Skip to main content

2020 Portfolio Critique Marathon

Jordan McCracken-Foster, Concept Artist & Illustrator

Jordan McCracken-Foster
Concept & Visual Development Artist

Lauryn Welch, Painter & Performance Artist

Lauryn Welch
Painter & Performance Artist

Catherine Huang

Cat Huang
Illustrator & Comics Artist

Eloise Sherrid, Artist & Filmmaker

Eloise Sherrid
Artist & Filmmaker

Clara Lieu, RISD Adjunct Professor

Clara Lieu
Art Prof & Partner


Leon Zhan

“I’m a self-taught artist from Melbourne Australia aiming to study Fine Arts in New York. I love creating work with a contemporary pop approach to concepts and subject matter.

The subjects in my work often celebrate my cultural heritage or draw connections to pop culture. Whether it’s painting, drawing, sculpture, sneakers or conceptual art, I’m driven to create what I find creatively compelling.”

Painted Ramen Sculpture, Leon Zhan
Painted Ramen Sculpture, Leon Zhan

Gaz Ehrreich


“I am currently a sophomore in the Illustration department at RISD. The work I have submitted spans from High School through my last year and a half at RISD, and I believe that it shows what I am currently capable of as an artist. 

Over the last three years I have used art as a way to answer personal and existential questions; I have also explored themes relating to the apocalypse, artificial intelligence, illusions, faux finishes and alternate realities. I enjoy drawing in high contrast with charcoal and ink, but I am trying to work my way up to full and subtle value with graphite. 

Oil paint has always felt very natural to me, as well as digital art; both give me the opportunity to add color to my work, and more accurately realize the images I want to create. Before foundation year I had never tried 3D art, and I wasn’t all that good at the start, but as an artist I am always trying to challenge myself. So, I learned from my classmates, and now I am interested in detailed diorama work.”

Digital Illustration, Gaz Ehrreich
Digital Comic, Gaz Ehrreich

I believe I became so fascinated with 3d art because I wasn’t good at it, I really had to try in order to learn craftsmanship, and perfect my mistakes. Now I look at each new piece as the chance to attempt something I am not even sure I can manage, because when I succeed at such a task it feels like I’ve achieved the impossible.

I would describe my art as dark, disturbing, sometimes horrible, with a prevailing sense of bittersweet humor. In the past I feel that what I was striving for was conceptually weak, or far too complicated, but I was moving in the right direction; RISD has helped me understand exactly what I’m trying to say with each piece, as well as the best method of execution. 

However, I’m hoping that through this critique you’ll be able to help me identify the strongest artworks for my professional portfolio, as well as the most functional/powerful themes in my work currently.”

Kyra Beal


“I am an art student from the Pacific Northwest pursuing a BFA in Illustration at an art school. My skills have been primarily self-taught towards the beginning of my artistic career in high school but I’ve been fortunate enough to have had quite a bit of formal instruction since 2018. 

I’ve been focusing on building solid foundational skills and a good work ethic as an artist. I enjoy applying myself to a variety of work styles, mediums, challenges, and creative ideas.”

Charcoal Drawing, Kyra Beal

“I’m motivated by a lot of what I experience in my daily life, I like to share my insights on the world by creating observational work. I spend a lot of time closely observing my surroundings for interesting people that would make great characters, different color palettes I could use in painting, or even small moments in life that could reflect a greater story in my work.

“One of my biggest goals as an artist is to learn how to vividly illustrate my own stories and creatively reflect the experiences of others in my work. I am drawn to imaginative, and surrealistic work in illustration, painting, animation, film, and graphic novels; the ability to bring something from imagination to life is what I would consider being equivalent to a superpower. 

In terms of career, my current goal would be something in Visual Development or Illustration for a graphic novel/similar media. Building a portfolio for art school admissions has been one of the biggest feats I’ve taken so far and I look forward to taking my work even further as I enter art school.”

Pen Drawing of Cats, Kyra Beal

Zoe Reznor


“I am a self-teaching artist from Asheville, North Carolina. These are artworks which I created from 2017-2019, which is when I started to become more serious about being creative. They’re done with a few different mediums because I was exploring, and they’re in chronological order, so you can see the journey I’ve been on in terms of trying to find my favorite medium (which turned out to be oil paint).

