Wednesday, May 16, 2018

 2017 Fall Portrait Academies 

Philadelphia Portrait Academy

by Krystle Stricklin

 
Quang Ho shared insights and techniques as he
demonstrated his approach to the portrait.
The Portrait Academies have always been a favorite event for our members and a great way to experience the educational instruction of the annual conferences in a more intimate format. This past October, the first of our fall academy series was held in Philadelphia, PA at Studio Incamminati School for Contemporary Realist Art, where attendees meet with and learned from faculty artists, Adrienne Stein, Alexandra Tyng, Lea Wight, and Quang Ho. The two-day event kicked off on Friday night with a face-off demonstration, where Stein, Tyng, and Wight worked simultaneously from three different model and talked through their creative process.

Adrienne Stein and Alexandra Tyng
during Friday Face Off.
Saturday offered a full day of programs, beginning in the morning with breakfast and a 3-hour demonstration by Quang Ho. With his usual wit and conversational ease, Ho spoke about his development as an artist and how he approaches a new canvas. After lunch, Ho sat down with everyone to discuss his thoughts on realism and self-identity, asking audience members to question what is real to each them. Citing his personal inspirations from Rembrandt to Helen Keller, Ho reminded viewers that sometimes you must step away from what you already know to learn something new. Next was a lively Q-and-A panel, where our faculty artists fielded questions about everything from soliciting new commissions and working with child models to prepping canvases and achieving those illusive flesh tones. The day ended with a critique session of attendee’s original artwork, where everyone received valuable feedback and advice for refining their work.

Panel discussion pertaining to the audiences questions to
their greatest challenge or difficulty in painting the figure.
The weekend’s success would not have been possible without Studio Incamminati’s incredible team of instructors, staff and volunteers, who seemed to possess the ability to be two places at once and could transform their studio space in the blink of an eye. As well, the event was achieved through the support of our faculty artists, who committed their time and knowledge, and our dedicated members who often travel hundreds of miles to attend our programs. A great thank you to all!
 


Chattanooga Portrait Academy

by Chantel Barber


Michelle Dunaway shared stories about her passion for
creating and outlining her steps as she begun a head study.
Artists traveled from throughout Tennessee and neighboring states to attend the Portrait Society of America’s Fall Portrait Academy, hosted by Townsend Atelier in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The event opened Friday evening with faculty artists Marc Chatov, Seth Haverkamp, and Dawn Whitelaw all demonstrating in their own distinctive way.
Attendees were impressed that each artist took time to visit with them during model breaks, offering deeper explanations about their supplies and techniques and being very transparent with what worked for them and what didn’t. 
Dawn Whitelaw during the Face Off.
On Saturday morning Michelle Dunaway conducted an informative demonstration for the group. She imparted valuable insight on creating a unique portrait study from a model. The afternoon program began with Dawn Whitelaw sharing color mixing knowledge learned through her years of teaching and painting. Marc, Dawn, and Michelle then offered insightful answers to questions submitted earlier by the attendees.
The event wrapped up with a critiquing session from original work. Marc, Dawn, and Michelle’s critiques were encouraging and practical, quick to point out the positive in the works and reminding artists that they themselves must decide if and how they want to implement the changes recommended into their own styles.
The weekend was a resounding success because of the willingness of Townsend Atelier to host, outstanding faculty donating their time, and the receptive and supportive attending artists who were dedicated to disciplined growth.
Seth Haverkamp demonstrated his unique method for
interpreting his subject.

Marc Chatov, Seth Haverkamp and Dawn Whitelaw
demonstrating from the same model to a sold out audience
at Townsend Atelier.
 





 

 
 
 







Friday, March 16, 2018

A Celebration 20 Years in the Making



Networking, Demonstrations, Viewing the Finalist’s original artwork,
One-on-One Portfolio Critiques, Book Signings, Panel Discussions....
and so much more is being offered
at the annual The Art of the Portrait conference. 
We look forward to seeing you at our 20th anniversary celebration!

Thank you for registering for our 20th annual The Art of the Portrait® conference being held from April 19-22, 2018.  The program starts with Badge Pick Up and the Grand Opening of the Art Materials Expo Hall in the Regency Ballroom on Thursday, April 19 at 4:00pm. The popular Face-off event, which features 18 artists painting from models, begins the same evening at 4:30pm in the Grand Ballroom.

For the next three days you will be part of a community of artists that share a passion for portraiture and figurative work.  In addition to a full agenda you will be able to view original artwork by the 24 finalists, shop for the latest art materials, attend the CBF Saturday morning panel discussion, purchase artwork at our 6x9 Mystery Art sale, attend an inspirational program on Sunday morning and participate in our new Drawing Studio being held Thursday and Friday from 7:30pm-10:00pm

The weekend sessions end on Sunday, April 22 at 12:30pm, and buses leave at 1:00pm for an optional excursion to visit the National Portrait Gallery (tickets must be pre-purchased for the bus).

