Our students are completing 2 major portfolios to showcase at the end of their course to qualify. The range of evidence required is varied and highly flexible for us. Students have to find their own pathway, and for some this can be extremely exciting, but also many will begin by finding it extremely challenging!
How do we know what kind of artist we want to be so early on in our Art careers?
Well, let’s start off my experimenting, trying many new things and having lots of fun! You will find samples from these varied portfolios in the ‘Skill Builder’ sections. Set tasks are given for this portfolio, but how students complete them can be incredibly creative, self-directed and personal.
When the skill builder portfolio is complete, tutors support students to help write their own final pathway and this is their ‘Final Major Project’. Below, you will find samples from these final portfolios too; written and completed by our students, with tutor notes, to see how students head towards their qualification.
Aliyah Final Project: SOUL
Fig.1: Aliyah had a strong concept from the start of her final project. If you can make a project personal, it remains interesting and focused throughout the final phase. Choosing ‘soul’ was a bold choice. It had many perceptions to experiment with, many styles to trial to get the right meaning, and to get the right reactions from viewers. Overall, it had to be personal and dig deep. This doesn’t suit all students as you have to have some abstract thought and an open mind…openess and lack of clarity for some can be too large a topic to tackle! For Aliyah, it allowed creative freedom and trying out diferent possibilites is where Aliyah thrived.
Fig.2: Incomplete drawing are the best way to experiment with something to see its effect. Aliyah played around with different papers and surfaces to trial new techniques and ways of working. This helped to visualise what could happen with her imagery.
Fig.3: Quicker sketches and trials are giving the project some experimentation. This allows Aliyah to see which style is going to suit the story behind the project and reflect on styles being trialled. It not always about the perfect drawing, but just a preview to see if something needs taking further.
Fig.4: Aliyah – “I found the texture of the skin really difficult to replicate. I’m not sure if it was that I just couldn’t get a smooth gradient or that I didn’t manage all the details. Things like the nails and skin creases where the hardest to make look realistic.
I drew the piece on an A3 piece of paper. Maybe if I drew it larger it would have made it easier to achieve that detail.” Continual reflection propells the project forwards and shows what is trying to be achieved with initial first hand studies. Aliyah is considering different scales and ways of working to get the final look she needs. It is importnat to note several more pages of project work are in this section, where Aliyah is constantly seeing and exploring her theme and imagery.
Fig.5: Using some digital art, Aliyah experiments with drawing over her concepts and finding a pose and a composition that could work for her outcome. Time consuming work but it allows us to see how ideas are being thought out and how final concepts come to be decided on.
Fig.6: Photo editting is a skill we develop in the first skill builder phase. It can produce filtered variations of original source material to give impressions and atmospheres we are trying to then create in media. Aliyah stumbled across this after several experimentations and starts to look into how to create a similar ‘glow’ when using different media.
Fig.7: Aliyah – “This digital drawing took about four hours to complete. I’m still new to digital art, so I found this part of the step both very fun and extremely difficult. The sketch part of the process was the most infuriating. The outcome did not match what I had envisioned.” Things almost never turn out how we plan them in our heads…it is an important step to keep a project moving, and although it can be frustrating, it makes the outcome all the more exciting and refined in the end! Aliyah – “I decided to simplify everything allowing me to move forward…” In seeing that simple can end up being more effective, Aliyah was able to make a key decision here and return to her painting styles that were working well earlier on.
Fig.8: Simple edits are experimenting with key images that can then be painted. The use of filters and apps can really give quick insprirations when a student is unsure where to go next.
Fig.9: Aliyah – “Over the course of this project I have realised that my use of colour should evolve along with my changing ideas on the inner self and soul. The inner self usually depicts contrast. Whether that be a balance of dark and light, or a different identity tothe one we portray to the outside world. In this step, I will be using heavy inspiration from my artist Holly Warburton and her use of vibrant colours to convey an emotional response.” Returning to colour after studying tonal imagery is going to add that all important meaning Aliyah is striving for.
Fig.10: After some great artist work analysis and pulling apart how their use of colour was adding to their final work, Aliyah was summarising her own samples and test of various colour palettes. All leading to final decisions after many hours of experimenting. Here you see a small snapshot of the work she had done. Aliyah – “My colour palette. I have taken these samples from my work so far. I hoped to recreate the recurring set of colours and match them to my artists. I believe I have succeeded.”
Fig.11: Aliyah – “These experimentations made me thing about what I could do with a multiple layered acetate painting. So, I looked back at some edited photos I had made previously for inspiration.” The final project is a lot of jumping around and revisting samples and earlier experiments. There is no set way to achieve the final decisions, and some students like to have a more concise approach. Aliyah was able to do this and enjoy the freedom of giving anything a go! It was fun to read a project that really refined all successful trials and she left no stone unturned!
Fig.12: Sometimes the time consuming work needs a reality check for the time it would take when scaled up into a final outcome. The mood and the image itself is working, but the technique is not suitable in this context. Great experiment though that again is giving Aliyah lots to think about.
Fig.13: More time consuming samples to see how the different effects could be achieved. All leads Aliyah to re-evalaute her concept and think that a ‘traditional’ canvas, with a particular style of painting, would actually achieve the same impact ultimately this time round.
Fig.14: Many pages later, we are seeing different styles and techniques of painting really starting to stand out. “Because I used acrylic instead of oils, I had to blend the paint with my fingers some of the time. I tried to soften the brush marks as well. I’m happy with the way they turned out. I’m not sure if I copied his style accurately but I think that media did limit the accuracy of the recreation.” These impressions start to heavily influence and change how Aliyah approached her earlier refined and accurate painting style.
Fig.15: Aliyah reflects here on the technique itself and how the paint behaves with this sort of work. She is trying to think ahead to the scale of the work, time scales, type of paint…all stemming from artist research she did to learn more about how to layer and use media more effectively.
Fig.16: Aliyah – “I wanted the painting to have an impressionistic feel. I was also inspired by my artists to try to make obvious unblended paint strokes. This helped me achieve a painterly aesthetic. I worked in layers…” The long process of development that lead into this piece was another couple of months of work. Checking the colour palette, composition and media were important final refinements to realise the final piece. Overall this project shows the lengths students go to with experimentation. Like Aliyah, their skills in observation is highly showcased and development is then key to find an outcome they are happy with.
Check back soon to watch us discuss the project with Aliyah and see the full scope of this wonderful project.
Aliyah Skill Builder Samples
Aleksandre Skill Builder Samples