Picture Study Tip: Using A Viewfinder

Picture Study Using a Viewfinder @HarmonyFineArts
Picture study can take many forms. Using a small viewfinder will help to narrow your focus while narrating a painting.This is especially helpful when working with younger children who can have a hard time getting started with picture study.

Here are some ideas to try with your viewfinder to get you started!


Using a viewfinder can make picture study easy and not so overwhelming.

Cut a window out of cardstock and use the opening to isolate a section of a painting. Focus on that little section and then perhaps draw it for your notebook.


This painting by Gauguin that I printed out in 8″ by 10″ size has a lot of things going on to narrate about. Sliding the viewfinder over the painting, find a view that is interesting. The viewfinder helps isolate specific areas of the painting to observe and then to recreate in your notebook if you want to.


By moving the viewfinder, you get a different section of the image to enjoy and focus on. Here you can see the blue palm tree. This viewfinder is four inches square and I cut it out of a large index card.


This is the same Gauguin painting but this time you see the woman and her horse using the rectangular viewfinder. This rectangle is 4 1/4″ by 2 1/2″, but you can vary your size to fit your needs. I used cardstock to make this one.


How about this famous painting by Grant Wood? You can use the viewfinder to capture just one section to study and then narrate about either in words or in your sketchbook.

For a challenge, use a small square viewfinder and try to copy exactly what you see through the opening. This opening is one inch square and made with a regular index card.

I use a Post It Note tab (the red tab) to hold the card in place while the kids sketch what they see in the opening.


This is not as easy as it seems. This Picasso eye has a lot of shapes and colors to copy but it is a fun exercise. (The sketch on the right was done by my son when he was five.)

This is a great way to add some variety to your art appreciation. Use the viewfinder to help your child get started with picture study.

You can see more picture study ideas in this post: Art Appreciation-A Starting Point.

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