It is our goal to provide you a weekend full of activities aimed at assisting you in your artistic journey, encouraging your growth, and providing a burst of inspiration! I look forward to greeting you next month at The Art of the Portrait conference.

Sincerely,




P.S. Below are our frequently asked questions.  Have your own question we haven't address?  Post it at the end of this blog and we'll answer it. We encourage you to ask any question that is on your mind as we want your experience to be positive and welcoming. 

Frequently Asked Questions:

Who are the Faculty Artists?
Our talented and nationally-known faculty will be presenting an array of demonstrations, panel discussions, inspirational talks, portfolio critiques, paintings for the Silent Auction, 6x9 Mystery Art Sale works, and so much more...A special thank you to our 2018 distinguished faculty: Leslie Adams, Anna Rose Bain, Wende Caporale, Judith Carducci, Rick Casali, Casey Childs, Michelle Dunaway, Rose Frantzen, Daniel Gerhartz, Daniel Greene, James Gurney, James Head, Jeffrey Hein, Quang Ho, Edward Jonas, David Kassan, Daniel Keys, Everett Raymond Kinstler, Robert Liberace, Ricky Mujica, Michael Shane Neal, Paul Newton, Richard Ormond, Mario Robinson, Mary Sauer, Burton Silverman, Adrienne Stein, Jennifer Welty, Dawn Whitelaw, and Mary Whyte.  Also we appreciate Linda Tracey Brandon, Joseph Daily, Virgil Elliott, Liz Lindstrom, Teresa Mattos and Michael Mentler for being the models for the Face-Off and teaching in the new Drawing Studio Thursday and Friday from 7:30pm-10:00pm.

When & Where Do We Pick Up Name Badges?
You can pick up your name badge in the Regency Ballroom on Thursday starting at 4:00pm. Please wear your name badge at all times during the conference. Your name badge shows you are a registered participant and will be checked before you are allowed to enter classes or the General Session. Look in the back of your plastic name badge holder for all your tickets for events and classes.

Can I Buy Discounted Art Materials & Products? 
The Expo Hall's Grand Opening is on Thursday at 4:00pm with a wide variety of art materials all in one place so that you will be able to shop and see the latest products on the market. Shopping hours are:
                  Thursday:   4:00pm-7:30pm                     Saturday:  10:00am-5:00pm
                  Friday:       10:00am-5:30pm                    Sunday:     8:00am-12:30pm
Exhibitors this year are:  Artwork Archive, Gamblin Artists Colors, General Pencil Company, Jack Richeson & Co, Inc., Michael Harding Art Material, Natural Pigments, New Wave Fine Art Products, RayMar Art, Rosemary & Co., Silver Brush Limited, and Studio Incamminati School for Contemporary Realist Art.  

What Should I Wear – We recommend you dress in whatever you are comfortable wearing, you will see attendees in a variety of dress from business to dressy casual.  We encourage you to dress up for the banquet as we celebrate 20 years of The Art of the Portrait with a champagne toast and special video.

Alumni Club Photo We will be taking a 20th anniversary photograph so please stay in the Grand Ballroom on Friday at 12:45 for a group photograph.  

What if I Bring a Portfolio for a Critique?
Among one of the most popular programs at the conference are the individual portfolio critiques, which will be held in Regency Foyer, located on the Lobby Level at the lunch break on Friday and Saturday.  (We will not have portfolio tables for display this year.)

Will there be Book Signings during the Conference?
Yes, there will be a variety of book signings throughout the weekend. On Friday at 10:00am:  James Gurney, and at 4:00pm:  Robert Barrett, Casey Childs, Virgil Elliott, Daniel Greene, Michael Mentler and Mario Robinson.  On Saturday at 10:00am: Daniel Greene and Everett Raymond Kinstler, and at 12:30:  Rose Frantzen, James Gurney, and Mary Whyte; at 4:45pm: Daniel Gerhartz. Then, on Sunday at 10:00am: Richard Ormond.

Where can I see the Portrait Finalists and vote for my People's Choice?
The top 24 artworks from the International Portrait Competition will be on display in Lake Anne, right outside the Grand Ballroom, for attendees to enjoy. Don’t forget to place your vote for the People’s Choice award. You will receive your ballot when you pick up your name badge. Please place your ballot in the ballot box located in Lake Anne by Saturday at 2:00pm.

What is the 6x9 Mystery Art Sale on Friday?
This is a fast-paced and exciting event. Our 6x9: Limited Size, Unlimited Talent Mystery Art Sale will take place Friday night, April 20, in the Grand Ballroom. Doors will open for viewing at 5:30pm and the sale will begin at 5:45pm. The work on display is created by past and current faculty, gold medal recipients and other award winners. Each panel will be offered at a set price of $250. Only after purchase will the buyer discover whose painting they have acquired.

