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Welcome to the Margate City Schools website!
Art Critique

 

Art Criticism:
Learning to look at ART

"We all look at the same things, yet see different things."

~ Claude Monet

Everyone has different ideas about art. Some of our ideas are influenced by our own perspectives and experience with artistic creation, while others are shaped by our teachers and parents or our visits to museums. But how much have we thought about those ideas? Have we considered them carefully, or are they mostly unconscious?

Whether they see art at school, in books, on television, in galleries, in public places, or in museums, students need guidance to do more than glance at a work and make quick judgments about it. Learning to look requires the skills and vocabulary to make observations, build understanding, and respond effectively to art.



Painting Critique Checklist

When you're looking at a painting critically with a view to giving a critique to the artist and, equally, when you're critiquing your own paintings, here are some of the things you ought to consider:

Size: Remember to take a look at the actual size of the painting and try to visualize it that big rather than the size of the photo on your computer screen.

Shape: Does the shape of the canvas (landscape or portrait) suit the subject matter? For example, a very long and thin canvas can add to the drama of a landscape.

Artist's Statement: Has the artist achieve their stated aim? Do you agree with their statement or interpretation of their painting, remembering that what the artist intends and what the viewer sees aren't always the same thing.

Title of the Painting: What is the title of the painting? What does it tell you about the painting and how does it guide your interpretation? Think about how you might have interpreted the painting if it had been called something else.

Subject Matter: What is the painting of? Is it unusual, unexpected, controversial or intriguing? Does it lend itself to comparison to work by a famous painter? Do you understand the symbolism in the painting?

Emotional Response: Does the painting generate an emotional reaction in you? What is the overall mood of the painting, and is this suitable for the subject?

Composition: How have the elements of the painting been placed? Does your eye flow across the whole painting or does one element selfishly dominate? Is the main focus of the painting slap-bang in the center of the painting (both vertically and horizontally), or off to one side? Is there anything that draws your eye into or across the painting? Also consider whether it's been slavishly copied from reality or from a photograph rather than thought put into which elements were included?

Skill: What level of technical skill does the artist display, making allowance for someone who's just starting out and someone who's an experienced artist? A beginner may not have been technically skillful in every element of their painting, but there's usually some aspect that's worth highlighting for the way it was dealt with and the potential it demonstrates.

Medium: What was used to create the painting? What has the artist done with the possibilities presented by their choice of medium?

Color: Has color been used realistically or used to convey emotion? Are the colors warm or cool and do they suit the subject? Has a restricted or monochrome palette been used (see the Monochrome Painting Project)? Have complementary colors been used in the shadows and are there reflected colors (colors 'bouncing' from one object onto another)?

Texture: It's extremely hard to see texture of a painting on a web page, but it's something that should be considered when looking at a painting in "real life"

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Critique Technique

What to say...and what NOT to say!

Critique Technique Guidelines

 Say what you see, do not say what you like, or don't like. Do not judge. 

Our goal is to be helpful, neither to hurt nor to stroke egos.  Be specific about what works or does not work.


SOME THINGS YOU MIGHT WANT TO SAY WHEN COMMENTING:

  • What stands out the most when you first see the painting?
  • Explain the reason you notice the thing you mention in number 1.
  • As you keep looking, what else seems important?
  • Why does the thing you mention in number 3 seem important. 
  • What other things interest you about this artwork?

NOT HELPFUL HELPFUL
“I don’t like it.”
“I notice that the change in tones in the right wing doesn’t transition smoothly”
“I  love it!” “The way you show reflected color on the wall plane works because it unifies the space.”

MORE LESSONS on ART CRITICSM: 







 
Last Updated: 2/28/14
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