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 is an observation about this image to get you started after you finish step 1:
- The poses of the figures are different on each side of the amphora.
- There are more figures on one side than on the other.
Here are some more questions to help guide you during steps 2 and 3:
- How would it be different if the figures were posed the same way on both sides?
- How would it be different if only one side had figures on it?
- How would you describe the lines and shapes?
- How would you describe the people in this work?
- What would it feel like to be inside of this artwork?
Image Credit: Unidentified Artist, Athenian, Black-figure amphora, c. 510 BCE, clay, slip glaze, 17 x 11 inches. Loan from Denver Museum of Nature and Science, TL-391.10. Photo: Jeff Wells.