When does the Silent Auction for the Face-Off Demonstration Paintings End?
Through the generosity of the artists participating in the Face-Off event, we are offering their demonstration paintings for purchase in a silent auction. The auction will be held immediately following the 6x9 Art Sale. The last bid will be accepted at 6:00pm on Friday in the Grand Ballroom. If we have active bidding right up to the 6:00pm deadline, we will go to a live auction to complete the sale.

What do I need to know about the Gala Awards Banquet on Saturday night? There will be a Cocktail Reception (cash bar from 6:00pm-7:00pm) in the Grand Ballroom Foyer, doors open at 7:00pm for General Seating. If you purchased a ticket, it will be in your name badge. Remember to bring the ticket with you to the Grand Ballroom. Any available banquet tickets will be posted on a bulletin board. Seating will begin at 7:00pmTo celebrate our 20th year, feel free to dress up, the banquet this year will be black tie optional.

Is there a Sunday afternoon excursion this year?
Yes, buses leave for the National Portrait Gallery at 1:00pm.  Tickets for the bus are limited.  If you have pre- purchased a ticket for the Sunday Bus Trip (tickets will be in your name badge), please be outside the lobby entrance of the Hyatt by 12:45pm on Sunday to start loading.  Any available bus tickets will be posted on the bulletin board just inside the Exhibit Room.  If you pre-purchased a Zippy Lunch for Sunday, please pick up your lunch in the ballroom foyer before loading on the bus. Buses will return to the hotel approximately around 6:30pm.

What are the Dining Options for the Weekend?
The Hyatt Regency Reston is offering a variety of meal options including reasonable cash sales for breakfast and Zippy Lunches on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Order your Zippy Lunch the day before by filling out the forms available in the Grand Ballroom Foyer and placing them in the basket by the morning break. 
  • Friday, Saturday and Sunday Breakfast:  The hotel will have an easy and reasonable cash sales breakfast set up in the Grand Ballroom foyer just for Portrait Society attendees. They will offer a variety of selections such as yogurt, fruit, bagels, muffins and will also offer coffee, juice and sodas.
  • Friday, Saturday and Sunday Lunchtime:  Easy to order Zippy lunches will be available.  Order your Zippy lunch the day before by filling out the forms available in the Grand Ballroom Foyer and placing them in the basket. 
  • Other Options:  In addition to the in-house restaurant, Tavern 64, there are a variety of over 30 restaurants within walking distance, at a variety of prices and cuisine, including Big Bowl, Be Right Burger, Cosi, Passion Fish, Clyde’s, Potbelly Sandwich, Subway, Starbucks and Sweetgreen.  Panera Bread is on the first floor of the Hyatt Regency Reston.
Travel Notes
Closest Airport is Washington Dulles
The hotel offers Complimentary Shuttle Service that arrives at Dulles Airport at the top of each hour with the pick-up and drop-off point at curbs 2A and 2H. Cabs are also available, and the fare is approximately $15.

Location of Event and Hotel Reservations
Hyatt Regency Reston
1800 Presidents Street
Reston, VA 20190
(703) 709-1234

Currently our hotel block for the Hyatt Regency Reston is full. You may call the Hyatt Regency Reston at (703) 709-1234 for information about possible cancellations.  We have made arrangements for room blocks at additional local hotels, listed below. When contacting our overflow hotels, be sure to ask for the Portrait Society's special room rate.  

Hyatt House Herndon/Reston
467 Herndon Pkwy, Herndon, VA 20170
(703) 437-5000

Sheraton Reston
11810 Sunrise Valley Drive, Reston, VA 20191  
(703) 620-9000

Parking
If you are staying at the Hyatt Regency Reston, you will automatically receive a 50% discount on the overnight rate of $16.  If you are driving in and need to park, you can stop by the Portrait Society registration desk for ‘chaser ticket’ that you give you the discount on exit of the parking garage.  Self-parking for non-registered guests with the discount is $10 a day, 









Tuesday, February 27, 2018


Daniel E. Greene: Be An Artist First


By Christine Egnoski

Daniel Greene has long been regarded as the foremost pastelist in the United States. We recently
Self Portrait - Wall St. Station, Oil 40 x 50"
spoke during the last winter storm and I hope sharing our conversation will
stimulate and encourage you on your artistic journey.

Egnoski:  Can you tell us what first inspired you to become an artist and where do you find your inspiration today?

Greene:  I have known that I was going to be an artist since I was five years old. As a child, I had a knack for drawing and I knew from an early age what I would do with my life. My alternative choice however was to be a professional baseball player, but when I was seventeen, I decided that was not the course that I would take. Some of the skills and disciplines involved with sports are quite applicable in the development of paintings.

My inspiration comes from many sources that can be translated into paint. Much of the inspiration has to do with manipulating the fundamentals of art and the constant challenges of the vocabulary of painting.

Egnoski:  Can you discuss what your experience was like during your early art education years? Did you study under the tutelage of a master artist?


