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How to evaluate an oil painting

Updated: 3 days ago

Criteria of an oil painting artwork are not easy, and it goes beyond the first impression and emotional effect the Artwork leaves in the heart after passing through the eyes.

Techniques used by the artist

whether the artist used a painting brush, pallet knife, or even his hands directly to apply oil paints on canvas, the marks the tool creates on the surface of the canvas, tells the story of the artwork creation process.


An artwork will create very different energy depending on whether it contains all one color, a few colors, or many colors. And then the type of energy they emit will depend on what exactly those colors are. For example, a monochromatic painting that contains seven different tints and shades of off-white will look and feel entirely different than a painting that has the exact same composition but is painted with every color.

Light and shades

The sensitivity of the artist towards the light and shades is crucial for a high-quality visual artwork, painting realism impressionism, or even expressionism, the ability of the artist to work with light and shades indicates professionalism.

Subject expression

the subjective emotions and responses that objects and events arouse within a person. The artist accomplishes this aim through distortion, exaggeration, primitivism, and fantasy and through the vivid, jarring, violent, or dynamic application of formal elements.

Expressionists focus on this point, the value of the artwork in expressionism is not about the realistic color tones, but about the feelings the artwork is delivering to the viewers.

Max Beckmann the night 1918-19
Max Beckmann the night 1918-19


Composition is the arrangement of elements in a work of art. It’s how the artist arranges shapes, colors, and lines to create a pleasing effect. A good painting composition can make a painting look effortless, while a bad one can make it look chaotic and unappealing.


Gathering all elements together and targeting a homogeneous or heterogeneous emotionally effective artwork, sometimes effective heterogeneous artwork is much harder to reach than homogeneous artwork.

Interpretation and the clarity of the theme to the viewer, Creativity, and originality of the depicted theme, Quality of artistic composition and overall design based on the theme, and Overall impression of the artwork, is the most important factor to consider, to fulfill the evaluation of an oil painting.

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