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Wednesday, 20 March 2019 08:54 am

Local portrait artists going strong a decade on

May 15th, 2018 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News


Peter Hartstonge sits for the Portrait Club in the Karori Arts and Crafts Centre.

A local Wellington art group is still meeting weekly after almost a decade – and getting people to sit still for them.

The Portrait Club is held at 7.30pm every Monday at the Karori Arts and Crafts Centre and offers artists of all skill levels an opportunity to practice portraiture.

Founder Martin Jenkins created the group in January 2009 after seeing a lack of opportunities to draw and paint portraits of a live subject in Wellington, particularly with longer sitting times.

“I was quite keen on getting a two hour session, obviously with breaks, but it gave the opportunity for the artist to paint and to have more or less finished works by the time they’d completed the session.”

Each session is attended by 10 or so artists and requires attendees to bring their own materials and payment.

Dean Gray adds detail to his portrait.

Tea, coffee and biscuits are offered in a longer break and a model is provided.

“We have a variety of [models] young and old, male, female, all nationalities,” Martin says.

“A bit like playing tennis, if you play the same tennis player all the time you only get so good, but with the variation it definitely helps the artist improve.”

Many of the attendees have been coming since the beginning, among them Natasha McMillan, a research analyst, who enjoys the social side of the meetups as well as the creative benefits.

“The opportunity to draw someone who’s sitting for two hours, or roughly that long… is a luxury.

Jill Hartstonge with her painting prior to completion.

“And being able to do that every week and just seeing the improvement over, you know, nine years or whatever.”

Maria Bozina, an artist and art teacher, enjoys the practice as she usually uses still images to create photorealistic commissions.

“You have lots of time because the model is not running away, not complaining, not switching positions, lights and everything,” she laughs.

“It’s kind of really easy to get used to this comfort zone. And then when you paint portraits from real people it’s really complicated and you have to do it really fast.”

Karori Arts and Crafts offers classes and a range of other artistic activities to members and the public.

The Portrait Club is $6 for KACC members, $9 for non-members. Information and past works are posted on Facebook and Martin can be contacted at 027 604 7329 or

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