Seth Haverkamp Wins the Grand Prize at the
2019 Portrait Society of America ‘Art of the Portrait’ Competition


FRANKLIN— Seth Haverkamp’s full-length portrait of his son has earned the grand prize at this year’s Art of the Portrait Exhibition. The organizers of the annual competition, the Portrait Society of America, awarded Seth the Draper Grand Prize at their yearly conference in Atlanta late last month.

Seth, based outside of Knoxville, Tennessee, has been a finalist in numerous previous Portrait Society’s competitions, winning Best of Show in 2008 and the People’s Choice Award in 2013. His 2019 submission, Mars Rising, exhibited qualities that represent the best in portraiture today, according to Portrait Society’s Chair Edward Jonas.

“Aside from his unique layers of color, his composition and his distinctive technique, everything about this painting is a narrative that you would just love to know more about. The competition is intense, and Seth earned the Grand Prize by going beyond a likeness and sharing the personality of the subject,” Jonas said.

Looking at Seths’s 60” x 44” portrait of his eight-year- old son, Caspian, the contrast of warm and cool light on the boy’s face, torso and hands reveals the artist’s signature command of values. But the painting captivates with the string of origami cranes the boy is holding, the shoulder-length hair, the abstract quality of the background, and the mirror reflecting his shirtless torso from behind.

“I don’t want my images to look like a snapshot, to be perfectly staged – the hair and the clothes. I like to sculpt the form with paint, to use fun props, place some emphasis on the hands and convey an idea or make a statement,” Seth said. “This painting is more than a likeness; it’s a reflection on the world we live in today.”

“Collectively, we will always be inspired by the traditionalists, but we want to continue growing with a new vision,” Jonas said. “Seth has a great grasp of that, and a contemporary feel that really sets him apart among a range of exceptional portraitists. He has a unique ability to capture the essence of the subject in a captivating and dramatic way.”

The Draper Grand Prize, which carries with it a $25,000 cash award, is named for the “Dean of Portrait Painting” William F. Draper, who served as a founding board member of the Portrait Society of America and was known for his striking works portraying the leaders of his era, including Rockfellers, Kennedys and others.

Over the last 20 years the competition has grown to become a premiere event, with 2,936 entries this year from 20 countries including Canada, China, India, Australia, and Singapore. To learn more about the Portrait Society of America, visit portraitsociety.org.

Seth, who also takes private commissions, is looking forward to continuing this round of success with even more exceptional portrait and figurative artwork in the coming months.