Free Art Portfolio Review Event on Oct. 23 in Concord, MA

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Sunday, Oct. 23, 12-4pm

Concord Center for the Visual Arts
37 Lexington Rd., Concord, MA, 01742
(978) 369-2578

Bring your art portfolio and get 1 or more 15 minute one-on-one reviews from the ART PROF staff. Unique opportunity to receive diverse feedback from several trusted professionals all in one day! Great chance for high school students working on a portfolio for college admission and for professional artists working on a body of work. This event is free, but registration is required to be guaranteed a review. Scroll down for registration info.

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Portfolio Requirements
Please bring 5-8 artworks in any media. We prefer to see actual artwork, but we can also view artwork on laptops/tablets.

These events are free, but advance registration is required to be guaranteed a review. You can register for a maximum of 3 slots in advance of the event day.  Please do not register for more than 1 slot with the same reviewer, all slots you sign up for must be with different reviewers. Every participant must register themselves with their own email address. Please do not register for more than 1 person using the same email address.

Registration for the Oct. 23 event is NOW OPEN!


If there are still slots open the day of the event,  you can sign up for as many reviews as you want, on a first-come, first-serve basis. (there is still a limit of 1 slot per reviewer the day of the event) You are welcome to show up the day of the event without registering in advance, however, we cannot guarantee that you will receive a review. If you are not present at your slot time, your slot will be given to someone else. 


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Hear what our past event participants had to say!

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

Portfolio Reviewers

Clara Lieu is an Adjunct Professor at RISD, a Partner at Art Prof, and a fine artist who works in drawing, printmaking, and sculpture. She wrote Ask the Art Prof, an advice column for visual artists for the Huffington Post for 3 years, and now hosts a weekly live video broadcast of the column on her Facebook page.  Watch her portfolio critiques here, her Crit Quickies here, and see her charcoal drawing tutorial here.

Casey Roonan is freelance illustrator, a cartoonist, and a Teaching Assistant at Art Prof. Casey does editorial illustrations for the blog Narratively, and other clients. He writes and edit an anthology-format comic book called Ciambella with Mike Karpiel. Listen to some of Casey’s critiques here.

Lauryn Welch is a painter, a performance artist, and a Teaching Assistant at Art Prof.  She currently teaches at the Peterborough Art Academy.  Her artwork was featured on the cover of Art New England, and was recently shown in “Portraits, Expanded” at the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center. Listen to some of Lauryn’s critiques here.

Deepti Menon is an independent filmmaker, an animator, and a Teaching Assistant at Art Prof. She has worked with Nickelodeon’s international on-air promotional team as a motion graphic artist. Recently, her independent work has been shown in North America and is scheduled to be shown in India this fall. Listen to one of Deepti’s critiques here.

Leyla Faye is a Painting major at the Rhode Island School of Design. She works primarily in oil paint, but is also a printmaker with expertise in monotype, mezzotint and drypoint. Her cartooned and distorted figures are used as motifs which are composed into surreal patterns. Leyla has been a Teaching Assistant for RISD Project Open Door, the RISD Pre-College program, and RISD Freshman Drawing. Recently, Leyla studied abroad in Rome and was awarded the 2016 Gamblin Paint Award. Listen to one of Leyla’s critiques here.

ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages to learn visual arts in a vibrant art community. Imagine all of the resources here on our blog, except exponentially bigger, in greater quantity, and in more detail. Our Kickstarter campaign hit its $30k goal on July 19!  Stay tuned for our future launch.

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September Art Dare Submissions!


By Clara Lieu

We’ve gotten lots of submissions to our September Art Dare on our Instagram!  We’ve been very excited to see all of the unique ways that everyone has approached our prompt of drawing a self-portrait from life using charcoal. In many ways, the Art Dare is a virtual version of what I do in my classes at RISD, where everyone is asked to respond to the same prompt. That’s one of my favorite aspects of being in a class-you get to see all of the diverse creative solutions created by several people. Many of my students have told me that they learn just as much from seeing each other’s work, as they do from me.

