How to Critique Art

Critique is a fundamental part of the artistic process, providing artists an opportunity to get a fresh pair of eyes on their artwork.

This video explains concrete, practical strategies that both art teachers and art students can apply to group critiques in the classroom.

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Discussion led by Art Prof Clara Lieu and Teaching Artists Cat Huang, Lauryn Welch, and Casey Roonan.

Prof Lieu’s Tips

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Critique is an essential component of the artistic process. This tutorial will demonstrate and explain concrete, practical strategies for both art teachers and art students which they can apply in their artistic process.

Clara Lieu

A wide range of critique formats will be shown and explained: one-on-one art critiques, small group art critiques, methods for self-critique, large group art critiques within an art class, and more.

For every art teacher, leading art critiques during an art class is an ongoing challenge.

Lauryn Welch, Critique event at Blick in Cambridge, MA

Every student, every artwork, and every art critique is different. In the context of any art critique, teachers need to be alert, responsive, and ready to handle any circumstance that arises in the conversation.

Clara Lieu, banner

Art students have their own challenges as participants in a group critique, how do you speak articulately about your own artwork? How do you make comments that are tactful and that will impact your peers in a positive way?

This video provides a comprehensive look at critiquing art.

Video Walkthrough

  • What is an art critique?
  • First critique is important
  • The need for engagement
  • Set ground rules
  • Students need to back up their points
  • Positive feedback
  • Be candid & constructive
  • Separate yourself from your art
  • Listen & be less defensive
  • Critique is a “test”
  • Critique formats
  • Be fair with time
  • Split the class when needed
  • What to critique: thumbnail sketches, or the final art?
  • In-progress critiques catch mistakes
  • One-on-one critiques
  • Consider skill & subject
  • Stick to the prompt
  • Set aside personal bias
  • Get many opinions
  • Take initiative
  • Use simple language
  • When students don’t talk
  • Negative social dynamics
  • Keep calm & control the situation
  • Facing an inactive class
  • Don’t ignore rude behavior
  • Shut down inappropriate topics
  • Let a student take time when emotional
  • Sensitive topics are necessary
  • Warn students of offensive work
  • Do research before showing the final piece
Clara Lauryn critique

Blue Wolf Spirit’s Tips

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Art Prof has a number of videos on how to perform an art critique. And for most people, they follow the rules and give other members 3 crits for every post of their own in the crit channel.

Some do it to “follow the rules” and others do see that providing crits to fellow members generates positive community interactions.

People appreciate being “seen” and often tend to respond to the same members that responded to them. But there are more benefits to critiques than may be apparent.

Clara Lieu, banner

The most useful benefit is that you are training your eyes and mind. With each critique, you are learning how to look at art and see things you like and things that you don’t like so much.

You notice the “vibe” or the feeling the piece generates. With practice you can see tangents, perspective and proportion. If there are colors, you can see if they work well together or distract from the piece.

Deepti Menon

You get used to looking at a color snapshot of a piece and turning it into a black and white photo so you can better see the values.

You make sure in each piece you have a range of values/tone – from the darkest darks to the lightest lights.

And with all that information in your head, you can look at your own work and run through that checklist. So each time you give someone else a critique, know that you are gaining something too.

Portfolio Critiques, Clara Lieu

You are working your “art brain muscle” to be able to identify areas in your own art that may need a little more work or attention. Critique of someone else’s art makes your art better.

The other benefit that you can realize from exercising your crit muscle is being able to separate your product from yourself. The first few times someone critiques your work, it may be difficult for you.

Clara Lieu

As you give and get critiques, you start seeing that it’s simply a matter of determining if the piece needs more work.

It may take time, but you eventually realize that the critique is not judging your artwork, but suggesting ways it can be improved.

It is not a valuation of you as a person. And it is not an evaluation of you as an artist. It’s about the piece, not the person.

BlueWolf Spirit is a moderator in our Discord server.