Portfolio Review Event at Concord Art

RISD Adjunct Professor Clara Lieu reviews drawings by Janet Schwartz

This past Sunday, half of the ART PROF team hosted our first free portfolio review event at the Concord Center for Visual Arts in Concord, MA.  We invited artists in the Boston area to sign up for several 15 minute long individual reviews with myself, ART PROF Teaching Assistants Lauryn Welch, Casey Roonan, and Sara Bloem.  My colleagues Wendy Seller and Cynthia Katz were reviewers as well.  The event lasted four hours, so this gave artists the opportunity to get up to 6 reviews from multiple reviewers.  Unless you’re enrolled in a degree program, the opportunity to get feedback on your artwork from several professional artists and professors in one day for free is extremely rare.


Art Prof Teaching Assistant Lauryn Welch speaks to artist Steven Foote about his paintings.

In my career, I’ve been to several portfolio review events, both as an artist and as a reviewer. One aspect I like about this format is that you get individualized attention from a single reviewer, and the room is generally busy enough that no one feels that they are on the spot. We were very pleased with the atmosphere!

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We were impressed by the range of artists who came to our event:  we saw large oil paintings, watercolor paintings, pastel drawings, scratch board drawings, perspective drawings, and much more.

We were all pretty wiped out after critiquing for pretty much 4 hours straight, but we were all thrilled with the event.  We did registration online, and the day of the event we still had 40% of our slots open.  Many people added extra slots the day of the event, which was terrific because those additional slots filled our schedules.  The event was busy, and seemed to keep moving the whole time.

We also had a terrific team of assistants:  Britt Sodersjerna, Alex Fyock, Jack Carbeck, and Olivia Hunter who did everything from shoot photos and video of the event, helping participants find their schedules, and giving us feedback on how we could improve similar events in the future.  Speaking of future events, we are planning two more similar events in mid July in Boston!  If you’d like to be notified of these events, sign up for our email list.


Art Prof Teaching Assistant Casey Roonan discusses Monika Hedman’s scratchboard pieces. Monika had a series of 12 scratch board drawings, which incorporated mixed media as well.  We were hugely impressed by Monika’s composition skills, a skill that is frequently overlooked or simply not addressed by many artists. She had an enormous range of media in her portfolio:  paintings, drawings, mixed media pieces, and a sketchbook packed with images and writing.

Many participants were glowing with a renewed enthusiasm and motivation for their work.  We heard some terrific comments both during and after the event through emails.

“You and your team were amazing! I feel blessed to have been part of this day.”
“I found our portfolio review very helpful in fine-tuning the direction with my work.”
“Both portfolio reviewers my husband and I talked to were encouraging and helpful.”


RISD Adjunct Professor Clara Lieu reviews paintings and drawings by Jennifer Behymer.

Afterwards, our team went out for an early dinner, amazed that this was the first time since ART PROF started in 2014 that we had all been together in person.  For many of us, it have been many years since we had seen each other, even though we communicate almost everyday online to work on ART PROF.  I think this event was important for our team not just in terms of the event, but in terms of finally getting to see each other in person. While we discuss online nitty gritty details like what color the top menu bar in the prototype should be, together in person, we were able to have deeper discussions and talk about the big picture of ART PROF.

I’ve worked with many groups of people in the past, and I have to say this truly is an extraordinary team of people who I not only love working with, but who are super fun. There was plenty of teasing, and reminiscing about the good old days in my freshman drawing class over 6 years ago.  And yes,  I realize that I’m probably extremely biased because I’m the one who assembled this team, but I’m constantly in awe of how we balance brutal honesty and flexibility at the same time.  I love that we are able to have intense, emotional discussions about being artists, but that we can also tease each other mercilessly about the silliest things like the Bachlorette. (sorry, inside joke!)

This team has gone above and beyond my wildest expectations when I first started ART PROF two years ago.  I’m still in disbelief that Sara, Lauryn, and Casey were crazy enough to say yes to that email I sent them over a year ago.

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We missed the rest of our team, Annie Irwin, Yves-Olivier Mandereauves-Olivier Mandereau, and Alex Rowe, who live as far away as California, Colorado, and Germany.   We hope some day, all of us can be in one place, and that we can devote all of our time towards bringing you a rigorous art education for free, all the time.

ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. artprof.org features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

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Prof Lieu offers video critiques on portfolios for students applying to art school and working artists. More info.

Every month, we assign a topic for you to respond to with an artwork. We give out prizes in several categories!  More info.

ASK THE ART PROF was a written column in the Huffington Post from about art related topics. Visit our Pro Development page.


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