One part of the Art Dare that has been really fun to watch is everyone’s works in progress. Below you can see Lucy Springall’s progress on her self-portrait.  Lucy has been following my charcoal drawing tutorial on the Art Prof Youtube channel.  She did a terrific job making thumbnail sketches to plan out her composition, (below photo, upper left) and implementing cross-hatching marks in with an eraser stick and charcoal pencil.

Remember, you get brownie points for using the techniques in our charcoal drawing tutorial!  If you tag your Art Dare with #artprofwip, Prof Clara Lieu just might stop by and provide some feedback! More info on Art Dare guidelines/prizes/tips are here.


For fun, I decided that I would do the Art Dare myself!  I drew and painted a ridiculous number of self-portraits as an undergraduate student at RISD, largely because I only wanted to work from life and I was the most convenient subject. The last time I did an assignment, or drew a self-portrait was back in 1998.  Of course, so much has happened since then, and I was curious to know how I would respond to this prompt.

I think for many people self-portraits are a tough subject.  The process of creating a self-portrait demands that you look at yourself for an unusually long period of time. This deep observation of your own physical features also tends to prompt thinking about identity.

I figure out a lot of my ideas when I’m running on the treadmill, and this drawing was no exception. My thoughts meandered for a while, and for the first few concepts tended to revert back to themes I had worked with in my last studio project, Falling. Most of my projects take 2-4 years to create, so it felt strange to brainstorm what I knew would be a stand alone piece that wouldn’t be seen in the context of a large body of work.  I needed an idea that was simple enough to be contained in a single artwork, but that also had enough depth that there would be plenty to explore.


My thumbnail sketches

I settled on the idea that in recent years, my life has felt very fragmented. Before I became a parent, I always had the luxury of long periods of time to myself, and to work on my artwork. Nowadays, I’m lucky if I get even 2 hours at a time to create artwork, much less think focus. I see my life today as a series of constant interruptions, it’s rare that I will sit down to do a task, and be able to comfortably complete what I set out to do.  I fell that I live in a constant state of distraction, making it incredibly difficult to think clearly most of the time.

In my initial thumbnail sketches, I explored compositions which emphasized faces that tilted away from the center of the page, and eyes with pupils that wandered to the side. decided that I would have one face that would make eye contact with the viewer, to represent those rare moments of clarity that I experience. The rest of the faces would be distracted and looking away.

I set up a mirror and sketched myself from life, to make sure that I was using views that would be possible for me to pose for as I few. As I sketched though, I realized that features like the neck and the shoulders weren’t necessary, so I reduced the composition to just facial features so that the eyes would be more prominent. I didn’t want to just sit down and draw myself, because even though our physical appearance is a big part of who we are, it’s certainly not everything. I’m still staying within the prompt, which was to simply draw a self-portrait from life in charcoal. I’ve heard many people complain that drawing from life is to limited, and that there’s “nothing to draw.”  I’d like to show in my self-portrait that if you really think about what you want to do and work thoroughly on your thumbnail sketches, the visual possibilities when working from life are endless.


My reference thumbnail for the final drawing

ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages to learn visual arts in a vibrant art community. Imagine all of the resources here on our blog, except exponentially bigger, in greater quantity, and in more detail. Our Kickstarter campaign hit its $30k goal on July 19!  Get info on our future launch by subscribing to our email list.

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Face Yourself: How I Defeated Self-Censorship


by Lauryn Welch

This year I’ve been thinking about the extent of my studio practice.  I realized my studio practice will only go as far as I’m willing to let it go. My artwork is bounded simply by my own censorship. When I thought about it, this idea that I was the only thing standing in my way was laughable. I am generally a goofy and amicable person with noodly arms and an easy smile. That image of getting in the way of myself made a powerful impact on me.

