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Last year I introduced Allison Coleman, a returning adult art student of mine, to the wonders of the Portrait Society of America’s annual conference. She said later, “It changed my life.”

Now we both have just returned from her second, and my eighth or ninth, this one located in Reston, Virginia, on the outskirts of Washington, D.C.

The first night of the 18th Annual Portrait and Figurative Artist Conference of the Portrait Society of America, we wandered around the circle made in a humongous conference room, sitting in the chairs behind a segment of 3 painters actively painting one model. I believe there were 5 models and 15 painters. Seeing the rich variety of viewpoints and media used was part of the education, as the Society continued to educate us through the experience alone, on the superior merits of painting from life, and in this case, a la prima, or, all at one sitting.

On Friday, we cased the art materials’ room, buying what we had determined we would beforehand, in some cases more or different. This year, I found an awesome frame with birch panel insert for the painting that I substituted for my usual auction sale, an event which is so much fun, I went to the Mystery Art Sale and decided what I would have purchased, since last year I bought one painted by my very favorite portraitist, Bart Lindstrom. (link to last year’s article) This year, there were fewer freebies to be had, but we lucked into a few, plus some very good deals.
We did all our scouting on Friday, since Allison had to help in the book selling section this year. They have awesome books. I did buy the book, 100 Masterpieces, the National Galleries of Scotland, by Sir John Leighton, our keynote speaker at the Saturday night Banquet (pix Allison & me). Of course, I got his autograph.

This year, like last, products from Thursday night’s paint-out were sold in silent auction, punctuated by loud ending to aid the bidding process. Two years ago, I bought one of those. Last year I bought a painting from the mystery sale, a fixed-price, blind auction of 6 x 9’s painted by famous artists here and abroad. I always pick one board which hangs several I like, because if two want one painting, drawing names from a hat steals time. 

For four days, we raced from celebrity demonstration to illustrated lectures to sight-size stage demonstrations by the best artists, seeing their creations emerge in mirrors right next to the models’ faces.

In between, we looked at fellow artists’ portfolios, learned new presentation methods, and I competed in same, viewed the International Portrait Competition finalists works, went to a mix-and-talk party with them, and I got so many wonderful interchanges and pictures of them I can only share a few. But I talked to artists from Canada, Scotland, the U.S., and many other countries. One of my break-out sessions, I got to draw several models and be critiqued by

Together, we should be able to strategize better for entering their phenomenal shows and sharing crucial tips, both for painting and for entering their shows.

TA room full of winning paintings (xx out of xxxxx entries), was phenomenal, and included sculpture, relief, drawing, and painting.(Link)  Among the winners was the Estonian who attended art school in St. Petersburg, Russia(Estonia is the setting for my novel, Veiled in White) that I sat with last year. Each year I agree to help a new conference-goer, and I finally got to meet her at the end of the event. She said she found me by my pink hair strands.

Such a fun conference. I’m vetting two more Art on Broad Atelier/j’Originals’ art students to join the circuit.


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