Portrait Paintings


I traveled to India some years ago. I have vivid images from my experience there. India is a beautiful place, full of colorful people and big smiles.

Pencil on Paper

It has been tough listening and watching all the news about what’s happening there now. There were more than 414K+ Covid-19 cases within 24 hours…

I have been looking back to my photo archives from my trip. To my surprise, there are lots of pictures of people that I met there, because people were so kind and inviting to take photos of them. I wonder how all of them are doing at this moment. My heart goes out to everyone there.

I hope the situation improves rapidly in India.

Portrait Paintings

Another Night In NYC

So I have been painting these little portraits between working on my commission works. This one was painted via Zoom, last night with Henry, who I have painted and spoken with in the past.

Oil on Paper, 12” x 9”

During this pandemic, I have been using various way of preparing painting surfaces on paper, and it’s working out pretty well. I typically have used double primed linen, and I have found hard to use any other surface for oil painting, but I think I found a reliable way to paint as I do on linen on paper.

If you want to see painting process of this painting, check out my Instagram Reel on this painting. Enjoy!

Eco-Friendly Oil Painting Series

  • PART 1 – Know the dangers of using solvents and chemicals
  • PART II – Recommended Colors for Portraits Painting
Portrait Paintings

25 Percent

Oil on Paper, 12″ x 9″ — As of today, according to CDC’s data tracker, about 25% of Americans (~82,471,151 people) are now fully vaccinated against Covid-19. I am optimistic that things will be much better in the coming weeks. To celebrate my optimism, I began painting oil portraits for my 100 Human Project–I had produced the first 50 using mostly pencil and pen.

Here are three photos showing my painting process for this painting that I originally posted as my Instagram Post on 13 April 2021.

Portrait Paintings

Girl with a Scarf

Oil on Paper, 12″ x 9″ — After months of focusing on value studies using graphite pencils, I have begun executing oil portraits using a modified version the the Zorn Palette.

Visit the following Instagram link to view the painting progress:

These type of portraits take about 2 to 3 hour from start to finish, and they are quite fun little projects between bigger projects.

Follow me on Instagram to see more or them.

Once finished, the painting is hung to dry for a few days.


What are my favorite oil painting surfaces?

Over the years, I have painted on almost any surface that I can think of. So what is my preference? Well, I like all of them. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Oil primed linen – I wouldn’t try to prime your own unless you have months to wait for it. Oil primed linen doesn’t absorb much of your oil paint
  • Acrylic primed linen – This is my recent favorite. I put one or more layers of quality grade Gesso with marble dust (a.k.a. calcium carbonate)
  • Acrylic primed cotton canvas – This is fun for messing around.
  • Aluminum panels – Painting on aluminum panel can be fun. You can also put linen canvas on it. Be super careful with this, though.
  • Acrylic primed wooden panels – Put a few layers of Gesso on the wooden panel to get going. You can also put GAC100 medium from Golden so the oil paint doesn’t go through the wood.

Are you interested in painting over Acrylic Gesso? Read these:

General Recommendation

Do some research before you purchase expensive painting surface. If time allows, you can experiment preparing your own canvas from scratch. Use cotton to practice and gradually move on to linen canvas. And, if you really want to use oil ground, save it for the last layers. Remember that it could take a while for oil primed surface to dry.


Eco-friendly Oil Painting – Part 2

My search for a safer way to paint with oil colors have made me research all different types of reds, yellows, whites, and black colors. I have listed them in the Part 1 of Eco-friendly Oil Painting.

The absolute Eco-friendly Oil Painting option is to limit your colors to use natural earth based colors, and eliminate the use of solvents. I hope I can lead up to that in the coming series, so stay tuned!

At the time of writing the Part 1 of this series, I had listed a few options for red pigment, but I actually narrowed it down to Pyrrole Red as mentioned below. Pyrrole Red has been used to replace cadmiums and other reds, and based on my experience, it’s an excellent color.

As of February 2021, my recommended minimal palette for painting portrait stands as follows:

Color IndexNameBrand RecommendationBrand Name
PY42Yellow Iron OxideMichael HardingYellow Ochre
PW6Titanium WhiteWilliamsburgTitanium White
PR254Pyrrole RedWinsor & NewtonBright Red
PBk9Bone BlackWinsor & NewtonIvory Black

Above are fine choices for beginner artists. There are cheaper painting options, but it’s worthwhile investing on better paints. In the long run, making solid painting material option will save you considerable time.

I have also used Vasari Oil Paint and I like them very much for its silky consistency. When painting with Vasari oil paints, the tend to require less oil and/or solvent. If you have a few extra dollars, go with Vasari.

