20 Jan 2014
art school sketchbook ideas
Taking risks with your work

Starting a new piece of work or on a new idea can be quite daunting. There is always the pressure that it must be a good piece, particularly if it is for an exam or for your portfolio in application for art college. This doesn't leave much room or time for experimental art.

From experience we know very well what works and what perhaps doesn't work so well and we often stick to this set of rules.

However, if you always do only what you know is going to produce good results with your drawing for example and you don't explore and experiment then you are missing out on so many possibilities to express yourself. You are cutting out many avenues that might take you to the very best work you have ever produced. You are denying yourself of the experience and joy of experimental art.

The reason why we are writing this blog post is on Friday last week we started the sketchbook development part of the portfolio building courses in Haddington. Our students come from North Berwick High School and Dunbar Grammar on a Friday afternoon to do extra work for their portfolios.

We are following the Sketchbook Development eCourse that you can also download from our website. In this eCourse the main emphasis is casting your net really, really wide in terms of what you are going to study, drawing and explore. We use many different techniques to gather this research which will I assure you push you to your limits and take you out of your comfort zone. This can be a bit scary but it is good fun, takes the pressure off and really gets you engaged in experimental art. This research is gathered in your sketchbook and forms the basis for you to begin the creative process (illustration below).


The important thing about demonstrating the creative process is that you are able to show this experimentation, exploration and the whole process that goes towards creating the final resolved pieces. It's important that you can show how you have selected ideas that are good and you want to pursue but also how and why you have dismissed ideas that you don't want to pursue for whatever reason. The Colleges want to see all this process in your sketchbooks to understand your thinking process.

We also watched videos from the Edinburgh College of Art films on Vimeo of Stuart Bennett, Head of Art discussing this very subject.  He states that students at Edinburgh College of Art are recognized when they attempt something ambitious and experimental. It is important to attempt things and learn from the things that might not go right.

For me, this is as important sometimes as when things do go right. So when you are putting your ideas down remember that you will be credited not only for the great work that you produce but for the experimentation and decision making that goes into creating that great work.

Sketchbook development eCourse


This 34 page eCourse is based on the successful face to face course that we have run at Off the Rails Arthouse in Fife, read our testimonials below.

The Course (Ideas and sketchbook development) was unlike anything I'd studied at school which was refreshing and very inspiring. It inspired me to look at things differently, develop ideas and expand my sketchbook techniques. Hannah Cowcher


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