Emma Barr is helping people find more beauty in their lives.

As a professional artist of mixed media, that has always been her goal. But there is so much more art out there and much of it go unappreciated because many people just do not know enough about it.

Or, perhaps, they know they like it but they don’t know why.

Barr will be teaching a course on art appreciation that begins in early April. She calls it, Art Appreciation 101.

“People get so freaked out by artists’ talk,” says Barr. “I just want people to relax and contemplate and talk about it.”

She will teach her students about the many design elements in a work of art – colour, composition, line, shape, form, depth, texture, scale – and how they work with each other.

That sounds like a lot to remember, but she says it all starts with the idea and then the elements are layered on.

We are sitting in the Yukon Arts Centre gallery at the entrance of the exhibit she shares with fellow Emerging Yukon Painters Zeb Austin and Meghan Hildebrand. The feature wall displays Hildebrand’s Greenbelt 2004. It is an abstract piece that can be dismissed with a casual look or appreciated for hours.

Barr paces back and forth from the painting as she picks out elements she likes—the colour, the texture, the repetition of shapes—and, as she mentions each one, they come alive in my own eye.

“It helps to know the artist is concerned with technology encroaching on our natural spaces,” she says. Just as she says this, I instantly interpret the painting as a depiction of the old wharves on the Yukon River. Perhaps that isn’t what Hildebrand had in mind, but it was compelling for me.

“There are many different focal points, I could go on all day with this,” says Barr. “It never ends.”

Barr remembers selling one of her paintings to a couple who, at first, proclaimed they did not like abstract. She took the time to explain the elements and the inspiration and ended up selling them the painting. The couple had only seen things based on reality, “Now they are more open-minded and they will give more things more of a chance.

“Some art is so obvious and other works need a little more time.”

This couple was surrounded by beauty, but they didn’t see it.

Barr hopes her students will see more beauty, too.