Virtual Art Academy
William Ritschel painting

A Guide To Critiquing Master Paintings

Why critique master paintings?

The best way to learn how to become a good painter is to understand how a master painting is constructed.  Until you understand how a master painting works, and why it works, you will be struggle to create great works of your own.

How to critique master paintings

Step one to critiquing a master painting 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

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’.

Check out the video for more explanation of these ideas.

The Virtual Art Academy® Apprentice 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.

Where To Find Museums With Critiqued Paintings

To Learn More

If you want to learn more about these ideas you can get instant access to Barry’s 6 book library on Concept and Visual Music & Poetry here:  Concept: Why You Need Both Visual Music and Visual Poetry To Make Your Work Stand Out

If you want to actually assimilate these ideas into your own painting and build your skills one-by-one, join our Apprentice Program.