How to Critique a Painting in 5 Steps

Pin-Diane-Eugster-CritiqueWe all know that Sorolla was a master artist, so I am going to use one of his paintings, Evening Sun, to illustrate the points below.

Evening Sun by Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida 1903
Evening Sun by Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida 1903

1. Composition

Does your eye flow throughout the painting or does it stop awkwardly and hit dead ends?

Notice how the elements of this painting draw you right in and form a loop that keeps your eye moving around and around.

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Evening Sun by Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida 1903

2. Color

Has color been used to provoke an emotion or just copied, are similar colors woven throughout?

Sorrolla uses a grayed green tone many times in this painting, whether it is a hat, water or shadow on an ox. This repetition creates a wonderful harmony.

Unity
Evening Sun by Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida 1903

3. Unity

Have elements been treated stylistically the same across the painting?

Sorrolla uses a wave-like shape in all areas of the image, creating the strong feeling of movement. Notice the one strong horizontal line at the horizon that anchors all of this motion.

Centerof
Evening Sun by Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida 1903

4. Center of Interest

Do element within the painting support the Center of Interest?

Sorolla shows us what a master he is by putting his center of interest successfully in the middle of the painting. Does anything convey strength like the muscled hind ends of those oxen fighting the rushing waves?

Evening Sun by Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida 1903
Evening Sun by Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida 1903

5. Emotion

Is the painting a collection of “things” or does it evoke a deeper emotion in you?

Is this painting “Evening Sun” by Sorolla y Bastida simply a seascape with some oxen and figures. . . you decide.

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