Portrait Revolution: Inspiration from Around the World For Creating Art in Multiple Mediums and Styles

Portrait Revolution: Inspiration from Around the World For Creating Art in Multiple Mediums and Styles

by Julia L. Kay
Portrait Revolution: Inspiration from Around the World For Creating Art in Multiple Mediums and Styles

Portrait Revolution: Inspiration from Around the World For Creating Art in Multiple Mediums and Styles

by Julia L. Kay


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Based on the popular international collaborative art project, Julia Kay's Portrait Party, this book features hundreds of portraits in multiple mediums and styles teamed with tips and insights on the artistic process.

The human face is one of the most important subjects for artists, no matter their chosen medium. Pulling from 50,000 works of portraiture created by the artists of the international online collaborative project Julia Kay’s Portrait Party, Portrait Revolution presents a new look at this topic—one that doesn’t limit itself to one medium, one style, one technique, or one artist. By presenting portraits in pencil, pen, charcoal, oils, watercolors, acrylics, pastels, mixed media, digital media, collage, and more, Julia Kay and co. demonstrate the limitless possibilities available to aspiring artists or even to professional artists who are looking to expand creatively.

Along with works in almost every conceivable medium, Portrait Revolution shines a spotlight on different portrait-making techniques and styles (featuring everything from realism to abstraction). With tips, insights, and recommendations from accomplished portrait artists from around the globe, this all-in-one inspiration resource provides everything you’ll need to kick-start your own portrait-making adventure.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781607749967
Publisher: Clarkson Potter/Ten Speed
Publication date: 04/11/2017
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 542,502
Product dimensions: 7.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

JULIA L. KAY is a painter, printmaker, photographer, muralist, and digital artist born and raised in New York City. She holds a BA in photography from Wesleyan University in Connecticut and did graduate work at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. Kay now lives in San Francisco, where she’s had the opportunity to complete commissions and to exhibit both locally and internationally. She began Julia Kay’s Portrait Party in 2010 and it has since grown to over one thousand members in more than fifty-five countries. Visit the group’s website at studiojuliakay.com/jkpp.

Read an Excerpt

ABOUT Julia kay’s portrait party

Julia Kay’s Portrait Party (JKPP) is an international collaborative project in which artists all over the world make portraits of each other. After seven years of exchanging portraits, tips, and techniques with each other, we’re now sharing our art, our words and our inspiration with everyone who is interested in or would like to get started with portraiture.

JKPP began in 2010 as a way to celebrate the successful completion of my three-year project to make a self-portrait every day. During that project I experimented with multiple media and conceptions of “self-portrait.” I drew while looking in the mirror, from photographs, from memory and from imagination. I painted in my studio and drew with my finger on my iPod Touch. In all this experimentation, the thing that emerged as the most important to me was my commitment to a daily art-making practice. I had never had that in my life before, and it was terrific. After three years, I was ready to stop putting myself in every picture, but I wasn’t ready to stop drawing every day.

As a transition between staring at my own face for three years and opening up to other genres entirely, I thought it would be fun to throw a portrait party and look at some other faces. I’d first heard of portrait parties from Rama Hughes’s blog, where he described a portrait party as a get-together where artists draw each other. Originally I thought I would have a traditional live portrait party. 

Unfortunately, as the three years of my self-portraits were winding up, I found myself in the middle of a family emergency and in no position to throw a live party. I’d begun posting my work and following other artists on flickr.com so I decided to try starting a group there. I sent invites to some of the other self-portrait and figurative artists I’d been interacting with, crossed my fingers, and hoped a couple of people would post photos by the time I was ready to start, a week later.

Apparently I wasn’t the only self-portrait artist in the world hungry for another face to stare at. In that first week, before I even began drawing anyone myself, 60 artists jumped on board and drew more than 200 portraits of each other. After six weeks, we had 150 members from around the world who had posted more than 1,300 portraits of each other. By the time of this book’s publication, we had more than 1,000 members from more than 55 countries, and the group had produced more than 50,000 portraits of each other.

As the portrait count was growing, the group was also growing closer as a community. Group members were using the Flickr interface to comment extensively on each other’s work, have conversations about different art processes, tell jokes. There was an inadvertently funny moment early on, when one of the digital artists asked a watercolorist “What app did you use for that?” Usually the digital artists posted to digital groups and the watercolorists posted to watercolor groups, so they weren’t used to seeing each other’s work. But here artists in all media were mixing it up and being inspired by each other. A wide range of styles also emerged—from realistic likenesses to wild semi-abstracts that are perhaps only conceptually portraits. Of course you’ll see this range of styles and media throughout the book, but to whet your appetite, here you can see two portraits in very different styles from the same photo of Lena, Norway.

