Do you want to practice mindfulness but find sitting to meditate is just not your thing? This is one for the visual learners amongst us. I’m going to present an activity for you to do now that will give you 10 minutes of mindfulness in your day whilst increasing your level of fine art appreciation. Intrigued? Get ready for participate in some mindful looking.
Give yourself 10 minutes where you won’t be disturbed and follow these instructions.
We’re going to have 10 minutes of peace, with my favourite piece of art in the National Gallery in London. No knowledge of art history is required; just an open, non-judgmental and curious mindset. There are no right or wrong answers here. Find a comfortable place to sit with just you and your screen where you can see the image below clearly. Let’s go.
- Breath in whilst tracing your eye along the left-hand border of the painting; the shorter side of the canvas.
- Hold your breath whilst focusing on the left-hand border for 5 counts.
- Breath out whilst tracing your eye across the top edge of the painting. The longer side of the canvas.
- Hold your breath whilst focusing on the right-hand corner for 5 counts.
- Then breath in tracing your eye down the right-hand border of the painting. The other shorter side.
- Hold your breath focusing on the bottom right-hand corner for 5 counts.
- Then breath out tracing your eye along the bottom border of the painting.
- Hold your breath whilst focusing on the bottom left-hand corner for 5 counts.
Repeat this 4 times.
You are not looking at the image itself, but just tracing the very edge of it. This technique will get you in the right headspace.
For 3 minutes just look at the image. Don’t take any notes, don’t analyse, don’t judge – just sit back and take it all in and see what you notice. If you get distracted, focus back on what you can see.
We’re now going to consider all the colours that are used in the image.
Take each colour and notice whereabouts you can see it represented on the canvas.
- Starting with Red
- Then pink
Do you notice any pattern to where the colours are placed on the canvas?
Now we’re taking a look at the characters. Consider the following questions?
- How many people do you see?
- How many animals?
- What do you notice in the background?
- Getting creative now, consider what do you think is going on?
- If this captures a moment in time, what do you think happened before?
- What will happen afterwards?
- What’s the vibe? And how can you tell?
You’ve spent 10 minutes appreciating a great work of art. By spending time mindfully looking at it without distractions, I guarantee your appreciation of it has increased. Perhaps, like me, you love it. Perhaps you’ve realised it’s not to your taste, but you’ve taken into account some considerations that the artist will have done.
If you are interested, it was painted in 1522 by Titian, the great Venetian master and it is his depiction of Bacchus, the god of wine and Ariadne who has been abandoned on the island by her lover Theseus. This is their first meeting. Some say it’s love at first sight. Take a look at the interaction between the cheetahs. It’s like they know what’s going on. They’ve been there too!
Next time you’re walking through Trafalgar Square in London, why not go into to National Gallery and spend some more mindful looking time with this masterpiece? Your appreciation will go through the roof I promise! And you will have invited some peace into your mind.