Category Archives: Sketchbooks
5 Oct 2017
Are you still working from photos?
Are you still working from photos?

Why it's good to get out of this habit

I know you're probably thinking that it's easier to work from photos and it might be much more convenient too. However, a testimonial that we received the other week from a student's Mum said:

"Before Portfolio Oomph came into our lives Emily was happy drawing, painting but she was not creating. She clearly had the skills but was copying from photos, paintings etc. Although her teachers were very encouraging they weren’t helping her think for herself." (more…)

23 Jun 2017
Sketchbooks and mark making in nature

We've had a great relationship with schools in the Dumfries and Galloway area of Scotland in the past year. 4 x 1 day workshops have taken place to inspire and engage young people in the area to challenge their techniques and processes and to think more about experimentation in their work. We also did a day workshop assisting students with the creation of their digital portfolios in preparation for their art college application. 

Last week we journeyed down to Newton Stewart to take part in a residential in conjunction with the Outdoor Education Service in Dumfries and Galloway Council. 13 art and design students spent 3 nights down at Stronord Centre where they had time to focus fully on their art before commencing on their final 6th year at school after the summer holidays. Some of these students will be applying for art college, which was why we were invited to deliver a workshop. (more…)

24 Nov 2016
context - best art schools in the world
Context in your art portfolio

To demonstrate that you're looking at others artists and designers work is essential if you're wanting to get into some of the best art schools in the world.

We talked with 2 mentees this week about the section of your portfolio that many colleges/unis call 'context'. This is putting your work in context in the bigger picture and world of art and design.

The colleges/unis want to know that you are looking around you in the contemporary art and design world for ideas, inspiration and generally aware of the 'scene'. (more…)

22 Nov 2016
sketchbook drawings
Sketchbooks a go-go!!

Goodness, we've not written a blog post for some 2 months!! What's happened? Well, other than being inundated with mentoring students we've been out on the road doing some workshops with teachers and pupils at school across Scotland, that's what happened. (more…)

15 Aug 2016
Sketchbooks for art college
Portfolio preparation course – sketchbooks

It's coming around again soon, oh yes, schools here in Edinburgh go back this week – can you believe it!! Where we live, we just fit into the Midlothian Council area so our kids are back next week but there is nothing like that "back to school feeling". Ughhh! 

However, let's turn it into a positive and think about what lovely creative projects we can get started and in that respect getting some good sketchbooks for art college underway.


3 Aug 2016
The Art of Education
The Art of Education guest blogging

We were delighted to be invited to write for the huge american art teachers support website, The Art of Education on all aspects of creating a portfolio for art college. We were very pleased that they were some of their most popular posts, generating close to 200 shares on Facebook and over 400 likes!

We were posed a list of questions by Art of Education senior editor Amanda Heyn and they really got us fired up……


5 May 2016
Design and expressive arts experiences and outcomes
Design or expressive? Advanced Higher

The topic of this blog post is the differentiation between and expressive and design aspects of the Advanced Higher portfolio. We met with a student last night who we'd first met on one our portfolio preparation courses last year, 2015. When we plan our courses we don't specify that the course is geared towards expressive or design. Our courses all relate to both expressive and design equally, it's how you interpret what you're doing that really makes it relevant to your subject discipline.


11 Jan 2016
portfolio prepartion course
Portfolio preparation course at the National Galleries of Scotland

The October break is a great time to really start focusing on your art college application and your art college ideas. You've had time to settle back into school and hopefully get into a project or 2 in the art department.

Last year we ran a portfolio preparation course at the National Galleries in Edinburgh – based at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.


18 Nov 2015
Sketchbook ideas
Workshop at Poldrate Arts Centre, Haddington

We were delighted to be running our Ideas and sketchbook development workshop at the Poldrate Arts Centre in Haddington last weekend, 14th and 15th November 2015.

Sketchbooks are somewhat a mystery to many, “how do I work in them, what should be in them, what are they for?” These are questions we are asked over and over which is why we developed this course to help anyone who is working in one. (more…)

17 Sep 2014
sketchbook examples
Improve your sketchbook ideas

Great news once more! Our 'Idea and sketchbook development' at Off the Rails Arthouse in Ladybank is running again in November 2014 due to the success of the previous workshops in July and October last year.

Individuality of ideas or even just generating art sketchbook ideas and what to work from can be a real problem when creating artwork. Once you've decided what you are going to work on there also comes that really scary question of 'what I am I going to do with it?'



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