Saturday, May 16, 2015

Art of the Portrait 2015 - Saturday, May 2, 2015

On Saturday morning, at the annual Portrait Society of America conference, held this year in Atlanta, we watched Quang Ho and Mary Whyte paint the same subject in oil and watercolor.

Quang and Mary painting live!
This demo demonstrated to me (as a former watercolorist) how much more free and easy you can be with oils, since mistakes can be easily covered up. Quang Ho, the oil painter, quickly laid in the essentials and then refined his painting. I was a couple of minutes late getting to my seat and he had already fully massed in the face and beard.

With watercolor, you must have a definite plan in mind as you need to preserve your whites. You also need to let areas dry and a knowledge of just the right time to go in again is essential, as you can easily mess things up with colors running into areas you do not want them. Progress is necessarily slower, but the results can be really beautiful, with transparent colors glowing.

A side-by-side near the start
Approaching the finish line

Mary Whyte
Quang Ho
At lunch, many artists (including myself) took advantage of the Portfolio Critique service. I love to get as many opinions as I can when I attend The Art of the Portrait conference. This is such a great opportunity to get feedback and advice from experienced painters. I always walk away with new insight, even if the advice is not always the same. What I usually do in that case is look at the work of the artists that are in opposition and choose to believe the one who paints more like I do (or more like I want to). Of course, sometimes everyone says something similar, in which case it is good to sit up and pay close attention to that particular problem. We can all improve in our work and should be eager to keep learning and progressing in our abilities so we can produce top notch art.

It was fun browsing the trade show during lunch and breaks.  I purchased a few much needed (kind of kidding) brushes and received a few free samples. There were also lots of drawing and painting demos going on in the tradeshow hall.

Trade show oil painting demo with model
I also took advantage of the chance to meet Richard Ormond at the break. I had not thought to bring along one of my many books on Sargent (authored by Mr. Ormond) so I got him to sign my program instead.

On Saturday afternoon we watched Daniel Greene, who continued a painting of art materials dealer Jack Richeson that he started at last year's conference. He basically proceeded as usual, sharing his palette and then measuring, adjusting and refining in his precise and methodical manner.

Jack Richeson by Daniel Greene 2015
As the program came to a close, it was time to get ready for the evening's festivities. I met some really nice artists at dinner, including my seat mate to the right, Lisa, who very generously insisted on sharing some of her bottle of red wine with the table. Her family lives in Northern California and make their own olive oil. She ended up leaving before I had a chance to get her last name, so, Lisa, if you read this, send me an email and thank you for the drink!
My neighbour, Lisa's plate
The gorgeous Chris Saper (and friend) channeling Madame X

Michael Shane Neal's portrait of Richard Ormond is unveiled to applause
After the winners of the competition were announced (master artist Max Ginsburg won the grand prize, Jennifer Welty was The People's Choice - click here to see more) and awards handed out, we had an exciting portrait unveiling! I wish I could have gotten a good shot of the portrait of Richard Ormond, but the glare made it impossible. Another exciting development was the announcement of several new signature members of the PSA, including my friend Edward J. Reed (Ted), who also cleaned up in the portfolio category again this year.

Dessert is always outstanding - this was a pecan tart with chocolate, berry and whip cream garnishes 

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