Art of the Portrait Conference

Us (right) with TJ and Julie Cunningham, our
friends from PCC. TJ won Fifth Place this year!
Andrea and I had an amazing weekend at our first Portrait Society of America "Art of the Portrait" Conference! The conference faculty members are some of the most highly skilled painters in the fine art industry. Attendees glean from their experience as they lecture and demonstrate during the four-day event. The conference culminates in the Awards Gala Banquet, where the winners of International Portrait Competition are announced. This year, the annual conference was held in Reston, VA, outside Washington DC.

Activities commenced with the annual Face-Off event. Fifteen faculty members painted portraits from life for the roughly 750 attendees. See all the face-off portraits at Underpaintings Blog.

Face-Off Demo by Jeff Hein

Faculty Demos
Throughout the conference, faculty artists shared their knowledge through informative demonstrations. On several occasions, James Gurney set up off-stage and painted these artists as they demoed (see video below).

In-progress demos by Jeff Hein (left) and Quang Ho

In-progress demo by Mary Whyte

In-progress demos by Robert Liberace (left) and Rose Frantzen

Recreational Painting
TJ had the great idea to do some portrait painting in the host hotel's lobby. Why not! At first, it was just us. Then little by little, more artists joined in until we had quite a crowd.

Tim and I painting artist Isaiah Hoppe

A crowd gathers!

Gold Medal Award for Lifetime Achievement
This year's award went to master artist Joe Bowler. Because he is handicapped, he was not able to attend the conference. His former protégé Brian Neher presented his award while conference attendees watched via the Internet. Bowler's recognition was meaningful to Andrea and me because Bowler's portraits of our college's president and his wife provided continual instruction and inspiration while we pursued our art studies. You can view Bowler's work at his website here.


Congrats to the finalists!
Click names to visit artists' websites • Click here to view finalists' paintings 

William Draper Grand Prize
A Father's Dreams and a Son's Love

By Bryce Billings
Draper Grand Prize & People's Choice: Bryce Billings
1st Place Painting: Tony Pro
1st Place Sculpture: Alicia Ponzio
2nd Place: Jeff Hein
3rd Place: Kelly Carmody
4rth Place: Aron Belka
5th Place: TJ Cunningham
1st Honor Award: Seth Haverkamp
2nd Honor Award: Adam Clague
3rd Honor Award: Olga Krimon
Certificates of Excellence: Paul Batch, Aimee Erickson, Gavin Glakas, Kristy Gordon, Barbara Kiwak, Sandra Kuck, Clement Kwan, Ricky Mujica, Aapo Pukk, James Tennison, Wesley Wofford

Knitter's Gift
Oil on linen • 30"x30" • Available 6/7/14 at the OPA National
(To inquire, contact the Bennington Center for the Arts)
I praise God for allowing me to win the 2nd Honor Award for my painting, Knitter's Gift! I am so humbled and honored.

Andrea and I had a blast at the conference, and are looking forward to attending the conference next year in Atlanta!

Be the first to see our latest paintings

Subscribe to Our Latest Artwork & Adventures email newsletter below to see our new work before the general public. If a painting catches your eye, you'll have first dibs on purchasing.

Painting Siblings

No, this isn't a post about double portraits. It's actually about two paintings that are, in a way, "siblings."

Steering Home
Oil on linen • 6"x6" • Sold
Prayers For His Voyage
Oil on linen • 6"x6" • Sold

In 2010, while visiting relatives, I painted a still life of objects I collected from my grandmother and aunt ("Prayers For His Voyage," above). The painting represents a woman praying for a loved one who is abroad (perhaps at sea or war). The Bible represents her faith, and the candle symbolizes her hope.

I sold the piece recently, and it was not long before the client presented me with a brilliant idea—perhaps I could create a companion painting that depicts the story from the man's point of view. "What a great idea!" I thought, and soon began setting my mind to the task. I used some of the same symbolism from the first painting, including a candle for the man's hope and a Bible for his faith. I depicted the man as a sailor, steering towards the light and nearer to his loved one, who is pictured in a locket. The rocks represent his ever-present dangers, against which her prayers protect.

These two paintings now hang side-by-side. Each shares a side of the tale, and together, they tell the full story.

Be the first to see our latest paintings

Subscribe to Our Latest Artwork & Adventures email newsletter below to see our new work before the general public. If a painting catches your eye, you'll have first dibs on purchasing.

