The demos--yeah, sure, they are a dime a dozen at these conferences, but when you sit and watch someone paint who is at the top of their game, it's extremely enlightening.
First two photos show David Leffel demonstrating the "finishing" of an eye.
The next two photos are of Burton Silverman painting from a model. The screen split shows the model and the painting as it progressed.
The portfolio critiques from both the portrait brokers and from other artists were the main reason I attended. The encouragement and suggestions were truly invaluable.
There were several speakers who provided marketing and business information. Two who stood out for me were Michael Shane Neal (gotta love those bowties!) and Michelle Rushworth. Michelle has had an almost meteoric rise to success and she shared some great ideas and suggestions. I'm quite sure I don't have the same, fervent drive (or energy) that she does, so I'm not expecting the same level of success in four short years. However, she has proved that you can truly reach whatever level you aspire to with the right amount of focus and determination.
Although I loved the conference and have already signed up for next year, there were a few things I could have done without. Without naming any well-known names, some of the artists (and that's what we all are, artists--not gods) could have left the egos at home and I think we would have all been fine with that.
Ending on a high note, the other artists I met were from all over the world and, although our backgrounds and lifestyles differ a great deal, I found the common element of the love of portraiture surpassed any differences we might have. Most of those I talked with were fun, engaging and, in general, people I would have a margarita with--and I did!
I also met in person, for the first time, someone who has helped me a great deal in my marketing efforts. Alyson Stanfield, art marketing coach and author of "I'd Rather Be in The Studio" was at the conference promoting her book and meeting new artists. She is as nice in person as she is over the phone!