"Looking at Art"

That is the title of a class I recently took through the Worcester Institute for Senior Education (WISE) at Assumption University. Ginny Powell-Brasier, a docent at the Worcester Art Museum and one of the instructors, presented two handy-dandy lists for how to look at art.

The first list she calls the "4 C’s" -- applicable to any work of visual art.

Compelling – First impressions. Does it get/hold my attention? Why?

Composition – Design? Lines? Shapes? Eye movement? Colors? Texture?

Content – Who/what is shown in the work? (Title may give clues)

Context – Symbolism? Purpose? Events in artist’s life? Historical events? (Label may give clues)

And the second she calls "FABSS" -- applicable to portraits.

Facial Expression


Body Language



I like these lists a lot. For one thing, I can remember them but more so, they provide a nice framework for thinking about works of art.

So, here's a couple of images for you to practice with!

The first is titled "Cobblestones" from my "What the Night Mouse Saw" series. Is the image compelling? What do you think of the composition? Is the content clear? How about the context? Since the context for this series is how a "night mouse" views the world, why would s/he be more interested in the cobblestones than the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Washington Monument?

Untitled photo

The second is titled "Justine and Grant" from my "Seven Artists and a Toothbrush Factory" series. Did the "FABSS" list influence your impression of this portrait?

Brushworks, Florence, MA; March, 2017

This image from my "Waterlines" series was selected for the "Blue Skies" exhibition, juried by Kat Kiernan, publisher of "Don't Take Pictures" magazine. This series was shot over a 12-month period along a 30-foot section of an aqueduct near my house. All of the images are reflections from small sections of the surface.

Southborough, MA; December, 2012

Here's the link to the show:


Here's the link to my "Waterlines" series:


And here's the YouTube link to a talk I've given a couple of times titled "Education of an Artist -- Insights from Mentors" Even some total strangers gave it a thumbs up so feel free to pass it along to any aspiring artists you think might find it useful.


I just created a Kindle version of my book "Hyperbole World." It contains a bunch of new "world" images that were photographed since the paperback was published. Here's the link:


Marky Kauffmann, my friend and a hugely creative photographer, gave a terrific talk about her work and influences. Highly recommended! Here's the link:


Another dear friend and respected art historian, Gary Schwartz, was part of a Sotheby's panel discussing "Rembrandt van Rijn | Why the Dutch Master Remains Relevant." If you're at all interested in Rembrandt's work, I highly recommend this discussion.


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