Portrait Series, Uncategorized

Portrait Series: My Self Portrait – 2019

Hey all,

If you would like to participate, I have an activity for you. Please look at the oil painting below for five minutes and think of all the words and emotions that come to mind as you look at it. Or don’t.

self portrait

This is my first finished painting of 2019. I don’t do self portraits as often as I should, but I was inspired to paint one after following realistic portrait painter Santos Cesar and watching his YouTube video about self portraits.

I think there was a part of me that wanted to stay away from doing self portraits because doing too many would give the idea that I’m Narcissistic, but in reality, they can serve two really good purposes: They  can help you figure out where you’re at in your technical artistic skill as well as how you perceive yourself as a person. The last time I made a self portrait, it turned out kind of awful because I was going through a lot of heavy stuff and I painted myself looking like a zombie.

Generally, I think art should be allowed to speak for itself. The painting sort of created a new and different meaning for itself than when I originally started. If you’re interested, my thought processes and interpretations are below:

It was just going to be a self portrait using candle light, I had an idea of using a rose in place of a candle.

Roses have always been symbolic for love, and that’s how I’m trying to approach my art, and people in general. There’s a lot horror that occurred in history, are happening today, and in the human psyche in general. People mistreat each other, but small acts of love, especially added up, make a great deal of difference in peoples’ lives. Love is a small light that illuminates a dark world.

When we choose to help someone in need, when we smile at someone, say something kind to someone, or when we make a small, handmade gift for somebody, we make the world just a little brighter.

The messy hair detail which I just painted today while getting over a flu looks to me like a bit of a matted mess, or like thorny branches. You can’t get rid of the snakes in the garden completely, or the thorns for that matter. When left unchecked, they can be choking and suffocating.

The expression of the subject is a soft smile, not, but a pleasant hopefulness exemplified by the bright dancing colors coming from the roses.

And this is the direction I want to take my art. Particularly with portraits. I want to use this as an opportunity to see light in people. To find small, hopeful reasons to genuinely love people and in turn do small things to express love for people, especially people who are very difficult to love.





30 Day Lip Challenge: Day 13/ Expressions Again

Hey all.

So I did manage to post today’s exercise today. I didn’t like any of the pictures I was seeing on the internet and I didn’t have a mirror (correction, I didn’t want to stand in front of one while straining myself). So I took pictures of myself making a few expressions.



30 Day Lip Challenge Progress

Good morning! So, a few days ago, I posted a 30 Day Art Challenge with the theme being lips. This is to improve my art, particularly lips because I felt that in my portraits, the lips haven’t always been the strongest.

I’ve been posting them on Instagram, but I’m strongly considering only posting them on my website. Most of them are just practice sketches and don’t fit the overall theme I want to portray on my page.

This is my progress so far:

Day 1: Paint a Pair of Lips

Just paint a pair of lips from imagination. This is acting as the “Before” image.

Day 2: Draw lips following a proportion guide


Day 3: Skull Teeth

Day 4: Break. No lip challenge. I still did a ton of painting on other pieces though.

Day 5: Muscles


My Reflections Thus Far

So, it’s only been five out of 30, but I’m really glad I’m incorporating breaks into this challenge. This allows for short bursts at a time rather than plugging away at a project for an extended period of time.

I’m also not super pleased with how the second and third drawings turned out. What I should have done was draw both front-facing and in profile just like how Day 5 with the muscles is. I was also more focused on trying to make them pleasing to an Instagram user more so than using this process to help me learn. For example, with Day 2, you can hardly see the proportion lines, and they were supposed to be the most important part of that particular day. I did enjoy using colored pencil though.

The reason why I did put my best effort into it was because I came home from work and I was tired and exhausted. I could fix this by really being dedicated in the morning, as that’s when I do my best work, or I should watch/listen to something uplifting and motivating before starting to draw.

Day 5 will not be showing up on my Instagram feed as I feel it vastly contrasts with the overall theme with my page.

Welp! That’s all I have for now, thanks for visiting my page!



Why I Copy

Hey all,

Since I’ve returned home from Italy, I’ve finally gotten into a routine that involves small self-improvements with bigger goals in mind. Namely, waking up at 5 am and painting for 30 minutes before work, which would inevitably result in gorgeous masterpieces by the end of the month with a total of 15 hours per work of art…

… I hope, anyway. 15 might not be enough. Depends on the artwork I guess.

Into my routine, I’m hoping to do a weekly blog post. Let’s see how long that lasts.

Why do I copy Old Master oil paintings? I’ve been asking myself this question for months.

1. It’s Fun


While I was in Italy, one of the things I did consistently make oil reproductions of portraits that I thought were beautiful. They may not have been my original pieces, but as I worked on them, I found that I had a dialogue with the art. I really enjoy doing it. It makes me happy. It’s like finding a new piece and falling in love and all I can think about is getting to know the artwork, and the artist, just a little bit better.

I learned new brushstrokes, found strange quirks and color choices I wouldn’t have picked up just from looking at it, I made mistakes, and learned from them for future pieces.

2. I Learn New Things from Old Geniuses


The artists long dead became my mentors, and they taught me more in four hours than I ever did four years of art classes.

I think as artists, we should never stop learning. Even if our style becomes something we’re truly proud of and we don’t think we could ever improve and better our art (and, in extension, ourselves), there’s always something new to learn.

In fact, a couple years ago, I heard about DC Artist, Jorge Jimenez. He regularly posted to his twitter feed art. He loved art, and just talked about art. He tweeted something to the extent of “Great Artists Never Stop Learning”. This almost moved me to tears. At the time, I was more obsessed with trying to create original pieces (not that I made a lot anyway, I just stood there being frustrated). I thought, “Yeah. Why not stop learning?” As a result, I just drew hands, drew more things from life, and tried not to stop learning.

