Portrait swaps; a game that artists can play

I’ve developed a couple of online friendships with other artists on Instagram. For the most part, we love and comment on each other’s posts, but once in a while we have actual interactions. In a rare moment of extrovertedness, I initiated a game of portrait swapping; I’ll draw you in my style and you draw me in yours.

What resulted was a soul-nurturing give-and-take of artistic fun.

It all started when Lakota Meyer gave me permission to practice my portrait style on him, and because he was doing his own wonderfully bizarre Covid-19 portraits, he offered to draw me in return.
Lakota’s digitally drawn portrait of me really made my day. I am the Covid Queen, LOL!

2020 was turning out to be a weird, stressful year for everyone, everywhere, so it was good to feel a connection with other artists from all over the world.

@drawitalone is a stunningly beautiful interior decorator who lives in Luxembourg. I loved drawing her feminine features and soft, dark hair.
I sent @drawitalone a bunch of photos of myself, and I love that she chose this haughty, posh selfie of me in my summer hat. Her style is bold, daring and somehow she manages to convey beauty with ugly aesthetics. True beauty is kind of gross; at the very least it is a gross exaggeration of appealing forms. @drawitalone’s talent lies in pushing those forms to the very edge of aesthetic appeal without losing their original purpose. My lips have never been more lippy. 😚

From Europe to America, my art buddies and I managed to play our art game together despite the physical distances between us.

@helcatgoat is a young Finnish art and music student. She has unusual and appealing features which were a pleasure to draw. Her light, wispy hair blowing in the wind was a lot of fun to depict with organic swirls and squiggles.
Heli suffered from artist’s block for many months during 2020 and so she struggled to create this portrait of me; starting and abandoning many attempted drawings. In the end, she chose a melancholic photo of me to paint and I feel that her own sad emotions were reflected beautifully in this artwork. I feel like, in a way, we are sad together in this painting and that makes this portrait very special to me. How many other portraits can boast that both the sitter and the painter were emotionally in tune?

Sometimes we shared our creative journeys with each other; updating the other on our progress with their portrait and sharing how we were feeling, what we were thinking about, and what we hoped for the future.

@giancarlo_china is a hard-working husband and father who dabbles in art after work as a way to relax. I admire him for his positivity and his upstanding nature. I tried to capture the brightness of his personality in this piece and I feel like I succeeded.
Giancarlo didn’t tell me which photo he’d chosen to draw and then he surprised me with this delightful portrait of my husband and I. He captured the joy of this moment wonderfully; we were at a live comedy show waiting for the comedian to arrive and we were already enjoying ourselves.

The majority of these portraits were based on selfies taken by the artists. I found it quite funny but also very… contemporary… or perhaps millenialistic, that we were creating portraits based on selfies. The result is one artist’s impression of another artist’s carefully designed, curated and edited impression of themselves.

When @scobeywankenobi first looked at this selfie she took, did she see all the geometric shapes that I found in her face? Was she surprised by my impression of her? What would happen if she drew her own impression of the portrait that I drew of her? Would we end up in some kind of portraitception?
Serena Scobey’s art style is bold, minimalistic and extremely modern. So modern, in fact that we must call it postmodernism. I felt super cute in my hoodie when taking the photo, and she caught that emotion perfectly with minimal effort. I have a lot to learn from Serena and other artists like her, because they manage to employ the concept “less is more”, finishing conveying an idea with time to spare while I’m still busy fussing over adding unnecessary details and huffing over my desire to do more, add more, be good enough

And then… We stopped. We had finished our project, and accepted the changing world of 2020 and our place in it.

Thank you, my art buddies, @lakota2688, @drawitalone, @helcatgoat, @giancarlo_china, @scobeywankenobi for being bright, reliable stars in the blurry, confusing cosmos of humanity. I was able to anchor myself in relation to each of you and navigate through a rather difficult year.

It’s not quite finished yet, both the year of 2020 and our art swap project; @helcatgoat and I are planning to do a yearly art swap to see how we each age and our art styles change over time. I wonder how long we’ll manage to keep it going…