Here are some tips for doing this close-looking exercise yourself or with others:
- LOOK. Start by looking at the image for around 10 minutes. Don’t worry about writing anything down, yet – you just want to look at the art, first!
- DESCRIBE. Ask yourself what you’re seeing – are there figures present? How many? Is it a landscape or a portrait? Feel free to write your observations down. Be descriptive!
- FEEL. Think about how the artwork makes you feel. What does it remind you of? Why does it remind you of that? Use what you were able to see in earlier steps to here.
- INTREPRET. Finally, what do you think the artist is trying to convey?
It’s normal to leave with more questions than you started with!
Here are some observations about this image to get you started after you finish step 1:
- Neither figure is wearing much clothing.
- The woman’s hair is horizontal behind her, making the scene seem windy.
Here are some more questions to help guide you during steps 2 and 3:
- What is going on in the setting?
- How would it be different if the figures had different facial expressions? Different postures?
- How would you describe the lines?
- How would you describe the people in this work?
- What would it feel like to be inside of this artwork?
Image credit: Reginald Marsh, 1898-1954 (American), Pickaback, 1939, engraving, 10 x 5 inches. Gift of Polly and Mark Addison to the Polly and Mark Addison Collection, CU Art Museum, University of Colorado Boulder, 91.04.74. Photo: Jeff Wells / CU Art Museum.