Notes for Artwork Critique Form -  page 2 
TALKING and WRITING about art - Artwork often has Subject Matter like a face, a dog, flowers, trees, an airplane, etc.  It is common for the subject matter to get our attention.  All artwork has elements and principles.  The Visual Elements are Line, Color, Shape, Form (volume), Texture, Value (tone). 

Elements (often together with subject matter) create visual effects.  When you see a visual effect it means that some sort of organizing Principle is working.  By looking at artwork and responding in writing, you are discovering principles that were used by the artist.  The Visual Elements and Subject Matter are used separately and together to create all kinds of relationships, motion, transition, contrasts, conflicts, variations, themes, feelings, meanings, depth effects, space effects, and so on.  If you can find a relationship that creates a visual effect, you have discovered a principle.  For example, repetition (repeating something) tends to insist on being seen and it can give the effect of motion.

When you discover principles, you can use them and you will understand how to make and understand artwork better.  For example, a combination of red and orange has a different effect than a combination of red and green. By looking at these color combinations next to each other, you might discover a principle of design. When you see a big shape combined with another big shape it has a different effect than combining a small shape with a big shape.  By looking at size examples, you might see another principle of design suggested. There are many general principles that work to produce effects, feelings, and meanings.  There is an unlimited number of ways to use the elements, subject matter, and design principles to produce effects, feelings, and meanings.  This is why, when we solve problems in art, we are not looking for one correct answer, but we are looking one or more solutions out of many unknown possible solutions.

CONTRAST  Artists can contrast color, value, texture, line quality, shape character, size, type of subject matter, and other things. Can you figure out what is being contrasted to get your attention?

CONNECTIONS and MOVEMENT  Artists connect things and move the viewer eye with repetition. Interest and motion is added to artwork by repeating things like shape, color, line type, value, subject matter, size, and so on.  If a color is repeated in different size or shape it may more interesting than if it is repeated in the same size or shape. If a tree and face are both green, they are connected by the green color.  At the same time they are different (unconnected) because of subject and shape, and maybe because of size. 

Repetition can also be used to get attention.  It is insistent.  Did you ever repeat a word word to be sure to be heard heard?  I almost missed a stop sign, but my passenger said, "Stop! Stop!" for emphasis. We lived to tell about it.

There are many other ways to get movement. Does a diagonal line indicate more or less motion than a vertical or horizontal line? Does a curved or jagged line suggest something about motion that is different than a straight line?  How does a continuous line compare with a segmented line or a thinning and thickening line?

Some artwork pulls you back into the work or holds you away from the work. Wow! How? How do they make the feeling of depth.  Is it with size or linear perspective? Is it with color brightness and dullness? Is it with color warmth and coolness? Is it with sharpness and blurryness?  Is it with overlapping? Is it with placement higher and lower in the picture? Is it with framing, or what?  When you feel depth, can you figure out why you feel it?  Looking for evidences of depth helps you master the skill of creating the effects you want in your own work. A Secret: Some artists add mystery and magic by intentionally making their artwork look very flat.

STYLE  Style is both general and very individual. Just as every person has a unique handwriting, every person's art has a unique style. Some big general categories are Realistic (photographic), Expressive (less realistic with lots feeling), Fantastic (surrealistic) (real but impossible - as in a dream), Formal (very orderly and controlled), Nonobjective (without subject matter), Abstract (not realistic). Of course since every individual is unique, these are often combined and there are many sub categories as well.

  Marvin Bartel, 2002   May be copied and printed for non profit classroom use.
Click here for Teacher Instruction Page
This sheet formatted for printing   this is page 2
For the form click here or turn back to page 1