Greene:  I entered Robert Brackman’s evening class at the Art Students League in 1954 as an inexperienced student. Brackman apparently saw promise and was extremely supportive and encouraging. I felt that he instilled confidence in me and my not yet developed talent. This positive attention helped me while I was learning. In later years, I took over Brackman’s classes at the Art Students League and served with him on the board at the National Academy of Design. He treated me as an equal and was humble when I attempted to thank him for his help. He served as my mentor and model of what an artist could be and I owe him an enormous debt.

Egnoski:  How would you describe your style?

Greene:  I would describe it as an effort to replicate a moment in time realistically and to try to employ many of the ingredients that I consider to be fundamentally essential to producing paintings that have meaning to me personally on many different levels. So, my style is Representational, with perhaps an emphasis that references many of the time-honored ingredients that the great painters of the past have employed and I'm trying to incorporate my version of these fundamental characteristics of painting in a manner I particularly appreciate.
Egnoski:  Your series of paintings such as the subways, auctions or the carnivals have been very well received, how and why did you select these specific themes?

Ed - Spring St. (girders), Acrylic, 44 x 60" (first stage) in the
tradition of preparatory stories by DaVinci, Ingres, Degas,
Eakins and Collins 

Greene: The admonition “paint what you know” led me to re-exploring familiar subjects - subways, auctions and carnivals. All of these subjects are a part of my visual experience.  I lived in New York City for 25 years before moving to North Salem which is 50 miles outside of the city, and one cannot help but be influenced by the immediate environment of the metropolis that is as exciting as New York City.  I started riding the subways in 1953 when I moved to New York City to attend The Art Students League. While riding, I couldn't help noticing the beautiful mosaics that appeared in the stations that are part of the subway system. 
Ed - Spring St. (girders), Oil on linen, 44 x 60" (final stage)
 One day, I observed a couple sitting together in front of one of the mosaics at a station and I thought to myself, “that would make an interesting painting.” I didn't act on it at that time. But then 40 something years later, I went back to the subway to collect information for that particular painting that I had been thinking about doing for so many years. I found to my surprise that there was a mass of material. There were dozens upon dozens of stations that had beautiful mosaics and that the possibilities for interesting paintings and intricate mosaics was endless. So, I began doing the painting I intended to do with several figures and then I continued to do other subjects in the subway because it was all so dramatic. To date, I have now done 121 paintings of subway settings.


In regard to the carnival games, that's based on my childhood in Cincinnati. On festive occasions, my parents would take me and my sister to Cincinnati’s Coney Island.  I was fascinated by the carnival games people were playing, it was all very picturesque. I retained that memory and when I became a practicing artist I decided to explore themes from my childhood.  It immediately occurred to me that carnivals and fairs were fascinating, colorful subjects and so I began to do paintings in my studio on themes that were suggested by these childhood experiences.

The auction series came about because my wife and I long have enjoyed collecting antiques. Through the years we have frequently gone to auctions in the city. Some of the events are extraordinarily dramatic with people vying to purchase some marvelous objects that come up for auction.  There's a great deal of tension and drama that is immediately present at auctions. These paintings combine two enjoyable areas for me, one is painting portraits of people in an exciting dramatic situation and the other is painting still life objects like those that can be found at auctions. To date, I've done about 40 paintings of auction subjects and that also is a never-ending source of dramatic figure painting opportunities coupled with beautiful artifacts. 

Egnoski:  Composition is the key to engaging and holding the attention of the viewer.  What advise can you give to artists as to how they can approach compositional arrangement for painting success?
Waiting - 116th Str., Oil, 52 x 40"

Greene:  Becoming familiar with some of the considerations of composition, i.e. balance, size, shape, asymmetrical design, contrast, value, color and arranging these elements in relation to one’s own sense of design may be a starting point for abstract shape resolution.

Egnoski:  If you could sit with your students to reflect on your teaching, what would you like most to have them know about what has been most valuable for you to have learned and how to keep on learning?

Greene:  The necessity of obtaining and excelling in all of the fundamental skills of painting in order to have a foundation upon which to create original works that incorporate the vocabulary of painting.

Egnoski:  Building drawing skills is generally the first step a student takes in becoming a representational artist and is the key to a paintings success. Could you elaborate on how critical this skill is for the artistic journey?

Greene: Developing drawing skill is an initial ability that permeates everything in classical and representative painting. Without this skill, one is dependent upon artificial means of drawing and is lacking in the dominance of subject that accurate drawing provides.

Egnoski:  As a faculty artist this year, what are you passionate about that you would like to share with fellow artists that may help them make a breakthrough in their own work?

Dartman, Oil on linen, 68 x 68"
Greene:  I am planning on sharing my analysis of color and color harmony in a break out program. I have observed underlying principles of color that I am planning on imparting to others in the hopes of helping artists improve their understanding of this fundamental painting ingredient. Topics will include why colors harmonize or why they clash, the misconception of warm colors advancing and cool colors receding – aerial perspective and the old masters two color palettes.

