

Joan Miro, “The Farm”, 1921-1922.


Look closely at the image of this painting. Let your eyes scan the whole surface of the canvas. You might look carefully at the foreground, what looks closest to you, toward the bottom of the painting; next look at the busy middle-ground; and then look at the background, off into the distance.

What do you see?
What people, places, or things stand out to you?
What actions or activities catch your eye?
Which colors, sounds, smells, or feelings strike your senses?

Now, focus on an interesting detail and zoom in to look closer. As time allows, move the zoom tool around the image and observe more.



A routine for careful observation and description

Work of Art______________________________________________Artist________________________


  1. Look at a painting for a full minute.
  2. On your own, list five words or phrases about any aspect of the work of art.
  3. Share something from your list with the class or with a partner.
  4. Repeat steps 1 and 2. Try to add five new words or descriptive phrases to your list.
  5. Share a new observation with the class.



Now, Click here for information about the artist and artwork: miro-poster copy

From “Artful Thinking Classroom” and “Teaching Critical Thinking through Art” with the National Gallery of Art. A course from the Harvard School of Education “Project Zero”.

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