How to Judge a Children's Art Show
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How to Judge a Children's Art Show

Judging art is never easy and judging children's art is probably harder than anything, here are some tips in regards to judging children's art. How to judge realistic art against abstract art? Should all kids get a ribbon at a child's art show? How know if a child's art is good or not? Is my child a good artist? How to judge a children's art show.

Children are very sensitive about their art and creative talents, or lack their of, but if you are in the position of judging a children's art show you have to have a winner, and loser. The only time it is acceptable for there to be a tie is if there are only two entrants and each really is of equal quality to the other.

Kids either enter art shows to show off their art, or to see if they are the “best”, or their parents enter them for that reason, in any case your job as a judge is to award them appropriately as giving

So how do you pick which child wins, and which ones lose?

There are several criteria on which all art can be judged, even children's art. For this article we will assume two dimensional art; drawings and paintings.

  • Use of Space
  • Balance
  • Colors
  • Originality
  • Overall Presentation

For our example we will pretend the drawing above represents 2 different works of art, one of a flower, and another clearly just lines and scribbles. This could be the result of art entered in an division for ages 2 to 4.  Note:  I should have drawn a boarder around the images but both are suppose to be on the same size of paper.

Use of Space – Did the child just draw a flower in the middle of the paper and leave the rest of it blank, or did they fill in the whole paper? If a child drew a flower but it is small and took up only a tiny part of their paper it should not be judged as well as even an obscure scribble on lines that took up the whole page.

Balance – A person can be more forgiving of children in this area than they would be of adult art, but balance includes things like if the painting feels like it is heavier on one side than the other.

Colors – Did the child chose colors that work together well?

Originality – If the child submitted a page out of a coloring book that they colored this should not be considered for an award. In our example a child drew a typical flower, very boring. While the other image is just scribbles and lines it is far more interesting, and original.  Art that is more original is more likely to be emotional - does the art make you think?  Note a flower can be artistic, but this one is not.

Overall Presentation – This is really more the job of the parent, or teacher, responsible for placing the art in the show. How a picture is cared for and presented shows professionalism even in children. If it was folded up prior, this could be held against it.  As children get older this should be held in more importance.

All in all if you were to look at the two images in our example and were to judge them against each other the child who drew the random lines did a better job at producing something that could be called “art” than the other child who drew a rather generic looking flower. While they did a good job of making a flower their image made no emotion impact on the viewer, it told no story, it conveyed nothing other than “here is a flower”. The blue lines could be a water fall, tears, rain, or anything.

The execution of the image is what makes it “art” not so much what the child chose for their subject, while it would be fair to say that some flowers could be considered “art” this one most definitely is not. 

Finally - As the judge, if you are in charge of presenting the ribbons, you need to be able to say why you liked one piece over the other without insulting the loser, for example "The flower was well executed, but it lacked the overall presence and originality felt in the image entitled "rain", where the child used the full sheet of the paper, and put emotion into their work."

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Comments (3)

Being judge for little kid's art show is very tricky for me because all of them are cute, talented and I want them all to win. Thanks for your tips. Sure help me a lot.

Excellent information to vote up.

Great tips for the first time Judge. Thanks!
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