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Art of the Portrait Conference 2022

Thanks to the generosity of my dear friend, Libby Whipple, I was able to go to this year's Portrait Society Conference in sunny Atlanta.

A whirlwind of exciting events began with Michelle Dunaway's pre-conference drawing workshop.

Michelle started the morning with the most sensitive charcoal drawing of our model, capturing exquisite tenderness in her sweeping strokes and delicate rendering. As she drew, Michelle shared valuable insights that applied to both drawing and painting. When I asked her about how she decides the direction of those more abstract strokes, she explained how she intuitively made them to compliment the rhythm of the subject and composition.

A few of the quotes she shared:

Draw everything as you see it in relation to your focal point. What you see in your peripheral vision do not give distracting attention, instead painting it as you see it in your peripheral.
Mozart said, 'The beauty of music lays not only in the notes, but in the silence between them.'

From one to three, we had the delight of drawing our model and practicing what we learned through Michelle's demo.

A photo of our model and myself, with the drawing of her. She was such an emotive model, which made drawing her all the more enjoyable.

The Face-Off was an exhilerating event, with the entire faculty of instructors painting, drawing, and sculpting different models around the Grand Ballroom. During their breaks, it was a great opportunity to meet them and ask questions.

The whole weekend, I was so grateful for the warmth and openness with which artists shared conversations, advice, and encouragement.

Thursday finished with happily drawing with fellow artists Kyle Ma, Jared Brady, Kai Lun Qu, Marisa Evangelista, Patrick Okrasinski, Julia Maddalina, and Chelsea Lang. Our friend Tanner Steed, an artist as well, posed for us with his exciting beard and dreadlocks. 😄

Here is my drawing of him! I loved seeing everyone's individual styles and approaches.

DAY 2 was even more full than the day before, beginning bright and early with a welcome from Michael Shane Neal and an inspiring presentation by Mary Whyte about her watercolor series, 'We The People.' You can watch it here:

Mary's presentation was followed by 'The Lost and Found Edge of Reality,' a painting demonstration by Michelle Dunaway and Michael Shane Neal. It was fascinating to say the least. It proved to be a treasure trove of valuable information, through their words and examples.

The afternoon commenced with Jeff Hein and Mary Qian's painting demo on Unity of Color Harmony and Form. Watching their different approaches to painting their model, artist Howard Lyon, was itself an education. Both shared insights and stories, and answered our questions brilliantly.

After their demo it was time to meet the finalists! Talking with them alongside their work, getting to know them and asking questions, was such a great experience.

I enjoyed memorable conversations with Mark Pugh, Luis Alvarez-Roure, Mary Sauer, and Karen Offutt.

Reconnecting with artists I had already met as well was so nice - Jared Brady, Robert Liberace, Tina Garrett, Caleb Goggins, Adrienne Stein, Quang Ho, Anna Bain, Emily Olsen, Meghan McCall, and more.

Later I also had the chance to meet and talk with Kevin Chambers, Mary Qian, Joseph Daily, Daniel Sprick, Tim Rees, Paul Newton, Susan Lyon, Scott Burdick, Kathy Anderson, Suchitra Bhosle, Pramod Kurlekar, David Kassan, Shana Levenson, and many more.

These are artists who I've admired for years, and the fact that they spoke so freely and warmly meant the world to me.

The evening progressed with the invigorating 6x9" Mystery Sale! Paintings by award winners amd faculty artists were displayed anonymously and purchased by attendees and fellow artists. I was honored to be invited to submit a painting, which sold to artist Melissa Gann Burness.

Melissa, Scott Jones, and myself!

(Please excuse the glare on my painting!)

Day 2 was well completed with a multitude of artists gathering to draw and paint throughout the hotel. I joined a group near the vendor hall, where we drew and shared stories.


Quang Ho started us off with an incredible presentation, 'Finding Reality Through Art' where he shared epiphanies he has learned throughout his life. It was truly inspiring.

Next was a demonstration by Suchitra Bhosle and Tina Garrett, who both painted from printed photos and shared their philosophies, insights, and knowledge.

The afternoon was no less enriching, beginning with Robert Liberace and Adrienne Stein's demo, 'See the Parts, See the Whole,' where they demonstrated and taught exactly that. Both excelled in their instructions, verbally and visually. Their paintings of the effervescent model, a radiant woman in a vibrant red coat, reflected their experience and taste. Adrienne and Rob also generously answered our questions with well-expressed, in-depth answers.

We were all excited for what came next - the Awards Ceremony and Banquet!

Everyone was dressed in their finest, and the atmosphere was buzzing with anticipation and conversation.

The awards were announced, each piece well deserving of the recognition and honor. The excitement expressed as a whole for these individual artists was wonderful. One of my favorite artists, Francis Bell, flew in just for the ceremony! I was able to speak with her briefly amd congratulate her after the awards.

To see all of the awards and finalists, follow this link!

It was a memorable night, to be sure.

(1) What a lineup! Artists who have devoted their lives to the pursuit lf art and beauty.

(2) My wonderful mom adjusted this dress for me, and let me borrow her earrings and shoes! It felt like the next closest thing to having her there with me. 💛

The Final Day

At 7:30, Leslie Adams presented her Inspirational Hour, where she led us through her life and most recent project - 'Handwritten Dreams.' We learned how she turned her ideas into a meaningful, impactful reality, and connected her own talent and vision with others'. It was very motivational, and moving to see how remarkable individuals helped her in her journey.

Directly following were presentations by Victoria Wyeth and Daniel Sprick. Victoria shared stories and paintings by her grandfather, legendary Andrew Wyeth, and Daniel led us through his work, explaining his inspiration, process, and ideas.

I enjoyed lunch with artist friend from Prague, Klára Doležalová, a final walk down the sunshine filled streets of Atlanta, and finishes with drawing with art friends!

Kyle Ma graciously posed for us, and I joined Marisa Evangelista, Kai Lun Qu, and Katherine Martinez.

At the last minute, I found out my flight was boarding much earlier than scheduled, so I rushed off to the airport. I made it just in time, thanks to people who kindly allowed me to cut the line or run past them on the escalators!

It was a transformative weekend, and I am so thankful to come back to a loving and supportive home, where I can begin to practice all I've learned!

I feel overwhelmed with gratitude for this experience. God orchestrates all things wonderously, and it is so meaningful to feel how he uses the kindness and generosity people give to create such opportunities.

To the sponsors of Portrait Society, the contributions you make are so appreciated by the artists and will co tinue to bear fruit for years to come.

To the volunteers and organizers, especially director Christine Egnoski, your efforts made Portrait Society feel so full of life, shared knowledge, excitment, and inspiration.

To everyone at Portrait Society who shared a conversation with me, however brief or long, I truly appreciate the stories, encouragement, advice, and friendship.

To Libby, I couldn't have come without your support, and I can't express how much your kindness and provision has meant to me.

I look forward to staying connected with these artists and following their amazing journeys.

Here is a short 2-minute video I made from the weekend!


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