Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Secret of Art School Admissions

I'll tell you a secret: 
It's not as difficult to get into a private art college as everyone likes to pretend.

Getting in is relatively easy. Staying in is what's hard. 

When I was an admissions counselor, 80% of the students who came in for advice already had a portfolio that was acceptable to be admitted. 

But I rarely told them that. 

I would critique their work, pushing them to work harder to improve, and sending them off to rework their portfolios. Why? Because art schools want dedicated people. 

The student might go home after that admissions visit and decide it's too hard, or they aren't good enough, or they can't bear to have anyone look at and critique their work. Well, that's not the student we wanted.

Art school itself is hard and stressful. Students are pushed to their limits, physically, emotionally, creatively. Teaching technical skills is easy; teaching students to push through their barriers is not.

Art Schools want fearless students, artists who are unafraid of their talents, and also unafraid of their weaknesses. Your portfolio doesn't need to be perfect, but it should be fearless. 

Creating an atmosphere in admissions that makes the school seem really hard to get into is helpful for weeding out the students who do not yet have the mindset for a demanding program. 

Good schools want dedicated students who will be successful after they graduate, and as alumni, will make their college look good. They want students who are ready to work hard and slog through the tough times, spending the entire 4 years (and 4 years' worth of tuition) at their school.

Work hard on your portfolio. The hardest you've ever worked before. It's good practice. It shows something about you as an artist. And last but not least, the stronger the portfolio, the more $$ offered in financial aid. 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Trash Heap Inspiration

I love to walk the empty hills and forgotten, half-finished roads of my Los Angeles neighborhood. I can take my dog off leash, and it is peaceful.

The urban views are great, (hmm, maybe a photo class field trip in the making) but what I most adore, is my beloved "Trash Heap." 

A relatively quiet day at the Trash Heap. The city comes by regularly to haul it away.
I can't help but be a little disappointed when I come across a recently emptied spot.

Two places along the hillside roads have become common illegal dump sites for the most wonderful variety of things. I know I'm supposed to be outraged, but I'm enamored. From construction material to children's toys to love letters, I've found it all.  Sometimes I bring things home to use in the home or garden:

These glass blocks came home with me. They are now book ends.
I considered taking home this angel head,
but when someone else created a "City of the Angels" art piece by tangling it in the fence, I left it there.
And some bamboo came home to replace a broken gate.
I bring home inspiration for my artwork, too. I'm currently working on a series of paintings based on papers found at the trash heap.
"Wishes; 1 - 100" oil on wood panel
This is from a child's first attempt at writing numbers 1 - 100. Dated on the back of the paper, saved since 1992, and now dumped at the trash heap. It seemed too special to pass by. A treasure map of sorts. See more of my artwork here.

Stay tuned for more Trash Heap Inspirations and Adventures..