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Get to know 'The Pretentious Cleveland Portrait Artists'

Local painter Tim Hern founded the weekly live portrait drawing meet-up 17 years ago as a way to celebrate art and community

CLEVELAND — Tim Herron sees our world in a unique way; mixing the real, and the surreal. Tim keeps an artistic record of our city through his work as a plein air painter. Plein air painting is all about leaving the four walls of your studio behind and experiencing painting and drawing in the landscape, and Tim not only captures Northeast Ohio's known landmarks, but some of its hidden treasures as well.

"I wanted to get into East Cleveland and the areas they never saw a plein air painter," he explained. "I've had nothing but positive vibes from everybody. No matter where I've been, I can't really explain a bad experience I've had."

From Jesse Owens' house to a tribute to the Garden of 11 Angels. Tim's work reimagines our city in vivid, often dreamlike detail. And Tim's work not only covers places, but people as well. 

I was honored to recently attend the session of the Pretentious Cleveland Portrait Artists, which is a weekly portraiture group that Tim leads.

"It started out in a little bar called The Literary Cafe here in Tremont. I and a friend of mine, Brian Pierce, wanted to get some practice drawing portraits just for the fun of it, so we'd invite any of the patrons of the bar if you'd want to sit for us. We'll give you the drawing," he recalled. "We just started doing it regularly every Friday, and as people of patrons would come into the pub, they'd go, 'Hey, I like to draw'. And that's how we got other people like that. It was great. All of a sudden, we had a big crowd of artists that didn't mind donating their drawings, so they get steady practice.

And this place for practice has grown into a 17-year-old institution that draws both veteran and beginner artists.

It was just so welcoming...and they were just very welcoming off the bat," said participant artist Lynn Shayko. "This is a good outlet for me. I work as a therapist and my work is stressful...and this is a really good self-care place for me."

And in tradition with highlighting Northeast Ohio, Tim draws a wide range of subjects to pose for the nights as well.

"I try to find interesting people if I can. For the artist, it's a three hour session and it's broken down into the first sitting is the hardest. We ask our models to sit for 45 minutes, and then it's a break for 15 minutes, half hour session break for 15 minutes, half hour session, break for 50 minutes, and then it's 10 30 that are done. And then I photograph the work. Then we give it to the models as they head out the door."

Drawing in politicians, artists, community leaders, and more, the Pretentious Cleveland Portrait Artists in Tim's practice are shining examples of Cleveland's imagination, dedication, and community.

You can learn more information about attending or modeling for a future event by visiting here or here or emailing Tim at manlypad64@gmail.com.

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