The Painting Group

If you have any doubt as to an art group’s ability to meet on a steady, committed basis and sustain it over a long period of time, I have three words for you: The Painting Group. Established over 50 years ago – yes FIFTY- the Painting Group has met every week since it began in New York City in 1958. Its founders were some very accomplished men; renowned portrait painter Aaron Shikler , illustrator and legendary caricaturist for the New York Review of Books David Levine, who passed away in 2009, and one of my favorite people, realist painter Daniel Schwartz. Over the decades, as the American art scene veered further and further away from classical figurative art, the Painting Group doggedly persevered, against the prevailing trend of New York artists toward Abstract Expressionism and other modern art scene fads, to keep realism and the the figure subject alive. We models are grateful for that.

The Painting Group has an itinerant history, traveling from their original location in Brooklyn, to 54th Street in midtown, to the Upper West Side, down to Greene Street in SoHo, and now in their newest space in Chelsea off Seventh Avenue.

I have had the pleasure of posing for the Painting Group many, many times. In fact, I am one of their regular models, and am currently posing for the first half of the summer. It’s a wonderfully sociable group of artists, and the model is welcomed with a chorus of friendly hellos and cheerful greetings upon entering the studio.

Irene Vitale is a longtime member of the Painting Group. She has worked from my modeling both there and at at another private art group. She’s a lovely person of great warmth, humor and kindness. At last Wednesday’s session I admired the intermediate stage of her painting. I am posing for the group on a couch with a boring white wall behind me. So the artists are letting their imaginations run wild with the background, making it different colors and even patterns. Irene made the interesting choice of using green. I mentioned to her that it would look nice on the blog. But when I suggested that we should wait until the painting is finished, Irene happily said, “You can post it as a work-in-progress!”. Indeed, I can. Why not? As long as Irene at some point gives me a mouth I’ll be happy πŸ˜€

10 thoughts on “The Painting Group

  1. Can’t wait tell it is finished …..will we get to see it I hope

  2. Dan Hawkins says:

    There is a painting/drawing group in the Dallas area that has been meeting on Friday nights for at least 12 years and possibly more. I was in the middle of a multi-week pose for them back in early 2001 when I made my Who Wants to Be a Millionaire appearance. They have changed locations twice, but the group has remained more or less intact with one or two core members and a lot of people coming and going. They recently formed a Meetup group, which is at

  3. Bill MacDonald says:

    Judging from the quality of both this work-in-progress as well as your friend’s other work on her website, I’d really like to see the result. Of course, having such a great model is the secret πŸ™‚

    You know, some of the fun is the willingness/ability to paint the background, clothing, etc. any color I want. Of course, the choice does affect the visual perception of the model, but you can adjust for that. Pet peeve, I suppose — I’ve wasted too much session time (brush/pencil poised in mid-air) while other members of the group debated the alleged relative virtues of the green vs. the gray drapery πŸ™‚

    • artmodel says:


      Regarding backgrounds, an artist once put me on a tropical island paradise, which is especially funny because I was posing in a rundown old studio with a concrete wall behind me! I told her I appreciated the sun and palm trees πŸ™‚


      • Bill MacDonald says:

        Ah, but there is a danger there. My dentist has the tropical island motif on the walls. The idea, of course, is to put his patients in a happier frame of mind while he does unspeakable things to their mouths. But the last time that I went to the beach I felt like I was back in the dentist’s chair.

  4. Happy belated birthday!… I don’t think the figure or the study of the figure will ever go away from art-making. we are human beings- and first and foremost we are keenly interested in what is human- starting with the body. “Abstract” art is a misnomer. Something cannot come out of nothing. Phenomena as we experience it through our senses grounds us. Everything else is a distillation/ elucidation of that experience. I believe the human body stands at the beginning and end of art. So models have nothing to worry about! lol

    • artmodel says:


      Thanks for the belated birthday wishes! Thanks also for your thoughtful comments about art and abstraction. However, I can’t fully agree with you that “models have nothing to worry about” because I have seen, on some model coordinators’ booking schedules, the acronym “NMR”, which stands for “no model required”. πŸ˜₯


  5. Peta says:

    Nice to be back
    How are you dear. anyway lovely painting of you, they seemed to capture what you are all about. You are very inspiring to a bunch of great artists. You always look great visually and what true artist a model can be with such creativity.

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