These artworks aren’t perfect at all and I wouldn’t consider them finished; they’re just the best I have for now, and they were a result of me trying to figure out what I was doing.”

Dog Painting, Zoe Reznor
Charcoal Portrait Draawing, Zoe Reznor

Currently what I am focusing on is improving my oil painting and drawing skills (I am joining a figure drawing class and doing more work from life as opposed to just photographs). In the future I plan on working with a gallery in my city and creating my first series (I haven’t decided yet on a theme for it yet).

I am also learning as much as I can about art history and contemporary art so that I can understand more about those things and about where my art fits in with them.”

Marlena Bromschwig


“I have an architecture degree that I parlayed into graphic design. I retired as a graphic designer at an early age and had no non-working friends. I wanted to explore mediums and see what MY art is like. So I signed up for a drawing class at the Hopkins Center for the Arts. My Drawing teacher is of college caliber, he is fabulous and eight years later I am still in his class and learning every session. 

I can count on one hand how many curricula has been repeated. This is an excellent place to meet new artistic friends. We created an art group and paint or draw together. It has been a great supportive learning experience.”

Monotype, Marlena Bromschwig
Painting, Marlena Bromschwig

“My creative process is I get an inspiration image that I want to create and think about what medium would be best. I just took printmaking and am thinking of images that would best be described by the marks I can cut. 

I don’t know where I am going with my art. I do think that some style is emerging. I am hanging my first show on January 9, 2020. I am a little nervous because I have not been down this path before. I think writing this artist statement is a perfect first step, since I have to write one for the show.”

Amelia Rozear


“I am a sophomore studying at the Rhode Island School of Design. This year I entered RISD’s illustration department, and due to the professors and fellow students I’ve met there, a lot of my work has become very wondrous and strange compared to the depressing art I’ve made in past years. 

During my first semester, I focused a lot of my energy into experimenting with traditional media, and found a love of watercolor and oil paint– as well as ballpoint pen, which has always been one of my favorites. I have become very inspired by subtle moments in life, as well as my own nostalgic influences and themes from my childhood. 

Ballpoint Pen Drawing, Amelia Rozear
Painting Illustration, Amelia Rozear

“I hope that my work makes people ponder their own memories, or to just question in general. I will soon be submitting my portfolio to various study-abroad programs, and wanted feedback on these more recent pieces to see if I have enough variety in my subject matter and media.

I would also love to hear any tips or challenges you have for me as I enter my second semester in illustration!”

Hyelim (Rose) Lee

“I’m a senior at a school in Pittsburgh applying to visual art schools. Although my main practice involves oil painting on canvas, for the past few years, I have been experimenting with new art-making processes, concepts, and mediums.

My process usually begins with referencing my sketchbook for inspiration, creating thumbnail sketches and color studies before creating the final artwork. 

However, my mindset and artistic process completely transformed after being introduced to a method of art-making known as surrealist automatism. Surreal artist André Masson and his ethereal automatic drawings influenced me to use my own subconscious cues to determine the process and outcome of my work. I became more open minded to other art forms and techniques and not as rigid on certain steps to create a piece of art.

I also expanded my range of art mediums to include collage and mixed media, which were mediums that I was initially intimidated by and did not have a clear understanding of.”

Oil Painting, Hyelim (Rose) Lee
Figure Drawing, Hyelim (Rose) Lee

“Right now, my short term goal is to improve my art portfolio as much as possible in a matter of weeks and incorporate artworks concerning social issues and psychological concepts. My long term goal is to explore visual arts, develop my own artistic style, and create multiple works with a cohesive concept. 

Specific Questions: Since the regular application is in a few weeks, what can I do in this short amount of time to improve my art portfolio? Do I need more process works or pages from my sketchbook? Should I delete some of my earlier works I included in my art pre-college portfolio?

Do I need more conceptual pieces regarding current issues? I am also applying for the Dual Degree Program, so should my art portfolio have works related to my intended major at Brown?”

Avon Waters

“My art transforms the atmosphere, vibrations, or harmony of design, that I feel in the world about me, into visual images. I try to paint the air around a thing more than the thing itself. Everything can be in harmony both visually and audibly. 

