Have you ever commissioned a portrait? If not of yourself or a family member, then maybe of a pet or even your house?
Most people haven’t. And I’m not surprised. It’s not because they’re expensive, they can be, but so can entertainment systems that become obsolete while the portrait remains just as valuable, just as meaningful, as ever. They can also be very affordable, depending on the artist, and bearing in mind that each portrait is a bespoke (custom-made) item, usually hand-made and often with tremendous skill as well.
But seriously, most people have either never thought of commissioning a portrait or ruled it out for some reason.
Now imagine that I show up in your Facebook newsfeed or your Twitter feed, asking you to tell me the name of one of your hero(ine)s, so that I can draw them. When I’m done, I’ll share it on social media, tagging you in the post and asking you to share it with your online friends (naming me as the artist) along with a little explanation of why you chose that person as your hero.
Doesn’t that sound and feel a little different?
That in a nutshell is my #dailyheroes online portraiture project, a way for me to create something positive on social media without sharing videos of cats I don’t have :-)
While the portraits are far from daily, (I find I need to do them in bursts), they have become a key part of what I bring to my online life, because of what others have brought to it.
First of all, others bring me names, and when they do some of them share why they chose that hero(ine). It’s like being given a double gift: I get to know my friend or contact a little better and I also get to know figures (past and present) whom I may never have heard of before, or I will learn more about in my research.
Secondly, others have brought me their enthusiasm, both when bringing names and when “receiving” the drawing, and sharing them, whether they were the original commissioner or not.
I love the conversation that’s resulted, and the nascent sense of community building around it, at least for me.
So, when the producer of Night Time (a late night Rogers TV talk show) approached me about appearing in their current season, I knew which project I wanted to talk about! The segment originally aired on Friday, December 4, and will repeat. I will see if I can get a recording of it to share online.
Meanwhile, if you have a hero(ine) you’d like to share, please do so in the comments below, or on Facebook or Twitter (those words are live links).
I am posting the results in an album on Flickr as well.
PS: The name #dailyheroes is what's called a hashtag. For anyone unfamiliar with how those work, you can search for them in the search bar on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for example, (you must include the "#" which is the hashtag proper) and if anyone has used the term you enter (it has to be all one word), you will be able to see the posts where they used it.
A few examples (click on the image to see a larger version):
If you missed an earlier post about this installation,
just click on one listed below:
'Chains Unlinked' Mural Part Three: It All Starts Coming Together!
'Chains Unlinked' Mural: New Face & Hand & Adding Darks
'Chains Unlinked' Mural: From Diagram to Drawing, Part One
'Chains Unlinked' Day 5: the Installation is Done!
'Chains Unlinked' Day 4: Drawing Complete, Installation Begins
Chains Unlinked' Day 3: Drawing Almost Done!
Day 2: Wall Drawing for 'Chains Unlinked' Exhibition (updated)
'Chains Unlinked' Installation Day One Complete!
does with the proper respect can require more thought than usual before speaking, as well as longer and deeper consideration of the other person's work than you would need for something you had done yourself.
For this collage, Kal and I started by taking turns at individual layers. Then things got interesting. It became a series of discussions with each intervention; longer discussion over smaller aspects as we got closer to completion.
The piece borrows a little positional/proportional structure from the original collage we responded to, as well as some colour and material reference, but in the end it totally surprised us, and that made us very happy.
Have you done collaborative work? Was it an enjoyable process with an interesting result or did the collaboration itself need more work? Please share your stories in the comments.
This summer was the first year for a new program I helped to develop and teach: the Studio Process Advancement (SPA) graduate certificate at Haliburton School of the Arts, a 14-week intensive combination of academic content and studio work.
We were lucky to have an amazing group of 12 committed, passionate and hard-working students for our first cohort. Along with the faculty team of Lisa Binnie (our coordinator), Elinor Whidden, Darlene Bolahood, Kal Honey, me and our fearless leader (and dean) Sandra Dupret, we had a number of visiting artists, a gallerist and a curator (I would thank them all by name, but I don't have them all at hand; a special thank you though to Andy Fabo) who made presentations, conducted hands-on demonstrations and consulted with students on an individual basis. Diversity of vantage points is hugely important in art, so these invited guests enriched the program tremendously by their contributions.
I found teaching for this a really interesting challenge. My favourite experience was having in-depth conversations one-on-one with the students, asking and answering questions, offering responses and suggestions, riffing on ideas. Those conversations are something you can really miss in a solitary studio practice, along with the support of a tight-knit group. Solitude is important for creativity, but so is connection, which makes all kinds of programs, classes, critique groups and so on, essential for most artists, at least on a periodic basis.
I'm very excited about the progress everyone made this summer and am so proud of them all!
The Haliburton Echo wrote an article about 'SPA' that you can check out here:
Making art is engaging in a conversation; a conversation with the world around me, with myself, with other artists (past and present), and ultimately with viewers and collectors of the work.
Working in the studio is quite solitary unless you happen to be part of a collaborative partnership or team, so artists are often hungry for conversation: about art in general, about being an artist and of course about their own work. That hunger often motivates artists to attend open studio sessions, take workshops and form communities. It may even motivate them to start a blog!
Welcome to my new blog. I invite you to join me in this conversation whether you are an artist, student, work in the arts, or are just generally interested in things art-related. What would you like to talk about?
Kim Lee Kho
As a visual artist I like nothing more than getting up to my elbows in paint or little plastic toys, or wading in at the deep end in pursuit of an idea. When I am not teaching others in a similar vein, you can find me researching, writing and noodling around in my studio, seeing where my latest lines of inquiry lead me.
All images and content on this website © Kim-Lee Kho 2005–2018 except as indicated. All rights reserved. No reproduction without express, written permission.