Portfolio Development

This half-year course will focus on building a portfolio for college submission with a focus on design and presentation of artwork. Students must provide a portfolio to transport their work, and a sketchbook. While not necessary, students who are applying to colleges are encouraged to invest in a professional grade portfolio. This course will work in conjunction with the final slide portfolio required from all art majors, and written evaluation will be a major part of this course.

Student Audience – Grade Level(s): 10, 11, 12
Semester(s) Offered: Half year (September-January)


Course Expectations

Portfolio Development is a college preparation class based on the visual arts. You must have completed the summer assignments before going to national Portfolio Day.

Highlights of the class are:
A focus on life drawing and composition, mainly drawn from the human figure
Preparing a portfolio of 12-20 pieces for the trip to National Portfolio Day for portfolio reviews by several colleges from all over the country
Writing an Artist Statement
Researching several artists in regards to style and compositional elements
Individual projects based on portfolio reviews

You are required to keep a sketchbook for this class. In the sketchbook you may draw whatever you like from life, pictures, or from imagination in whatever mediums that you like. You will also be asked to keep project ideas in these sketchbooks as well. Sketchbooks are 25% of your grade.

Each project is broken down into two categories: Participation (25% of grade) and Project Quality (50% of grade).

  • Participation is how well you work in class, and the sketches, worksheets and written final assessments on the grading sheet.
  • Project quality is the overall quality of your project based on areas that are unique to each. As long as you take your time and do your best on a project you should have no problems in this class. If you finish a project a week ahead of schedule, I suggest that you go back into it and keep working on it. If you are afraid of missing a deadline you are expected to take work home or to come in as needed to complete the assignment.

Summer Assignments


These projects are to be completed before school starts in September. If they are not please understand that you are setting yourself up for a lot of stress later on as we will be working on other projects in class and these will still need to be completed before National Portfolio Day. (November 3rd, 2019 in Rochester, NY)

Observation sketches - There are roughly 12 weeks of summer before the beginning of the school year. Draw at least twenty minutes from life at least five days a week. This equals 60 drawings at least and you may do more if you like or continue for longer than twenty minutes each day. Vary your subject matter as much as you can. You can draw cans, bottles, nature, people, rumpled coats, whatever you wish, but it must be from life. Number the pages in your sketchbook and place the date that the sketch was done in the upper right hand corner of the page along with how long you took for each sketch. Focus primarily on shape and value.

Self-Portrait #1 - Use charcoal or pastel and draw a self-portrait using a mirror. The images does not need to look exactly like you so do not be worried if it is not exactly right; it is an image of you not a copy of a photograph. Spend at least five hours on the portrait. Place the start and end times on the back for each session along with the date if you do not do it all at once.

Still life #1 - Use pen/brush and ink on an 18 x 24 sheet of paper. Place three different shoes on the table in front of you at least two arm lengths away and render them as accurately as possible. Do not draw the image with pencil first.

Self-portrait # 2 – Use white, black and grey construction paper. On an 18 x 24 inch sheet of paper or board and a mirror sketch out your image on the paper paying close attention to where there are shadows, highlights, and middle tones. Do not shade the image. Then, using only the colored paper and your hands tear out the shapes of the shadows highlights and mid-tones and adhere them to the board. Fill the page with your image. Do not cut the paper. Tear it out.

Still life # 2 - Use watercolor board (preferred) or illustration board that is at least 11 x 14 inches. Choose three vegetables items and a cloth. Arrange them on the table in front of you at least two arm lengths away. Integrate the cloth with the vegetables and complete the image in watercolor. Pay attention to background as well as the main subject matter.

Drapery – Hang a coat or shirt on a hanger and hang this from a doorknob or coat rack. Render the image in pencil, paying attention to value, shape, and to the background.

Be creative in your choice of images. Push the limits of the assignment as much as possible to do something different and unique. Date each piece on the back with your name. Spread the images out and do them separately and concisely. The point of this sheet is to give you something to work on all summer and not in a rush the last week before class or the first week of vacation to get it over with. All projects are due on the first day of class and we will be critiquing them then and moving forward with the rest of the curriculum.


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