|Image from Orange County Register Arts Blog, 2007|
In addition to learning how to be a docent, and learning all there is to know about the upcoming portraiture exhibition at the Katonah Museum of Art, I've also done a bit of writing for them.
One of the assignments was targeted at school groups. My job was to describe a particular work of art so students could draw their own version at school, based on what I'd written. The students would try to find that piece when they arrived at the museum. From there, the students, teachers, and docents could discuss if the artwork was what the students expected; if they felt all the relevant details were present; if, upon seeing the artwork, they would have written the description differently.
I discovered that this was a great exercise in seeing. Carefully looking at a piece of artwork is a helpful process whether you're describing it to someone else or not. Discerning what makes it unique is invaluable in appreciating an artist's style and understanding what makes the art special. It's also a great way learn about composition, line, and detail.
I encourage you to try your own version of this exercise the next time you go to an exhibition with a friend. Select a piece of art, one that your friend hasn't already seen. Describe it and then ask your friend to turn around and view the art. See if the picture they formed in their mind, the perception they have of the art, matches up with the reality before them. You might discover some insight into how you see and what details you feel are critical to the essence of a work.