Portfolio Clinics


OCAD University has created a unique program of day-long workshops designed to to give you the opportunity to explore new territory, build confidence in your skills as a visual communicator and get a sense of what it's like to be a student here. 

Start the day in a presentation about how to build a strong portfolio, followed by the workshop of your choice designed to inform and inspire your creativity. You will either complete a piece of work to include in your portfolio or learn a new skill that will enable you to create new work. The workshops provide a great opportunity to study with professionals. 

Workshops run for a full day. The cost of the workshop covers instruction and most materials. Not all workshops are available at every scheduled date.

Please note that the Portfolio Clinics are primarily designed for those who are interested in applying to a post-secondary art or design school. The curriculum of the workshops is not appropriate for students under the age of 15.

Detailed information about the day will be emailed to registrants approximately one week prior to the workshop. Registration closes the Thursday prior to the Portfolio Clinic date at noon.

2015/2016 Portfolio Clinics Schedule

Saturday, November 21, 2015
Saturday, December 5, 2015
Sunday, January 10, 2016
Saturday, January 23, 2016
Saturday, February 6, 2016

More dates to be posted soon...

Sample Workshop Descriptions

(Exact offerings are available on the online registration site)

Model Making

This workshop is intended for students interested in Industrial and Furniture Design. Students will generate a scale model of an object of their choice using extruded polystyrene foam. Students will be introduced to examples of foam in model making and the various tools required. It is advised that students generate their own design sketches of household items to model, examples: teapot, jug, sofa, chair, screwdriver, spray bottle, etc. Communicate your designs spatially, an important skill every designer will need in their toolkit. 

Hands On

Explore materials as a means to creative process and production. Drawing and painting media, materials and tools are supplied to you in this workshop. Colour glazing, hard-edge, optical mixing, texture and surface are explored. You’ll engage in direct and rapid exercises, such as mind mapping, designed to expand your working vocabulary and stretch your imagination. An overview on how these strategies are employed by contemporary and abstract painters is provided. The workshop focuses on the extent of how paint can be manipulated as a material, and how to understand and execute different strategies of colour mixing. 

Figure Drawing

This workshop focuses on observing and representing the human figure. Drawing techniques will be explored through a variety of exercises that focus on the principles of composition, proportion, form, light and shadow, volume through line and tone, as well as contour drawing. The workshop will begin with short gesture poses and work towards longer sustained poses. Learn to observe and translate what’s around you in three dimensions to the page in front of you.  

Encaustic Painting

Encaustic, or wax, is among the earliest known painting mediums currently in use. From its early associations with Greek and Egyptian funerary practices, to the Pop-inspired works of Jasper Johns, to the explosion of contemporary painters exploring and expanding its metaphorical possibilities, encaustic allows for a broad range of interpretations and applications. This workshop introduces you to the medium using a range of materials, tools and equipment. Wax is heated and mixed with oil paint, then applied in layers for a rich translucent finish. Changes can easily be made by reheating, manipulating, and scraping away areas to be revised. Because it dries so quickly you will be able to complete several paintings by the end of the day.

Material Impact

Combine your drawing, painting, photography and love for materials into a single stunning piece for your portfolio. Bring in a JPEG of your artwork, or a landscape, or portrait; print it onto cotton or silk to create a starting point for your collage. Draw on, paint, cut, or sew your image, then layer and combine it with handmade papers, plastic or metals to create an exciting reinterpretation. The day will be spent discussing and exploring how to combine a wide variety of disparate materials and techniques and how to merge these into a single cohesive piece that will showcase your artistic flexibility and get you "portfolio ready."

Screen Printing

Andy Warhol brought screen printing from the commercial world into the realm of fine art with his compelling multiples of Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy and Campbell's Soup cans. Try your hand at this versatile and punchy silkscreen printmaking technique: we'll experiment with printing your drawings, stencils and photographic images on paper. Make multiples, play with graphic images and make a mess in one of the printmaking studios, with works that can be included in your portfolio.

Word and Pictures

Taking the familiar and making it unfamiliar and taking the unfamiliar and making it familiar are common challenges for a designer. This workshop introduces students to problem recognition and solution through the arrangement and relating of components in two-dimensional space. Through a process of critical thinking and the application of visual hierarchies to words and pictures, students will create commanding, compelling communications. Discussion points include: the value of strong visual and oral presentation; introductory learning approaches to problem solving, abstract thought and creative thinking; the value of observation, research and process. Students will work on two/three in class exercises with the view to creating a stronger portfolio.

Introduction to Generative Coding

In this workshop you will be introduced to basic programming fundamentals. We will use Processing to design a series of interactive sketches that may take the form of a data visualization, simple game, or even an immersive environment.Within this section we will briefly cover object-oriented programming, different variables types, built-in functions, and how to incorporate other multimedia formats (i.e.: images, video, audio, etc) The purpose of this workshop is to provide you with a friendly introduction to programming within a 2D environment, where you can experiment and build tools that you will later use within your practice. 

Drawing Shortcuts for the Aspiring Designer: From 2D to 3D

Developments in computer drawing technology are rapidly advancing however the need to communicate through the ability to draw by hand remains constant. This user-friendly approach to drawing shortcuts will develop confidence and skill in a short period of time, with speedy results. Students will be guided through an immersive exploration of design process and drawing techniques that are useful for developing new cityscapes, products or sculptures. We'll use drawing as a tool for thinking while learning to transform two-dimensional contour lines into three-dimensional forms represented through accurate perspective sketches. Practical steps will guide the development of techniques to observe, analyze and invent new three-dimensional realities, while providing you with both sketchbook process drawings and a finished composition that could be included in your portfolio.

OCAD U reserves the right to make changes to this information. Inquire early as space is limited. This program may be cancelled due to low enrollment.

Student Comments

"Great opportunity to try new media, with personal assistance (small classes) and lots of hands on experience, not watching someone else make art half the time. Good value."

"It was such a great experience! I learned so much in such a short period of time. It was really fun, I would go again!"

"OCAD U provides a lot of hands-on experience, which will help you determine whether your chosen program is suitable for you or not."

“I learned what to put into my portfolio and I have a better understanding of what a university is expecting of me.”