In addition to a growing body of work and a growing community, the group has had growing recognition. Many individual artists exhibit, publish and sell their JKPP portraits. We’ve been invited to participate in portrait-themed exhibits and portrait events. Several JKPP group exhibits have been held, in locations from the USA to the UK, including a month-long exhibit in San Francisco culminating in a three-day international meetup to celebrate our 5th Anniversary.

The digital revolution was instrumental in bringing the artists of JKPP together. The advent of the internet enabled us to connect visually with each other over great distances. It has allowed artists from places as disparate as the USA and Iraq, the UK and South Korea, to exchange photos of ourselves for portraiture and to share our work, our ideas, and our advice.

Another part of the digital revolution also impacted JKPP. Art made on phones and tablets, known as mobile digital art, was gaining momentum as the party was starting. I was very interested in this medium from its inception, and was involved with the online community of artists exploring it. Within a month of JKPP starting, the first Apple iPad was released and mobile digital artists were freed from the tiny screens of their phones. The artists who came together at the inception of JKPP used media ranging from painting with brushes to painting with the Brushes app. Everyone was interested in all the different processes, and many artists were influenced by each other. Traditional artists started playing with iPads, and digital artists pulled dusty watercolor sets out of their closets.

I’ve wondered if it’s revolutionary to make a portrait—thousands of portraits—without having to worry about flattering or bestowing prestige on the subject, as artists commissioned to make portraits generally have to do. At JKPP, the members offer up their photos of themselves to be used by other artists to explore their own artistic interests. Although there are guidelines for being respectful, there’s no requirement for a resemblance, or a flattering depiction.

On the other side of the equation, historically, you had to be the queen, the pope, the prime minister, or at least a sports star to have so many portraits made of you. But at JKPP, hundreds of people without exceptional fame have had the experience of not just one, two, or three portraits of themselves, but dozens, even hundreds.
In this book, you will find hundreds of portraits by and of artists from all over the world. Our portraits are in a wide range of media, including digital and traditional—and some that fall in neither category. Styles range from colorful to monochrome, realistic to abstract. Themes such as artists at work and play show that a portrait can be more than head and shoulders. The range of interpretations is illustrated with different artists’ portraits of the same subject, often from the same photo. Conversely, the development of distinct styles is seen in the Featured Artist pages. I hope you enjoy what you see here, and get inspired to make some portraits yourself. And I hope it leaves you wanting to see more, at http://studiojuliakay.com/jkpp.


Table of Contents


about julia kay’s portrait party 6 

• Pencil 12 • Colored pencil 16
• Charcoal 18 • Ink 22 • Ballpoint pen 26
• Markers 28 • Digital drawing 32
• Crayon 34 • Chalk pastel 36
• Oil pastel 38 • Water-soluble pencils and crayons 42
• Watercolor 44 • Gouache 50
• Acrylic paint 52 • Oil paint 58 • Digital painting 62
• Traditional printmaking 68
• Digital printmaking 72 • Collage 76
• Mixing traditional and digital media 78
• Needle arts 82 • Unusual media 84 

• Realism 88 • Abstract 90 • Composing around the rectangle 92
• Drawing blind 96
• Monochrome 98 • Limited color 102
• Cool tones 106 • Warm tones 108
• Full palette 110 • Contour drawing 112
• Drawing with shapes 116 • Patterns 118
• Preprinted paper 120 • Dramatic light 122

• Babies 126 • Double portraits 128
• Portraits within portraits 130 • Animal companions 134
• Musicians 138 • Artists at play 142
• Artists at work 144 • Hats 150
• On location: indoors 152 • On location: outdoors 154
• Telling a story 158
• Drawing from art history 160 

• Samar Alzaidy 164 • Martin Beek 166
• Anna Black 168 • Patricio Villarroel Bórquez 170
• Joan Ramon Farré Burzuri 172
• Sue Hodnett 174 • Julia L. Kay 176 • Marion Lokin 178
• Theresa Martin 180 • Maureen Nathan 182
• Daniel Novotny 184 • Mariah O’Neill 186
• Gila Rayberg 188 • Jerry Waese 190
• Janice Wahnich 192

• Why make portraits? 196 • Working with photographs 198
• Tracing 202 • On seeing and drawing 204
• The process of making portraits 206
• Holding a portrait party 213 

• Omar Jaramillo 20 • Jacquie Ramirez 30
• Rajesh Kumar John 40 • Angel Zhang 48
• Patricio Villarroel Borquez 56 • Gary Tausch 66
• Valérie Mafrica 74 • Arturo Espinoso Rosique 80
• Julia L. Kay 94
• Yip Suen-Fat 104 • Ujwala Prabhu 114
• Rodrick Dubose 132 • Pepe Fárres 140
• Mariah O’Neill 148 • Giorgio Bordin 156
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