Thursday, June 14, 2018

A Celebration Two Decades in the Making

By Krystle Stricklin

It is that time of year again to try and recap all of the incredible events and experiences of the Portrait Society’s annual The Art of the Portrait conference, which took place this year on April 19 – 22 at the Hyatt Regency just outside Washington, D.C. – where it all began 20 years ago at the very first conference! To celebrate this extraordinary milestone, nearly 1,000 artists from around the world came together for a weekend of learning and sharing, through unforgettable encounters and lasting experiences. 

So Much to See, So Much to Do
With a jam-packed four-day conference, it’s impossible to recount all of the amazing demonstrations, workshops, and panels that occurred over the course of the weekend, but here are a few of the most talked about highlights. Opening night on Thursday began with the crowd-pleasing Face Off event, where 18 artists painted simultaneously in groups of 3. This year our participating artists were Anna Rose Bain, Wende Caporale, Judith Carducci, Rick Casali, Casey Childs, Michelle Dunaway, Rose Frantzen, James Gurney, Jeffrey Hein, Quang Ho, David Kassan, Daniel Keys, Ricky Mujica, Mario Robinson, Mary Sauer, Adrienne Stein, Jennifer Welty and Elizabeth Zanzinger. In keeping with one of our new traditions, we asked fellow artists Linda Brandon, Joseph Daily, Virgil Elliott, Liz Lindstrom, Michael Mentler, and Howard Lyon to take a turn on the other side of the easel and sit as models for the event. There is a long history of artists painting artists, and we are delighted to be a part of that historic practice. Thursday is also the best day to check out the Exhibit Hall where our dedicated vendors are there to answer any and all questions about your favorite products and services. 

On Friday morning, after a rousing welcome from Chairman Ed Jonas, artist James Gurney took to the main stage for a demonstration of his unique perspective on visual perception, communication, and tonal design. Next up were Anna Rose Bain and Quang Ho sharing the stage, as well as their differing approaches to the alla prima portrait. After lunch, attendees scattered off to the first set of breakout sessions, where they choose from six different panels or workshops on topics ranging from Building a Reputation in the 21st Century, Using Photography as a Tool, Understanding Color with Daniel Greene, or a unique discussion on the value of recording dreams, with artist Leslie Adams on her project, Handwritten Dreams. And, Friday night ended with my personal favorite of the weekend – the 6 x 9 Mystery Art Sale, where attendees have a chance to purchase small works by noted artists. While it is highly entertaining to watch everyone scrambling to buy these beautiful little paintings, in truth, I love this event because each work is so generously donated by past faculty members and award winners, and the proceeds from the sale go toward our scholarship program to help emerging artists attend the conference for free. 

Saturday morning started off early with the Cecilia Beaux Forum’s panel featuring, Anna Rose Bain, Wende Caporale, Judith Carducci, Mary Sauer, and Dawn Whitelaw. This Q&A session about establishing and managing your art career was standing room only, with each of these remarkable female artists offering their practical advice, counsel, and encouragement. Next on the main stage, three legends - Daniel Greene, Everett Raymond Kinstler, and Burton Silverman – came together to share the wisdom of their past experiences and how they continue to look to the future. That morning also included another set of breakout sessions, featuring panels and demonstrations by Rob Liberace, Mary Whyte, Rick Casali, Jeffrey Hein, Daniel Gerhartz, Quang Ho, Dawn Whitelaw, Rose Frantzen and David Kassan. After lunch, noted author James Head shared some fascinating stories and images about the legendary illustrator and portraitist, Howard Chandler Christy, and Daniel Gerhartz returned to the main stage for an engaging demonstration, where he focused on his approach to building form and conveying emotion. 

A Night to Remember
The Saturday evening Gala Banquet is for many the highlight of the weekend. It’s hard to say exactly what makes the night so magical – perhaps it’s the rich food and drink, or the anticipation of the awards being announced, or simply the excitement of finally removing those paint-stained clothes and seeing your friends and favorite artists all dressed to impress. This year, a champagne toast added to the night’s celebration and eased our wait to hear the results of the International Portrait Competition. With a record number of entries, 24 talented finalists were selected to showcase their work at the conference and compete for the Draper Grand Prize, which this year included a $20,000 cash prize in honor of our 20th year. This year, that coveted prize was awarded to Daniel Keys for his stunning work titled, Innocence. Finally, an honoring of our newest Signature Status members and a thoughtful keynote address by Richard Ormond, rounded out the official end of the banquet, though I have it on good authority that the celebration continued well into the night!

