Portrait Society of America Meeting April 23-26, 2009

The Portrait Society of America will hold their annual conference in Washington D.C. in a few weeks.  If you can make the trip, it is well worth it!  There is a long list of artists who will demonstrate and lecture on the field of portraiture from setting up studios to marketing your work.  

Click here for more information:  http://www.portraitsociety.org/

I will be speaking and demonstrating during the weekend.  In the upcoming issue of International Artist Magazine, my portrait of Judge Tony Scirica will be included along with a description of the process of creating the portrait. The magazine will be available soon, but here is a preview:

Introduction
I begin the process of creating my portrait of Chief Judge Scirica with a visit to his chambers in Philadelphia.  A big believer in homework, I read a great deal about my subject before our first meeting and we enjoyed a nice lunch together shortly after I arrived.  To be his official portrait for the court, we completed a photo-shoot in his chambers.  I made numerous digital photos trying multiple poses and also created a quick sketch in oil on a canvas board as my first introduction to my subject in paint.  No matter how brief the sketching encounter (in this case 40 minutes), I find it to be a very valuable part of the process of getting to know my subject.  It will also help me to select good reference photos that more accurately capture the gesture and character of my subject.  Like sketching the landscape, I remember more from this experience than I do from any snapshot with a camera.  This entire process took most of the afternoon.  I am now ready to return to the studio where I will study the reference and begin the portrait.
Step 1: Drawing
I love to draw (it was my first love as an artist), but I love to paint even more! Consequently, I begin by sketching out only the major proportions in soft charcoal. I fear a detailed drawing will lead to a filling in of the shapes and not the massing of the major proportions. The latter I believe can help to create a more “painterly” approach throughout. I want to feel the major proportions on the canvas hopefully with accuracy and energy. Once established I can refine the drawing with paint.
Step 3: The Particular
Now that the canvas is fully covered and the major effect is established, I can now spend time developing the areas of focus such as the head. I am only now thinking of likeness in a more specific way. In the previous steps I was only seeking the character of my model, the gesture of his pose, and the overall effect of the scene.

Step 6: The Finish

In the finished portrait I have spent considerable time on every area of the portrait. No area has not succumb to numerous adjustments as I worked to find my subjects likeness, quiet strength, and character. I am constantly striving for simplicity in effect, brush work and composition. Often I edit once more where I can as I near the finish with the simplicity of my earlier stages in mind.