How to Critique a Work of Art- Part IV

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How to Critique a Work of Art

Part IV

Principles of Design continued

We’re almost finished with all of the elements to look at when critiquing a work of art. If you haven’t read Part I, II or III yet, you have homework to do 😉 If you have read the rest, you’re about to become a pro! Here are the last five principles of design that we’ll learn about. Let’s use my favorite artist EVARRR, Frida Kahlo and her painting, “Self Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird”.


Pattern is much like Rhythm. Rhythm is the sense of movement shown through repetition. Here we don’t really have patterns per se, but we do have repetition in the veins of the leaves, Frida’s headdress and the thorn necklace.


Another easy one, movement often follows where there is rhythm and pattern. In this painting, we get a sense of movement from the items we looked at in pattern. The leaves pointing different directions make them look as though they’re swaying. We also see movement with the insects hovering at the top.


Harmony is achieved when various parts of a piece are related somehow. It can be through color, texture, value, etc. This painting is rather harmonious, there isn’t any particular element that sticks out or looks like it doesn’t belong. Some of this is the color palette- we have a black cat, black monkey, black hair and a dark hummingbird. On another note, even if there were some crazy fluorescent orange somewhere in the piece, the artist could still make it harmonious by adding the orange somewhere else.


Does Frida’s neck seem a little long to you? What about those eyebrows? Proportion is the ratio of individual parts to one another. Everything else is about right though.


Here’s another easy one. Unity is simply the result of the elements of art working together to bring about harmony. Pieces that are unified give a sense of balance and ease. Pieces that are not might give one a sense of tension or anxiety (and that might be intentional!). Our example here is well unified through color, balance, texture and rhythm.


Well, that just about covers it. Now when ask about a work of art, you can explain why you think it’s successful. Stay tuned for the final element of how to critique a work of art, I have a surprise for y’all!