I wanted to mention that a new book, “Daniel E. Greene, Studios and Subways, An American Master, His Life and Art” has just been published and will be available to be personally signed at the Portrait Society’s annual conference, The Art of the Portrait being held April 19-22, 2018.  The book includes early works, Portraits, Subway and Carnival paintings as well as Mr. Greene’s technical process and biographical information.


Friday, November 10, 2017

"Balancing a Creative Life" by Susan Wakeen

First Dance of Summer, 16", bronze
Have you always been interested in art and can you give us a brief description about the circumstances that led you to a career in art?
I have loved art since I was a child. I was raised by two very creative parents: my mother an interior designer, and my father an artist. Since the age of 10, we watched as my dad filled many pads of paper with life drawings and produced many more paintings. My mother loved changing the color of the walls in her home (still does) and having new draperies sewn or meeting with clients. A favorite part of my growing years was drawing, painting, and pouring through art books. At the age of 88, my dad was working on a large mural for a client and has since passed away. My mother continues to encourage our passions as she continues hers.
Love is in the Air, 15", bronze

Can you give a brief description of your educational and professional background?
I attended Central State College University majoring in math and psychology. For many years, I taught Special Education in Brookline and Waltham, Massachusetts. Always with sketchbook and pencil close by, the reality of being a fine artist seemed far reached. My twin sister, Sandra, encouraged me to look for a means to start studying art more seriously. I started with a few evening courses at the Boston School of Fine Art. Later, I studied in the private studios of Joshua Graham and Dorothy Lepler. They would become influential in teaching me the discipline of observation and control. I then continued my studies at the Scottsdale Artist School with world-renowned instructors including Betty Patt Gatliff (Forensic Facial Reconstruction), Rosalind Cook, Tuck Langland and many others. William Alexander Edwards (now 93 years young) continues to mentor me.
Catalina, 13x21x25", resin and plaster

My professional career started with debuting The Littlest Ballet Company Inc. in 1982 at The International Toy Fair in New York. Starting this company was to be the first step of creating a career in sculpture. I was awarded "Doll of The Year" for my sculpture of Jeanne and shortly after, I was offered a position at Hasbro Toys in Pawtucket Rhode Island as senior designer contributing to the growth of the doll design department.

The Littlest Ballet Company continued to expand, creating baby dolls and making it necessary to incorporate under the name of The Susan Wakeen Doll Company. For over 25 years, I was recognized by my peers and collectors as one of the leading artists in the field, being honored with more than 48 awards and nominations for “Doll of the Year” and “The Award of Excellence.”

After 28 years in the doll business, I knew it was time to make a change. With the encouragement of my husband, family and friends, I took the plunge, closed down the Susan Wakeen Doll Company, and opened The Susan Wakeen Fine Art Studio. My love for bronze and clay led me the rest of the way. I have been accepting commissions and selling my work ever since.
Carla, 13x21x8.5", clay for resin

Can you tell us about the process or steps you follow in creating your artwork?

Each sculpture I start begins with a feeling; one that I believe is strong enough to carry the piece through to completion. I will contemplate and plan every aspect of the design before I put pencil to paper, or clay in hand. After I feel I have a full understanding of my “idea,” I will sculpt a small clay sketch. Sometimes this clay sketch (maquette) is just a quick gesture study, other times I will complete a maquette with quite a bit of detail.

When sculpting a portrait, I usually take outside measurements and then leave these numbers behind as quickly as possible as the feeling of the portrait is most important. There is always a photo session or two and many sittings. At times, the modeling sessions are just conversations, other times it is serious posing.

When I feel a sculpture is complete, I am not always quick to cast it. I will have the sculpture sit in my studio for weeks to a few months, making sure that every profile line and angle is pleasing to my eye. I will also spend much time making sure I am satisfied with how light flows over the forms within the sculpture and then how the shadows ground the forms. My works have been cast in plaster, bronze, and porcelain.

Can you tell us some information about the subject and inspiration for your portrait of Carla?

Carla is a beautiful 32-year-old mother of two wonderful young children. When I met Carla, I was instantly enamored by her striking grace of line and posture. She has a way about her - always modeling with her head held high - I knew some day I would need to sculpt her. Strong, sweet, and genuine, Carla was the inspiration of Carla.
Marcy, 30x12x13", resin

At this year's Portrait Society conference, your sculpture, Marcy, was selected as a Finalist from over 2,500 entries and then awarded First Place Sculpture. Can you share some information about this work?
Marcy is an inquisitive 23-year-old who has lived her life working hard to overcome losing both her parents at an early age as well as the challenges of cerebral palsy. She came to my studio last summer looking for work. Her intensity, her smile, and her sweet disposition were immediately engaging. From that moment, my hope was that she would model for me as she was refreshing and truly an inspiration.

