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Updated: Feb 21, 2021

When you're looking at a painting critically with a view to giving a critique here are some of the things you might need to consider, such as;

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 n 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?

Intention: 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?

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?

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.

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

The 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?

Colour: 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?

Texture: What kind of texture has been used? Visual ? Tactile?

How to Critique?

Since everyone strives to make their work better, comments are most helpful when you can offer your peer analysis that goes beyond “I like that” or "blue is my favourite colour."

To approach the process of critique, we will be using any or all of the following strategies:

  • Observe the physical, tactile qualities of the image.

  • Describe the materials used, the quality of line, how abstracted the representation is the image a realistic representation or more stylized, expressive or notational?

  • If the subject is an animal, how much of the animal is depicted: its entirety or a distinctive feature or two that conjures or stands in for the whole?

  • Does the image depict volume and mass or is it flat? What are the predominant colours or texture?

  • Is the image high contrast or low? Transparent? Discuss the associations and connotations of an image It’s impossible to separate or isolate the tactile materiality and the way a mark is made, from carrying or implying significance.

  • Another way to talk about the image is to focus on what associations or connotative meaning it brought up for you. For example, you may interpret an image’s transparency as subtlety or something ephemeral. Or maybe translucence suggests layering and depth.

When deliberately and intentionally placed in context in a composition, the power of message and interpretation may be released and amplified.

We could discuss dynamic composition, looking at ways of establishing hierarchy, connotation and narrative.

Explore and develop creating hierarchy and narrative in your own compositions, and this first-hand experience will help you to establish a criteria in order to talk about the work of others. Make time with other humans to develop your own creative work. Any chance you have to show and discuss live work, to be in the same space with other humans, is best of all. We all spend a lot of time online, but there is no substitute for the spontaneity, nuance and inspiration generated by working, discussing and critiquing your work—and that of others—in real time and physical space.


"I shut my eyes in order to see.”-Paul Gauguin

Symbolism is an artistic movement and style using symbolic images and indirect suggestion to express mystical ideas, emotions, and states of mind. It originated in late 19th-century in France and Belgium. Symbolism in art rejected Realism, Moralism, Rationalism and Materialism in many ways. A symbol is a mark, sign or word that indicates, signifies, or is understood as representing an idea, object, or relationship.

What is the artist's main intention? Intriguing ? Pleasant beach and picnics? What is the foreground and what is the background? Sky and the beach? What are the main colours? Has colour used realistically or used to convey emotion? What is the main focus in this picture? Fruits , Sand, palm trees? Do you see the symbolism in the painting? What elements of art were used in this image? Space, Colour, Texture, Lines, Shapes? What is the main composition? Curve lines? Horizontal lines? Do you recognise the visual texture and the pattern? Does it look abstract or realistic? Perhaps both? Does the painting generate an emotional reaction in you? What is the overall mood of the painting, and is this suitable for the subject? Why the tones are very import? The range of tones that can be produced varies.

Tahiti and Picnics, (1891- 92), Paul Gauguin

#primitive #simplified, #shapes, #subject #colours, Elements of arts ( line, shape, form, colour, texture space and scale ) are organised and composed according to to the principles of art Art ( balance, contrast, focal point, emphasis, movement, What elements of art are being used in this painting ? Values: Light and dark tones of fruits. If the this painting was only painted with only mid-tones risks being flat and dull. Value or tonal contrast creates visual interest or excitement in a painting. Contrast : The horizontal and vertical lines are used extremely to create contrast.



Line is simply a moving dot. It is the most basic element of art. Light can also create an illusion of form. Line is the most fundamental element of art. Line quality is the thickness of thinness of a line. Line quality can be used to add variety and the illusion of form.

Line can also create the illusion of form in a drawing. Line quality is the thickness or thinness of a line by varying the line quality an artist can show form in a drawing with just the use of line.

Incorporating with lines into your artworks is a great way to bring attention to the focal point, roads, rivers, fields, tracks are the best examples.

Exercise: Draw as many as different lines possible on a pieces of paper. Add blind contour line drawing.

Thicken up the lines enhance line quality to create the illusion of form.

Variations and uses of lines. Type of Lines:

Vertical lines - lines that move up and down without any slant.

Horizontal lines - lines that are parallel to the horizon

Diagonal lines - lines that slant

Zigzag lines - lines made from a combination of diagonal lines

Curved lines - Lines that change direction gradually

Line Variation :

Adding interest to your lines is important in creating successful artwork.

Length - lines can be long or short

Width - lines can be wide or skinny

Texture - lines can be rough or smooth

Direction - lines can move in any direction

Degree of curve - lines can curve gradually or not at all

Line quality or line weight-refers to the thickness or thinness of a line. By varying the line quality artists can make objects appear more 3-dimensional and more interesting

Hatching and crosshatching - using lines to create value

Hatching - lines going in the same direction

Cross Hatching - lines that cross

Using Cross Contour Lines to Improve Your Painting

What is the difference between cross contour lines and contour lines? What are cross contour lines used for?

You will learn the concept of cross contour lines and its effects on form and light. You will learn how to use cross contour lines to give the illusion of form and light.

Contour (outline) lines are simply "outlines". We typically use contour lines to define the edges of objects and details within them. Contour lines are visible lines or lines defined by contrast. In other words, we can actually see contour lines in most circumstances.

The best way to understand the concept of cross contour lines is to simply practice drawing them by observing a subject. Simple objects, like a pineapple , work best if you are new to this concept.

Cross contour lines used to communicate the form of the object further.

Exercise 2: Place a pineapple on the table and flow a series of exercises designed to reinforce concepts.

1. Draw a contour line of the pineapple. 2. Then do a blind contour line drawing.Enhance that drawing by adjusting line quality. 3. Enhance the drawing further by adding cross contour lines to indicate form and value.

This is practical reason for understanding cross contour lines.

Cross contour lines are implied lines that may or may not be visible on the subject. Instead of defining the edges and details of the subject, cross contour lines describe the form. Cross contour lines flow over the form of the object.

This concept is important in communicating form in your drawings and paintings and can help you make smart decisions regarding the direction of your stroke - whether it be with a pencil, pen, or brush.

While cross contour lines can flow in generally any direction, in most circumstances, you'll want to consider lines that flow vertically or horizontally around the form. The brush strokes or marks made with a drawing medium are more effective in communicating the form of the subject if they flow with the cross contour lines.

The strokes that are made with a pencil or a brush should flow in harmony with the cross contours of the subject and in turn, communicate more about the form of the object. When combined with a consistent use of value, the illusion of form in a drawing or painting is easily achieved.


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