SJMA Docent Council
Comparison of Tour Strategies
Object-Oriented Discovery Strategy Visual Thinking
Slow down—Really look. Choose a Focus. Ask questions about: materials OR scale OR composition OR subject …
What is the first thing you noticed? Point it out, paraphrase, ask for clarification. (Go with majority consensus.) What is going on here (or in this work)? OR What can you tell me about this person?
“How has the artist arranged this scene? Tell me about the composition OR subject Or materials…”
How did the artist capture your attention to this spot? (Was it the color, the size, the contrast, etc.?)
Follow an interpretive response with: What do you see that makes you say that?
Paraphrase the visitor’s responses.
“How do the materials affect the composition? The color? What other decisions did the artist have to make?” Where is your eye drawn next? How did the artist take you from here to there? Becoming aware of compositional elements. (Is it a line? a color? a brushstroke, high contrast?)
What else can you find? What more do you see? Who sees something else? Encourage the group to look closer and find multiple meanings—take a complete visual inventory.
Reactions: What are your
gut reactions to this? Single words to describe? What do you see and/or What is it about you that makes you react this way? Where is your eye drawn
next? How did you get from here to there? Repeat until you’ve seen the whole work—taken a full visual inventory.
Continue to follow an interpretive response with: What do you see that makes you say that? What are your personal associations?Does it remind you of anything?
What effect did the artist’s decision to … ? ( use the responses above) have on the work? What if he had done “X” differently?
Point out the visual evidence and Paraphrase the visitor’s responses. Gather and focus the group’s attention.
Use the object as stimulation. What can we learn about the cultural history, the values, the tastes of the artist from looking at this work?
What are some of your responses to this work? (state connections between responses and the visual stimulus; state connections among different visitors’ responses.)
Work on scaffolding or connecting different responses. Take an answer and relate it to different answers.
Making Judgments: Offer both subjective criteria, i.e. value judgments (Like? Respect? moved by? Believe?) and objective criteria, (condition?
time to make? Originality? Size?)
What message (if any) do you think the artist is trying to convey? OR What theme is the artist addresssing in this work?
Make sure that opinions and observations are grounded in visual evidence by repeatedly asking, “What do you see that makes you say that?”
Work may be judged highly by one set of criteria and low by another. Important to explore the range and reasons for our responses.
Is this work successful to you? Why or why not?
Summarize major discussion points.
Are there any other observations we haven’t discussed? O.K., then let’s move on to another work.
More information can be found at http://www.sanjosemuseumofart.org/NDS2011