What is Portraiture?


Figurative artists working in all media are exploring portraiture. Artists know that a portrait can communicate much more than just a likeness. Personal identity, cultural differences, illusory moments — all can be captured through portraits. Portraits are created in a dizzying variety of media, including painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, video and other time-based media, even images based on individual DNA. It’s up to artists to figure out how best to depict those close to them.

In the Teen Portrait Competition, you may enter one work with any subject — a friend, a stranger, a relative, or a group but each portrait must be the result of your direct encounter with that person or persons (self-portraits will be accepted.) Since any medium can be submitted, your main limits are those of your imagination. However, all submissions must be digital. Look at the portraits below for more inspiration, and create something you believe in!


Sample Portraits:

From top left: Untitled, by Kachina Studer; Depression, by Beverly McIver; Untitled, by Liz Swiader; Myself, by Olivia Zimmerman; Self-Portrait, by Katie Kraunelis; Arthur Waters the Garden, by Lucy Fradkin; Life Raft, by Katie O’Hagan; Leslie, by Caitlin Teal Price, Digital Self-Portrait, by Emily Richmond; Portrait, by Sarah Schnorrenberg.

You can find more examples of prize-winning portraiture at http://portraitcompetition.si.edu/ and http://www.npg.org.uk/whatson/exhibitions/bp-portrait-award-2013.php.


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What is Portraiture?

Artists know that a portrait can communicate much more than a likeness. Personal identity, cultural differences, illusory moments—all can be captured through portraits. Portraits are created in a dizzying variety of media, including painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, video and other time-based media. It may be a traditional, representational work or it may be a more experimental portrait.

Click here to view some examples of portraits.


Looking for additional inspiration?

Visit the National Portrait Gallery website: npg.si.edu