Look at Paintings is a beginner’s guide to spending time with beautiful works of art for relaxation and interest and is dedicated to the memory of Lawrie Perrins who did so much to help imagine and create the site.
Looking at art can be a great way to lift the spirits and focus the mind. The stories in paintings can be fascinating, amusing and diverting, the scenes depicted can be curious, restful, beguiling or arresting. There’s even evidence now to show how beneficial it can be for our emotional and mental wellbeing to spend time with art, either viewing it or creating it. For more on this visit our ‘Want to Know More’ page.
We rarely spend longer than a few seconds looking at a painting, because it’s hard to keep our attention focused on something without a bit of guidance. This is where Look at Paintings offers you a friendly voice that will guide you around each painting you select.
About the paintings
The paintings chosen are from the 16th to the 20th centuries, and have plenty of detail to enjoy. We’ve also given careful consideration to copyright status. In the UK, most artwork falls out of copyright after a given period, making older paintings easier to source than modern ones.
Some of the paintings are included by kind permission of Manchester Art Gallery. The gallery has an active programme of wellbeing engagement connected to their collections and was pleased to offer support to the site-creators.
How to use the site
There are six galleries organised by subject matter. Browse the galleries for an image you like and then click on the audio guide to listen. There are generic guides for each gallery subject matter – look for the green headphones. For audio guides that are specific to individual paintings look for the purple headphones.
Zoom into parts of the picture to see details mentioned in the audio guides or click on the close-ups. After listening to the audio guides, which vary from seven to ten minutes, you can choose to reflect on a few simple questions about your listening experience and what you found to admire or notice in the painting.
If you are hearing impaired
If you have a hearing impairment, you can still use this site by clicking on the text download and printing the PDF file, so you can read the audio guide and look at the painting.
Using the audio guides at galleries
As there are several generic audio guides, you can download these onto your phone and take them to an art gallery. Choose a painting from a category you like, for example ‘People Watching’, and then simply play the audio guide whilst looking at the painting in real life.
Like and Share
Please spread the word about this entirely free site to your friends and colleagues. It’s for you and yours, no fees, no sign up, no log in, just completely open for use, all day, every day.
If you wish to get in touch, please use the Contact us form.