2017 The Art of the Portrait Conference – The Face Offby Matthew Innis |
Artists from all over the world have congregated in Atlanta this year to celebrate the fine art of portrait painting at the Portrait Society of America’s annual The Art of the Portrait Conference. Now in its 19th year, the conference has become one of the most popular destinations for portrait and figurative artists to come together and celebrate their common love of art, and for people who spend so much time isolated in their studios, this opportunity to reconnect with friends and peers is a welcome reprise which they look forward to all year long.
As in past years, when the doors officially opened today, the event kicked off with the Face Off, a popular event in which multiple professional artists simultaneously paint from live models in an open auditorium. As the artists work, audience members can move freely from group to group and observe how each artist approaches the alla prima portrait, or they can pick a favorite painter (or sculptor) and spend the entire demonstration just focussed on that one person. The three-hour group demo is a perennial favorite, ad always a great start to the weekend.
In this year’s Face Off, 20 major artists participated, though only 15 of those were actively creating during the event. This was because in this year’s unusual twist, not only were the performers professional artists, so were the models! The 15 main artists were randomly split into groups of three, each group painting from one of their peers. Moving clockwise from the main entrance to the ballroom arena were the following groups: Casey Childs, Sadie Jernigan Valeri, Michelle Dunaway painted Charles Miano; Daniel Keys, Kate Sammons, and Susan Lyon worked from Ricky Mujica; Bart Lindstrom, Daniel Sprick, and Juliette Aristides painted Mary Sauer; Tony Pro and Anna Rose Bain painted Lea Colie Wight while Alicia Ponzio sculpted a bas relief of her; and Jeff Hein, Kate Stone, and Ann Manry Kenyon painted Ellen Cooper.
The finished paintings which will go on display on the second day, will be offered as part of a silent auction later on in the weekend. Sales of these demos benefit the The Art of the Portrait scholarship program.