When I was in art school, I was getting thorough, and sometimes very intense critique from all sorts of amazing art professionals that sent me in all different directions. Even when there were no assignments and the work was left up to me, I knew that my paintings would be evaluated based on a set of criteria that was unique to each individual giving the critique. These critiques were incredible, valuable learning experiences, but I often internalized feedback as a set of rules, and these rules would be contradictory from person to person. One of my professors pushed hard on narrative and digital approaches, while another favored an organic and physical exploration with paint.


By the time I graduated college, I had a choir full of internal voices clamouring “don’t do this!” “don’t do that!”, and I was struggling trying to paint something to satisfy all of these rules.After I graduated college, I found myself all alone in my studio with no peers or professors, no expectations or directions. I was alone with myself, and all of these rules were only voices in my head.

I realized I could paint whatever I wanted.

I want to say that again because it sounds so deliciously sweet.

I. Could. Paint. Whatever. I. Wanted.


So I painted a pair of socks. I really liked this pair of mismatched socks, and I admired the rug underneath them, and the combination of the rug and the socks made me giddy with happiness. I had no complicated, academic motives. It was great!

Later, I drew a bunch of birds with markers, just because I am thrilled to be around these bright little flying life forms all the time. I live in rural New Hampshire, and I hadn’t realized how sorely I missed the wilderness while living in New York, or how much I had taken it for granted prior to moving. It was liberating making these pieces. This was subject matter I had refused to paint about for a long time because I thought it was boring, trite, and inconsequential.  

Lauryn Welch

However, by ignoring these experiences that brought me great joy in my life, I was only erasing a part of myself and trying too hard to fill it with things that didn’t fit. Perhaps not so coincidentally, these two projects were the first pieces of artwork that drew enthusiasm from a much broader range of people, instead of just artists.  When you can paint openly from yourself, people can sense and appreciate this residual joy and honesty in the painting. This special connection gives the artwork depth and value. How tremendous!

I like (perhaps too much) going heavy into eye crossing art theory, and I always appreciate a second set of eyes to help me pick out things in my work I hadn’t thought about. However, it seems that I missed one of the first rules in art and in life: it’s better to just be yourself!

Related Audios and Videos
Crit Quad #1, Acrylic Painting, Lauryn Welch
Crit Quad #3, Figure Drawing, Lauryn Welch
Art Hack #1: Making Art is Like Hygiene, Lauryn Welch

ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts which provides equal access to high quality art education for people of all ages and means. Imagine all of the resources here on our blog, except exponentially bigger, in greater quantity, and in more detail. Our Kickstarter campaign hit its $30k goal on July 19!  Get info on our future launch by subscribing to our email list.

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Ask the Art Prof Live
 was a weekly live video broadcast on my Facebook page where I provided professional advice for art students and professional artists. Ask the Art Prof began as a written column in 2013 and was featured in the Huffington Post from 2013-2015.  See the full archive of columns here. I discussed being an artist today, art technique & materials, work strategies for artists, career advice, teaching art, and more.

Video Critique Program
I offer 30 minute video critiques on 8-20 artworks for professional artists working on a body of artwork, and for students working on an art portfolio for college admission. Watch sample video critiques and get more info here.

Related Videos
Ask the Art Prof Live: How do I Improve My Art?  How do I Find My Artistic Style?
Ask the Art Prof Live: Oversaturation, Brainstorming, Beginning a Series
Ask the Art Prof Live: Personal Themes, Never Too Late to Start Drawing
Youtube Playlist: Video Critiques on Art School Admissions Portfolios
Youtube Playlist:  How to Draw a Portrait with Charcoal and Cross-Hatching
Youtube Playlist:  Crit Quickies, 1 min. critiques on artworks

Drawing Experiment: Layered Drawings


by Clara Lieu

This afternoon was an extremely rare event for me:  6 continuous hours of uninterrupted time in the studio. I worked on a second drawing, knowing that my plan would be to layer this new drawing on top of the drawing I did previously.

The hardest part of working on this second drawing (see below) is that I knew that the vast majority of work I did on it would eventually be ripped to shreds. It can be painful to throw out work that you spent a lot of time on, but I strongly believe that being too precious about your artwork can be a severe limitation in your progress. Especially in an early stage in a project, it’s critical to be able to throw things out.  You never know what you might gain in the process.


