Post painting self-reflection for painting students

In the context of a student completing a painting for a painting class (or painting program or just for personal growth in painting), what questions do you think would be helpful for them to reflect upon afterwards in order to assess the effectiveness/value of the endeavor and hopefully improve for next time (or at least have better targets for skills on which to work).

I am guessing Anthony will have some great feedback on this given his knowledge of deliberate practice.

I am compiling a list, and here are some reflection questions that I wrote so far. I would appreciate input of your own questions, feedback, or critique to help me improve this exercise (or let me know if you think this post-reflection exercise has no value or negative value). Even in writing this, I have identified that some of the specifications for painting projects in my painting class do not have precise-enough a goal, and that it would be easier for the student to direct their attention, performance, and self-reflection if I defined a more specific goal of the project for them to achieve.

Post-Painting Questions

  1. What was your goal with this painting?
  2. Did you achieve your goal?
  3. Out of 10 (10 best, 1 worst), how would you rate your performance on this painting?
  4. How did you perform on this painting compared to your previous paintings? Did you outperform the previous version of yourself?
  5. What did you learn while painting this piece?
  6. What areas of the painting were most challenging for you to complete?
  7. What areas of the painting either communicate successfully or achieve the goal of the piece?
  8. What areas of the painting do not communicate successfully or do not achieve to goal of the piece?
  9. What would you improve about the painting, if anything?
  10. Improvement in what 2 skill areas would raise your overall level of painting the most?

Thank you for your input!


its interesting to think about so many different metrics.

i’d consider that it might be worth also having some distance in time and a subsequent assessment of the work at a later date, you can often get hung up on minutiae from being too focussed, write something off as a bad job and not see the bigger picture… the corollary sometimes holds true also, work you did like can seem terrible after a passage of time.

perhaps i’d add the following if there’s not too much crossover with what you’ve already covered:-

was the work carried out efficiently? (i.e. was any time wasted due to your process which could have been saved with a different approach).

if you were to reproduce the painting, would you do anything differently - if so, what and why?

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Martin, good feedback! Especially about the process effectiveness/efficiency!

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I think reflexion on the painting process is really important, and reflecting on it in the moment, as you are painting, is very important, so that it doesn’t become a totally unconscious, dream-like experience, although I’m sure a lot of painters enjoy this. I think a student has to be asking him/herself why he or she is making choices at each stage. I would maybe break things down analytically, like Richard Schmidt does in his Alla Prima book, into problems of composition, drawing, value, color, and edges. One thing is for a hue to be off and another entirely for an edge to be too sharp, for example. Or, such and such a composition has this effect, but if you composed the elements differently, how would the visual experience change?


I’m giving this one some thought… :thinking:

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