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Art Crit Step-by-Step: Evaluation of a Work of Art Worksheet
(sourced from Prof. Alana Taylor, ASU, who adapted it from “Four Step Evaluation of a
Work of Art Handout”, teacher.nicholas.kyschools.us/ejohnson/art dept.)
* This is in worksheet format; you may use it as a guide to writing a formal paper.
** The title of an artwork is either underlined or italicized. Do not put in quotation marks.
Student’s Name: _______________________________
Name of the Artwork Evaluated: _____________________________________________
Location of the Artwork Experience: __________________________________________
Step 1: Describe: Describe what you see in the artwork
What kind of objects do you see in the artwork? (You may choose more than one)
People Buildings Boats
Landscape Seascape Animals
Plants Water Food
None Other: (describe _______________________________)
What sort of artwork do you think this is?
Portrait Figure Landscape
Seascape Cityscape Poster
Abstract Nature Still life
Narrative Other: (List ______________________________________)
What style do you think the artist primarily used?
Realistic Representational Abstract
Media: What medium or media did the artist use?
1. Type or category: 2-D or 3-D
Drawing Painting Visual communication design
Printmaking Photography Textiles
Digital Art Video Film
Ceramics Sculpture Architecture Performance
2. What material is the work made from?
Pencil Crayon Charcoal Pastels Ink
Paint (oil, acrylic, tempera, watercolor, encaustic, spray paint, other: ____________)
Fabric / Fiber Clay Wood Glass Mixed media / collage
Paper Papier-mâché Stone Found objects
Metal (steel, bronze, aluminum, copper, silver)
Step 2: Analysis: Identifying the Elements of Art & Principles of Design
The Elements of Art: what parts of art are used
What kinds of LINES do you see?
Sharp Thick Heavy
Jagged Choppy Vertical
Diagonal Fuzzy Thin
Curved Graceful Smooth
Horizontal Straight Broken
Zigzag Dotted Wavy
Other: (List ___________________________________________________)
What SHAPES do you see?
Circles Squares Triangles
What FORMS do you see?
Cones Spheres Cylinders Cubes
How would you describe the shapes and/or forms?
Curved Angular Hard-Edged
Soft-Edged Organic Free-Form
What kinds of COLORS do you see in the artwork?
Bright (intense) Darks/Lights (values) Soft
Dull (less intense) Strong Warm colors Cool colors
Neutral colors (browns, greys, earth tones)
Complementary colors (colors opposite of each other on the color wheel)
Monochromatic colors (a single color containing light and dark values of that color)
Analogous colors (similar, families, near each other on the color wheel)
Triadic colors (three colors that are equidistant from each other on the color wheel; i.e.,
red, yellow, & blue; green, orange, & violet)
What kinds of TEXTURES do you see?
Rough Smooth Hard Soft Slick Bumpy Gritty
Leathery Metallic Oily Coarse Sticky Furry Fuzzy
Hairy Prickly Moist Glassy Sharp Slippery Wet
Grainy Velvety Spongy Powdery
Are the textures real (have actual feeling) or implied (look real)?
Are there VALUES shown?
Bright lights deep darks middle tones
They are subtle shading (chiaroscuro) or sudden / starkly different
Some include space; how is it used in the artwork? (Circle one)
Deep Space (looks like you can see for miles, a very wide range of light & dark values)
Shallow Space (shapes are flattened with limited use of light & dark values)
Flat Space (shapes appear one value/color, objects appear not 3-dimensional at all)
If the work is a landscape what do you see in each division of space?
• Foreground (objects nearest the viewer)
• Mid-ground (space between the foreground and the background)
• Background (objects that appear the most distant from the viewer)
Does the work show perspective? If yes: 1pt 2pt 3pt
The Principles of Design: How are the Elements of Art used together, arranged?
EMPHASIS: focal point, dominance, where your eye goes first
What is the first thing you see when you look at this artwork?
