Portfolios – Part 3, Example #1

I learn best by example

Especially if the subject is primarily

Visual in nature

Don’t Tell me, Show me

This is the first of several Illustrated

Portfolio Dos & Don’ts

Related to image selection




For purposes of this series a portfolio is:

10-20 images from a larger body of work

with a well-defined theme

and a consistent quality

Image selection is the challenge

A well written artist’s statement is almost essential


In this and the next several posts, I’ll show example portfolios with

Comments on their Dos and Don’ts

The first example comes from my favorite exhibit

Shown on this blog before (bear with me)

It is my first attempt at a portfolio (2007)

I did the artist’s statement after I started selecting images

BIG mistake; corrected it mid-stream

Much easier once I knew what my “story” was


Here’s my artist’s statement.

Note the portfolio title

Pretend the statement is the introduction to an article (or photo essay) for publication

A title, and

A story synopsis

If you get that part right, the image selection is much easier

Georgia on My Mind – Floral Art

The portfolio’s intent is to show flowers in ways rarely seen. Three Georgia O’Keeffe quotes describe my criteria for selecting these photos (thus the title) –

Nobody sees a flower really; it is so small. We haven’t time, and to see takes time………

I decided that if I could paint that flower in a huge scale, you could not ignore its beauty.

I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way ……

The final quote, color and shapes, describes much of what is shown here –

flowers depicted in a way that leans toward non-representational abstract forms.

The final sentence of the artist’s statement summarizes –

What I, the artist, am looking for in my selection from a larger body of work

(nearly 4,000 floral images in this case)

What viewers should expect to see

Images that “don’t fit” shouldn’t be in this particular portfolio

Although they may be perfect for another one


Based on my artist’s statement and a 4,000 image body of work –

Here are the 16 images I selected

Doing it again today my choices might differ – even with the same starting 4,000 images

Click for full screen

Images that I question today are –

Row 1 – images 3 & 4

Row 3 – image 3

Row 4 – image 4


How about these next ones. Why weren’t they selected?

Pretty BUT Too Representational

Conflicts with “non-representational abstract forms”


Right style, but B&W doesn’t match the rest

This next version would qualify

Artist’s statement didn’t say “no B&W” but at some point

Common sense & aesthetics should prevail


Too Representational

But the following version (same flower) MIGHT qualify


It’s from the wrong half of the color palette

Look at the 16 selections – all warm to neutral

Where does blue fit in this scheme??

Except to stand out like a sore thumb 😦

This is a form of the “consistent quality” requirement


Hopefully this gives you some beginning ideas about selection

Mentioned were consistency of theme & quality, but

There are other factors, too, as shown here

Did you notice equal numbers of V & H?

This & other factors (like color) played a role

More examples tomorrow….


Subscribe (see sidebar) and don’t miss anything. New posts daily.

  • No sidebar? Click the blog title at the top of this page.

Another option – Click on the “Follow” button at the bottom right of the screen.

  • Or – “Follow” in your admin bar, displayed at the top of the screen, for logged-in WordPress.com users.