Thursday, 31 March 2011

Interview with an Artist - Sue Hodnett

JKPP Painter Sue Hodnett tells us about the "wild and windy" Northumbrian countryside which inspires her.
Sue is pictured here with her portrait of Julia Kay and Julia's portrait of her.

Tell us a little about yourself:
I paint from my home in the beautiful Northumbrian countryside which is in the far north of England.
It's often a wild and windy landscape and I love to experience it in all weathers with my sketchbook.
When I'm not painting I can be found trundling around Hadrian's Wall where I manage a World Heritage Site.

Tell us about your art:
I think of myself primarily as a landscape painter, following in the tradition of John Piper and Ivon Hitchens.
I need to use portable media which is why watercolour is so important to me. Like Piper, heritage is an important part of my work - often trips out visiting sites are recorded in my sketchbooks.

Tell us about your technique:
Over the years I've developed a speedy approach to working, to fit in with the time constraints of having a young family and being a working Mum. I usually work on a couple of paintings at the same time which are completed 'alla prima". Paintings are often abstracted and further abstracted, so the initial image can be difficult to find. I'm not trying to capture what a place looks like, rather a sense of place.

Tell us about the reaction you have had to your work:
I set my Flickr account up a year and a half ago just as I was turning 40, which was the first public showing of my work for 20 years. I guess work and family life take up so much of your time and energy that it's only now I have a little time for myself. I'm humbled by the comments people write but will always follow my own instinctive direction.

Tell us about who inspired/inspires you:
When I lived in Orkney I went to a painting class run by an artist called Doug Muir. He taught me about landscape painting - how to simplify things and not get too precious about your work. He also introduced me to his extensive library of art books which he gifted to the Pier Arts Center in Stromness when he died. The book I would most like to see again is his Emil Nolde book, a thick book of rich watercolour landscapes.

Tell us about you and JKPP:
JKPP has a real community feel about it. I'm not in the art 'scene' in Northumberland, so the contact and correspondence with other JKPP members has opened up my art world. I'm particularly interested in the part it plays in encouraging all ages and abilities to make portraiture an 'art for all'.

To find out more about Sue and see her work visit:

Monday, 28 March 2011

Martin Beek talks about himself, his art and JKPP

Martin Beek, one of the organisers of Saturday’s Oxford JKPP meet-up, provides an insight into himself, his art and his involvement with JKPP.

His Flickr photostream has over 19,000 photos and artworks by him and others – something he feels reflects life as he lives it now. See

In his profile he notes, “Flickr is a significant part of my creative life. Through Flickr I’ve made contact with so many like-minded people... I have always felt strongly that art should be shared.”

Tell us a little about yourself

I am a practising artist, although I do have a day job too. I studied Fine Art (BA Hons) and have had many public shows over the past 30 years. I live in Oxford, England and currently work in a representational style. I see art as an ongoing

process of change and build on what I have done to explore new ways of expressing the world as I see it.

Tell us a little about your art

As an artist I work in a very wide range of media. Currently I use oil pastel/crayon and also pen and ink for my sketch studies. But I've covered most methods over the years. I believe art should somehow reflect and connect with emotion and, to that extent, I am an expressionistic artist.

I can find a subject in most things around me. I like art that is both contemporary but an art that also connects with the ongoing tradition of art history. I would hope that my art, taken as a whole, does have a meaning and a sense of purpose.

Tell us about your technique

Colour and "mark making" are of vital importance to me as they suggest the subject and the mood I wish to convey. I hope my technique is uncomplicated , but realise that sometimes one needs to push a work to develop as a visual artist.

Tell us about the reaction you have had to your work

On the whole I think reaction to my work has been fair. Although I'm not unafraid of helpful criticism, I’m rarely guided by what others may say about what I do - good or bad. I respect anybody who passes informed criticism and hope I am my own most severe critic.

Tell us about who inspired/inspires you

Impossible to name three artists that I would cite but, if I had to, the Victorian painter John Everett Millais, whose own art underwent huge changes of technique, interests me greatly - not just his Pre Raphaelite work, which was short lived, but his later landscapes and portraits. His visual acuity and brilliance should not be dismissed or overlooked. I think David Hockney is inspirational for his restless eye and ceaseless production as is Van Gogh, for his transformation of the common life into a new visual language that is so powerful and vital.

I'm also inspired by the new Google art gallery views. It takes me to places I may not see, and experience glimpses of art in far off places. See

Tell us about you and JKPP

The JKPP has been, since the start, an entirely positive group that I find fascinating to participate in. It has enabled good connections with artists from all over the planet, and is inspirational in its simplicity of intent.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Interview with an Artist - Jane Sherwood

Jane Sherwood, host of yesterday’s JKPP meet-up in Oxford, tells us here about herself, her art, and her involvement with the group.
She is pictured, second from the right, with other JKPP members at the Oxford event, holding portraits of themselves by other JKPP members. Fellow organiser Martin Beek is pictured second from left.

