Describing Art in Spanish

Describing Art In Spanish

A big vocabulary is important when learning and teaching a foreign language. Most memorize word lists, but that kind of vocabulary only sticks temporarily. Why? Because you need to think and use the words for them to stay in long-term memory.

Describing art in Spanish will make the vocabulary stick. How?

Art Study in Spanish taps into language processing in the brain. The learner:

  • has a visual of the word
  • describes the story
  • describes the design details
  • comes to a conclusion
  • forms an opinion about the artwork.

Not only that, but the learner also practices all the language skills:

  • listens,
  • speaks,
  • writes, and
  • reads in Spanish.

And it adds cultural awareness of Hispanic art into the mix.

Free Spanish Art Vocabulary Activity

Art Vocabulary

Download our free Spanish Art Vocabulary Worksheet

You can use this article for the talking points.

Describing Art to Learn Spanish

You’re looking at a picture of a famous painting. You see colors, shapes, a place, and some objects and they all have interesting details to describe. Every artwork has a background and a story. You are ready to describe what you see.

But wait… You don’t have the Spanish words so you freeze.

Does that sound familiar? That happens all the time speaking a foreign language. Don’t worry! I’ll help you grow a big vocabulary.

Below I share the steps vocabulary and questions to describe art in Spanish. Ready? Let’s get started.

Let’s Describe Art in Spanish

Art tells a story. The story has details about people, places, events, actions, and descriptions. These details provide a visual definition of new vocabulary.

You’ll ask questions and describe:

  • The background of the artist and the artwork
  • The story within the artwork
  • The elements of art
  • The principles of art, and
  • Your opinion about the artwork

All in Spanish.

Spanish vocabulary comes to life through the artwork. This is a big opportunity to develop your language skills as you make observations and share them in speech and print.

Let’s start with the basic words to describe art in Spanish.

Words to Describe Art in Spanish

What do you call art in Spanish?

These are some words to describe art in Spanish:

— el arte — art
— el artista — artist (male)
— la artista — artist (female)
— la obra — artwork
— el cuadro — picture
— la obra maestra — masterpiece

Questions to Describe Art in Spanish

¿Qué ves? — What do you see?
Veo… — I see…

These are a good starting point to keep it simple. As you become more comfortable describing art in Spanish continue with the five steps of Art Study in Spanish.

The Five Steps of Art Study in Spanish

Each step is flexible and adaptable to all proficiency levels and learning styles. Here are the five steps:

  • Step 1: Introduce the artwork
  • Step 2: Observe artwork details
  • Step 3: Draw details from memory
  • Step 4: Talk about the message
  • Step 5: Write your observations

Each step takes about five minutes, in total 30 minutes.

There are five steps to describe art in Spanish in greater depth. Navigate the articles below to jump to another step.

Let’s take a look at the five different ways to describe art in Spanish – and what we can talk about for each step!

lego with easel on table

Step 1 – Show and Tell

Length | 5 minutes

We start with one artist and one artwork.

First, begin with a short introduction to the artist and the artwork. Share information about the artist and their life and what they are best known for. Then, introduce the facts about the artwork, such as title, materials, and form. Tell about what makes this artwork unique.

Jump to Art Study in Spanish / Spanish Art Vocabulary

drawing and talking about art

Step 2 – Observe Art Details

Length | 5 minutes

Next, observe and describe the visual details. Point out the person, places, events, and objects. Tell about the action or describe what you see. Talking about the elements of art pulls out a lot of details, such as the adjectives that describe them.

Jump to Art Study in Spanish / Elements of Art in Spanish

crop woman drawing in sketchbook

Step 3 – Draw Art Details from Memory

Length | 5 minutes

After describing the artwork, put it away and draw the details from memory. This can be a simple pen and paper sketch or a Spanish art project. Once done, have the learner retell the details in Spanish.

This can be a friendly competition that is timed and the learner with the most details is the leader!