The Universe is said to create a near b-flat background tone. I seek to marry the rhythms of different music genres to the various vibrations of what I paint. My work starts often as abstract drawings based on a beat, riff, or instrument from a musical artist.”

Soft Pastel Drawing, Avon Waters

“My visual work is informed by my study of artists such as Charles Henry Fromuth, Edward Degas, Wolf Kahn, Henri Matisse, and Maurice Shapiro. My auditory influences include jazz artists like Cyrille Aimee, Wynton Marsalis, and Amy Winehouse as well as violinist like Lindsey Stirling, Vanessa Mae, and more.”

Sara Michaels


“Currently, I’m a high school art student in London, and despite drawing my whole life, I have only been painting seriously for the last 3 years. Artistically speaking, I am fascinated by the human form, specifically portraiture, and I am of the opinion that it is the most interesting and most enjoyable subject to paint.

The way that I was taught to draw and paint growing up means that unfortunately the idea that ‘the more realistic the better’ was drilled into my head from day 1, however, recently I have tried to defy that notion and I am trying to branch out in colour, medium and style.”

Portrait Oil Painting, Sara Michaels

Right now I am in the process of applying to art schools all over England (UAL, UCA, AUB, NUA, The Slade) and am hoping to do a 1-year Art Foundation Diploma, before moving on to either a BA in Fine Art or Forensic Linguistics & Criminology (quite different I know, it entirely depends on whether I get sick of doing art in that year).

I’m not sure if its the same in the US, but in England for <19 a Foundation Diploma is free, so it would be the best and least financially debilitating option to find out whether I really could commit to art school, as I know it is a huge commitment.

I guess my only question would be to ask how someone who was only taught and has only practiced drawing people, would branch out further into being able to make art about other subjects (architecture, animals etc) in a way that isn’t such a huge jarring leap forward?”

Charcoal Drawing, Sara Michaels
Pen Drawing, Lizette Dörr

Lizette Dörr

“I’m an amateur artist. I took some semesters and workshops at some art schools and I also studied Graphic Design. I wanted to dedicate my life to Fine Art since I was 4 years old, but I wasn’t able to. 

So, I blocked the artistic side of me for many, many years. Now, I want to unblock it and make art professionally. I’m confident Art Prof will have amazing tips about that topic and I’ll be very grateful to receive them. 

About my art works: Pumpkins, Garden Landscape and all nudes are live drawings, except for Sketch 2, which comes from my imagination as well as Abstract 1 and 2, Bird, Bride and Rage; I’ve used some references for Piano Bird and Cholitas. Street Landscape and Fan-Art Vermeer come straight from Pictures.”

Conte Crayon Figure Drawing, Lizette Dörr

Nicholas Horcher


“Growing up, I always felt like an outsider, looking at my life through a lens that made me different. I could never put my finger on what it was that separated me from my family, and my peers, but it forced me to seek outlets of expression that I may have otherwise overlooked. 

Being as different as I was, I struggled to verbally express myself, and put words to my emotions. As a result, the visual arts became my constant catharsis. When I lacked the ability to scream out loud about the injustices that filled my world, I did so, using a paintbrush to speak the words onto a canvas. 

Color is my language, and images are my words. Pain is Prussian Blue, and happiness is Lemon Yellow. I vividly remember being a small child and telling my mother that she was sunshine to me. While she took this compliment, and gave me a warm hug, she couldn’t possibly have known that I was trying to tell her how sunshine yellow was the color that flashed in my mind’s eye as soon as I thought of her every day.

Synesthesia has given me such a deep-rooted connection to the visual world, and the colors that create our environment. Consequently, I immersed myself in the arts, and have wielded my creative energy like a blade with which I can cut through the fabric of what is real, and what isn’t.”

Mixed Media Sculpture, Nicholas Horcher
Mixed Media Portrait Relief, Nicholas Horcher

My artwork has been my voice, hence, it tends to focus on my personal emotions, as well as political, social, and environmental activism that I feel strongly about. 

Anytime I feel pain, or joy, I channel it into my art. Whether it be toxic beauty image, plastic pollution, or my ethnic identity, I take the cultural influences from around me, and I use my art to express my unique perspective, whatever it may be. 

As I’ve grown older, my creative abilities have been reinforced by the artistic opportunities that I have had the great pleasure of utilizing. I’ve taken courses that range from Studio Art and Graphic Design, to Higher Level International Baccalaureate Visual Arts.”