How do you think the artist created the focal point?
MOVEMENT: the path your eyes take through a work of art, also implied or actual
movement in the work
Following the point of emphasis, where do your eyes travel through the work, and what
leads you in that direction?
3-D / Sculpture: Is anything actually moving in the work? If so, what is moving and what
makes it move?
2-D: Does anything in the artwork appear to move (wind, water, fabric, motion…) and
why does it appear to move?
RHYTHM: planned use of pattern, which can lead the viewer’s eye through an artwork
while also giving the work of art structure, pulse, predictability
What do you see repeated in the artwork?
Lines Shapes Forms Colors Textures Values
CONTRAST: points of strong difference, often in the area of emphasis
Tip: it may help to squint your eyes and look at the artwork.
Are there noticeable differences between light and dark areas?
Are there complementary colors used? Which ones? Where?
BALANCE: the composition feels like an equal amount of weight throughout
Circle what kind of visual balance is used in the artwork?
• Symmetrical balance (the halves of the artwork mirror each other)
• Asymmetrical balance (each side of the artwork is different)
• Radial balance (emphasis is in the center, viewer’s eyes are directed like the
spokes of a wheel, flower, or target moving toward the middle)
What helps create a sense of unity or helps holds the work together in a pleasing way:
Line Shape Form Color Texture Value
Emphasis Movement Rhythm Contrast Balance
Step 3: Interpretation: What is the purpose or meaning of the artwork?
You uncovered clues about the meaning of this artwork in the first two steps of this
exercise. Sometimes even the name of an artwork can tell you something about its
meaning or purpose. Sometimes an artist’s statement or signs in the exhibit indicate
some history or explanation.
Explain what the name of this artwork tells you about the meaning or purpose of this
There are many purposes of art. Circle which of these purposes do you think the artist
was primarily concerned with in this artwork.
• Expressive art (expressing emotions, feelings, and/or ideas)
• Narrative art (describing and illustrating experiences, telling a story)
• Functional art (art the serves a practical or useful purpose)
• Ceremonial or ritual art (work that celebrates or commemorates)
• Decorative art (created for the purpose of decorating or beautifying)
• Persuasive art (advertising, marketing, or propaganda art)
• Formalist art (works that deal solely with the arrangement of elements of art/principles
of design as subject matter – found most often abstract or non-objective art)
• Reflecting the world – (art that imitates nature)
Circle the words that best describe what you think is the meaning of this artwork. (Use as
many words as needed – even supplying some new ones if necessary.)
Strength Fear Loneliness Fun
Mystery Anger Hate Love
Beauty Courage Peace War
Sadness Happiness Madness Hope
Adventure Excitement Equality Difference
Culture Geography History Industry
Interest in color Interest in shapes Interest in lines
Complexity of design Simplicity of design The process of making art
Step 4: Evaluation: What do you think about the artwork? Do you like it; why or why not?
Write a brief narrative expressing your opinion of the artwork. Include both your positive
perceptions and your criticism of the work and explain your answers. Use the questions
below to help you write this narrative. Also use the information you have gathered in
your description, analysis and interpretation.
What is the value that you find in the artwork? For example, is it a beautiful work of art?
Thought-provoking? Does it have an important social message? Does it give us window
for understanding the past?
Does the work communicate an idea, feeling, or principle that would have benefit for
Rather than seeing the work as being very effective or totally without value, does the
work fall somewhere in between? Do you think that the work is just ok? On what do you
base this opinion? (Possibilities might be the use of the Elements of Art, or the Principles
of Design; lack of personal expression; lack of major theme or focus.)
Format: Write a 1000-1200 word count paper (about 2-4p). The paper should be typed, double-
spaced, using a clear professional 12-point font. Your name, date, & paper title should be at the
top, page numbers at the bottom, word count at the end.
Please do not use contractions (like “don’t”) in an academic paper, & keep your tone formal not casual.
