Friday, June 1, 2012

Art of the Portrait 2012: Day 1, Morning Session

Ed Jonas

When Edward Jonas mounted the dais on the the first full-day of the 2012 Art of the Portrait Conference, he, like so many others in the audience, had a badge pinned to his chest.   That button, a tribute to the Portrait Society's previous Chairman, showed a simple but strong message:  above a portrait of Gordon Wetmore was the lone word, "Believe."  After a moment of silence for the fallen co-founder of the Society, it was time to welcome the many newcomers and alumni to the official start of the symposium.

As has become the recently-instated tradition, the welcoming address was followed by a video by the multi-talented artist Tony Pro.  In the presentation, the Faculty, the thirty Certificate of Excellence Winners, and the twenty Finalists vying for the William F. Draper Grand Prize were all introduced to the attendees.  And when the film ended, it was time for the first of the weekend's live painting demonstrations to begin.

Michelle Dunaway

Dunaway prefers not to begin painting right away.  Instead she studies the model
while letting her settle into her pose.

For this demo, Susan Lyon used a limited palette consisting of yellow ochre,
cadmium red, transparent red oxide, ivory black, and white.

Lyon is painting on a piece of museum board toned gray, and sealed with polyurethane.  It costs
less than a dollar a sheet;  this takes the pressure off because there is no fear of wasting your materials.

Dunaway concentrates on "early exactness" to provide measuring points for all later work. 

Lyon does not use medium in her paints.

Taking to the stage first were artists Susan Lyon of North Carolina and Michele Dunaway of New Mexico, who set up on opposite sides of the stage to paint simultaneously from the same model.  Their segment, titled Two Points of View, showed how portraits are as much a compilation of the artist's life experiences, as they are reflections of their sitters.  Though both of these artists have Richard Schmid in common in their backgrounds, their works developed down separate paths, and it was interesting to see how the two treated the same subject.

"Portrait Drawings –  A process of discovery that can
lead to unintended consequences."

"Every mark you put on the paper is a part of you, so
it's a good idea not to leave too much crap out there."

After a short break, it was time for Burton Silverman to allow the audience a peek over his shoulder as he did two rapid portrait sketches on the main stage.  During his presentation, Quick Silver, Silverman commented that he was once considered the fastest brush in the East, but felt he had slowed considerably with age.  If this were true, however, he gave no appearance of ever having slowed a bit, as he confidently and swiftly completed first a portrait in graphite, and then another in charcoal.  Throughout, Silverman emphasized the such drawings were "investigations" –  just notes for a painting –  and that they were not necessarily meant for the clients.  These quick sketches are for the artist to discover their subject, yet Silverman still finds it is "presumptuous to talk about the psychology of the sitter" during this phase of a commission.  "That takes a long time;  that's for the painting."  Once Silverman's demonstrations were complete, he then gave a slide presentation showing his drawing investigations side-by-side with his finished portraits, and as usual he had a funny story to accompany each piece.

After drawing the outside form, Silverman next draws the nose.
The nose sets the relationships of everything else on the face.

With the morning programs over, attendees rushed off to grab lunch;  there was still so much left to do!


Enno Kleinert. Fine Art Portraitmaler und Marinemaler said...

These demos are impressive examples of excellent portrait painting. Michelle Dunaways work is great.

adebanji said...

As I read through this, I just have to thank God for your blog!

I really enjoyed the two points of view and i have always been a fan of Susan Lyon as far back as 1999.

Then Burton Silverman is on another level. I must have known his stuff way back in 1994 or so from The American Art magazines while in Nigeria. If I ever have a passion for sketching and portraits -it was down to this guy-I think I own every book he has published out there!

Thanks for this post! One of my favourites this year!

Jim Serrett said...

Burt Silverman, wow I almost forgot about him and his work.
What a fantastic artist, a true talent, and what a great quote, classic Silverman.

Maria Hock said...

fabulous post. Love all the pictures and stories. Thanks so much.

Patricia Bennett said...

Wow, What a treat to get this post.
Thank you very much.

Albert. S said...

In my wildest dreams I would had never thought that the album cover of Jethro Tull (Aqualung) was Burt Silverman. I would stare at that picture when I was kid thinking what a gruesome old man. Nevertheless, Silverman is a awesome artist.

David Gluck said...

Dude, your reporting on the PSoA is brilliant. I think in a hundred years some historian is going to be thanking their lucky stars they have your blog to reference. It really gives a slice of life of the realist movement.