Monday, May 17, 2010

I attended an amazing conference: "Art of the Portrait"

Hi Folks! Just wanted to fill you in on an amazing 4-day conference I attended in April: "The Art of the Portrait" 2010 annual conference sponsored by the Portrait Society of America and held in Reston Virginia. I am so glad I went to this event--it was worth every minute and every penny! My sister, Doris Murphy, from Pennington, NJ, came with me and we had a lot of fun.
The organizers, who are some of America's best artists of portrait and figurative art, invited 15 "faculty members" to come and give talks and demonstrations before an audience of about 800 artists from all over the country. For more info and list of the faculty, check out their website at Also, for some live material, check out their Facebook page at .

For me, some of the highlights were the "Face-off", where the 15 invited faculty members painted live models for 2 hours in a setting where you could walk around and watch them up close. I was particularly interested in watching Robert Liberace paint the model "Ellyn", because the next day, Doris and I would be taking a drawing workshop with him. Here are some photos:

Another highlight was a special event they had called "The Mystery Panel Sale". I have never seen such an art buying frenzy! The Portrait Society asked 140 respected portrait artists to paint and donate a 6x9" masonite panel to be sold at this event. Each painting was $225 and none were signed, so you did not know who the artist was, and some were very famous... The paintings were all covered with a black cloth, except for a 10 minute period when hundreds of people were present, and they were unveiled. You had 10 minutes to decide which one you might like to buy. I had my eye on #48, which I suspected was by last year's Grand Prize Winner, Joseph Todorovitch. Wouldn't you know, about 20 other people wanted that painting. So we all put our name badges in a hat, and they drew mine! And lo-and-behold, it was by Joseph Todorovitch! I was the happiest person around, and everybody was so jealous! I was introduced to Joseph, and here is my photo with him and his beautiful painting, "Corina":

Joseph is a truly amazing painter and very nice person. You should check out his website at: Here is a close-up of his painting after I framed it:

And my sister Doris bought this beautiful painting by Maryland artist Sam Robinson--here she is posing with the artist!:

Another highlight was the watercolor demonstration by Mary Whyte using Burt Silverman as a model! They had three huge video monitors in the ballroom, so that anyone in the huge room could get a good view of the demonstration. Here is Mary talking with Burt and the split screen image we were watching as Mary Whyte did her portrait:

Taking this conference served me very well, since I have been concentrating on painting people lately. In fact, it was an excellent preliminary activity for the course I will be teaching at ARThouse this summer, called "Painting the Face and Figure in Watercolor". We are also having a drawing class this summer called "Drawing the Face and Figure" taught by Roberta Staat. See my website for information about classes at ARThouse.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. Let me know if you have a comment! --Sue


  1. Congratulations on your good luck, Sue! Both your painting and your sister's are fascinating - I can hardly wait to see yours "up close and personal" when the classes begin in June.

  2. "Hi Susan,
    I always enjoy reading your blog. Your stories, comments, pictures and suggestions are always a learning experience for me. Please keep on doing what you are doing so well. Thank you.