Article in the New York Times
This article recommends when visiting a museum, find a piece of art that appeals to you and then spend 30 minutes just looking at it. This is not something I usually do.
So, my husband and I trundled down to the National Gallery of Art after I read this article and did our own version. We each chose a painting and then both of us spent 10 minutes there, looking at that painting. And, 10 minutes was really long. I think I could do 30 minutes some time in the future, but would need to work up to it.
What was so interesting, and really it shouldn't have been, was that we focused on such different things. He was obsessed with all sorts of technical things, like the shadows for all the people are of differing lengths and certain features in the water look unclear.
I became absorbed in all the different personalities in the scene, especially the person fifth from the right side edge. She is dressed like a shop girl or maybe even a gypsy. To me it looked as if she is jealously staring at the well dressed woman walking with her small child. After sometime it seemed that she was the focal point for the whole picture.
But, before we started talking about the dress, during my 5 minutes of silence, I kept scanning the painting looking for some distinguishing feature that would be a focal point, like the woman in the Renoir painting. But, this is such a different piece. I took note of the red bits, the rug, the arm of the chair and the brick wall of the building outside, thinking I might find some connecting there. Then I started looking into her face, trying to see what she was feeling. I was guessing this was a portrait of a very wealthy young woman about to be married or perhaps just married. I wondered if she felt trapped in her guarded world or calmly accepted what came to her. Clearly she was living a more than comfortable life. This painting put me into more of a meditative state than the busy scene of the Renoir.
If you tend to go through a museum fast, give this a try. I think about how long it took for these paintings to be made. They deserve 10 minutes of my time.
We really enjoyed our visit and plan to do this from now on when we are at a museum.