I found that the best way to learn, to quote Newton, was to build on the shoulders of giants. So to speak.

3. My Copies Aren’t Really Copies.


Even so, I can’t copy these artists exactly, nor do I want to. I’m not saying that out of a “Sour Grapes” approach that I can’t get that good, but my hands and my brain have their own spark of creativity built from years of knowledge, emotions, and experiences that appear in the art, making them different.

For example, in my copies of Bouguereau’s young girls, I subconsciously made them look like my sisters rather than the girls he was trying to portray. It made me wonder if his paintings really looked as much like his models, or if there was something in his own mind that changed them.

4. Maybe a Sense of Spiteful Rebellion

Dear Post-Modernist loving professors,

Get. Off. My. Back!

Just let me enjoy historical art, for Christ’s sake! Take this checklist you’ve shoved down my throat of “Patriarchy, Male Gaze, Marxist Deconstructionisticnonesense” and shove it up your-”

5. It’s a Calming Meditation


Copying isn’t just copying. It’s really a puzzle that you try to solve.

You actually deconstruct the artworks.

When I paint, I deconstruct the people into basic shapes in order to achieve the correct proportions, I deconstruct the colors and try to figure out what other colors brought that particular shade and vibrancy. I deconstruct everything from the face, to the cloth, to flowers, the fur on a dog… It’s an amazing exercise for the brain using all parts of it and all senses, the mathematical part, the smell of the paint, the music affecting the overall mood of the project.

It’s one thing to look at, analyze, and appreciate a painting, but it’s a whole other thing to analyze it with your hands and your own artistic skill…

…and the difference between me and those PHILISTINES I just mentally screamed at into the uncaring void above in item 4, is that when I deconstruct a part of our culture, I aim to analyze it, learn from it, then build it back up again maybe just a little more new, yet maintaining respect and integrity for the original.

It took me too long to realize that THEY only want to destroy. Their “deconstruction” serves not to create, not to learn, but to DESTROY!

… On that note, I’m going to go back to painting. Maybe turn on some heavy metal. This ought to yield some interesting results.



30 Portraits in Some Time Frame or Another: Portrait 5 and the Stibbert Museum


I started this painting yesterday and finished it this evening. This is a study of William Bouguereau’s “A Dream of Spring”.

For this excercise, I decided to paint a portrait where the eyes are more open. The last two portraits I did, the subject was looking down so their eyes were obscured. Painting eyes without making them look creepy is challenging.

Now, for my travel related section. I decided to visit the Stibbert Museum which is a huge  collection of Medieval armor from around the world. It was awesome there was armor, swords, guns, fine art, all the works. I didn’t quite catch all the history behind everything because the tour was in Italian.




30 Portraits 30 Day Challenge: Day 3

Hey all.

Haven’t had a chance to get the paint I need. I know I will not tomorrow because I have a long day of classes ahead of me tomorrow. So, I decided to draw a portrait instead.


This is Madonna from Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Madonna of the Rocks”. Like in the spirit of Da Vinci, whose sketchbooks are filled with the same drawings over and over of the same studies he did before even touching the canvas, I’m going to draw this portrait again tomorrow, and then paint it on Wednesday when I finally have my time and resources.


30 Portraits in 30 Days Challenge: Day 2


So, today, still wanting to keep with making copies of paintings with high contrast, I made a Carvaggio copy this time. This is Judith’s face from Carvaggio’s “Judith Beheading Holofernes.”

While I personally, like this better than my Girl With a Girl Earring copy, from yesterday, it’s not perfect, obviously, you look at this and see the original face, and it doesn’t really the same girl.

Here’s some observations I’ve made:

Both women’s skin look REALLY pale. Their skins look cold. Dead even. It’s freaking creepy, man. 

During this, and yesterday’s painting, I realized that I have two cold yellow tubes instead of one cold and one warm. I don’t have a warm yellow tube. Why is this important?

And what the heck is a cold vs warm yellow?

Well, in paints, there’s no such thing a pure yellow, I’m 99% sure anyway. I’ve found that yellow paints are usually on a spectrum of yellow.

Some yellows are closer to orange on the color wheel, and other yellows are closer to green. It’s really difficult if at all possible to find a tube of paint that is pure yellow. So, if you are trying to, say, make an orange, and you mix yellow and red like you would, but your yellow is more leaning towards the green spectrum than the orange, then you’re going to get a really cold, unfeeling orange.

Solution: Easy. Go to the art store and get a yellow from Gamblin’s lovely list here from their “Warm” criteria. I kinda miss Gamblin here in Italy. Their paints are amazing. That’s a pretty nice, warm yellow.

I hope this helps make a better visualization

The Faces Do Look Like Human Faces, but They Don’t Look Like the Women They’re Based On

This was a problem I ran into early on when I did my Drawing 30 Portraits in 30 Days was I would, say draw a picture of my sister, but I would draw a girl that looked her age, but it wasn’t really her, just things that are kind of off that are missing the unique features of an individual person’s face.

Now, one can argue this is fine, they look like faces, so who cares if it’s my own style rather than the Master I’m copying? Well, what if I want to paint a portrait of one of my sisters? And I end up making a painting that doesn’t really look like them? What if I have a client that wants me to make a fake of an old master painting or one of their loved ones? Making a face look like someone’s face is a skill I would like to have.

Solution: I think to remedy this, I’m going to draw an outline of the face for the time being. Maybe do a few sketches of the face beforehand.

So, just be clear, I’m not saying my paintings suck (though, I’m sure they might to some of you, and that’s okay. Can’t please everyone), but with my philosophy that art is a skill as much as a form of culture or expression, it can always be improved on. I feel like I’ve already learned a lot from these two paintings and I can’t wait to see what tomorrow’s will look like.