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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.

Our passion here at Portfolio Oomph is generating ideas, how do you generate good ideas? And as this is the crux of your art college portfolio then it's pretty important. When the art colleges talk about wanting to see a portfolio that is individual then this is where your ideas need to shine. How do you see the world? What observations do you have and how do you process this information?

Your ideas are the main way for the Colleges to assess your potential, not your technical ability to use a pencil or any other tool for that matter – they can teach you that. 

The best way to start encouraging your ideas to flow is just to get started, experimenting, exploring and what better way than mark making?

I myself, someone who graduated some 22 years ago (OMG!) still needs to remember that we can get complacent about materials and that we need to push them to their limits, explore what they're really capable of to get the most from them. So our 2 Sketchbook workshops last week in Dumfriesshire, one in Castle Douglas High School and the other at the Gracefield Arts Centre, were a great starting point for students to really start taking a few risks and doing something that they'd not previously done before.

We introduced them to some great new artists that hopefully challenged them. We also worked with some really experimental drawing exercises that pushed the students outside of their comfort zone in a bid to encourage discovery and failure to a degree. Failure is important in this day and age as I believe the school system in the UK doesn't leave much room for this. Actually it should be celebrated as it's such an important learning experience and the creative process.

However I found it interesting that one student commented on the day that it was an easy day because all I'd asked them to do was to do some really bad drawing. Hmmm, not really what I'd asked them to do. However, this demonstrates very well how people's perception of what good art can be at certain points in their art education – if it is representational, of a likeness to its object/subject and 'well drawn'. We had discussed in the workshop that drawing is your response to the world, not necessarily an exact replica of the world. Even opening up this can of worms for discussion is really useful in the development of an art pupil in preparing them for the transition from school to art college.

If you want to read more on the benefits of failure, our guest blog for Innovate my School Giving Pupils Permission to Fail would be beneficial. 

We'll leave you with some photos from the workshops. Also with a huge thanks to the funders who enabled this event to happen in assisting the young people in this important aspect of their creative education – South West Scotland Decorative and Fine Arts Society and the Archie Sutter Watt Trust.

If you'd like to experience our workshop but aren't close by then why not download our eCourse 'Sketchbook Development' and study it in your own time?

Sketchbook development for art college

© images Portfolio Oomph

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Also published on Medium.

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