If your school district hosts annual art contests and you are picked to be a judge, it may feel like quite an overwhelming task. How do you decide to select a piece of art over another student's work? Faced with various conundrums, there are some things you should keep in mind. They will help you as a judge of student art so that you make good choices.
Ages and Stages
The age of the young artist is a big deciding factor when judging art. If you find a piece by someone in first grade that does not include stick figures and is actually very good representational art, that might be a piece worthy of a prize. Children at this age do not quite have the muscular and fine motor control to draw anatomically perfect humans and animals, but those with very good skills and talent can draw better and are very observant of the world around them. This means you can expect circles for the palms of the hands and arms that look more like arms than sticks, etc. Additionally, knowing the ages and stages of child development allows you to better understand the amount of focus and control it took for a child of any age to create the art they did, so you can judge their talent easier and more fairly.
Understanding of Color, Light, and Shadow
While most younger children typically miss the nuances of color, light, and shadow, older children have picked up on the fact that anything solid casts a shadow when there is a light source. Regardless of the age of the young artist, if he or she has included subtleties of color, undefined light sources, shading, and shadow in his/her art, that may also be something you want to award. Also, if a particularly young artist (such as one younger than nine) has picked up on all of these details and included many of them in his or her art, that is also prize-worthy because it means there is some serious talent there that you want to encourage.
Judging Older Students' Art
As students reach their teen years, they should already be masters of technique, color theory, and skill. It becomes more difficult to judge their work because it is all very good. However, you can look for both flaws and perfection in their work, and they are more readily accepting of critiques that would help them win prizes in the future.