PORTRAIT SOCIETY OF AMERICA’S 2015 CONFERENCE at the HYATT
Back from the Grand Hyatt Atlanta in Buckhead where 700-some portrait painters filling two floors attended demonstrations, top-quality art vendors showed artist-grade materials, artists demonstrated on double screen, and held special interest sessions, I am tired but empowered. The theme centered around every portraitist’s idol, John Singer Sargent, with a keynote address by public figure Richard Ormond, a Sargent descendant and champion for Sargent in terms of managing a collection for the Met for an upcoming show, and such. For my own special interests, this stroked and joined several of my disparate areas into one package deal–watching a watercolor portrait done by the inimitable Mary Whyte, seeing portraits done in oil by the greats, drawing and drawing media, practice time myself drawing from a model, specific tips and stories from the greatest portraitists, and even a devotional hour on Sunday morning.
It was my 7th year going, a fantastic year for me. First of all, my student from years back and now an adult at my studio, an artist in her own right, Allison Coleman, went ‘with’ me, and won the $1700 Hughes easel–a bear of an easel like you have never imagined before. Since Allison was working for PSoA on Sunday morning and not in the session to receive the results of the drawing, I stood up like the spontaneous person I am and claimed it for her! Then I told her, to screams of delight in the supplies room. Of course, being the friendly person that I am, I offered to ‘store’ the easel at j’Originals’ (my downtown art studio) until she could add on a room to her house for it. Needless to say, she declined my generous offer. I am looking forward to cross-sharing what we got from our concentration sessions in the coming weeks.
Walking straight into the sights and smells of oil paints and other products on Thursday evening was a wonderful treat–we got to walk around 15 artists painting five models for 3 hours with a view to exhibiting and selling them in a silent auction, punctuated by a loud auction at the height of the bidding process. Last year I bought one of these; this year I was not so fortunate. I did, however, participate in the fixed-price, blind auction of 6 x 9’s painted by the famous artists around the U.S. and probably further. I picked one board which had several I liked on it, because if two wanted one painting, there was a drawing, and you lost time. Well, this was SO fun, because, not only was I the only one to raise my hand for the perfect little boy’s face with piercing eyes–it was painted by my very favorite portraitist, Bart Lindstrom. To boot, he walked up saying “that’s my painting,” and we did a photo-op together. What are the odds?! Now I will get it framed and add it to my own growing collection; I think I have five, now.
Since I have not substantially changed my portfolio, with the exception of upgrades to my website, I did not participate in that this year. I’m still working on accomplishing what I learned from two years back. This year, however: I pledged to myself to publish a short-run portfolio. Off and running, we watched two artists with totally different styles attack one model (well, not literally) in the sense of conjuring them onto paper or canvas to amazing results. Then I chose 21st century promotion for work and career, and believe me, from that I have my direction and work plan set out for me for the coming three years. It was nice to know, however, how far ahead I was in one area due to my brilliance in picking the right webmaster. In short, the trek to gallery and representation is through website, portfolio, coffee table art book, blogging, and shows, shows, shows. My seemingly random directions have turned out to be spot on. Now this will herd me in the right direction. In fact, there was some overlap here in what I would have gotten from the writers’ convention, RWA (did I mention that I write novels, too?) that I have attended a couple of times, in regards to self-publication. So I really was getting my money’s worth. And I loved the presenters and added them to my friends’ professional network already.
Networking was extremely lovely, and bloomed in spite of the hurry and elbow-to-elbow people. I saw a break-out session leader from last year, we greeted one another, and made plans for furthering a mutual area of interest in the society. I met new contacts and misbehaved a little cracking up over her friends’ text message about lying in front of the black curtain in the back. They told us to stop shaking in our chairs. “Never mind the woman behind the black curtain.” Then in another aside, a lovely young Canadian artist invited me to join her at her table and we traded stories and cards, and a Greensboro artist and I chatted about our styles and he gave me clarity about an opportunity I was considering that helped me decide to put it away permanently. I made a fantastic gallery connection to grow to, as well.
Meanwhile, back at the Ranch: I kept tracking the moving whereabouts of my National Watercolor Society’s accepted painting via FedEx, and worried it from Mississippi to Arizona. I also discovered that I made a website error that caused my painting on my website to be advertised as “free” right after a top gallery representative had “friended” me, and I, panic-stricken, tried to rouse interest in my plight. Ah, that’s taken care of, now. I hope the gallery owner didn’t look during that time. What can I say? “I’m an artist and a writer, I can’t do everything” never stopped me from trying…and often goofing up.
On Saturday morning we were brought into the historicity of our craft with master artist Everett Raymond Kinstler and Richard Ormund’s insider talk about Sargent. From there, we got to watch Quang Ho demonstrate in oil next to Mary Whyte in watercolor. They each completed an a la prima portrait of the model sitting on the stage, and we listened to their entertaining asides, informative tips and answers to questions. Later we watched the great and famous Daniel Greene build on a portrait he began at last year’s conference which was so informative to a practicing artist. Again he displayed his famous palette of colors, talked palette prep and retouch mediums, the process of oiling out, and other such technical issues which blessed our portrait artist souls.
Saturday evening climaxed the trip with its cocktail hour and fancy dress banquet, where we got to watch the year’s luminaries receive their medals, certificates, and honors in portraiture’s equivalency to the Emmy’s. Allison, my husband, and I joined a group around a table. There were a few surprises, like people’s choice, but most of us had already been through the winner’s gallery and taken photographs of each of the winning pictures and sculptures, some of which I will share with my readers. Excited with others for their wins–always a part of the picture for an artist–I helped cheer on my peers and betters.
You can see more of my pictures at https://www.pinterest.com/joartis/to-atlanta-with-portrait-painters/
The peak was not the end, because Sunday morning brought more insider news of studios of working artists and a detailed demonstration of a pencil portrait by Burt Silverman, one of my favorites. Then, before exhaustion precluded leaving, we headed home on our nine-hour stint which included 2 hours sitting bumper to bumper in traffic–then collapsed at 10p.m., as I planned on being back at work first thing Monday morning. After all, I caught the vision. Now I had to make it happen.
P.S. Monday, I used my Rublev brand artists’ oil that I discovered and bought at the conference, Italian Green Umber, Series 1, and my new “purple ocher” for my painting for the cover of my next novel. These are Old Masters grade colors and mixes without modern additives–and the color was perfect! Thank you, Tatiana, for the introduction to these paints. Again, randomly right on! Perhaps that should be my banner.Learn more »