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How to get the BEST Art Critiques with Art 1!

Art Critiques with Art 1: Have you tried to teach an Art 1 class how to write an Art critique paper? 

It’s a little like… not even herding cats…it’s more like choreographing synchronized swimming for cats! So, yes… it is a HUGE challenge to get them to describe, analyze, interpret, and judge works of art! They look at you like they are a sloth and you just asked them to run a marathon!

Art Critiques with Art 1.  Example of the 4 step art critique worksheet I use with Art 1

But fear not, my art teacher friends! I have the solution to this problem! I have been using my Four Step Art Critique worksheet for at least 10 years now. And.. while it doesn’t work miracles, (I mean, they don’t do cartwheels of enthusiasm when you pass them out or anything) but it is a BIG help.

It’s a simple and easy-to-follow resource that guides students through each step of the art critique process. By breaking down each step into manageable chunks and providing students with clear prompts and questions to consider, this worksheet makes it easy for students to engage with the artwork and to develop their critical thinking skills.

Here is how I get the BEST Art Critiques with Art 1. First, I show them an interesting artwork. My personal favorite artwork to use for this is Jacob Lawrence’s Street to Mbari. I also like to use Peter Paul Ruben’s Daniel in the Lion’s Den, or Winslow Homer’s In The Garden: Rustic Courtship.

I show a PowerPoint that walks them through the Critique process and we discuss it together orally as a big group. I have this PowerPoint available in my shop using Homer’s work and also the Ruben’s painting. I also have them bundled together with the worksheet for a discounted price.

Next, I pass out the Four Step Critique Worksheet. You can allow students to choose their own famous artwork to critique or provide them with 4-6 different artworks to choose from. I have found they do a better job for their first attempt when the artwork has humans in it. So, I give them a few images to choose from.

Lastly, if you would like you can have them write a 1 to 2 page critique paper using the answers they wrote on the worksheet. They have to restate the relevant questions and write in complete sentences in the four step critique order. So, they just use the worksheet as a guide. I encourage them to write one or two paragraph using the DESCRIBE pages, one or two paragraphs for the ANALYZE page, one paragraph for INTERPRET page and one concluding paragraph for the JUDGE page.

Often times I let the students with certain IEPs skip this and they just complete the worksheet. The kids that do complete the written critique paper almost always do a fantastic job with the help of the worksheet!

TIME SAVING TIP! If you don’t want to read/grade their written papers, just stick with the worksheet! They are still learning the process just the same! Here is my secret to grading the papers (SHHHH!! Do NOT tell my students this!!) I only read the Interpretation paragraph and I just quickly skim the rest!

Some of my students really suprisingly enjoy this process and they gain a better understanding of their chosen artwork. If the four step critique is something you’d like your Art 1 students to understand and improve upon or if your Content Standards require you to complete Art Critiques with Art 1 then DEFINITLY check out this worksheet and the coordinating Powerpoint!

You can read a little more about the Worksheet by Clicking HERE to read another Blog Post I made about this worksheet. Click HERE to read more about my Group Critique PowerPoints.

UPDATE: I have added new EASY Art Critique Worksheets to TPT. You can Read about them in a new blog post HERE!


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Hi, I’m Erin!

I’ve been a high school art teacher at a rural school in WV for the past 14 years. I teach Art 1, AP Art + Design, Art 2 and 3. 
I’m a little obsessed with my sweet husband. Together we have FOUR kids and a rescue dog named Boomer! 
I love a bad pun and terrible dad jokes. I spend time looking at MBTI memes, cooking, listening to serial killer podcasts and Harry Potter audiobooks on repeat. I also teach yoga and indoor cycling. Click the button below to learn more about me. 

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