The last day of the conference is bittersweet for most, as we all prepare to say goodbye and get back to our regular, albeit somewhat less exciting schedules. This year, Paul Newton led the morning’s Inspirational Hour, after which Michael Shane Neal and Richard Ormond shared an illustrated conversation about John Singer Sargent on the main stage. And last, but certainly not least, the always-entertaining Jeffrey Hein gave a demonstration on visualizing shape relationships and achieving a likeness even under the most challenging situations. And after the closing ceremonies, many attendees loaded into buses headed for the National Portrait Gallery.

Always Learning, Always Improving
At the Portrait Society, we take ideas and feedback from our members seriously. And for our 20th anniversary a number of new programs were added to the schedule in response to suggestions made by our members over the years. This year, those especially energized artists, who feel that four days just isn’t enough, were able to arrive a day early to participate in one of three pre-conference workshops with Rob Liberace, Michael Shane Neal, or Mary Whyte. Additionally, on Thursday and Friday night conference-goers could attend free 2 ½ hour open drawing sessions where models were provided along with informal instruction by rotating faculty artists. I admit, I expected a moderate turnout for these sessions, because of our already packed schedule, but both nights the rooms were overflowing with artists, sketchpads in hand, and some of the most determined and engaged expressions I’ve ever seen – and once again, I was blown away by the artist’s perpetual energy to create. 

It goes without saying that this event would not be possible without the generous donation of time and knowledge given by each our faculty artists – many of whom return year after year. These incredible individuals have helped to build and strengthen the Portrait Society community, and we would not be the organization that we are today without them. Our sincerest thank you to our 2018 faulty: Leslie Adams, Anna Rose Bain, Wende Caporale, Judith Carducci, Rick Casali, Casey Childs, Michelle Dunaway, Rose Frantzen, Daniel Gerhartz, Daniel Greene, James Gurney, Jeffrey Hein, Quang Ho, Edward Jonas, David Kassan, Daniel Keys, Everett Raymond Kinstler, Robert Liberace, Michael Shane Neal, Ricky Mujica, Paul Newton, Richard Ormond, Mario Robinson, Mary Sauer, Burton Silverman, Adrienne Stein, Jennifer Welty, Dawn Whitelaw, Mary Whyte and Elizabeth Zanzinger

The Whole is Greater than the Sum of its Parts
When individuals come together to form a community, they become something greater than themselves. In fact, the greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the passion and commitment of its members. And once a year, it is my privilege to witness the coming together of this incredible community – to watch as our members savor in the company of old friends, delight in the meeting of new ones, and to see them inspire, support, and learn from one another. 

Come and Join Us
For those of you wondering if attending our conference is the right move for you, let me assure you it is! This short recap truly only scratches the surface of all that the Portrait Society conference has to offer. Some of the things not mentioned here today: portfolio critiques, artist book signing, silent auctions, prize drawings, impromptu paint-offs in the hotel lobby, and late night chats about art, life, and the many ups and downs of the creative process. If you’re looking for a community to grow with and share your successes and failures – we want to be a part of that journey. And if you already have an active artistic “support system,” then come share your knowledge and those experiences with others. Next year’s conference will take place from April 25-28 in Atlanta, Georgia, and registration is already open. I hope to see you all there! 

Krystle Stricklin is a writer and PhD candidate in art history at the University of Pittsburgh, and former Cecilia Beaux Forum Coordinator for the Portrait Society of America. 

Finding Your Way Through the Fog

This year the Portrait Society of America celebrated its 20th year of operation. A milestone for any business, but it is particularly significant for a nonprofit fine art organization. So, it felt appropriate during my opening welcome to share the inspiration that led to the founding the Society.  Quite a few years ago I learned that good public speakers capture and hold onto their listener’s attention through the power of storytelling. The story that I shared Friday morning occurred over 41 years ago but I can remember it like it was yesterday.

Edward Jonas opening the 20th The Art of the Portrait conference
I was just a few years out of college and trying to find a path to becoming a self supporting artist. A goal that had burned inside of me ever since I can remember, to put it more distinctly I felt if I could not find a way, I wouldn't be able to breathe.  Many in the crowd nodded in understanding.

