15 Questions to Inspire Quality Art Critiques

By Nathan Bond & Amy Schroeder

Many Minted artists say peer critique is one of the most valuable aspects of our community and challenge process. After submitting your work to a challenge, Minted artists are encouraged to share feedback on other artists’ work and invite fellow community members to critique their own work.

We’ve found that when artists ask specific questions about their work, they are more likely to generate quality feedback. Armed with this constructive feedback, many Minted artists iterate their submissions or put the feedback in their back pocket for future projects.

We asked Nathan Bond, an art instructor at Parsons School of Design, to create the following list of prompts to inspire quality critiques. We recommend that you copy and paste the questions that resonate with you into the “Ask for Feedback” pop-up field after submitting your work.

Fossilized Rock” by Frooted Design

With more than 20 years of experience, Nathan said he created this list for a wide range of artwork, including paintings, drawings, and photography. “These questions focus on the fundamental elements of all works of art, regardless of genre or style,” he said. “I organized them in an order that develops similarly to how you would develop a formal critique, starting with the basic foundations of the image and developing toward the more interpretive aspects.”

15 Art Critique Prompt Questions

1. Does the composition effectively move the viewer’s eye around the image?

2. My intent with this composition is to take the viewer to ____________ location. Did your eye go there?

3. Are there any classic compositional errors? For example, is the subject matter too centered or too far off to one side? Are things cropped in an effective way? Is anything “kissing” the edge?

4. Is there good positive-negative space, and is it balanced and harmonious?

“Skyward Angles” limited edition print by Gabrial Reising

5. Is the color system balanced and harmonious?

Learn more about color harmony here.

6. Do the colors work well with each other?

Emperor” by Moglea

7. Does the color system support the emotional feeling that you, the artist, intended?

8. Is there a strong value system? Are the darks and lights working together to increase each other’s voice to the appropriate level?

9. Is there a wide enough range of values, and are the mid-tones varied enough?

About mid-tones:
The range of tones that lie between highlights with detail and shadows with detail. Usually represents the portion of tone reproduction in which gradations change in proportion to change in brightness.

10. Does the sense of space or depth of field in the image come across? Is the method used to show depth of field (overlapping objects, perspectival lines, focus and value shifts) easy to read?

Learn more about depth of field (as it relates to photography) in this video.

11. Is the mark making (brushstrokes, palette knife marks, created textures, direction of the marks, etc.) effective and appropriate for the piece?

About mark making:
As Tate Modern explains here, mark making describes the different lines, dots, marks, patterns, and textures we create in an artwork. It can be loose and gestural or controlled and neat. It can apply to any material used on any surface: paint on canvas, ink or pencil on paper, a scratched mark on plaster, a digital paint tool on a screen, etc.

12. Setting aside personal taste, is the genre and style executed with a high level of craftsmanship?

13. Is your style a good choice for this particular Minted challenge?

14. Are all of the above questions contributing to the successful and desired emotional context of the work?

15. What do you think is the “emotional voice” of this piece, and does it work for this challenge?

Nathan Bond and his daughter, Sadie

Minted artists are invited to join Nathan Bond on Thursday, June 16, for a live art critiquing video lecture. To help you improve your work, Nathan will share best practices for self-critique in addition to giving and getting quality critiques on Minted. Thursday, June 16 at 1:05 p.m. PST (Time Zone converter)
RSVP here and we’ll follow up with more information on how to join the lecture.

After graduating from The Rhode Island School of Design in 1995, Nathan Bond settled in New York in the spring of 2001. After setting up a studio practice in Brooklyn, he accepted a teaching post at Parsons School of Design in 2002, where he has helped guide students in classes from Freshman Drawing to Sophomore and Junior level painting as well as Illustration Concepts and Senior Thesis ever since.

As a painter, Nathan’s work has been exhibited internationally from London to Japan to Spain, and all over the United States from New York City to Washington, D.C. to Colorado, and is included in several public and private collections. His work was recently added to the permanent collection at The New Britain Museum of American Art.

Follow Nathan Bond on Instagram @paintbond and Facebook, and learn more at nathanbond.com.


7 Ways to Master Art and Design Critiques
10 Tips for Critiquing Minted Art and Designs

At Minted, we believe in Paying It Forward. Learn more about how to give and get great peer critiques here.

Published June 7, 2016 • Want to join the Minted Artist Community? Submit to a Challenge here.

  1. I think #4 is the most important. Cool post