Ideas of Things to Draw for a Portfolio

Written by sue krippner
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Ideas of Things to Draw for a Portfolio
Make a portfolio to impress. (Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

The best portfolios for anyone seeking admission into an art college or art institute must include a variety of original drawings in a wide range of mediums in order for the admissions department to assess the applicant's technical skills, drawing experience and developed disciplines. Provide a minimum of 20 pieces, 10 of which should be drawing examples; however, focus on originality and quality rather than on quantity. Do not include copies of drawings or reproduced photo images from other artists.

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Values: Pencil Still Life

Set up a visually interesting still life. Position a clear light source using a directional desk lamp or any other strong, shadow-producing illumination. Reproduce the arrangement with the objective of capturing accurate values, which are light and dark tones created by the directed light and reflected on the still life, in order to demonstrate the ability to reproduce value, perspective and depth using various grades of artist lead pencils.

Gesture Body Drawing

Draw a body in motion using simple contour lines. Using a live model, focus on capturing the form of muscle, position and movement without depending on values; use a "B" grade, soft lead pencil to create a fluid line drawing. Keep the pencil moving in circular and linear motion. Create several images quickly, then choose the best rendering to include in the portfolio.

Ideas of Things to Draw for a Portfolio
Drawing students practicing gesture drawing. (Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Visit an Art Gallery

Find a sculpture in the gallery that is recognisable by the majority of art enthusiasts. Draw what you see using charcoal and a knead-able eraser. Be sure to check with the gallery's guest desk to be sure you are not violating gallery copying rules.

Ideas of Things to Draw for a Portfolio
Michelangelos' "David" is a perfect drawing study. (Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images)

Plein Air Pastel

Find a waterfall, city centre, dock side view or any outdoor setting or architectural feature, and capture the image with pastels. Finish the drawing as a plein air piece. Plein air is French for "in the open air" and is a method of working out of the studio and drawing or painting inspiring images captured from an outdoor scene. Work quickly to capture the natural light of day as it reflects on the chosen subject or location. Take a photo of the image before starting in case you are unable to complete the project due to an unexpected rainstorm. This photo record can then be used to finish the work in the studio.

Imagination Station

Apply all the drawing tools, including values, perspective, negative space, positive shape, and texture, and incorporate them into a drawing taken from your imagination. This can be as quirky as a caricature or an elaborate scene from outer space. Whatever you choose, do not cut corners on quality rendering. Use coloured pencil or markers to step things up even more.

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