“While all of these classes, and constant practice have allowed me to strengthen my skills and create successful creative work, I can’t help but feel that there is more for me out there. 

I know, deep down, that the helping hand of a Fine Arts Department at the University level would allow me to express myself in nuanced ways that I would never otherwise be able to, and I can become the bold, and well-rounded artist that I am meant to become.”

Painting, Lijun Tang

Lijun Tang

“I’m a student from Singapore majoring in Visual Communication & Media Design at Singapore Polytechnic. It is a 3-year long schooling program with a heavy focus on applying technical skills into the real world. Students typically graduate with a diploma. (Equivalent to the associate degree in the states.) 

I intend to apply to RISD Graphic Design major as a transfer student this year. As you can see from the portfolio I submitted my works range from traditional painting, digital painting to packaging and even filmmaking.”

“It can be a little different from the high school students in the states who are applying to art schools as freshmen. 

I’d like to know 1) What am I lacking currently? 2) How should I proportionate my works as a transfer student in a specific major like Graphic Design?”

Packging Design, Lijun Tang

Sarah Wang

“I’m currently a junior in high school. I have been taking art classes on and off for most of my life. I’m not so sure if I’m going to apply to art school or pursue something interdisciplinary, like STEM and art, instead. 

I am motivated to draw simply because it does not feel like I am being forced to study it. I am particularly interested in exploring different emotions using environments, color, and light; some of my favorite artists include Bernie Fuchs, Dan Mieduch, and Aliya Chen. 

My creative process usually involves thumbnailing and thinking conceptually about the piece, then sketching it out vaguely, then adding details. Some of my pieces in the portfolio are part of my AP concentration about my personal journey with self consciousness (001, 002, 003, 006, and 007). 

Digital Illustration, Sarah Wang
Surreal Painting, Sarah Wang

“I recently started self studying anatomy and figure drawing, among some other things. However, I’m kind of overwhelmed by the amount of useful information there is available on the Internet and it feels like I’m just going around randomly and not really learning anything. 

Do you guys have any suggestions on how I can learn more efficiently? P.S. I only recently discovered the Art Prof channel, and I’m finding it super useful.Thanks for putting out such great content!”

Sooyoun Kim


“I recently graduated with BS in Graphic Design &; Media. Most of my work is done from my art elective classes in college or in my personal time. I get inspirations from my daily experiences and artists around me. 

I mostly illustrate and paint figures and environment from imagination. I have a passion for telling stories and capturing moments of them in my work. I try my best to be truthful and straightforward with my work.”


Figure Painting, Sooyoung Kim
Mixed Media Sculpture, Sooyoung Kim

“In the short term, I want to learn how to build interesting characters, draw them consistently and build a realistic world for them. In the long term, I want to learn how to tell a story in the comic/webtoon form.

 I doubt and feel very insecure about my work sometimes. I use that as an excuse to be lazy in improving my skills or work on projects. What should I do to stay calm and just keep doing what I love doing?”

Teaghan Gokey


“I’m currently a sophomore enrolled in the Rhode Island School of Design’s Illustration department. Until the past year or so, the majority of my artwork was produced using traditional media such as ballpoint pen, graphite, pastels, and colored pencils, several of which remain some of my personal favorites especially for initial sketches for larger projects. 

Recently, I have been trying to push my skills with Photoshop in preparation for an intended professional career in concept art. Using techniques that I have acquired through traditional painting courses at school, I aim to produce a naturalistic painterly quality that complements the often fantastical elements of my work. I often tend to merge such elements with somewhat heavier themes such as existentialism, tragedy, and a variety of critiques of faith. 

When not overtly thematic, I greatly enjoy character and creature designs, especially within the context of video games or film. I am, however, not without sentimental moments, as I also use my work to convey deeply personal memories from my suburban home back in Massachusetts, whose landscapes have been used for several years as playgrounds for my imagination.

Digital Illustration, Teaghan Gokey
Digital Illustration, Teaghan Gokey

Links on this page are Amazon affiliate links that earns from qualifying purchases.

Submit Your Art for a free Live CritiquePurchase a critique or Skype Session

Support us!

© 2021 ArtProf. All rights reserved. Site Disclaimer.