Portrait Society of America Conference Part 1

So it turns out that a Portrait Society of America Conference is actually just a whole bunch of painting demos with mics on the artists, plus a few panels on one afternoon and a big banquet.

Which is not to say that it was boring or not what I paid for.  It was incredibly interesting. I would not have said, before this, that watching two painters chat and paint, live and alla prima, in front of an audience for 3 hours would be that interesting. But it was. I was riveted to pretty much all the demos.

There was a lot of reassurance in the varied ways that everyone approached a painting. Some started messy and became miraculously neat and accurate. Some stayed messy yet achieved likeness. Some started meticulous and ended the same way. Above, you can see Jeffrey Hein on the left working broad and messy, while Michelle Dunaway keeps it meticulous.

Above you see my favorite demo: Quang Ho and Mary Whyte with a bearded model. Quang was painting in oils on a board. Mary was painting in watercolor.  From the start, their approaches were incredibly different, and not only could we observe it, but they kept up a truly interesting conversation about methods and approaches throughout the presentation.

There is just so much to learn and know.  I was a bit disappointed to see such an emphasis, and a clique-ish favoritism for, oil painting over everything else.  Oil pastels are barely edging in, and watercolor, despite Mary’s demo, was a far far distant competitor.  Acrylics are basically nowhere to be found, and colored pencils, I was told, were featured in a piece by a finalist in the contest for the first time this year.  So my preferred media are not really the stuff of Portrait Society fame and fortune.  Nonetheless, the experience is one I will be able to remember and use in future for a lot of things.

One thing this experience did solidify was my determination to submit to a lot more juried shows, just as soon as I can frame some more paintings.  I need to get a broader local and regional presence, and juried shows is one way to do that.

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