Portfolio Course

Creativity sets us apart!

Important information for parents (Click here to read)

We attend the NCAD ‘Open Day’ and discuss the brief with the tutors responsible so we REALLY understand the requirements! Portfolio Courses run for 3 and 5 days, though students may attend on a daily basis if they wish to simply ‘top-up’ their existing portfolio. The studio is a large, bright and warm room so students will be encouraged to work long days and evenings (fully supervised) to complete the work. The portfolio courses are intensive and give the student a brief glimpse into what will be expected of them at college level, so if they don’t ‘cut the mustard’ here or have second thoughts about their career – then art college isn’t for them! Better to find out now than to commit to a year-long course.I teach drawing and painting and have worked as an illustrator in London (see biography) and have advised students and professional artists on portfolio preparation, presentation and professional practice. Regarding putting a portfolio together it depends on what area of art interests you – no point attending a year-long mix media portfolio course that covers animation, photography, sculpture, etc. when you just want to study fashion. All art  colleges (even architectural) require good drawing skills that show you have a basic grasp of observational drawing, composition, colour and bags of ideas. This course will encompass all of these things.

The first step in developing a portfolio is to create a list of first choice and back-up colleges that you are planning to apply to and contact each of their admissions departments to obtain their particular portfolio and admissions requirements.

NCAD require that applicants fulfill their brief so, if you plan to apply there, see the following link before you book our course: http://www.ncad.ie/portfolio/brief.html

This course has been designed to not only help you understand this (for some students) bewildering brief and it’s requirements, but will motivate and stimulate your creative thought. It will inspire you to make things from found objects, take numerous reference photographs, be visually aware, to explore everyday items – be excited by the mundane and, above all, be inspired and absorbed by your drawing. This is a conceptual brief, so our exercises are devised to act as springboards that encourage you to explore and experiment. You will begin to understand ways of thinking and drawing that suit you and discover materials and processes that help you produce the work.

One of the most important things in preparing a portfolio is to remember to give yourself plenty of time and have fun with it. It is almost impossible to create quality work if you are nervous and under a time constraint. Don’t leave it until the last minute or until you are too engrossed in The Leaving Cert exams – by then it will be too late!.

Sketchbooks are essential and should be in every portfolio – if you don’t keep one start. Set aside a couple of hours out of the week and go sit somewhere that has lots of people – shopping centre, train station, etc and do lots of observation work. Carry a sketchbook with you and draw people on the bus, in markets, draw buildings, make notes, take photos, include some colour if you can. College assessors looking at your portfolio want to see  ideas and observational work so don’t copy from magazines or books, apart from being bad practise – tutors will know when a picture has been copied!

You should have between 12 to 15 finished pieces of artwork in your portfolio. Most students will be able to complete this amount of work in a matter of weeks (NCAD allow 30 hours for their brief). A finished piece can be a pastel painting, black and white, mixed  medium, life drawings etc that is more developed than your concept work. There should be a connection between your finished pieces and sketchbook work, so use your sketchbooks for ideas and as a precursor to finished portfolio pieces. Look after your artwork – get a proper art portfolio with sleeves – I will send you a list of everything else you may need.

Each student receives personal tutorials to assess their progress along the way with advice before they leave so they know what their portfolio needs and what to do next.

Your vital investment in this course is relatively small when compared to the quality and amount of work you will produce.  Remember, you do not have to spend your precious time and money committing to a year-long portfolio course! And don’t think courses run by an art college tutor will give you an advantage, because the tutor will not be allowed to  assess your work – this would be a direct conflict of interest. This applies to portfolio courses run by Art Colleges during the summer – you will not necessarily get into that college just because you attended their course.

We provide each student with a signed declaration that they have attended our portfolio preparation course, which, when seen alongside the portfolio is a testament to the students’ commitment to their chosen career. Early enrolment is advised, as numbers are limited. Email or call for more detailed information.

Important information for parents

Your childs’ education and safety is paramount. Rest assured, students will be staying in a safe and secure environment (we hold Public Liability and Accident Insurance Cover for each student). Full board accommodation is provided by a friendly, family run guest house situated across the road from the studio (see link to Clareville House) where they will enjoy the best attention and home cooked meals (please let us know in advance if your child has any special dietary requirements). Our new building is a purpose built studio designed to facilitate over 12 students and is fully equipped with arts reference library, easels, tables and most artist quality materials are provided. If your child is applying to NCAD do not expect him/her to return from this course with a portfolio full of highly polished finished drawings – the NCAD brief is about ideas, analysis and project development. I also teach an ‘After School Study Group’ for students taking Leaving Cert Art, which is an ideal time to coincide with a 1 day portfolio course. This will give your child time to start thinking seriously about their work and will give them an opportunity to mix with other like-minded students.

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    Portfolio Preparation Course Testimonials

    "Thank you so much. Jennifer arrived back with such a beam on her face and a portfolio full of ideas she hasn't stopped talking about it. This was the boost she needed to get her folder in shape. Thanks again Mark."

    Mary (Jen's mum)


    "This was the best course for my portfolio I got loads of work done and really got to understand the brief. Food was great and I made lots of friends. Thanks."