Eclipse Mill Gallery Held Global Portrait Paint Party
Friend Me Projects in Toronto, Canada, Originated Celebration
By: Astrid Hiemer - May 23, 2012
Invitations went out to participate at the Eclipse Mill Gallery portrait paint party, May 6th, and create a portrait. The group of organizers had assured potential participants via a fine article by Jennifer Huberdeau of the North Adams Transcript, two articles at BerkshireFineArts.com, in the North Adams Cultural Calendar and word to mouth that painters would assist all, while creating wonderful, interesting or charming paintings. Huberdeau was inspired by the project's premise and signed up to participate with her 'partner in crime,' Amy Brassard. It was the last weekend of the High School Invitational Exhibition in the gallery and teachers and students of the five exhibiting High Schools were especially invited.
As it is customary in the Berkshires, events start slowly and so, I had time to paint a portrait as well. I’m not a painter, but sat down at a table with Vin Jensen, who is a painter. He supervised one of the tables and had started to paint on plastic. Participants were asked to bring a photo of a Facebook or non Facebook friend. All other materials were provided. I taped my subject’s photo under the 8 x 10” plastic sheet, which proved to be a really helpful measure. Hence, I am delighted with the resulting image, which can be seen among the many portraits and event photos in our attached photo gallery.
We had set up five tables with 6 to 8 work stations, each stocked with all needed materials, and nearby an array of paints and brushes donated by Michelle and Vin Jensen, Gail Sellers, Barbara May and Linda O’Brien. Members of the organizing group headed each of the tables. I asked Dawn Nelson to assist You-Lin, my T’ai Chi teacher, who proudly showed me and other students the portrait of her husband on her smart phone, when we met for the next T’ai Chi session.
Gail Sellers, a former high school art teacher, helped other participants and operated an overhead projector in a separate dark room, so that outlines of the portraits could be easily traced on the 8 x 10” canvas boards. Her husband Phil Sellers, also of River Hill Pottery at the Eclipse Mill, headed another table and produced a couple of accomplished and fun portraits.
It was Sarah Sutro, working with the fifth group, who remarked at some point during the party, that the atmosphere in the room throughout its duration was mindful and peaceful, laced with changing background music. Some of the painters were working intently on their projects for three hours, others managed quick and fun results. David Lane arrived late with four delightful und uninhibited girls – Sophie, Hannah, Darlie and Zoe - who produced truly charming portraits on canvas, no less! (Oh, the Young!) They livened up the party for about an hour. David’s portrait, an accomplished painter and teacher, and many others are also identified in the accompanying portrait gallery.
Michael Bedford held the first position: Greeting participants and managing the sign-in sheets and Charles Giuliano was responsible for photographing all portraits for 'BerkshireFineArts' and 'Friend Me Projects.' Sellers and Giuliano thankfully provided many of the photographs in this article.
Two participants told me that they had sent out Facebook-calls to their friends. They would paint a portrait of the first responder. And so, Amy Brassard reported recently during the vernissage of our current Eclipse Gallery’s ‘Open Salon,’ that her subject, John April, really enjoyed seeing his portrait. Spreading and celebrating friendship world-wide is one of the goals for the global parties and future events.
Every person present, participant or visitor, contributed greatly to its delight and success. All who painted could happily return home with a portrait in hand.
Last, but not least, Michael Bain of Toronto, Canada, the Executive Director of '4000degrees,' a Creative Management Company, who also directs 'Friend Me Projects,' attended and observed our Global Portrait Party. He had driven down from Toronto under difficult circumstances with Frankie and deserved applause. He addressed the gathering and spoke vividly about the many ideas, plans set in motion, and hopes for the future!
BerkshireFineArts published its first article about ‘Friend Me Projects’ on January 22, 2012, which inspired us to hold a portrait party. The article covers several aspects of the projects. And, many thanks also go to Carole Freeman, who posted her painted image of my Facebook avatar last December on my Facebook page. That was the beginning of this journey.
Then, artist friends from around the world contributed and dedicated jpegs to the national and international element of the Global Portrait Party: Eclipse Mill Edition. We received submissions from Bangladesh, Israel, Germany, Romania, France, and several US States. It gave us an occasion to reconnect and renew our friendships, while emailing back and forth. Here, you may see only a selection of these portraits, several artists sent more than one jpeg, which were thankfully accepted.
Kudos to all who participated and contributed since inception in so many ways to our 'Face the World – Global Portrait Party: Eclipse Mill Edition' - until the end.