11 June 2016



Often a lack of space stifles the ability to look at all the artwork a student creates and therefore they miss out on seeing an overview of their emerging style, plus identifying strengths and areas for improvement. At mid and final portfolio reviews, Create students are able to lay out all their finished pieces in an allotted area and examine it as a body of work.

Portfolio review also allows students to be actively involved in group-based critiques. Critiquing each other's portfolios helps students to explore the creative process and their experience as a developing artist. The process of group critiquing is about finding their creative voice and a balance between compliment & constructive criticism. Students learn that the criticism is never personal – It is about the portfolio of artworks not the artist. Critiquing should always be balanced, neutral and constructive. Group critiques enable students to build skills by being exposed to different styles, options and approaches. It also assists students to push their responses to art beyond the initial "I like it", to questions of 'why?' and 'how?, articulated using art based visual literacy.

The Portfolio review whilst initially potentially challenging to some, is an excellent opportunity to build creative confidence.The review process brings together the artworks produced in NCAT Create students' Studio, Digital and Life Drawing classes.

Some students come to us blocked by years of self doubt. After initially letting their inner critic run rampant, they discover when they stand back after setting up their work, that there is a distinct style emerging and that they have come so far. It is often the first time that they begin to consider themselves as an emerging artist - and we are lucky enough to observe that realisation!

Accompanying their portfolio is a written Artist's Statement and in the final review, a creative resume. 

Our congratulations go out to all our students. It really is an incredibly impressive sight!

All images ©NCAT Create

9 June 2016


Tracy Paterson, artist and art educator, NCAT. ©Image Tracy Paterson
Tracy Paterson has been heading up the NCAT Create course, a part time visual art course for adults, at The Northern College of the Arts & Technology, since the course's inception in 2014.

For Tracy, designing the Create program came out of a desire to give adults an opportunity to learn to build art into their everyday lives. "Practising art is a discipline and as such needs to be learnt. There are so many people out there who dream of being an artist but simply don't know where to start nor how to make art fit into their life. We work with them to build their creative confidence as emerging artists." she says. Students also build a substantial body of work which can be used as a portfolio for entry into further education.

Tracy, who has been an art educator for over 25 years, is a practising artist herself. Her main discipline is Life Drawing. "I have had an ongoing love affair with life drawing for many years. For me the human form provides constant challenges and is as much about a celebration of difference as a drawing style. Life drawing is about a dialogue between myself and the model; It is collaborative. I love that when I draw I am so totally in the moment. It is about the process and as such, the output is of far less significance to me than the doing."
Life Drawing Pastel on paper ©Tracy Paterson
Life Drawing Charcoal on paper ©Tracy Paterson
Life Drawing Charcoal and Pitt Crayon on Paper
©Tracy Paterson
Life Drawing Charcoal and Pitt Crayon on Paper 
©Tracy Paterson
21 Landscapes Watercolour on individual wood panels
©Tracy Paterson
In addition to life drawing, Tracy is also a painter - previously specialising in portraiture - but now exploring landscape. She grew up in outback New South Wales where the landscape of the flat Hay Plain has a low horizon and huge skies. These brooding and potent skies appear as a regular force in her art. "The landscape of my childhood has informed much of my work and is something I am continually drawn to."

As an art educator, Tracy has built wide ranging skills in drawing, painting, printmaking, collage, illustration, photography and graphic design. She has worked as a freelance photographer and is rarely without a camera in hand. "At NCAT and in my life generally, I am the documenter. I am comfortable behind a camera and I enjoy searching for that elusive moment."

The Create staff skill their students in three broad subjects. Studio, taught by Tracy and Ali McCann, explores art practises such as drawing, painting, mixed media and printmaking, and pushes students to think conceptually and thematically. Digital Media, taught by Mark Russell and Bei Janetzki, focusses on digital photography and the Adobe Suite's Photoshop and Illustrator. Life Drawing, tutored by Tracy, gives the students valuable underpinning drawing and observation skills. Students also explore the creative arts industries, delving into social media and possible future creative pathways. They also learn how to write an effective artist's statement and art based resume.

5 fast Life Drawings. Willow Charcoal on Paper
©Tracy Paterson
Over the years Tracy has supported many ex Folio Preparation students as they have transitioned into the creative industries. An avid social networker, she has enjoyed helping them build and publicise businesses, find jobs, advertise exhibitions and welcome new websites. Tracy sees herself as having a responsibility to support these upcoming generations of talent long after their time at NCAT is over.

More recently, the Create students have gone on to Fine Art, Visual Arts, Illustration, Textile Design, Creative Arts Industries and Graphic Design courses (Post Graduate, Degree and Diploma). Others have moved into studio spaces together, applied for and attained arts grants, exhibited and built freelance businesses. For Tracy and her staff it is thrilling to see their dreams begin to take shape. 

The popular NCAT Create course runs on Thursdays and Fridays with a single intake per year. Applications are now open for next year.

All images: 
© Copyright Tracy Paterson