Framed 3-D assemblage, male figure with cigarette and holding paintbrush, male figure on left standing on step stool and holding camera, female figure center background, paintings, frames, paint buckets and brushes.

Here are some tips for doing this close-looking exercise yourself or with others:

  1. 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!
  2. 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!
  3. 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.
  4. 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 main figure seems to have five arms on the right side, which make it seem like his right arm is in motion.

Here are some more questions to help guide you during steps 2 and 3:

  • How would it be different if the figures had different facial expressions? Different postures?
  • Does the image seem chaotic? Why or why not?
  • 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: Red Grooms, American (b. 1937), Jackson in Action, 1997, color 3D lithograph, 27 3/8 x 35 3/8 x 7 1/2 inches. Purchased as part of The Sharkive, with funds from Kemper Family Foundations, UMB Bank; anonymous; Polly and Mark Addison; Karen and Don Ringsby; College of Arts and Sciences, University of Colorado Boulder; Wayne and Nona Yakes and contributions from over 200 donors, S2019.308. Photo by Jeff Wells, © Red Grooms / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / Shark’s Ink.