Stacks Image 5670

About Shake the Muse
for Portraits

Shake your phone/tablet to stir up a unique combination of art elements to inspire new portraits. Go with the random elements, make your own selections, or have your subject choose which elements represent them at this moment in time.

More than 190,000 approaches to portraiture can be envisioned, if you count all of the possible combinations of art elements.

Visit for details on featured works of art and further exploration, including other art genres and ways of seeing. With the Shake the Muse app for Android, the Muse has more than 20 billion ideas for new paintings.

We hope Shake the Muse contributes to a growing recognition that the elements of art don’t belong to past artists or historical periods. Rather, each is a timeless, essential part of visual language, belonging to all. Late 19th and 20th century culture celebrated the exploration of visual language, but a misguided sense of ownership led to a process of elimination, in which one art element after another was assigned to an artist or group of artists. Soon enough, most aspects of visual language supposedly belonged to the past.

Imagine if the 20th century had celebrated the ongoing expansion of visual language rather than setting a series of expiration dates. What if the full scope of expression became the cultural ideal? Perhaps this mindset is finally taking hold. Judging by the diversity of contemporary art, last century's proprietary assumptions seem to be fading away. More and more, we recognize this generation's creative need to draw on all parts of visual language to fully express its complexity.

Those who are still attached to 20th century notions of innovation need not worry that free exploration of visual language will lead to derivative art. It's easy enough to see when an artist mimics a past master or period – trying to repeat all the same nuances of that artist or era. Originality is found in the countless subtle choices artists make while working within a set of parameters. And, with the full scope of visual language to play with, we can always find new parameters – just…


© 2020

All works of art shown are public domain or used by permission of the artists. All graphic designs are copyrighted by

Stacks Image 5700