Why Critique?

The critique allows the artist to look at his/her work (or that of another artist) in an objective way. The artist is then able to "see" the work with fresh insight. This insight gives the artist a new direction in which to go with his or her work. Some artists work in series. They do one work, critique it, and create second, third, and fourth works because of the changes they decide upon during their critique process.

How to Do a Critique? Easy as 1,2,3,4!

The Presenter

Prepare a short presentation of your artwork based on the following four questions.

What is your intention?

First ask yourself what were you thinking about before you began your piece. You were given the assignment and you got an idea or maybe visualized a plan, or had a concept about a particular thing you wanted to communicate. This is your intention. Describe it.

What processes have you gone through between your intention and your final art work?

Second, what steps did you take (and mistakes: happy mistakes or unhappy mistakes did you make) between your intention and your final product? Discuss them in detail, especially all the ways your piece evolved (grew) from that first intention. An art work often changes drastically during the creation process from the first intention.

What elements of your art work are you most satisfied with? Why?

Third, what element of your art work do you think works the best? Remember to use your art vocabulary of the elements and principles of design (line, color, etc.) and WHY, describe why using design language and also emotional reasons. An example would be, "I think the curve of the angel's neck is my favorite part of the painting because it gives her a gracefully patient look, which was my intention".

What elements of your art work would you change, were you to do the project again?

Finally, what specific areas of your work would you change? This could be where you step from your current piece into the second in your series. It will give you a chance to envision the piece continuing which is what you want as an artist...to not feel stuck with something you don't like in an art work.

The Art Critique Process: an approach to discussing an artwork and encouraging objective looking.


The following four-step process allows a critique of any artwork that places the viewers judgment last, not first. Looking at art in this way will set up an objective and open structure for viewing an artwork. It encourages describing and analyzing an artwork prior to interpreting an artist's intention and placing a personal judgment on the work. In this way, viewers will develop an informed opinion that they can back up with specific references to the work of art.


1.    Description: a process of taking inventory - of simply saying what one sees in a work of art (as opposed to what one feel about it or concludes about its meaning).

        What are the colors and shapes within the artwork?

        What objects can you name? What else do you recognize?

        Describe a part of the artwork without pointing to it.

        What do you think is the subject?

        What media (materials) did the artist use?


2.    Formal Analysis: separation of a work of art into its parts in order to determine the expressive power of each part, by itself, and the relationship between things and to the whole composition.


        Where are you, the viewer, "standing" in relation to this scene?

        What is the difference in size, placement, color, and detail that you notice in the objects?

        Where does your eye first look (the focal point)? Where do you look next? And after that?


        What are the dominant elements or objects in the work?

        What do you think is the subject of this work?

        Where do you look first (the focal point)? Where do you look next? And after that? Summarize how your eye moves around the artwork.

        How is this composition organized?

        Find some lines and forms that repeat throughout the composition.


        Name all of the colors you see in the artwork.

        Which are the dominant colors?

        How are the colors arranged in the composition? Create a color map of the composition. What colors are placed next to each other? How would you describe the effect these colors have on you?

     Does the way the artist has used color help create a mood or sense of space? How?

     How would you describe the light? Where are the contrasts of light and dark? Are they subtle or sharp?

Technique and Style

     What media did the artist use? How can you tell?

     How has the artist suggested texture? Is it real or an illusion?

     Is the artwork realistic or abstract?

     Note similarities and differences among the objects.


3.    Interpretation: What does the artwork mean? Use what you have learned through careful observation to answer the following questions.

        How does the artwork make you feel? What does it make you think about?

        What do you think the artist is trying to say? Why?

        What will you remember most about this artwork?

        What title would you give this artwork?


4.    Judgement: What value do you place on an artwork? In judging, you are not talking about whether you like the artwork, but rather whether the artist has communicated successfully.

        How did the artist capture your attention and involve you in the artwork?

        Does the artwork communicate any major feelings or ideas?

        Does the artwork come together as a whole?

        What changes would you make to the artwork if you could?