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Hyeji Kim

Art School Admissions Portfolio

South Korea

Lauryn Welch, Painter & Performance Artist

Lauryn Welch
Painter & Performance Artist

Artist Statement

“I’ve been drawing and painting at home by myself, and I’m planning to apply for art schools in the US in 2019.

For the last couple of years, I have been spending lots of time drawing self-portraits. And I found myself exploring endlessly changing colors on my skin, and it always made me thrilled. Since then, I have been trying to use as many colors as possible to express the marvelous beauty of the human skin.

While I was participating in the Art Dares, I got to use crayons for the first time. And I liked it a lot because of the unexpected boldness of the colors.

So my very next challenge is to use unfamiliar mediums and possibly all kinds of mediums to depict the colors of human skin. Now, I am very excited to see how my works will be transformed through them.”

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Video Transcript

“Hi there! I’m going to be doing a portfolio review of the images that you’ve compiled here for your art school admissions portfolio. So, the way this works is I will be going over your portfolio as a whole, and then I will go over each piece individually and tell you what’s working and what I think you could probably improve upon.

So, to begin with, I think that you have an excellent command of portraiture. Each piece is really, really well articulated, in the face and in the hands, your sense of expression is vibrant and lively and really believable. I can tell that you’ve spent a ton of time trying to master faces and hands, and that is a skill that is extremely coveted, so you should be really proud of yourself for that.

Your sense of craftsmanship is good, and perspective… like I’m seeing in the hammer here, and in the hand kind of facing straight on, these are hard things to accurately show how they fit in space. But you do a really good job of articulating that. I

think that you’ve got a lot of whimsy and humor in your work. It seems like you’re really into narrative. and each of your pieces has a kind of punch line to it; and this can be a double-edged sword. sometimes it’s really great to have everything contained in one image, but sometimes you want your piece to kind of leave the viewer with a question, and i’ll talk a little bit about that with some individual pieces.

Overall I get a really clear sense of you. I feel like I am beginning to know you as a person looking at these pieces, and I think that’ll make a strong impact on the admissions board. As far as things that admissions boards like to see in a portfolio, is they like to see that you are experimenting in your work–that you’re not afraid to use many different mediums, and you’re not afraid to try these out even if you fail.

So, I think it will be really wonderful to see some sculpture or maybe some college, which is an element that you’re already starting to add, you could push that more a bit–maybe doing some comics, which would be more of a time-based element, and would continue that narrative approach that you’re taking. They also really like to see a variety of subject matter. now, you really have the portraiture thing down, but right now what I’m seeing is every single piece–or just about every single piece–features either one or two people, and then you have a couple pictures that have things in them, like still lifes.

You should probably demonstrate that you know or understand space, so work that shows maybe architecture or landscape, large groups of people, or just spaces in general would be also really good to include to show that you understand that kind of subject matter as well.

Also another thing that is good to have–and you have probably have some of this if you’ve been practicing the human figure for this long, is including some gestural work, like some kind of process work, things that aren’t totally finished. Or show that you at least know the foundation.

If you ever take figure drawing class, things like 10 or 20 minute drawing poses, gesture poses, these would be good things to include, maybe, one or two images of. So, to begin with this piece here, your draftsmanship is very, very good, as I was talking about.

It really feels like this bag is sagging open, and that this water bottle fits into that bag. the proportions seem correct–I really like how this handle here…you curved it down just the slightest bit, and it makes that weight of the bag feel really believable, like the bag is sagging. Same with the hat–it feels like this is made out of fabric and its sagging. this makes sense to me. although, I like this kind of subtle shadow down here. I think that’s really beautiful, and one of the better moments of this piece.”

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3 responses on "Art School Portfolio Critique: Hyeji Kim"

  1. I think Lauryn is right on the money, here, in regards to you experimenting with comics!

    Obviously I’m biased here, but I think your work has such a narrative quality (not to mention a really fascinating, graphic approach to otherwise realistic representation) that adding a sequential element would do wonders for your portfolio. A lot of the humor I see in these paintings — especially that excellent balloon series — is already so akin to something out of a Nancy or Krazy Kat comic strip!

    At the very least, you need to present those two pieces together, as a diptych, and I’d love for you push some of these other ideas into series.

    All in all, I love your work (and have loved it since your superb responses to our Art Dares!) and can’t wait to see more from you.

  2. The aspect of your work that I find most striking is the sense of magical realism you’re working with. I love the play that comes across, and the fun scenes that have me taking a second glance and chuckling at the world you’ve made!

    To push this further, I would really like to see you challenge yourself with color more — for instance, the effective yet subtle colors of your still life would be such a helpful component to the imaginative realism pieces. Right now the bright and vibrant colors in pieces that are bright and vibrant in subject gets to be too much at times. Playing with shadow, and mystery could be a great way to play with where this can go next.

    Take a look at Omar Rayyan, or William Adolphe Bouguereau as examples of how a muted palette can really help push a fantastical element!

  3. I’m really liking the graphic quality of your work! Many of your choices (particularly in your paintings) are very bold and they keep me looking at the painting. Your work seems very reminiscent of Paul Cezanne (1839-1906) that gives bright colors and solid painting skills that evoke story and texture. I also really love the characterization of your figures. They evoke so much character!

    Some things I would like to see you work on more though, is understanding local value. Some of the areas begin to lose depth because there isn’t a strong enough contrast in values. You could also consider using value as a compositional element so that we know exactly what you want us to look at first (for example, you do this very well in the piece of the crayon drawing with the inflated balloon). These would mostly be easy fixes because you can glaze over, draw over, or erase out to create a more dynamic contrast.

    I would also consider building up a stronger foundation in drawing the hands in particular, some areas around the palms are not as convincing as you have on the top side of the hand.

    Great work! Keep it up!!

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