Since Marcy loves to converse, we talked away the modeling hours in my studio. I would study the muscle movements of her face, how she held her jaw, the glances of her eyes moving back and forth, and the graceful turn of her head. It would almost bring me to tears as I thought to myself, “Oh my goodness; she does not realize how beautiful she is.” As she continued to tell me her story, she shared what she misses most about the loss of her parents are the family dinners. She has goals and ambitions similar to what we might all take for granted. She wants to be in love and have a family of her own.

Always positive and sometimes tired, Marcy took this job very seriously. Her pose was not a “chosen pose.” It is her: humble, intense, very bright, and a bit shy. The emotional journey of depicting who she is and what she has triumphed over will stay with me for a lifetime.

What have been among the most challenging experiences for you as an artist?
Transitioning from 28 years of doll design and manufacturing to fine art sculpting was a major life change and challenge. It was hard to believe it was possible after having had so had many years in commercial design. There were many false starts and unpredictable stops. It is difficult to pin this down to just one experience. I would have to say that all of "life’s experiences" - challenges and joys - have guided me and led me to this place. Balancing a life of art, family, friends, and my twin sister would often say to me, “Sue, will you hurry up? You have everything it takes to do this." . . . So I did.


Susan Wakeen lives in Litchfield Connecticut with her husband, Bill, and son, Kenny. Her work is in homes throughout the United States, Canada, and Australia. She sculpts almost daily and teaches workshops and classes in her studio. She says, "My husband and son know when I say, 'I am just finishing up a thought, I will be home soon,' that could mean 10 minutes or 2 hours." Susan considers herself a student and has continued her studies at The Art Students League in New York with artists Max Ginsburg and Antony Antonios and attends workshops at the annual Portrait Society Conference.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

"Colleen Barry: Portrait of an Artist" by Annette Goings

Article originally published in the 2015 1st Quarter The Art of the Portrait
Colleen Barry copying in Pitti Palace, Florence, 2013
Pedro, 2013, 24x30", oil on linen
I first learned of Colleen Barry’s work at Oak Hollow Studios in Carthage, North Carolina. The
owner of the studio had previously hosted a workshop led by Colleen and had several of her drawings, which she shared with me. Colleen’s drawings were exquisite, and I was spell bound by her talent. Of course, her drawings are the tip of the iceberg. Colleen’s paintings are equally remarkable.

Colleen’s path to her current level of artistry was diverse. Her background and education was not formulaic or traditional by most standards. Her classical training was atelier- based. She sought teachers with whom she could spend concentrated time studying with, and she learned their techniques or procedures one-on one. This blend of diverse styles has helped her to create her style.

Colleen has had such distinguished teachers as: Sam Adoquei, whose style is impressionistic with bold color; Andrea J. Smith of the Harlem Studio, who teaches the Bargue method and disciplined drawing skills; and Jacob Collins of the Grand Central Atelier, whose focus on classical realism helped to synthesize her love of the figurative art form.

Colleen, a native New Yorker, met Sam Adoquei, a New York based artist from Ghana, Africa when she was 14.  Still in high school, Colleen would study with him for the next eight years. During the day, she would attend high school at the Dwight School. In the evenings, she would cross Central Park to study with him at the National Academy of Design. During those years, Adoquei’s focus for his students was to observe nature and paint loosely and painterly. From 1996-2002, Colleen studied privately at his studio, doing life drawings nine hours a day, five days a week.     

During her time under his tutelage, a spark was ignited. It was here that she first saw her artistic path developing. Colleen found a resonance with the inner world of an artist, being in the studio, in that “space.” All of it was transformational. She describes her studio space as a sort of incubator, a place where you can create your own world, and become completely immersed in your work.
Draped Male figure, 2012, 11x17",
sanguine on paper

After studying with Sam for eight years, her parents wanted her to go to college and pursue a traditional education. It was Adoquei, who convinced her to pursue an atelier- based approach, studying one-on-one with artists and teachers of her choice. Adoquei anchored Colleen in her formative years and introduced her to an environment that would evolve and become a lifelong passion. 

Wanting to learn more about realism, she began to look for teachers in this field. Around this same time she received The Newington Cropsy Award, which allowed her to travel to Italy and spend time studying and copying from the masters. Her time spent in Italy was mostly independent study. Colleen loves Italy and believes “Italy is the motherland of classical art.  Art students who wish to understand classicism and the humanist tradition should study in Italy.”

Returning from Italy she was in search of someone familiar with the teachings of the Florence Academy in Florence. She found Andrea J. Smith of the Harlem Studio. Andrea had studied in Florence and had set up a private Atelier in Harlem called the Harlem Studio of Art. Andrea’s teaching focused primarily on life drawing from plaster casts, copies from the Charles Bargue drawing course, and naturalistic still-life painting. This was exactly what Colleen was seeking. She spent two and a half years studying with Andrea. It was a time to build her technical foundation through the use of site-size techniques.