Tell us a little about yourself
I am a vicar in a small church/community centre in South Oxford, a church that has a very artistic heart. I have a husband and two kids – Sam and Sophia . I work at home, working from photos or still life. I enjoy the challenge of working from live subjects, when I have the opportunity.
Tell us about your art
I have reawakened to art in 2010, having not done much for many years. But now I want to paint in every spare minute. I am moved by beauty and am always attempting to capture and interpret it.
Tell us about your technique
Since my reawakening in 2010 I have been working mainly in acrylics. I love vibrant colours and the visibility of this medium.
Tell us about the reaction you’ve had to your work
I have found my main encouragement to continue painting on Flickr, and in participating in JKPP and `Lots of Landscapes’. These groups stretch, encourage and inspire me continually.
Tell us about who inspired/inspires you
I am particularly inspired by Matisse, Renoir, Van Gogh and Gauguin. Other Flickr artists always inspire me, as well as my current favourite art book.
Tell us about you and JKPP
JKPP has been the main reason for me starting into portraiture. It is an incredibly inspiring, accepting and encouraging group. It has become more than an interest group. It is a community of real people who love art, and is something of an art movement.
Watch this space to find out more about other JKPP artists who met up to draw and paint each other in the church/community centre where Jane is a vicar.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Celebrating JKPP's First Birthday in Oxford today

Happy Birthday JKPP! A great day was had by all who could make it to St Luke's Church in Oxford today and even those who couldn't were there in spirit with a great selection of portraits from all over the world together with an exhibition of self portrait postcards to celebrate 10,000 JKPP portraits!

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Lessons from a demo portrait done on an ipad

I came across this video by artist David Kazan by chance last year and it made me realise the possibilities of 'painting' portraits digitally on an ipad or other touch screen. I always like watching the process of a painting or drawing develop and it's interesting to see that the same 'rules' apply here as with pencil and paper - start general with big shapes of light/dark and then move to the specific /detail. 

Seeing the early stages of this short piece also encouraged me not to ditch a digital image too soon - just as in any drawing (or painting) I find I often go through a stage where nothing looks like I think it should but if I can hold steady, ignore the little voices and keep going it usually works out better than I thought it might at that early stage (even if it's not how I originally thought!)

Hope you enjoy it!

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Welcome to Julia Kay's Portrait Party Blog!

In March 2010 Julia Kay started a portrait party on Flickr and Julia Kay's Portrait Party was born!

The rules of the party are simple, each artist posts a selection of photos of themselves from which all members of the group can draw and paint their portrait. All members of the group are therefore both subjects of portraits and creators of portraits.
The Party was an instant success, 60 artists joined in the first week, drawing more than 200 portraits of each other, including two dozen of Julia Kay. After 6 weeks, we had 150 members from around the world who had posted more than 1400 portraits of each other.

One year on and the party (affectionately known as JKPP) is still in full swing with over 450 members and over 10,000 portraits!

But it's impossible to express the impact of the party in just numbers.
I had always wanted to paint portraits, but it’s not always easy to find the sitters in the ‘real world’. So JKPP opened up a fantastic resource – not only photographic, but also for the inspiration of seeing everyone else's style and technique. It’s a huge motivation to have the encouragement and support of the thriving group of diverse artists that is JKPP!

Over the last year I’ve painted and drawn in totally new ways than I’m used to. And after I added my photos to the pool it was a whole new joy to see the amazing and creative versions of me. Anne Watkins summed it up beautifully - waking up to find new portraits of herself was like finding love notes in a bottle – treasures flung across the unknown – from people she could not hear or touch, only see and imagine.
This blog aims to give more of an insight into JKPP's art, artists, portraits and portrayed. We'll talk tips and techniques, exhibitions and reviews. With so many members, everyone's view of the portrait party will be different, I can't wait to read them all here!
I couldn't think of a better way to kick off the blog than with a selection of some of my favourite portraits of the party's fantastic founder and host, Julia Kay...
Julia Kay by Gloria Rendón
Julia Kay by Virginia Hein

Julia Kay by Mariah O'Neill

Julia Kay by Wally Torta

To see many more amazing portraits see Julia Kay's Portrait Party on Flickr.
For a great description of the birth of the Portrait Party and it's exciting growth, see Julia's article on the Women's Voices for Change site.
To see Julia Kay's own art have a look at her Flickr Photostream here.