Howard Sanden has been one of the nation's leading portrait artists
for more than four decades. This website chronicles his 348 commissioned
portraits of figures in government, business, education, and the professions.
He has written five books on portrait painting; he lectured on portraiture
for twenty-five years at The Art Students League of New York.
In 1994, Sanden received
the John Singer Sargent Medal for Lifetime Achievement from the
American Society of Portrait artists, and in 2005 he received the
Founders' Gold Medal from the Portrait Society of America. His official
portraits of President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush
were unveiled at the White House on May 31, 2012.
The critical year in Sanden's personal career was 1969, the year
he decided to leave the Midwest and a long career as art director
for the Rev. Billy Graham, to try his hand at New York City and
the world of portrait painting. Within months of arriving in New
York, he was appointed to the teaching faculty of The Art Students
League, became affiliated with the city's principal portrait brokerage,
and established a nationwide portrait clientele of the famous, wealthy,
Sanden then dove into
an ambitious teaching career. He founded the Portrait
Institute in 1974 and began touring the nation, teaching
his ideas and techniques to the thousands who came to hear him in
classes as large as 700 at a time. Those who could not come in person
studied through one of the national correspondence instructional
programs he created.
In 1979, Sanden
launched the National Portrait Seminar, which grew to be-at that
time-the largest art seminar program in America. The Seminar pioneered
the large-scale artists' conference which is now common across the
nation. Through his Portrait Institute (books and video teaching
products) John has influenced more than 80,000 artists around the
world. In 1994 Houghton College awarded John Howard Sanden the Doctor
of Fine Arts degree (honoris causa).