The editor of SchoolArt magazine asked me to write and illustrate an article about portrait parties. The story (and this drawing) focus on how to use them in class. But anyone can host one!

How to Host a Portrait Party

A portrait party happens whenever two or more artists draw one another. There is no wrong way to do it (as long as no one gets hurt), but you can use my family parties as an example:

When should I throw a portrait party?

Day time is the best time for a portrait party because that's when the light is best. Weekends are the best days for a portrait party because fewer people work! If you do it our way, you will spend at least two hours drawing.

Who should I invite to a portrait party?

Invite everyone you like but warn them that they will be drawing and they will be drawn. This scares a lot of people away. That's good because, in our experience, five is the perfect number of participants.

What supplies do I need for a portrait party?

A variety of drawing materials are best. We use pencils, sharpies, micron pens, crayolas, and brush markers. Paper, erasers, and pencil sharpeners are also vital. Electric pencil sharpeners are great. You will need a watch or an oven timer too. Also, snacks!

How do I organize the portrait party?

Wait for all of the participants to arrive. Then explain that each guest will take a turn modeling for the other guests. You can sit around a table or clear a space where the model can sit and the artists can sit around her.

How long will each person model?

At our party, each guest modeled twice: once for two minutes and once for ten minutes. Everyone took turns doing her two-minute pose, then everyone took turns doing her ten-minute pose. The two minute pose gives everyone a chance to warm up and really look at the model without time to feel self-conscious about his or her portrait. Compared to the two-minute pose, the ten-minute pose feels like all the time in the world.

How long will a portrait party last?

If you do it our way, a party with five people will take about two hours ~ that's an hour of actual drawing plus snack breaks and pencil sharpening breaks and "Where should I sit?" breaks. If more people come, consider splitting up into groups of three, four, or five. (We had seven people at our last party and, by the time our final model got situated, we were all eager to do something else.)

Keep in mind that artists have been drawing each other throughout history. So, thank you sincerely for asking but, no, you do not need my permission to throw a portrait party. I do love to see the drawings though!

P.s., If you would like to host a portrait party in your class room, I hope you will check out my essay for SchoolArts, visit the Portrait Party on ArtEd 2.0, or read the lesson guide on the Portrait Party website.

© 2010 rama hughes