How & Why to Build Your Art Thinking Muscles, Part 2 of 4

This is the 2nd part of a blog series on How and Why to Build Your Art Thinking Muscles. Building your capacity for “art thinking” is generally a lot of fun. It can be transformational. There are four basic things you need to do to build up the part of your brain that understands the arts.

Part 1 | Part 3 | Part 4

In this post, we cover becoming comfortable evaluating different sorts of art. 

3. Become comfortable evaluating different sorts of art. 

If you don’t have an art practice or an academic background in dance, visual art, film, music, etc., it may be hard to imagine ever becoming “comfortable” evaluating art. Evaluating a work of art has both subjective and objective aspects. They will be the same sorts of things covered in these links from part 1 of this series: 

Khan Academy Art History 

10-Free courses to help you understand and appreciate art 

3 great websites learn art history

Modern art ideas 

“Whatever you do in life, if you want to be creative and intelligent, and develop your brain, you must do everything with awareness that everything, in some way, connects to everything else.”
~ Leonardo da Vinci

By the time you start evaluating an artwork, you probably already know if you like it or not. The point of evaluating it is to find out why. What aspects of it don’t work for you? What aspects do? 

A set of prompts can give you a structure to evaluate a piece of art. You will find several basic worksheets, by art type in the Engage Art e-Course, Module 3. As always, use what is useful to you, and leave the rest. You are likely to develop your own method once you get started. 

The basic steps to evaluate nearly anything are: 

  1. Observe, Research and Discuss 
  2. Reflect and Look for Patterns 
  3. Evaluate by Appropriate Measures for Whatever You are Evaluating.

Not much to say about an artwork? That’s ok. Just move on to the next one. Evaluation is another skill you get better at with practice. 

Tips & Tricks: 

  • Look at what professionals in that field consider when they create or evaluate work. You can look at those aspects of the work you are evaluating. 
  • Don’t be too attached to your own thoughts about an artwork, and be willing to change them, if warranted. Also, the way you evaluate an artwork today may be radically different than the way you evaluate the same artwork in five years. You will have grown as an artist and an art appreciator, and you will bring new experiences to the table, as well. 
  • Be willing to do a little research on new types of art before you evaluate examples of it. 
  • Download The Engage Art Workbook and e-Course. It includes itemized evaluation techniques for different types of artworks and worksheets to help walk you through the process the first couple of times. Download it here.

This blog post was drawn from Engage Art’s free Choose Your Own Art-venture eCourse and Workbook.

Part 1 | Part 3 | Part 4