Part 2: Words Are Your Friends - Describe Your Artwork's Mood and Character


handwritten words on two pages of paper


Do you dream of captivating potential clients with descriptions of your artwork instead of boring them to death - at parties, social gathering, and chance encounters? This post is part 2 in a series about learning to describe your art work better. In part 1 we discussed romantisizing your description in Part 1: Words Are Your Friends - Describing Your Art Using All 5 Senses. In this post we are going to look at how to describe the mood and character of your work.


"Mood is an internal and rather subjective emotional state. Grammatically speaking, mood is a feature of verbs that’s used to indicate modality. There are several types of grammatical moods including indicative, interrogatory, imperative, emphatic, subjunctive, injunctive, optative, and potential. As an artist, you’ll want to grammatically describe the mood of your artwork using the indicative type. This type is used for factual statements and positive beliefs." -

I had to read the above passage from The Abundant Artist a few times to let it really sink in. The mood of your work is dictated by the style in which it is expressed which is also a feature of language. Understanding this will help you choose the right verbs (words conveying an action Ex. run) to describe your work. Verbs are energetic words that are active and alive - having a few verbs up your sleeve when describing your work will take it out of dullness and into excitement!

The Abundant Artist talks about using "indicative verbs" the ones that state facts in different tenses for example: I go, I am going, I went, I was going, I will go and I had gone before the mail arrived. If you feel nerdy and want to learn more about verb types you can check out this page:

How do you translate this into a practical description of your art? Let's give it a try! Here is my effort for my painting pictured below.

Ex. Telling a story/recounting the facts of what occurs in your painting:

An iceberg floats in a sea of pink and turquoise while plant life stands in silhouette against a darkening sky. 

small water-color painting of an iceberg


To improve my description above I can consider how I have expressed some of the facts of the work. For example I make mention of the physical attributes of the work - pink and turquoise. Though it's an accurate description it really doesn't help anyone connect with the work. Whether it's the colour of the water or the shapes of the iceberg it's more important to think about what is evoked by these characteristics. How does the turquoise feel and what type of mood does it evoke - sombre? fresh and bright an air of secrecy perhaps? How does this effect you? Does it make you feel optimistic, parental or meditative? 


"The average person isn’t looking for a landscape painting filled with farmland and barns. Their soul’s yearning for a striking piece of artwork for their entranceway that’ll greet visitors with a warm blast of dazzling sunlight which conjures their memories of the many summer times they spent on grandpa’s farm. Complete with the intoxicating aroma of a freshly cut hayfield, and the glistening golden blades of hay. The average person can feel artwork if it’s vividly described, creating an unwavering emotional connection."


 Let's modify my example above with this new idea of describing the characteristics of the painting (such as pink and turquoise) with more attention to what they evoke. 


Ex. An iceberg floats in a sea of dreamy pink and cool calm turquoise while plant life stands in silhouette against a darkening sky. These pieces charm with their smallness and draw you in, offerring a meditative state. These works are great at adding a peaceful vibe to a busy area of your home.


See what I did there? Ok your turn - try it out!


Image source [1]


Written by: rebecca chaperon
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