I had built a small 260 ft.² studio on the edge of some Florida wetlands where I enjoyed the natural diversity of the wildlife in the area. It was not surprising one day when I walked out my door and came face to face with a barred owl sitting on the fence a few feet away. I moved to within an arm’s length and still this approximately18 inch bird did not fly. But when it turned its head towards me, I saw that the usually deep brownish-black eyes were clouded and a smokey grey color, immediately I knew the bird was blind. With the assistance of a Florida Wildlife Officer the bird was caught and together we took him to a local veterinarian who found thorns in her eyes. That evening, I found myself standing outside my studio door with a bag of antibiotics, a wild bird in a cardboard appliance box, and a grinning wildlife officer who as he drove away yelled back, “you better get a book on falconry!

Over the next two weeks I read several volumes on the ancient sport while I cared for the owl. I was able to get her to quietly sit on my gloved hand while I would caress her head. Sadly, the bird passed but the experience left me with a new passion. Armed with a federal and state falconry license, I was soon working with a young female red-tailed hawk that the Florida Game and Fish Commission requested that I trap and remove as the bird was turning a local farmer’s yard into her own Chick-fil-A!  

After many, many weeks of slowly working with this bird to overcome her natural distrust of humans and also to condition her to associate my whistle with food she responded so well that not only could she be trusted to be set free of any leashes, but she would immediately return to my glove whenever she heard my whistle. We had become a team with enough trust built between us that we could confidently venture into the field for a season of hunting.

Red-tail hawks seldom hunt “on the wing” in the manner of a Peregrine Falcon but prefer to find a high perch where with their amazingly powerful eyesight, that is even telescopic, can scan a large area for the slightest movement and possible prey, which for her now had to be rabbits that are far more crafty than barnyard chickens, or so she found out one day.

It was just after sunrise on a crisp fall day and I had found a field that had a dead pine tree conveniently situated on a slight hilltop, it looked like the perfect place for “Khan.”
Edward Jonas, Khan, oil on panel

The night had left some low spots in the field covered with ground fog that would burn-off as soon as the sun’s rays would warm the air. As we entered the field the hawk lifted off my fist and headed for the top of the pine tree, when she landed you could hear the high and low jingle of falconry bells attached to the protective leather jesses on her legs, as she moved up a branch.

Fairly soon as I was walking through some brush a large cottontail busted out into a full run. I looked to the bird who was already off the branch with wings partially folded in a full dive gathering speed for the chase. The rabbit headed first right then left but with the hawk closing on her she made a direct line for the fog.

One of the amazing tricks rabbits, that seem to know instinctively, is that when they have a hawk closing in on them they will head for the lowest scrub tree they can find and shoot under the limbs at which time they will do a right angle and continue to run. The bird either has to smash into the tree or go up and over at which time the rabbit has made their escape. Score one for the rabbit.

And this was exactly the rabbits escape, and the fog was its only haven. They both disappeared into the fog bank leaving behind only the swirling coils of white mist to indicate their entrance. It was all was so explosively quick and exciting to watch and that the rabbit won out is more the norm nine out of ten times in nature.

But now somewhere in that blanket of whiteness I had lost my hawk. All I could hear was the jingle of her bells and the rhythm told me not only had she missed her target but that now she was socked-in and trying to walk out!  That the fog was only a very thin layer between her wings and the clear blue sky was not within her comprehension.

This magnificent and powerful bird with over a three-foot wing span that can soar above the clouds or dive at speeds of 120 mph and that can grip your hand so tightly through a heavy leather glove it can go numb is letting a little mist stop her. I whistled, and she continues to walk towards the sound but still did not attempt to fly.  So I went closer to her and with my field bag fanned an opening so she could see and up she jumped onto my arm.

An amazing day for sure and as I reflected upon it, I realized how we sometimes can let little things seem impossible to overcome, and we let it stop us. Maybe it the way we are looking at the problem and if we only persevered, investigated, pushed a little harder then maybe that big thing might really be nothing. And think what how it means to be that person who can fan the fog away for someone else.

Establishing a career in the arts can seem confusing and overwhelming. After the conference this year we heard from a first-time attendee, “The Portrait Society is such a welcoming, supportive group I wish I knew about sooner! -I learned creating a great painting is the priority even before likeness.  I also learned why I do many things and I have a new perspective on how to improve my work.  Seeing so many different approaches really opened my eyes to new possibilities. It is a great atmosphere to learn in when everyone is an artist.

This was the inspiration behind having an organization “run by artist for artists”? We wanted to provide the opportunity for artists to gather together, share and guide each other.

I believe in it and wish that it existed when I was struggling to find my way through the fog.

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.


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

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.