Female Figure Study, 2009, 18x24", graphite
on toned paper 
After working with Andrea, Colleen was in search of someone to help her understand the figurative art form in a beautiful, respectful, and artful way. Then she met Jacob Collins, who was teaching privately out of his studio in Manhattan. Colleen feels Jacob’s work “holds up to the standard of excellence set in the Renaissance and Baroque periods”, a tradition she wants to uphold. Colleen believes that “the figurative art form is the highest and most challenging of all art forms, as well as the most intellectually probing.”

So began her four year apprenticeship with Jacob Collins at the Water Street Atelier, which later became the Grand Central Atelier.  Here, Colleen would begin to work in a style referred to as classical realism, which is different from photorealism. It’s about interpreting the nude in a classical manner in a modern world, celebrating an older aesthetic, but relevant to today.

Colleen now teaches at the Grand Central Atelier. When asked what she loved about what she did, she said: “I love belonging to an old tradition. It keeps me focused on what is essential and guides my inspiration. It allows me to have a dialogue with great art and artists of the past. I also love working from live models. It is an honor to study nature and convention and then puzzle piece them together in a work of art.”  
Portrait of Jamaal, 2014, oil 
When asked what she wants to bring to her students, she said, “I want to teach them how to look more closely at the human body and really take the time to learn anatomy and structure. This takes years of learning and diligent study. I want to train my students to respect how long it takes to be an excellent draftsman. It is training that focuses on endurance, not sprinting. An artist can not achieve greatness if they get too excited over minor successes.”

On her artistic journey, Colleen said that Sam Adoquei was central to her formative years, while Andrea J. Smith helped her find discipline through the Bargue method. Jacob Collins gave her the foundation to mature in respect to figurative art. Each of these artists has their own diverse style and teaching philosophy, and each one left an impression on her style.  Colleen said she is “grateful to these artists for providing an environment in which this very special education could and can still exist.”

It was Colleen’s drawings that first inspired me. Through this article, I had the opportunity to meet her and learn more about her career. We had a lively conversation on the day Juno (the storm) was hitting New York City. Colleen was in her studio, and I was on the coast in South Carolina. After our conversation, I understood what drew me to her work. Knowing her as a person has now enhanced the inspiration I found in her work.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

"Mary Whyte: Observer" by Christine Egnoski

Mary Whyte, Dr. Ralph Brinster, 41.5x21", watercolor
"Sketches and life studies are some of the most valuable tools a serious artist can have", says Mary Whyte.  An acclaimed watercolorist, teacher and author, Mary used these tools as well as others in creating her recent portrait of Dr. Ralph Brinster for the University of Pennsylvania, which portrays the National Medal of Science honoree in his laboratory.  Mary was able to successfully create a compelling composition that tells Dr. Brinster's life story but at the same time kept her subject as the focus.  To prepare for the painting, Mary spent many hours observing Dr. Brinster in his office and laboratories to ascertain a suitable pose and background, identify interesting props, and determine the lighting.  Later, Mary sat with him in his office, sketching him and taking notes as they talked. Mary believes drawings and paintings done on location, from life, can expand one’s visual knowledge about the essence of the model or a particular scene.  Mary adds, “These smaller, abbreviated works will also be charged with your personal emotion, which is an ingredient that can be missing in photographs.  Any kind of life study is beneficial, as it helps us become better artists by understanding the key components to light, color, shape and form.”

Mary also believes that when commissioned to create a portrait, the foremost consideration of any portrait artist should be that he or she is creating a painting and that the painting may also happen to be a portrait is secondary. The success of Mary's portrait is steeped in the fundamentals of composition, color and design. In her painting of Dr. Brinster, she chose to play up the crisp shape of the white lab coat against a dark background and opted to portray her subject standing to give an added sense of confidence and authority.  The strong diagonal of the foreground with the microscope and equipment points toward the figure while at the same time balancing the light shape of the figure. The dark background includes soft suggestions of research paraphernalia, which adds to the work’s narrative.  Mary says her biggest challenge was not letting the gold medal become a distracting ‘bulls eye’ against the white jacket. By placing the model’s hand in proximity to the medal, but more clearly in the foreground, the medal then becomes secondary.

"Every face has aspects that are interesting and worth painting, which was certainly true with this gentleman.  However, equally important is how a person stands, their gestures and how they hold their head and hands."  Mary was able to gather all these important details into one painting that expertly portrays Dr. Brinster's impressive accomplishments and warm demeanor.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

"David Kassan: Painting a Link to the Past" by Christine Egnoski


Louise and Lazar Farkas, Oil on Panel, 46" x 42"
You could feel the level of excitement and anticipation at the 19th annual The Art of the Portrait awards ceremony as David Kassan's name was announced as the winner of the Draper Grand Prize.  David was welcomed to the stage with a standing ovation.  Selected from over 2,100 entries, David's painting titled Love and Resilience is a portrait of Louise and Lazar Farkas and inspired by their story of love and survival.  It is the latest in a series of paintings of Shoah Survivors that has changed the course of how David thinks about life and his art.


Upon accepting the award, David said, "Thank you so much Portrait Society of America...This was definitely a dream for me, and I share these awards with the Survivors, whom have all shared their sometimes painful, but mostly glorious and inspiring lives with me." 

