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Part 1: Words Are Your Friends - Describe Your Art Using All 5 Senses


words spelt with big letters


There are so many ways to describe your work to others which is why it might be hard to answer the question that swiftly follows polite, introductory chit chat "So what kind of art do you do?" And yes it would be easier to just pull out your Iphone and scroll to your website but that's sorta jumping the gun and can make people ill at ease. Also, even thought you are just trying to be practical - people might think you are an ego-maniac! Being ready and able to verbally describe your work is of ultra-importance.


"When selling your art, the verbal description is just as important as the visuals. Thorough, thought provoking descriptions are an essential piece of the selling puzzle. These descriptions tell the average person more about the piece." -


Capturing the imagination of people by describing your art translates gives you the opportunity to connect people with your work and potentially make sales.  You have to let go of the vocabulary that you would use if you were writing a grant proposal or speaking at a group critique with other artists. This will no longer serve you when speaking to potential clients because they might have no clue what you are talking about! No good!


Also you can describe the contents of the image in a way that, while quite accurate, is nothing short of dull. I've made this mistake before. You see their attention waver though they politely hear you out! Try explaining your subject matter in a more expressive manner - as though telling a story to someone who is blind and could never see your work. I learned this tip from an article on this topic by . They suggest tapping into the other senses when describing the work. What would your art feel like to the touch? Sounds like? How does it smell? What about taste?


A good story will captivate them throught these senses. For example I could describe my iceberg painting below as made of thin ice so delicate that it could break if you touched due to the heat of your hand. I could say that you can smell the open ocean's salty air and taste the salt on the air. A cascade of piano notes gentlly floats on the breeze in the form of tiny bright geometric shapes.


translucent iceberg painting


Image source [1]

About the author

Artist in residence Rebecca Chaperon

Rebecca Chaperon is our Artist-in-Residence

With a compulsion to create unique visual stories, her paintings often follow the thread of a heroine's misadventures through a surreal landscape.

She's had the pleasure of teaching at Langara College and given community workshops on painting techniques with an emphasis on watercolour, oil and acrylic. She is a board member at the Grunt gallery.

View her online portfolio

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