“Judging your own work can be harder than judging someone else’s,” says Francesco Fontana. “Beyond liking or disliking a finished painting, it’s crucial to understand where you are in the big picture and what there is to be learned for the next challenge.
“We artists tend to be too involved — either too self-critical or too self-indulgent. In an effort to be as objective as possible, I treat myself as a student, despite my experience, status, and age. I am aware that the highest levels of growth are the hardest to achieve. They take more time and require a greater struggle to master than a beginner-level step. To remind myself of that and to keep track of my progress, I started rating my work on a scale of 1-10 for each major aspect of a painting: mood, synthesis, style, subject, design, value, color, execution.
“The average is the overall score of that specific piece. I flag the lower scores so that I can begin to identify the weaker aspects of my painting that I need to work on and push myself to the next level. This system is also useful to establish a minimum limit. For example, I don’t submit a piece to a competition under a given rating — though a high self-rating doesn’t guarantee an award! Sometimes, I’m driven to paint a new version of a painting to increase my score on the lower marks.
“I try to have my self-evaluation scale hanging in the studio when I’m painting a new work, and periodically check the progress of the painting against my goals. For example, if I continue in this way, is color going to get the mark I want? Every year, I give myself an overall rating and set new standards. Of course, objectivity is an illusion, but self-critiquing your art helps you create discipline and can provide a valuable learning tool.”
FRANCESCO’S ART CRITIQUE SELF-RATING SYSTEM