Louise's story began in Northern Romania, where her parents led a comfortable middle class life producing dairy products and running a store.  Lazar spent his youth across the border in Czechoslovakia where he attended business school and then worked in a wholesale grocery business. For a while, the borders between Romania and Czechoslovakia were open, and Lazar would cross over to socialize, talking over coffee and walking the sidewalks with a group of young women, one of whom was Louise. 


Portrait of Sam Goldofsky, Survivor of Auschwitz,
Oil on Aluminum, 41" x 27"
As anti-Semitism in German-occupied countries grew, Lazar was pressed into forced labor. Working from early morning to late night, he helped build bunkers. Louise was about 20 when she was deported to Auschwitz: “A woman that was in power at the time liked my shoes,” says Louise, “and she took them and I had no shoes. I was barefoot. It was cold...we struggled.” Louise lost her parents and three of her siblings. But the tides were turning against Germany and security was unraveling. “We walked out of the camp. Just simply,” says Louise of her and her sister’s escape. “We had no place to go and no money and no food. We went from country to country from there."

Lazar also managed to run away from his forced labor. “I wound up somewhere in Poland, I don’t know where," he says. He eventually volunteered with the Czechoslovakian army and ended up stationed in his hometown. He learned that people were escaping from the camps and wanted to look for Louise.  Eventually, after several times of just missing each other, Lazar found Louise and the two were soon married.  Lazar's uncle was able to arrange for their immigration to the United States and they settled in Brooklyn where Lazar got a job in the grocery business.

Twin Survivors of the Holocaust; Roslyn and
Bella,
Oil on Panel, 56" x 43"
Love and Resilience is one of several paintings David has completed of Shoah survivors.  He is calling the project the EDUT (Hebrew for testimony) Project: Living Witnesses, Survivors of the Holocaust. His first portrait of Auschwitz survivor Sam Goldofsky was selelected from over 2,500 entries to be part of the BP Portrait Award 2015 held annual at the National Portrait Gallery, London.  A portrait of sisters Bella Sztul and Roslyn Goldofsky, whose mother hid them from the Nazis with the help of Catholic families, was also completed last year. David says, "With the paintings I've completed so far of the Survivors, I feel that I have a responsibility to not only represent them in the most authentic possible way, but also to document a deeper understanding of their lives and not just the horrors of what they witnessed early in their lives.  My goal is to capture their resilience throughout their lives. This goal is a tall order for a painter."

Meeting with Survivors of Auschwitz at the
Museum of Tolerance. Photo by Andy Romanoff
Always trying to improve and challenge himself with paintings that are of increasing complexity and importance, earlier this year David traveled with videographer Chloe Lee from New York City to Los Angeles to meet with eleven Survivors of Auschwitz. His idea was to take his current series of paintings to the next level, so he is now working on a life-sized representation of all eleven Survivors.  The finished painting, which will take approximately two years to complete, will be 18 feet long and 8 feet high and consist of 5 panels put together, a work that David hopes will be, "so large that it can't be ignored."  David explains, "Chloe and I have been filming interviews with all of the Survivors in the series in order to document their lives and inspiring words. We are also going to film each step of the process in the creation of this large painting in order to educate about the artistic journey as well as the journeys of the Survivors." He is documenting the entire process on patreon.com/davidkassan.

Setting aside his gallery and commission work, David has dedicated himself exclusively to the project.  Plans are in place in the Spring of 2019 for an opening, exhibition and catalog featuring the large work and drawing studies, as well as the film, at the Fischer Museum of Art.  David's commitment to the project runs deep; he says, "These paintings represent the perseverance and the strength of the human spirit. I endeavor to respect and show the dignity of each survivor and tell his or her story."
Digital painting thumbnail for composition purposes. [painted in ArtRage on the iPad Pro]

David sees his role as a conduit: to listen with my painting and to document it in an intensely intimate way. He feels there are three components to each painting -- the artist, the subject, and the viewer -- and he does not want his 'painting ego' to get in the way of the viewer and the Survivor. Each aspect of his work is in service to the accurate and honest representation of the Survivor.

Work in progress for one of the five 
panels for the large painting
David also has a very personal connection to the project. In 1917, a young Murray Kassan immigrated to the United States, escaping ethnic cleansing on the border of the Ukraine and Romania by the Cossacks. Murray was David's grandfather, and his story of survival is a vague unfocused legend in his family for many reasons. When his father was fifteen years old, Murray was estranged from the family and his father never saw him again. He passed away when David was very little and he never got to meet him. His grandfather's story of survival is now only fragmented memories for David. "Painting for me is also my way of understanding the world around me, my way of connecting, and my excuse to interact and learn. In this project, it’s my personal way of connecting to my grandfather’s lost story. With every survivor’s story that I hear and record into a painting, I feel that I move closer to the connection with my grandfather that I never had. My brush paints a link between us."