I can see that my marks with the woodless pencil are becoming much less picky and more confident. I’ve never really used woodless pencils this intensively before, but I can tell that my strokes are bolder now. Even my physical movements when I’m drawing feel much more efficient and assertive.  I think part of this is gaining familiarity with this tool, but also I’m feel a lot less rusty now that I’ve been drawing for a few weeks.



Once I finished the second drawing, I placed it on top of the first drawing. (see above) Placing these two drawings together was really surprising.  I started seeing the drawings as three-dimensional sculptures and thinking about how they balanced with each other. I had some major structural problems with the top drawing nearly falling to pieces, so I started using Scotch tape on the back of the drawings to make sure they didn’t rip in important points.

I actually ended up using lots of Scotch tape throughout the entire piece.  It occurred to me that it wouldn’t be practical if the piece had to be re-constructed every time I wanted to hang it up on a wall. So I put Scotch tape to attach the two drawings together at key points, so that the piece would be able to hold it’s shape.


I really enjoyed the entire process, because there were two layers of tissue paper, I was able to make the piece much more sculptural.  Looking at the final piece, (see above) I do think that the two drawings are fighting each other quite a bit, and that they look too similar.  I realized a better way to balance the drawings would be to have one drawing be more dark and concrete, and for the other to be lighter and more ethereal. When I created the two drawings, I thought about them as separate entities, which is why they ultimately didn’t work together very well.

Still, this was a really exciting experiment. In the next sketch, I’m going to try making one drawing visibly darker and more concrete, while the other drawing will be much lighter and more ethereal.  Hopefully that advance thinking on the construction of the piece will allow for a more effective relationship between the two drawings.


Related Articles
My Poisonous Checklist
One Simple Purpose
A Burst of Artistic Inspiration for the First Time in 2 Years
Anticipating a New Drawing Project
Drawing Again After a Two Year Drought
Drawing Experiments
Teaching Through My Artwork

ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages to learn visual arts in a vibrant art community. Imagine all of the resources here on our blog, except exponentially bigger, in greater quantity, and in more detail. Our Kickstarter campaign hit its $30k goal on July 19!  Get info on our future launch by subscribing to our email list.

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Teaching Through My Artwork


by Clara Lieu

Even though I started this new series of drawings just 2 weeks ago, I can already see that my drawing style has changed quite a bit since the first drawing. These beginning stages of a project are always quite exhilarating because the progress feels so fast and immediate.  I’m not committed to anything at this point in the project, so there’s no pressure to produce to achieve specific results.

My drawing materials have stayed the same since I started this series:  graphite powder, woodless pencils, drawing pencils, eraser stick, and kneaded eraser.  In this recent drawing experiment, (see below) the plan is to create 2 or 3 drawings and layer them on top of each other. I’ll tear each drawing so that the drawing underneath will be visible through the rips of the drawing on top. I’m anticipating that with the multiple layers of drawings, the image will likely be too busy. However, at this point, I’ll learn more when I do too much.  Scaling back and removing things is always much easier than having to reinvent new aspects every time.


I’ve continued shooting 1 minute process videos which I’ve been posting on my Instagram. (the longer versions I post on the Art Prof Youtube channel.) Usually when I’m teaching in a classroom, I intentionally don’t discuss my personal artwork with my students. I don’t want students to think that I want them to make artwork that looks like mine, or for them to think that I prefer artwork that looks a certain way. (In fact, sometimes I’m more likely to like a piece when it’s not at all similar to my own artwork.  Sometimes it’s the artworks that are so completely different from mine that I’m most attracted to, simply because I can’t wrap my head around making work like that) Instead, I wait until the last day of class to do a slideshow about my work.  At that point, the students know me well enough that I feel comfortable discussing my own work with them.


