I finally made it to the annual ‘The Art of the Portrait’ conference which is held by the National Portrait Society. I had been eyeing up this event since I finished my first ever portrait!

I wanted to learn, be exposed to other artists (of all levels), see demonstrations and take in all the guidance available at this 3 day event. Just to top it all off, this year they decided to host the conference in Washington D.C. I have lived in the US for 8 years and never had the chance to visit this great city. So off I went with a huge smile on my face to the Nation’s Capital!

This year the conference had approx. 700 attendees from all around the world. They consisted of Art teachers, artists of all levels and hard core art enthusiasts. As per my itinerary, there was so much packed into each day. I felt very fortunate to be at this event. Some of the artists that were sharing their knowledge had previously been commissioned to paint President(s) and other high profile individuals.

There were so many valuable workshops and presentations I attended in this very short, but also long weekend. One of the most beneficial workshops for me was ‘The first 10 years’ as an artist. There was a panel of five well known artists that talked about how they started, their struggles, learning and how they progressed. One of the artists talked about how many times he was rejected and was continuously told his work was not good enough. He kept going, learning, improving and trying again.

All of the artists on this panel encouraged the audience to create something other than portraits, such as landscapes, still life etc. They also suggested using another medium, so if you use mostly oil paint then try another medium such as watercolor, charcoal, mixed media etc. They said this would help to further develop your skills. This was one of the things that went straight on my ‘to do list’ when I got back!

Another great, live demonstration involved 2 artists painting on stage side by side. They were using the same model. They both talked us through their process as they joked around and interacted with the audience. It’s not a simple task to do while you paint a portrait, but they made it look easy! Their processes and results were very different. The time just flew by while I watched this full demonstration.

While I attended this conference I met people from all walks of life. I loved hearing about who they are, why they were attending this conference, where they had traveled from and if they predominately taught or created artwork. It was a great networking event.

During this trip I also managed to visit the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. Wow, now that was something! This museum had a whole floor dedicated to portraits of American Presidents. I stood in front of some of the paintings for ages just admiring the brush strokes, detail and trying to pin point which colors they would have used.

Then on the very last day, my husband and I we went out and explored the famous sights of Washington D.C.  I love this city and hope to visit it again one day.