my oil painting from Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

how to critique a painting 101

At York Academy of Art when we had an assignment , we had to line up our paintings on the wall and the teacher would talk about what was good and bad with each piece. Mine were always the worst, so I learned how to critique art. I was having too much fun in art school to care. And I was a rebel who said I don’t want to paint, I want to make sculpture. Todays young artists with their fragile self esteem would find the academy too harsh.

The first and most important step in looking at a painting with a critical eye is to squint. Look at it through your eyelashes so it’s blurry, then you can see the composition. Do you see any arrangement of lights and darks ? Or does it blur into a blob of just one value ? If you squint at a painting and it doesn’t bore you, go ahead and open your eyes. Check out where the focal points are. One focal point in the center of the painting is a weak composition. Focal points that move your eyes around are good.

If the jurors aren’t squinting , they don’t know how to do their jobs. There’s much more to know about how to tell real fine art from ordinary art. This is just today’s free art lesson from the academy.


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