Jump to Art Study in Spanish / Drawing Vocabulary

puzzle pieces

Step 4 – Talk About the Message

Length | 5 minutes

Next, while looking at the artwork again, describe the message using the principles of art. See how the elements work together to reveal what is most important.

Jump to Art Study in Spanish / Principles of Art in Spanish

write and talk about art

Step 5 – Write Your Observations

Length | 5 minutes

Last, bring it all together and form an opinion about the artwork. You can write this down and read it aloud. Either write a word, phrase, sentence, or analysis, at your proficiency level.

You can keep the artwork, your drawing, and all your work in a Spanish notebook.

Describing Artwork in Spanish at Your Proficiency Level

For true learning to take place, each step must be easy. Once the simple is normal then you add a new element in to level up the language skills. The purpose is to grow vocabulary and strengthen the language skills.

Here is what to focus on at each proficiency level:

Art Study in Spanish for Beginners

Everything is new. Introduce new words that are frequently used in real life.

Art Study in Spanish for Intermediate

Some words are already known. There is room for new words, phrases, and simple sentences.

Art Study in Spanish for Advanced

Many words are already known. The focus here is on growing complexity through every language skill. Possibly write an art critique with information from research about the artist and artwork.

Examples of Describing Art in Spanish

Art Study in Spanish is flexible for every language proficiency level.

  • Beginners name things and repeat.
  • Intermediate use words they know and combine them.
  • Advanced use words they know in more complex sentences.

Everyone increases their vocabulary.

The artwork is introduced and keywords are pointed out in the image.

Esta obra se llama Modesta, una pintura por Diego Rivera en el año 1937.

This artwork is titled Modesta, a painting by Diego Rivera in the year 1937.

Here are some examples of how learners perform at each proficiency level.

Describing Art in Spanish for Beginners

Starting to describe art seems hard. But really, it’s pretty easy to find new words. The best part is these new words are connected to a visual definition of the meaning. From this artwork, some examples of new vocabulary are:

  1. niña
  2. una niña
  3. adentro
  4. en la casa
  5. piso de madera
  6. cabello corto

Describing Art in Spanish for Advanced Spanish

Continuing at an intermediate and advanced level, art descriptions allow for practicing language skills and increasing vocabulary. An example of an advanced Spanish learner’s description of Modesta:

  • Diego Rivera pintó Modesta en el año 1937. Hay una niña muy seria sentada en una silla de madera con flores. Sus pies no llegan al suelo. Su pelo es corto. Ella está dentro de una casa. Tiene el suelo de madera y las paredes grises. Ella mira detrás de mí…
  • Diego Rivera painted Modesta in the year 1937. There is a very serious girl seated on a wooden chair with flowers. Her feet do not reach the floor. Her hair is short. She is inside a house. It has a wood floor and gray walls. She looks behind me…

The principles of art in the last step are where advanced learners can shine. They can write complex sentences, paragraphs, or a complete art analysis.

Need a resource for describing art in Spanish that’s done for you?

Introducing… Art Study in Spanish

The Art Study in Spanish Bundle is your go-to resource for describing art in Spanish. You’ll have everything you need to describe an artwork in Spanish:

Build all five language skills

  • Listening
  • Reading
  • Speaking
  • Writing
  • Grammar

Resources to describe:

  • the artist’s background,
  • the artwork,
  • the story,
  • the element,
  • the design principles of art,
  • your opinion of the artwork in Spanish.

Each step easily lays out the questions and answer prompts for beginner through advanced proficiency levels. Your student can demonstrate their learning on an interactive worksheet.

Optin Art Study Horizontal

Or you can pull together bits and pieces for talking about art on your own over time.


Describing art in Spanish helps learners:

  • Grow vocabulary,
  • Keep vocabulary in long-term memory,
  • Describe details
  • Think,
  • Form opinions in Spanish.

Art Study in Spanish is a productive use of valuable time!

Now it’s time to get ready for the next level of describing art in Spanish. Good job!

Your Next Step:

Art Study in Spanish Bundle

Preparing for Art Study in Spanish

Art Study in Spanish / Spanish Art Vocabulary


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