Master Artists Gather for Contemporary Realism


We recently celebrated our third annual Realism Live online art conference, hosted by Eric Rhoads and Peter Trippi, featuring many of today’s greatest artists in the field of contemporary realism. (See the full recap at our sister site,

Prior to the actual event, Trippi modeled for Michelle Dunaway’s portrait painting demo in his NYC home. For Realism Live, we were able to watch the footage of the session while Peter and Michelle discussed her process, including how crucial the initial setup is when it comes to light, shadows, and more. Michelle said, for example, that she prefers to start from the focal point and work her way out. After the demo, she took questions from everyone watching.

Michelle Dunaway, with her recent portrait of Peter Trippi
Michelle Dunaway, with her recent portrait of Peter Trippi

Wow, what a day. Getting up at 4.30am for the 5am start was fun, lol. (Having to work afterward not so much) 😀 But what an awesome lineup! Such variety! Excellence! Inspiration! And tutoring that’s easy to follow! To see the other attendees’ inspired works is also so encouraging: again, such awesome variety and beauty. For this Beginner, the day was exciting… and I’m so thrilled to anticipate the next few days. Thank you, all, (tutors and attendees!) for sharing your knowledge and skills. – Ali McHattie

“This is a conversation with some very special people who matter a great deal in the world of contemporary realism and I’m thrilled to have them with us,” said Trippi in his introduction to the roundtable with Leona Shanks, Analisa Shanks, and Alexander Shanks.

They shared an informal discussion about the incredible legacy left by the great artist Nelson Shanks, who was the husband of Leona and the father of Analisa and Alexander.

In a special moment of the day, Trippi presented renowned artist Juliette Aristides with the Fine Art Connoisseur Lifetime Achievement Award. Juliette then led a figure painting demonstration live on camera (she advises that it’s a good idea to start with some type of drawing first, to take the time to study, and to make excellence your goal.)

Juliette also took the time to answer each of the questions that came up during the demo itself, such as how her paints stayed on her vertical palette (Answer: it’s oil paint, so it sticks easily).

Juliette Aristides receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award - contemporary realism artists
Juliette Aristides receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award

In a rare presentation, master landscape painter Clyde Aspevig (aka “land-snorkeling* possibillionist”) emphasized how we can see the interconnections and importance of art, and much more. He shared stories from his life, including that, to him, landscape painting is a celebration of life, saying, “I never looked back on the idea that I could not be an artist.”

After his talk about key moments and favorite books, Clyde went on to give a painting demonstration for us. He explained that while many of us have fears when we face a blank canvas, we should think “this canvas should be afraid of me.”

*Clyde credits his wife for this term, which she came up with while they were exploring the flora and fauna of Sedona, Arizona

From Clyde Aspevig's presentation on contemporary realism landscape painting
From Clyde Aspevig’s presentation

In another session, Trippi led an informal dialogue with two leaders in the field of realism: Sharon Sprung and Mario Robinson. Their fascinating discussion covered “where we are” as a realism community today.

Mario Robinson and Sharon Sprung contemporary realism artists
Mario Robinson and Sharon Sprung

The above is just a fraction of the many art workshops, presentations, and conversations with today’s master artists. In addition, there was a faculty auction, nightly paint-along sessions, and cocktail hours.

“This morning I painted along with Cornelia Hernes’s still life. It has been the most gratifying thing I have done in a while. Every one of the instructors has offered so much information and encouragement. Thank you, Eric Rhoads and all who have put this incredible Realism Live together for all of the great artists out there who crave to become better painters.” ~ Attendee during Day 3 of Realism Live, the online art conference for contemporary realism

Coming soon – Watercolor Live, January 2023!


    • Hello! I’m not sure what he offers in general, but is releasing a workshop from him soon. Best wishes to you!


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