After I joined flickr.com in 2011 and uploaded a bunch of old family photos as part of a personal genealogy project, I was curious to find out what else that site had to offer. Photos of course, because it's a photo sharing site, but what else besides landscapes and sunsets and travel shots? Well, as I found out, EVERYTHING. And there are groups for just about every subject you can imagine.
I searched for and found photos and groups on all sorts of historical and vintage-y topics like maps (I love maps!), postcards, books, magazines, sewing patterns (I have some of all of those!); also quilting (I quilt!), and doodles - people actually share their doodles? Cool, I have a ton of those! Then I found zentangles - what the hell are zentangles? They sort of look like my doodles .... wait, what? Someone had the idea to name, methodize, and trademark a style of doodling and market it? And make a bunch of money off of it? Very clever. Wish I had thought of that. Oh well. I shared my doodles in zentangle groups anyway, and even tried some of their "methods", and even made a few friendships that have carried over to facebook and beyond.
In time I found other art-sharing groups, and eventually the one that would have the biggest impact on me, Julia Kay's Portrait Party - JKPP for short. I like to draw faces and had been using random pictures from magazines and the internet for subject matter. As I looked around in flickr drawing groups, I kept seeing drawings tagged "for JKPP" so I checked it out.
The premise behind JKPP is that in exchange for posting some photos of yourself for other artists to use as subject matter, you can choose from among any of the other group members' photos to draw or paint, and share your completed work with the group. I didn't know at first that there even was such as a thing as a real-life portrait party, where artists meet in person and draw each other, but this virtual version of it sounded interesting, albeit a bit intimidating at first. I quickly learned there was no reason to feel intimidated. This was a wonderfully friendly, supportive, fun group of people. Literally within minutes of posting my discussion thread, the first portrait of me was drawn, and others soon followed. So I started looking through all the photos, and started drawing ..... 3-1/2 years later, I have completed 155 JKPP portraits in a variety of mediums: pencil, colored pencils, ink, markers, neocolors, cretacolors, acrylic, watercolor, and various combinations.
And I learned that "meet-ups" were occurring around the world of group members that live near each other (examples: Oxford UK, Barcelona), and also a "postcard exhibit in a box" had been growing and mailed around to various meetup locations and put on display. So a couple years ago I had an idea to take those ideas and step further and create a JKPP exhibit of original works at Gallery 194 in Lapeer. The idea was well received by both gallery staff and JKPP members, so we got to work, and in late June/early July 2014 it happened. And it exceeded my wildest expectations. The walls of the gallery were filled with original portrait art by 44 artists from 11 countries. An exhibit catalog was created (by me, Julia Kay and Jenny Sperry.) An opening reception was attended by the 6 Michigan JKPP members. A table was set up with supplies where the public could sit and try their hand at portrait drawing throughout the exhibit, and the results hung up in their own section of the gallery.
The best part though was the closing weekend of the exhibit. 13 JKPP members from around the country and as far away as England came to Lapeer and participated in an ipad workshop led by Julia Kay, a closing reception at the gallery, plein aire painting around town, and much fun, fellowship and networking all weekend long. Not only did I have a blast, and I think everyone else did, but I ended up with some cool swag too.
In celebration of JKPP's 5th anniversary in 2015, Julia and friends organized an exhibit and associated activities in San Francisco CA. Since I was sadly not able to attend and quite jealous of those who could, I wanted to be involved in some way, so I volunteered to create an exhibit catalog again. This time we decided to use blurb.com so that members could order the booklets directly from the site; copies are still available. A few weeks ago JKPP celebrated its 6th anniversary (which was when I first started typing this post but got distracted repeatedly), and now a book is in the works - a real book, not just an exhibit catalog.
I still can't believe my good fortune in finding and becoming part of this wonderful group.