Virtual Art Academy

A Guide To Critiquing Art: My Visual Music & Poetry® Model

Visual Music and Poetry Model

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Why is critiquing art important for a painter?

Art criticism has a long history. Critiquing art is the best way to develop as a painter. Once you understand how to critique art and the key factors that master artists apply in their work, you will be able to create great artworks of your own. But critiquing art is a very confusing and often controversial topic. I created a special Visual Music & Poetry® course, to teach a much more objective and simple approach to critiquing art.

The Virtual Art Academy® Program is based around teaching you, in a systematic way, each of the components of this model. By mastering each relatively simple component, you will see your work steadily improve, month by month. This is a much more logical way to approach the task of learning how to paint, compared to trying to learn everything at once by copying a master or instructor painting. Copying other people’s painting without a deep understanding of how and why they work teaches you very little.

How to critique art

critiquing art: sorolla's masterpiece

Step one to critiquing art is to understand how a painting gives your viewer pleasure or enhances their lives. For the purposes of this discussion I am assuming that these are the criteria by which you can judge the quality of a painting. A master painting will do one or both of these things.  There are other potential more personal criteria, for example self expression, but that is not my purpose.

Only when you are clear about these goals can you evaluate a painting for its quality. And only when you can evaluate a painting for its quality can you understand what makes a great work of art, know which artists you can learn the most from, and ultimately improve your own work.

Goals of a painting (or any artwork)

The two key elements that give people pleasure are actually quite simple. These are the goals of your painting.

A painting does two things.

  1. It communicates at a human emotional level: This is what I call its ‘Visual Poetry’, and
  2. It gives us pleasure by creating order out of the chaos of nature: and making it interesting to look at. This is what I call its ‘Visual Music’. It is the aesthetic component of the visual experience.

The Visual Music & Poetry® course combines these two ideas in a unique way to help you understand painting better.

The basic model for critiquing art

critiquing art - skill building blocks
How the Visual Music & Poetry℠ course relates to Key Skill Building Blocks
a model for critiquing art
  • Illusion: how well the artist represents something to express the concept of the painting.
  • Concept: what the painting is about – its emotional and intellectual content.
  • Far Music: the abstract design of the colors and shapes in the painting when viewed from a distance.
  • Near Music: the abstract design of the painting when viewed close up.

To Learn More

Read some of my blogs to learn more about Visual Music & Poetry, and learn from some Old Master paintings critiqued using the Visual Music & Poetry model:

See art criticism on wikipedia.

Thank You

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. If you are interested in a structured approach for learning how to paint, and want to learn more about my Visual Music & Poetry® model, take a look at my online painting classes.

Happy painting!

Barry John Raybould
Virtual Art Academy

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