Saturday, May 7, 2011

More Notes from the PSOA Conference 2011

One of my favorite moments of the weekend with the Portrait Society of America was when Michael Shane Neal painted his mentor and long-time friend, Everett Raymond Kinstler. To give you a little background: Kinstler is well-known as a painter of presidents and movie stars, with a bravado of brushwork that could rival Sargent. He estimated that he painted nearly 2000 portraits in his lifetime, an acheivement few artists will ever be able to match. His student, Michael Shane Neal, has an extensive resume of official portraits as well, including Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Conner. But it wasn't their experience that held the audience's rapt attention - it was the relationship they have and the humorous conversation that ensued during the 2-hour demo. Kinstler never held still or stopped talking, but I found his comments to be wonderfully insightful. And the stories - well, I could listen to him talk all day!

Some of my notes on things the two mentioned:
First of all, Kinstler, who was one of the judges in the International Portrait Competition this year, divulged exactly what he looks for in a great work of art: Imagination, feeling, and the ability to communicate. I think I'm going to write these down in permanent marker on my mirror!

Second, Michael Shane Neal had some important points as he worked:
- When adjusting your painting, the key is not so much re-painting, but re-stating. Make it stronger than it was before.
- Don’t take your eye off any part of the canvas as you work, because everything relates.
- Someone asked what he does to varnish a painting when there's a delivery deadline and the work hasn't had a full six months to dry. The solution? Gamvar varnish. The only downside is that it is high-gloss (personally I have yet to find a matte retouch varnish!). Otherwise, if you have the luxury of waiting till the painting is completely dry, Neal's varnish of choice is equal parts of Dammar varnish, matte varnish and English distilled turpentine.

On Saturday night of the conference, I attended the awards banquet for the international competition winners. The quality of work this year was absolutely impressive! If you wish to see all of the finalists, I recommend checking out "Underpaintings," a blog by artist and conference attendee, Matthew Innis. I was both very happy for the award winners, and a little overwhelmed at how good they are! It's a little disheartening, realizing you have such a long way to go! But, the challenge is good, and just what I need to get back into the studio and work hard. I was especially impressed by the work of young artists Teresa Oaxaca (for her painting, "Father Time"), and the grand prize winner, Jesus Villareal, for his self-portrait, "The Studio."

Here is our little group from the Dallas area:

It sure is nice to get out of those painting clothes and dress up once in a while! :-)

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