Recently though, I’ve been thinking about how teaching online is a completely different story.  The context is not remotely the same as an academic classroom in a degree program.  I have no control over how people will find my work, or in what order they will see my content in. I had never considered this, but perhaps the way I need to approach teaching online is through both 1) teaching tutorials, and 2) process videos of my own artwork.

When I think about it, these 2 types of videos really have the potential to complement each other well. One of my inherent concerns with the teaching tutorials is that the demo piece that is created in the tutorial tends to have a more generic look. In a teaching tutorial, I’m trying to show universal skills that are applicable across the board to all artists, so I purposely try to leave out my own drawing style. The process videos of my own artwork show a level of specificity and focus that the teaching tutorials will never have. On the other hand, the process videos show techniques that won’t be relevant to everyone because of how specific they are, and many fundamentals aren’t addressed.  The teaching tutorials really do provide the core basics, which everyone studying visual arts needs to know.


I like this idea of pairing the teaching tutorials and the process videos of my artwork to teach online.  I can imagine that in areas where one format is insufficient, the other can fill in the blanks.  I have always thought of my studio practice as being related to my teaching.  However, this is the first time that I have ever thought about my studio practice as being a literal teaching tool. Not sure whether this pairing will work out, but I’m excited about this new initiative, and willing to give it a shot.

Related Articles
My Poisonous Checklist
One Simple Purpose
A Burst of Artistic Inspiration for the First Time in 2 Years
Anticipating a New Drawing Project
Drawing Again After a Two Year Drought
Drawing Experiments

ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages to learn visual arts in a vibrant art community. Imagine all of the resources here on our blog, except exponentially bigger, in greater quantity, and in more detail. Our Kickstarter campaign hit its $30k goal on July 19!  Get info on our future launch by subscribing to our email list.

FB   Youtube    tumblr    Pinterest    LinkedIn    Instagram    Twitter    snap_chat   email

Professional Artist Portfolio Critique #2

Video critique of professional artist Traci Turner’s portfolio

by Clara Lieu

Many people think that being an artist is only about creating the artwork.  Actually, there are several other aspects of being an artist that can carry almost as much weight. Critique is a huge part of the creative process for artists.  The opportunity to get advice on your artwork is critical towards an artist’s growth and progress. Inherently, all artists are stuck in their own heads when they produce their artwork. No artist ever gets to a point where they no longer need feedback on their artwork.  For this reason, it’s impossible to see your work objectively, which is why it’s so important to get a fresh set of eyes to look at your work and evaluate where it’s going.


Even though I’ve logged over a decade as a professional artist, I still have to take initiative to seek out my artist friends and colleagues to critique my work. Frequently, they’ll point out some aspect of the work that I hadn’t even thought of, or was super obvious to them, but that I was oblivious to.

Unfortunately, unless you are enrolled in a studio art degree program, there are very few opportunities to get trusted, professional feedback on your artwork.  From my research, I’ve seen that there is a lot of content on Youtube about people talking about how to speak at a critique, and describing how a critique works, but the problem with this approach is that it only goes so far. Ultimately, one needs to see a critique to truly understand what a critique entails. If someone explained to you verbally how soccer was played, you would understand technically what the game involves.  However, until you actually got on a soccer field and physically kicked a ball yourself in a real soccer game, your understanding of soccer would remain superficial.

Student Artwork, Drawing Foundations, Clara Lieu, RISD Pre-College

Group critique at RISD Pre-College

Currently, there is almost no content online which shows an actual art critique.The content that I did find was either completely out of context, or so poorly put together that it was basically useless. The other places I’ve seen art critiques is in online forums, but the problem with this context is that 1) the critiques are typed which is inefficient and not as impactful, and 2) the feedback is coming from sources you can’t necessarily trust and 3) people rarely want to critique the artwork of others-the vast majority of these forums are flooded with artists begging for a critique, but no one is responding.

