10 Qualities to Consider When Evaluating Art

Spanish Dancer
A comment made by a docent some years back helped kick start my desire to better understand art. She explained that not all art is created with the intention of being beautiful but rather to evoke an emotion, even if this emotion is one of disgust. She said this as I viewed a painting so intensely grotesque that it made my stomach turn! The artist had accomplished the obvious intent of creating a response from the viewer. This is  one of the qualities considered to be the mark of a skilled artist. I will further elaborate on ten qualities to consider when evaluating a piece of art.

1. Crops and Composition

How does the artist use the layout to create focus and hold the viewers attention?

2.  Line and Shape

Are the outlines of the shapes strong and confident?

3.  Color

How does the artist use color to evoke an emotion, create a mood, or add character? Do the colors complement one another?

4.  Texture and Brushwork

How does the choice of brushstroke technique (loose versus tight) impact the results?  Has the artist created texture either physically with thick paint or with technique (for example, depicting the sheen of a silk cloth)?

5.  Symmetry

Does the artist use symmetry to please the eye?

6.  Shapes and Patterns

Is there repetition of pleasing shapes and patterns?

6. Movement and Direction

How does the artist create a sense of movement and guide the eye across the canvas?

7.  Meaning

Does the piece convey a story, create an emotional response, make a statement, and/or use symbolism?

8.  Uniqueness

Has the artist created something unique?

9.  Comparative Analysis

How does the piece compare to other similar works?

10.  Do you like it?

Above all else, do you like it?  Evaluating art is, for the most part, a subjective endeavor.  Do you find it captivating?  Does it speak to you?

It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.  ~Henry David


Featured Image:  Spanish Dancer by Frank Botello


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