My Favorite Thing to Paint

Dan (by Andrea)
Oil on linen panel • 10"x8" • Available
(To inquire, email
While Andrea and I studied at Pensacola Christian College, our all-time favorite art course was Figure Painting with artist-in-residence Brian Jekel (view his work here). The class met for two hours each Tuesday evening to paint a clothed model from life. Each model would pose for two consecutive weeks, and we were not permitted to work on our paintings outside of class. The limited time-frame and complex subject was a unique challenge I found exhilarating. Soon, creating portraits from life became my favorite painting activity. In fact, I loved it so much, I elected to take the class three times!

After Andrea and I graduated, we greatly missed painting people from life as often. When we moved to Missouri, we dreamed of one day opening our studio for group life-painting sessions. Thanks to my industrious mother, who almost single-handedly prepared our studio, we were able to host our first session last September. We've been meeting every Thursday night since, and the response has been wonderful. It has been a joy to paint people from life again and to meet such great new friends.

Our sessions are open to all Kansas City area artists. If you would be interested in joining us, please visit our Facebook Group here and click "Join Group." Click the "Events" tab to see a list of upcoming sessions, then select the one you'd like to attend. If there are 10 or fewer people coming (our comfortable max), click "Going." Please send me a private message on Facebook for directions to our studio. We ask everyone to bring a portable easel, supplies and $6 for the model. We look forward to seeing you!


Our Painting Group

Just a few of our painting buddies
(Click their names to visit their websites)

L to R: Crystal Manning, Wanda Greene,
Polly Plain (back), Eileen McCoy,
Andrea, me, Ryan Delgado, Peggy Wilson

A Few of Our Thursday Night Paintings

(Many more paintings and photos from our sessions can frequently be found
at Peggy Wilson's blog and Greenverdugo Art's Facebook page.)

Daniel (by Andrea)
Oil on linen • 12"x9" • Available
(To inquire, email

Micah (by Adam)
Oil on gesso panel • 12"x9" • Available
(To inquire, email

Judy (by Adam)
Oil on gesso panel • 12"x12" • Sold

Matthias (by Adam)
Oil on gesso panel • 12"x12" • Sold

Bo (by Adam)
Oil on gesso panel • 16"x12" •
In a private collection

Be the first to see our latest paintings

Subscribe to Our Latest Artwork & Adventures email newsletter below to see our new work before the general public. If a painting catches your eye, you'll have first dibs on purchasing.

Christmas Traditions

I decided to dedicate my first blog post of 2014 to a glance back at Christmas 2013.

2013 Christmas Tree
Oil on linen • 8"x6"
2012 Christmas Tree
Oil on linen • 7"x5"

Harvesting our 2012 "tree."
Our 2013 tree was a full (though tiny) tree
Last Christmas (2012), Andrea's and my first together, we instated two traditions: 1) harvesting a live Christmas tree and 2) painting it from life. These last two Christmases, we enjoyed picking our trees from our own yard.

Please excuse my ragged painting garb
These paintings are a lot of fun, but are also challenging for a few reasons:

1 The lights of the tree look most dramatic when there is little or no other light in the room. This poses the problem of poorly-lit canvases. This year, Andrea clamped a battery-operated barbeque light to her easel. I used a spotlight and placed it outside the doorway so the door frame would help mask the light's influence inside the room.

2 This year, we decided to paint our tree with the shade opened, so we could capture the lights reflected in the window. I found I had to paint these reflections softer and dimmer than the actual bulbs to prevent them from reading as part of the actual tree.

3 Since the light bulbs are at all different angles to the eye and are hidden to various degrees by branches and ornaments, they appear to have differing levels of brightness. If I paint all the bulbs the same brightness, they simply don't look realistic. To achieve the correct effect in my painting, I first have to choose one bulb to be the brightest. I then have to dim the others in the correct proportion to that brightest bulb. The key to accurately comparing values (darks and lights) is to squint slightly at the subject. When your eyelashes come together, your visible range of values is compressed, making it easier to determine how much lighter or darker one value is compared to another. Once I determine how much dimmer each bulb is compared to the brightest one, I have to make sure those same relationships hold true on my canvas.

At the top of my 2013 painting, my stocking is to the left and Andrea's is to the right. They're both hanging at the same level, but Andrea's stretched out longer. Apparently candy is heavier than coal.

Merry Christmas, everyone (really, really late)!

Be the first to see our latest paintings

Subscribe to Our Latest Artwork & Adventures email newsletter below to see our new work before the general public. If a painting catches your eye, you'll have first dibs on purchasing.