Art School Portfolio Secrets
RISD Adjunct Professor Clara Lieu provides essential advice and tips for preparing an art portfolio for art school admission, specifically about the important of getting experience with and experimenting with a wide range of art media. Frequently, high school art students limit themselves to drawing only with pencil, when there are so many drawing media out there! Oil pastels, soft pastels, markers, crayons, oil bars and more! Prof Lieu explains the challenges of preparing an art portfolio, speaking from their own experience with the art school admissions process.
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“You really have to represent a wide range of art media. That sounds like a simple directive but its not, because learning about all of the different art media that are out there, it takes research. It takes time, and it takes experimentation. Just to know what’s out there to begin with, much less do it well. Try to get beyond the most common art supplies.
For example in drawing, I think a lot of people associate pencil with drawing. That’s the first material that a lot of people would think about if they want to make a drawing. But the thing is there are so many awesome drawing supplies out there if you take the time to find out about them. You can draw with crayons, there’s conte crayon, there’s charcoal pencil, there’s colored pencil, there’s graphite powder, ink wash, oil pastel, oil bars.
There’s just so many things you can work with, and it just kills me when I see portfolios and there’s 15 pencil drawings, because there’s so much more out there waiting for you that you need to get out there and explore. I mean if it just means going to the art store, and just perusing the entire drawing supplies aisle and saying ‘Hey, what’s this?’ I’ve never worked with this before. This looks sort of cool, why don’t I just buy a little bit of it and play around?
Because ultimately, yes it is nice to have guidance with how to use a particular material, but a lot of it’s trial and error. You just try it out and you don’t like it, do something else! It’s not going to hurt you to spend a few hours with oil pastel. It’s not going to kill you to try out acrylic one time. And in fact, you may discover, hey, I really like this! So it’s a win win situation.”
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