As promised following is the first installment of my notes from this year’s Portrait Society of America Conference which took place in Philadelphia, PA.  We begin with notes from the conferences’ first two demonstrations:  Two Points of View with Susan Lyon and Michelle Dunaway, and Gestural Drawing with Burton Silverman.

Two Points of View with Susan Lyon
and Michelle Dunaway
Susan: Working on museum board, 290 gm
sealed with three coats of clear gesso. The museum board is a neutral gray.
Buys 30” by 40” and cuts it down. Sue works, light, middle and dark/warm and
cool and begins with a ghost image first of the shadow mass.
Likes New Traditions canvas, L600 and L280. She observes the model for a
bit, this helps as after a few minutes the model will fall into a natural pose
anyway. She begins with a mass.  Looks
for something that resonates, feels it first

                                                Susan’s on the left/Michelle’s
on the right

Susan asks herself where the shadow shapes
are. Holds the brush the same way she holds a pencil. Looks for strong values.
She tries for the least amount of brushstrokes. Sue says that she tends to
soften too much and needs to trust her brushwork. She doesn’t think about
finishing when working. 
Michelle begins with the eyes and won’t work
further until they are accurate
Susan: When she is finished massing in the
shadow shape, she moves into the 2nd shapes and then the
highlights.  She aims to not over-model.
She thinks abstractly.  Paints the light.
If it is not seen when squinting she doesn’t paint it.
Michelle: Wants to paint as closely as we see.
This depends on your focus. When you are looking at a person or object in front
of you you see realism , edges are impressionistic and peripheral is
abstract.  She thinks form and
structure/color temperature and edges



She mentions
that she uses permanent mauve added to transparent red oxide which cools the
color without making it gray. Currently loves Le Franc titanium white.
brushstroke has to have purpose.
Art elevates
you beyond your circumstances
Art is
Burton  Silverman and Gesture Drawings
Every time
you touch pencil to paper you leave something behind of yourself ~~don’t leave
a lot of crap behind! 
He works
from the outside/ getting sculptural form without worrying about specifics
He has been
using graphite powder sometimes when working on white paper.
When doing a
gestural drawing of your subject, get some sense of the person you are drawing.
Familiarize yourself with the landscape of the person’s head. 
First Demo
Burt works
on white with graphite pencil. 



Second Demo
With this
demo, Burt uses a blue grey sheet of Canson, smoother side.
With soft
vine charcoal he lays in shapes and then switches to charcoal pencil.
Thinks value
in a different way and uses the paper as a halftone.
Burt works
on the nose first as it is the determinant of all the relationships on the
face.  He works to the outside of the
When you
plumb the unconscious you never know what will come out.
Burt then
showed us a slide presentation of his gesture drawings and the resultant


Next week: Installment Number Two      The Breakout Sessions