Avoid “I think / I belive” and just state your case and support it. Keep your own personal tone and
be creative, but not casual. Research and cite your sources (see above).
Write in your own words, using the art criticism format below (DAIJ: Describe, Analyze, Interpret,
Judge), based on your own experience, educated from what you learned in class. Plagiarism is not
tolerated, simply write in your own words & cite your sources for quotes & research.
Photos: include 1+ (screenshot or download, copy/paste, & cite your photo source – your own
photo, web link, etc.), mention your photos in your writing to make connections
The paper contents :
I. INTRODUCTION: In one paragraph describe your overall visit to the museum (who, what, where,
when, why, observations – walk the reader into your experience).
! What is this paper about?
! Where did you attend an exhibit? (if online – state that & include the source)
! When did you attend this exhibit? (might also include dates of temporary exhibits if useful)
! Why did you choose this museum/gallery?
! Whom did you go with (if online, this might still apply)
< Choose an artwork to critique >
II. BODY: 4 parts of Art Criticism: DAIJ (Describe, Analyze, Interpret, Judge) on the artwork you choose.
1. DESCRIBE: In the 2nd paragraph (the 1st step of DAIJ) describe the artist & artwork. Most of these
things are included in the label near the artwork.
! Title of the work
! Name of the artist
! Date of the work (if provided)
! Subject matter (what the artwork is about)
! Style (realistic, representational, abstract, nonobjective)
! Medium (category, i.e., drawing, print, painting, sculpture, ceramics, etc.)
! Medium (materials, i.e., pencil, charcoal, oil paint, acrylic paint, clay, wood, metal)
! Dimension (two-dimensional or three-dimensional
! Size (height, width, depth)
! Format (shape)
2. ANALYZE: In the 3rd paragraph (the 2nd step of DAIJ) analyze how the Elements of Art & Principles of
Design are used.
! Identify & describe the most dominant Elements of Art that make up the composition. (You might
mention obvious ones that are not used if helpful.) Line / Shape / Form / Color / Texture / Value
! Identify & describe which Principles of Design are used to arrange the Elements in the composition.
(You might mention ones that are not used.) Emphasis / Movement / Balance / Contrast / Rhythm /
Unity. Describe how unity is achieved in the composition.
3. INTERPRET: In the 4th paragraph (the 3rd step of DAIJ) interpret the historically understood meaning of
this artwork (you will need some historic/cultural context from research; such as major concepts &
social influence) AND your own interpretation.
! Is there any social / historical / geographical context to this artwork & / or the artist. (What is going
on in this artist’s world, & is s/he responding to it?)
Medlock – Art Exp Refl Paper 3
! What do you think is the message the artist is trying to convey to the viewer?
! What is the theme of the artwork?
! What do you think is the purpose of the artwork?
! Is it possible this artwork has been mis/interpreted in one way & you have a new concept?
4. JUDGE: In the 5th paragraph (the 4th step of DAIJ) make a judgment (evaluate) whether or not you like
this artwork & why or why not. (Notice this is at the end, now with an educated opinion.)
! Why did you choose this artwork?
! Is your initial impression of this artwork different after spending time with it & describing, analyzing,
& interpreting it?
! What do you think about the artwork? Why?
! What is the value you find in the artwork? Why?
! Would you want this artwork in your home (would you want to live with it?) Why?
! Does it communicate a valuable or beneficial idea, feeling, or principle for the viewer? Why?
! What is your rating of the craftsmanship of the work, i.e., do you think the artist used the materials
! What information can you use from your description, analysis & interpretation to support your ideas
III. CONCLUSION: In the 6th & final brief paragraph, conclude; summarize & wrap up your reflection on
the art experience.
! Observations (what did you notice, surprises, senses, interesting discoveries)
! Help the reader to want to visit this museum & see this artwork.
WORKS CITED: cite your references for research & images.