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.