This is why here at Art Prof one of our initiatives as an educational platform is to show audio and video critiques of artwork submitted by you, our audience. Sometimes artists will think that a critique is only useful if it’s their work being reviewed.  On the contrary, my students at RISD are always commenting how much they learn and gain from watching and listening to a critique of another student’s artwork.  In some ways, it can be easier to watch someone else’s critique because you’re removed from the process and can see the critique more objectively.


Painting by Traci Turner

Above you can see a portfolio critique I did for professional artist Traci Turner.  Stayed tuned for more critiques!  Prior to our launch, we’ll continue releasing Crit Quickies, 4 Artist Critiques, Interactive Video Critiques, Art School Admissions Portfolio Critiques, and Professional Artist Portfolio Critiques. Get more information about our critiques and how to submit your artwork here.

ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages to learn visual arts in a vibrant art community. Imagine all of the resources here on our blog, except exponentially bigger, in greater quantity, and in more detail. Our Kickstarter campaign hit its $30k goal on July 19!  Get info on our future launch by subscribing to our email list.

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RISD Pre-College, Drawing Foundations course, Summer 2016


Clara Lieu teaching her Drawing Foundations course at the RISD Pre-College Program

by Clara Lieu

RISD Pre-College ended a week and a half ago, and already, the program feels so far away. Teaching RISD Pre-College is like stepping into a time warp which exists in a different universe than the rest of my life.  During the school year, I generally teach at RISD only 1-2 days a week, whereas for RISD Pre-College I teach studio classes 5 days a week. The schedule is really intense, especially since I commute 1 hour each way from Boston, but I always find the program to be incredibly rewarding.  I attended RISD Pre-College in 1993, and it was a life changing experience that still continues to impact my life today.  You wouldn’t think that a 6 week program could affect your life so deeply, but the intensity of the experience and tremendous growth one experiences is simply remarkable.

Now that I’m a teacher, I experience the program from a completely different point of view: the 6 week length of the program is challenging because it’s so short compared to a usual college semester. For each Pre-College studio class, I only see each class six times, which is nowhere near enough time to truly master any technique. (during the school year, I see students for 12 times-double the length of a Pre-College course) Since I know there are limits to what I can teach in just six weeks, I focus my efforts on getting students to grasp fundamental ideas that they can then further apply in any future context. I remind students that they have the rest of their lives to learn how to handle a brush well, and that ultimately, what I’m most concerned about is to teach them how to think about their artwork.

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Most students who attend RISD Pre-College are not prepared for the rigorous work load and the mental challenges that come with brainstorming and thinking through the complex stages of each project. It’s a huge adjustment during the first few weeks which is tough for everyone. However, in the third and fourth week, you begin to see some fundamental concepts start to really sink in.  By the last week, it’s amazing to see those concepts take root in the students’minds and flourish.

Speaking to one of the students the last week, they told me that the most important lesson they learned at Pre-College was that every action they take in their artwork should have intent. This student explained to me that before coming to Pre-College, they never took the time to think the art making process as being a series of deliberate decisions.  Generally speaking, they didn’t think at all while creating their artwork, it was almost a mindless technical exercise. Most of the process was random and had no specific motivation or rationale behind it. Knowing that this student grasped this concept, I knew I had done my job.

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The close bonds I develop with my classes and students is very poignant. The first week of class, you are complete strangers who work quietly in the same room.  The last day of class, you’re hugging, laughing hysterically, taking silly selfies, drooling over hot celebrities together, and bawling your eyes out.  The emotions as just as intense for me as they are for the students. I have never found it easy to say goodbye the last week.  As a teacher, I feel that I am just starting to really know the students in that 6th week, and then all of the sudden, we’re gone. We leave campus and return to our “normal” lives.

Thank you 2016 RISD Pre-College students, for keeping my life exciting and fun, and for inspiring me with your tremendous passion and energy!  I miss all of you and will treasure those precious weeks we spent going to hell and back together.


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages to learn visual arts in a vibrant art community. Imagine all of the resources here on our blog, except exponentially bigger, in greater quantity, and in more detail. Our Kickstarter campaign hit its $30k goal on July 19!  Get info on our future launch by subscribing to our email list.

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