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Tips to Judge Paintings before you buy it

judge paintings by it's elements

When you are about to buy paintings from Online art galleries how you will choose a painting? This article will give you tips to judge paintings before you buy it.

7 Tips to Judge Paintings

The following 7 elements of art given below make an art piece appealing and outstanding.

  1. Line
  2. Shape
  3. Tone
  4. Colour
  5. Pattern
  6. Texture
  7. Form

Elements of paintings consist of line, shape, tone, color, pattern, texture and form. You have to look for these components in a drawing or a painting. Also you have to analyse how the artist combined these elements of art to create the overall look of the painting.

  • These components or elements are closely related to one another:
  • Most of the paintings are started as a line drawing.
  • Shapes are formed when lines cross over one another.
  • Once these shapes are filled with color, and repeated, they create pattern.
  • When a shape is created with a rough surface it creates texture.
  • If a shape is created three dimensionally, it creates form.

It’s not compulsory to include all these elements in equal ratio. One of these may be more prominent than the others in an artwork. These components of art carry different expressive qualities. For example  rhythm and movement, space and depth, contrast, harmony, and calmness.  An artist decides how to use these components to create great art.

When you study paintings don’t try to be technical about it. In other words don’t follow my ‘tips to judge paintings’ so strictly.  If you find an art-work interesting, buy it. Because some paintings touch your heart instantly.

1. Judge the Lines in a Painting

Line is the basis of all drawings. Therefore, one of the important tips to judge paintings is the study of line. It can be used in multiple ways to create shapes, structure, depth, distance and other emotions. You will be surprised to know that different types of lines produce different psychological emotions in the viewer.

  • Curved lines give a feeling of comfort and ease
  • Horizontal lines suggest calm and distance.
  • Vertical lines produce the effects of height and strength
  • Freehand lines express the energy and mood of the artist
  • Jagged lines suggest turmoil and anxiety
  • Continuous and rhythmic lines lead the eye in particular directions

2. Observe the Shapes used in a Painting

You have to evaluate an art-work on the basis of shape also. Shape can be regular or irregular, flat, geometric or organic, positive or negative, colored or textured.

  • It is believed that shapes can control your feelings in an artwork:
  • Squares and Rectangle shapes can convey strength and stability
  • Circles represent continuous movements
  • Triangle shape in a painting leads the eye in an upward direction.
  • Inverted Triangles can produce a sense of imbalance.

3. Study the use of Tone in a Painting

Tone means lightness or darkness of color. Proper use of tone can add expressive character to a painting. A talented artist knows how to create contrast between light and dark. He can thus create a sense of depth and distance. A talented artist uses tone to create an illusion of form and dramatic atmosphere in an art work.

4. Colour Scheme of the Art work

Color is an element that produces the strongest effect on your emotions. Therefore I have included it in the list of tips to judge paintings. Colour can be used to create other elements also such as tone, form and line. The atmosphere of an artwork largely depends on colour. You must study paintings from view-point of colours if you are looking for a bright and colourful piece of art.

5. Check Use of Pattern in Art

Pattern is created by repeating a shape to create a sense of balance, harmony, contrast, or movement.

Patterns can be regular or irregular, organic or geometric, and repeating or random. Pattern in art is mostly based on the observation of the natural patterns that we see in nature. For example arrangement of leaves in a branch, waves of sea, patterns on animals, fish and insects.

We also observe man-made patterns such as architecture and articles of our daily life

6. See the Texture of a painting

Texture is an important element of painting

Texture means the surface of a painting – which shows it’s roughness or smoothness. Study the texture and evaluate the paintings yourself.

A painting may visually look textured although the surface might be practically smooth when you touch it. It is just an illusion of texture which an artist creates with his skills. On the other hand a painting may visually look smooth although the surface is practically textured. This kind of real texture is created with expressive brushstrokes. Such a texture conveys the emotional energy of both the artist and subject of the art work.

7. Assess Use of form in Painting

Form in a painting is the physical volume of a shape and the space it occupies. Thus it is an important element of art. This element of art called form can be Three-Dimensional or flat. It can produce projections which makes an art work appealing.


While applying the tips to judge paintings you must keep certain points in your mind-

Every artist has his own unique style of painting which he/she develops by combining these elements in different degrees. Therefore in some paintings one or more of these factors may be missing which doesn’t mean it is a poorly executed art. If you look at the works of the master painters you will notice that they focus on certain elements more.

So if you follow these tips to judge paintings with a broad mind, you will definitely take home a perfect painting.

Tripati Dey

An Indian Artist