Time With Contemporary Masters: Top Moments From Realism Live

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In the first-ever global virtual art conference for contemporary realism, hundreds gathered online to learn from today’s master artists. Realism Live took place over four days (as well as offering a Beginner’s Day) with live presentations and interviews, recorded demonstrations during which the artist interacted in an ongoing chat room with all the viewers, and nightly Cocktail Hours and Paint Along sessions. Read the full recap of Realism Live here, and keep scrolling down from some favorite highlights.

Joshua LaRock demonstration

Joshua LaRock, who is internationally recognized as a preeminent figurative artist, began Day 1 with sharing insights on drawing and painting the eye. Why so specific? “No matter the subject matter, if there’s an eye it’s probably the most important part of the composition,” he said.

The Florida-based watercolorist Dean Mitchell is admired worldwide for his compelling figurative works, landscapes, and still lifes. In his conversation with Peter Trippi, Mitchell revealed what he has been doing this extraordinary year and how he sees the future of realist art shaping up as we plan life post-pandemic. His comments on the importance of the arts and arts education to society were particularly eye-opening.

Three gifted realist artists — Patricia Watwood, Jennifer Balkan, and Alia El-Bermani — have given much thought to the challenges and opportunities that face women in this ever-changing field. In their conversation with Peter Trippi, they explored important topics ranging from gender bias to imposter syndrome and the balance to be struck between work and family life.

Each night, our Cocktail Hour included a live action model who sat for a portrait painting session while Eric Rhoads and Peter Trippi had entertaining conversations with many of the days world-wide attendees. (Look closely and you’ll even see that someone’s feathered friend joined us for the call one night!)

Stephen Bauman demonstration

Figurative artist Stephen Bauman took us through every stage of a portrait painting, from the graphite drawing to the refined finished painting. Bauman ended his presentation with these three important pointers:
1. A really good drawing is the key to making a proficient portrait painting.
2. Organization – in regards to your palette, materials, and general preparation – is an enormous part of learning.
3. The ideas and tools you learn about throughout your art studies are open to your interpretation.

Juliette Aristides demonstration

Juliette Aristides, founder and director of the Aristides Atelier at the Gage Academy of Art, led a charcoal figure drawing demonstration. She began by copying a master work to demonstrate how you can learn from existing drawings when you don’t have a model available. Later in the session, she drew from a live model, explaining her choices in mark-making along the way.

Dan Thompson figure drawing demonstration

Dan Thompson, Dean of Faculty and Students at Studio Incamminati, led an anatomical figure drawing demonstration that honored the “extraordinary nature of the human form.” He advised that “‘drawing as you feel doesn’t mean anything until you understand your visual language.”

Graydon Parrish portrait painting demonstration

For Graydon Parrish’s demo, the Streamline studio welcomed a museum-borrowed Bouguereau portrait to copy. Parrish explained each of his choices, including how he uses the Munsell color theory and how he relies on understanding the concept of form to create a classical portrait painting. “Take the time to think critically about everything you’re doing,” he said, “and remember that everything is fixable.”

Peter Trippi’s lecture “Where Does Contemporary Realism Go from Here?” laid out the full spectrum of obstacles and opportunities that face our booming field during this exceptional year. (If you’re catching the replay, you may be surprised to learn what worries him the most.) Particularly urgent, in his view, is the need for realist artists to tell the world what’s on their minds; you have the technical skills, so what do you want to say with them now?

We’d like to give a big thank-you to all of our Realism Live sponsors!

  • Platinum Sponsors: Artwork Archive, Laguna Plein Air Painters Association, Royal Talens, Savoir Faire
  • Gold Sponsor: Ancient Earth Pigments
  • Silver Sponsors: Bristle Magic, Golden Artist Colors
  • Organization Partners: American Women Artists, Art Renewal Center, California Art Club

We wrapped up Realism Live with a final Cocktail Hour (including a costume party!) and a special awards ceremony where we announced the finalists and top winners in The Artist & Selfie Painting Competition – watch the full presentation of the winners, who won a total of $44,000 in cash and prizes on our Fine Art Connoisseur magazine Facebook page.

Next up is Watercolor Live! We hope to see you there!

Watercolor Live - Learn More

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