Observing the relationship: Couple patterns reflected in joint paintings

Sharon Snir, Tamar Hazut

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study documents the main pictorial phenomena expressed in joint paintings by romantically involved couples, and attempts to define the principal elements of the "pictorial language" that individuals use to express their relationship. The study applies methods of inquiry that were developed for the purpose of therapy and evaluation, based on the phenomenological approach to nonclinical populations. In a qualitative examination of the paintings, 13 thematic categories were identified and used to examine expressions of the couple relationship in their joint paintings: suggestions for cooperation/non-cooperation, reactions to suggested cooperation/non-cooperation, relating to images made by the partner, distance between the partners in the painting, contact between the marks of the two partners, occupation of areas, similarity/difference between the painting styles of the participants, connection/separation between images, coherence of the resulting product, symbolism of style, images in the painting that are significant to understanding the relationship, behavior in the course of the painting process, and transitions between the paintings. Two case studies are presented to demonstrate how such analysis may help art therapists, marriage counselors, and family therapists evaluate and understand couple relationships by effectively revealing their conflicts and significant needs as expressed in their joint paintings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-18
Number of pages8
JournalArts in Psychotherapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Couple relationships
  • Joint painting
  • Phenomenological analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Professions (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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