About Visual Art Boot Camps

ciara gavin 3

Past Student, Ciara Gavin’s Picture Book

Once Upon a Time…

Adrienne Geoghegan’s Visual Art Boot Camps were established in 2008.  Adrienne had worked teaching visual communication at The Dublin Institute of Technology and children’s picture book illustration and writing at Independent Colleges.

When she left,  many past students and other interested creatives expressed an interest in any other courses that Adrienne designed and ran. This interest arose as a result of the success of Adrienne’s courses, plus a lack of access to evening courses that suited working hours and personal circumstances.

After searching for an inspiring and art friendly environment, Adrienne was delighted to find The Garden Art Room in The Carmelite Centre on Aungier Street, in the heart of Dublin City, a mere five minutes stroll from St Stephen’s Green.

The courses took off immediately, as the times and duration suited those who were working full time, parenting, or studying. We are now in our eleventh year.  Most of the students come through word of mouth and many do both courses, one after the other, or after a break. Check out our alumni page.

Places available for January 2019

First let’s define illustration, and clear up any confusion: Illustration is a significant and influential visual language.  It challenges boundaries, and encompasses almost all fields of art and design. Traditionally, it was typically associated with giving life, and energy written to the written word in both the publishing and advertising. Now however, through the upsurge of new technologies and media, illustration has never been so popular and is now seen in every aspect of our daily lives.

Illustration is a figurative art form based on storytelling. This can apply to Editorial Illustration, Advertising, Album Covers, Posters, Children’s Picture Books etc…

An illustration is a drawing, a painting, an assemblage, a collage any art form really that has been created to perform a particular function. That is what mostly defines it, it performs a function.
This function may be one or more of the following:
1. to inform or explain
2. to encourage or stimulate
3. to adorn
4. to attract
5. to narrate

No matter how the primary purpose of an illustration is defined, it is always practical instead of purely aesthetic.

The second major factor that defines illustration is its manner of presentation–usually by some mode of mass communication (such as, the printed page). Although illustration is the area of applied art that remains the closest to fine art, its function and format are the aspects that differentiate it from the fine arts. Therefore, an illustrator is not only concerned with the production of visual images (as are all visual artists), but with the graphic devices that make it an effective communication tool as well.

This course is all about classical training, 80% of what we do is off screen analogue.
learning through guidance and practice, whilst offering a creative environment where students can experiment, test and develop their illustrative work.

Students work towards creating a portfolio (both hard copy and online) showcasing their work. Then after they get a feel for their own particular strengths,  they can progress to the next level, be it another of Adrienne’s courses, higher education or industry.

Upon completion of this course, I hope you will have grasped some of the following:

The good habit of keeping sketch books
Competent in basic illustration techniques, having experimented with different mediums, techniques and materials.
Developed creative solutions to assigned briefs, whether Picture Book Boot Camp or Illustration Boot Camp
Researched and observed the approaches and processes employed by historical and contemporary illustrators.
Participated actively in group critiques.
Learnt how to present your work in a professional manner.
Learnt how to promote yourself: get active on Facebook, Blogs, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram,  etc.
Experimented and developed your work with different media (apart from what you’re used to!)
Learn the Basics of Photoshop, scanning and saving your work
Learn Printmaking techniques to use in illustration
Built a Good Portfolio or a Picture Book Proposal with Illustrations
Participated in the end of year exhibition, depending on attendance plus the quality and quantity of your work.
Made friends and had fun!

Class sessions will consist primarily of studio work on assigned projects, critiques of works in progress, location drawing, visiting professionals: Printmaking and Photoshop tutorials, individualised instruction, and some lecture (minimal).
You’re expected to attend all classes, or at least as many as possible.  Please try to arrive on time, as we usually have our critiques at the start of class plus instructions and briefing.  If for whatever reason you cannot attend class, please do let me know in advance by text 087 9919211. Class development, atmosphere, group discussion and projects depend on your attendance.
In order to obtain your certificate of course completion, you must not miss more than 5 classes, including location drawing, complete all the course work assigned, and participate in the group show, if your work is deemed of high enough quality.
As is true of other art courses, you are expected to purchase your own supplies. You’re equally responsible for bringing all appropriate supplies to each class.
If you’re having problems, no matter how minor, please ask me for help. Never leave class without thoroughly understanding an assignment.


  • Pencils 2B, 3B, 4B, 5B.
  • Black fine liner pens, 0.05,01,1,2,
  • Pencil sharpener
  • White eraser /Kneadable eraser.
  • 140 lb hot pressed sketchpad A3 or bigger (ILLUSTRATION CLASS)
    140 lb hot pressed sketchpad A2 (PICTURE BOOK CLASS)
  • Notebook for taking notes
  • Small sketchbook – hard back, for doodles and brainstorming (A4 or smaller)
  • Optional: Coloured pencils (good artist’s quality)
  • Assortment of artist quality paintbrushes suitable for acrylic and water media.
  • Acrylic paints: Do not use or buy student quality. Professional quality is not cheap but worth it. Try Golden paints: fluid or open acrylics, or Liquitex soft body (few main colours to start) Watercolour (artist quality only) pan or tubes.
  • Collage materialsand paper, found objects/vintage finds/printed ephemera
  • PVA white glue, scissors, etc.


Paints and other materials available at Evans Art Supplies, off Caple St., Dublin

Other paints and art materials:  www.artmaterialsco.com  online art supply company based in Terenure, amazon.co.uk, Cork art supplies and online shop, Reads of Nassau St (cheap)  Eason’s, Kennedys Harcourt Street.
Any other bits n bobs you fancy….

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