Tuesday, March 10, 2009

How to NOT Get Accepted to CalArts!

Wasn't sure if I was going to post this, but now I think I should... Maybe if only to help those who want to apply to CalArts. If I had had access to something like this when I was applying, I might not have made so many mistakes. Presenting my Rejected 2009 CalArts Portfolio, in the order presented. Once I hear back from CalArts portfolio review, I will add more notes.

The first image, I really wanted to kind of BOOM!, stand out or something. I really liked both of these drawings, so I threw it in front. While I still like them a lot, I see now that I should have "finished" them and not left them as is.

In my mind, the next step was to logically present my pieces in a "time"-ly manner... These were 2 minute sketches. I realize now that neither show any kind of form of the figure.

I liked both of these when I did them as well, so in they went as well. I look now at the one on the right and OH GAWD! It is so FLAT! I have a lot of work to do in the next year.

Again, drawings I thought might stand out from the crowd. I truly like the one on the left, even though it is DISASTEROUSLY awful- no hands, bad shading, the WORKS! The one on the right is even worse, so let's not even discuss that one.

I was proud of this one when I attempted it. None of my art teachers ever really pushed this technique, so of course, it is horribly underdeveloped and not all that good anyway.

These are really and truly awful now, I see that. They are outlines- no shapes or lines plotting the figure. Not to mention that they are UNFINISHED! I would venture to say that this is a BIG NO NO!

The next one, I truly liked the IDEA of, and I may have been so in love with the IDEA of it, that I failed to realize that it, too, is UNFINISHED!The next three are, ONCE AGAIN (are we seeing a pattern here?) UNfinished, show NO structure and are pretty much DEAD! Oh yeah, have we noticed yet that I have as of yet STILL included no color?

This piece I still love and you can't stop me. It is a detailed study I did of one of my favorite sculptures. If I do not get this drawing back in one piece, CalArts may never hear the end of it. Pencil with red pencil undersketches- 4 hrs.

Lion & lioness at the zoo. Lioness (18"x24") in graphite & VERY proud of... may frame it. Smaller paper in charcoal.

Elephants at zoo. (18"x24") in graphite, smaller sheet in charcoal

Drawings of my cat, Tibby (9"x12"?). Lacking compositional design.

Misc. animals at the zoo. Mostly cut from pages that were awful. Still lacking compositional design. Not all that excellent either.

First of my Architecture pieces. Interior architecture of Houston's Katz's restaurant. Included the original red pencil sketch and below it, a "finished" vellum inking with greyscale (yup- still no real color!) markers.

The second is the interior of my favorite sushi restaurant in Houston- Little Miyako's. SEVERE perspective on this. Again, included the original red pencil drawing and below it, a "finished" ink drawing.

Final piece in my portfolio- Exterior architecture of St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Houston, across from the Museum of Fine Arts. Spent about 6 hours sitting in front of the building doing this & another 20 plus fixing the perspective and inking. Plan on coloring it when I get it back.

All in all, I should have probably known that I would not be accepted my first try. But here are some of the things I am now aware that I did WRONG!

1) I matted each and every drawing on a piece of matboard, double-sided to save money. This is an OLD-school method of presentation that no one really does anymore. Hence, I will be purchasing a slip-pocket portfolio for next time.
2) My figure drawings STINK! I will be making sure that I learn how to do them better for next time.
3) I included NO COLOR! Granted, I don't know HOW to use color, frankly- it scares the shit out of me. So I am making sure that wherever I attend my next classes, I will be tackling color with a VENGENCE!
4) I submitted UNFINISHED WORK! DO NOT DO THIS! Show only your ultimate VERY best! Two years of art block for me should not have been an excuse.
5) I submitted NO supplemental materials. No flipbooks, no animations (the only one I had is so old and such crap, I was too embarassed.), and no sketchbooks. Next time, this will not be the case!
6) Will add more later as I come to grips with it all.


  1. hey puddle :D I'm gonna critique on your portfolio if you don't mind!
    1) I think proportionally its ok, though the one on the right has bit of thin arms. Shading is nice BUT the hands are amature-ish. They don't capture the shape of hands. It looked as if you drew the outline and just drew lines in to make fingers. And it seems art schools pay attention to hands, faces, and feet when looking at figure drawings to see weaknesses.
    2) The one on the right needs some detail in the face. Before sending off anything you must check if you have at least some detail in the hands, face, and feet due to what was mentioned above.
    I think your work needs to have more weighted lines. I know it's a short about of time but if you practice you can get the form faster making it easier to weight your work as you go.
    4) I like the poses, your proportion isn't that bad. Shading like you mentioned not so hot. BUT this piece does show some weighting in the lines which is something you want to show in more of your work.
    6) Contour lines are ok to have since I know a couple people who got in have them but they had more detail in the face in theirs unlike yours. Also their layouting is better. You have to think of laying out your portfolio because it really does totally make your portfolio look better. You could crop these in the same size and lay them out in the middle.
    8) This needs more contrast in the piece. I'm crap with contrast so I really shouldn't be judging you for this but alot of your graphite work lack the contrast you have in charcoal.

    Totally love your animals and your architectural drawings! I wish i could do that. You handles perspective well and it's unique since I don't think alot of the applicants have this in their portfolio, making it easier for the admission people to remember you :D

    GOOD LUCK NEXT YEAR! I hope I was helpful and not mean in this T_T

  2. Okay, sweetie- you are not being NEARLY as mean as I am being on myself. Basically everything you said here is stuff I already knew and hope to address next year.

    The only one I truly want to address is the study of the bather. The contrast in the actual piece is far beyond what my camera was able to capture. A slightly better look of her can be found here -> http://mizutamari.deviantart.com/art/Study-of-Surprised-Bather-92883459

    Overall, I really do want to thank you for the review. I know that I have a lot of work ahead of me and the more aware I am of my weaknesses, the better equipped I will be to attack them head-on!

  3. Thank you. Thank you thank you thank you a million times for putting this up. It's extremely brave and considerate of you. You've just helped make my life dream a lot more attainable. And please cut back a little on the self flagellation.

  4. This article is of great help! and very brave of course. Thanks a lot!