Color IndexNameVasari Color Name
PY43Natural Yellow Iron OxideYellow Ochre
PW6Titanium WhiteTitanium White
PR254Pyrrole RedPermanent Bright Red
PBk9Bone BlackIvory Black

Although there are lots of colors one can use for painting now, I am definitely a minimalist when it comes to painting in oil.

Material Links

  • Bright Red (PR254-Pyrrole Red; Lightfastness: Excellent) – Excellence choice from organic, red pigment options.
  • Yellow Ochre (PY42-Yellow Ochre; Lightfastness: Excellent) – One of the oldest and safest pigment of all times, allegedly enjoyed even by cavemen. Some companies also use PY43, but I prefer Michael Harding.
  • Titanium White without Zinc – (Williamsburg: PW6-Titanium White) – This pigment is considered completely non-toxic. Titanium became the most commonly used pigment since 1940s. Be mindful that this Winsor Newton Titanium White contains Zinc White, which has been known to be problematic in the recent years.
  • Ivory Black (PBk9-Ivory Black: Lightfastness: Excellent) – Ivory Black is a misleading name since it’s no longer made using Ivory. The ones that are in the market is made from Animal Bones, and is referred to as Bone Black.

Eco-Friendly Oil Painting Series

  • PART 1 – Know the dangers of using solvents and chemicals
  • PART II – Recommended Colors for Portraits Painting

Interesting External Content

Non-Toxic Oil Painting


Egyptian Woman With Earring – Master Copy

John Singer Sargent was born on this day, 12 January in 1856. While American, he was born in Florence, Italy. As a gifted artist, he studied and traveled widely. I have seen much of his work, but I didn’t really get to learn more about John Singer Sargent until I moved to New York City–I must have slept through that day when my art history teacher was talking about him.

John is probably most well known in the US for his Madam X painting at the MET. That’s a beautiful painting. I still remember encountering that painting for the first time.

If you happen to visit the Metropolitan Museum, though, I highly recommend seeking out to see John’s works there. There are many of his paintings there thanks to a number of folks that joined force to purchase John’s works. And, you can learn all about that if you are into American Art History and all.

Egyptian Woman With Earring - by John Singer Sargent
Pencil Master Study of Egyptian Woman With Earring by John Singer Sargent

Visiting the Metropolitan Museum can be exciting. Before the Pandemic, I would visit the Museum frequently. I went there so much that I even have my preferred route to the American Wing. I am not going to reveal my secret passage here, but you know the route if you have gone there with me–it’s the best route.

Once the museum opened again to the public, I have gone back to examine John’s works once again. This particular drawing is called “Egyptian Woman With Earring”. There are two paintings of the same woman. At the moment, they are hung next each other. I sat down right in front of them for about 30 minutes for this quick master copy. In honor of his birthday, I decided–remembered–to finish this little drawing that I have forgotten all about. Happy B-Day John!

My Favorite Painters

Anthony Van Dyke


The Other Drawings from 6 January 2021

Pencil on Paper, 11” x 8.5”

This is the other drawing from Wednesday, January 6, 2021. I never got around to share the first drawing because it had been interrupted by the US Capitol Riot–I posted my second drawing: a police officer in riot uniform.

Today, I found myself looking at this, thinking that I will always remember January 6th when I look at this particular drawing. I have been working to better capture values of what I see by making use of all the shades of gray at my disposal: 10B to 10H.

Oh, btw, I uploaded a video on Instagram, demonstrating how I use a lighter pencil to roughly shade a portion of this drawing. Shading with pencils can be a messy business, and there must be a better way.

Every so often, when I paint or draw, there are occasional A-ha moments. These moments come in small waves, in complete silence, but with unusual confidence, letting me know that I am progressing. And, I suppose that’s how Democracy is built on as well. 

Drawing Pencil Recommendation

  • Hi-uni Graphite Pencil Set, 22 Pieces – These are main Graphite Pencils. The Hi-Uni Graphite Pencil Set includes 22 different hardness grades, one each of 10H, 9H, 8H, 7H, 6H, 5H, 4H, 3H, 2H, H, F, HB, B, 2B, 3B, 4B, 5B, 6B, 7B, 8B, 9B, and 10B, in a nice aluminum case.

The US Capitol Riot of 2021

A mob rushed the US Capitol yesterday. 5 people, including a US Capitol Police Officer, have died as a result of the mob that stormed the Capitol.

Mob (noun): A large, angry crowd, especially one that could easily become violent. – The Cambridge Dictionary

Mob (noun): a large and disorderly crowd of people – especially : one bent on riotous or destructive action – Merriam-Webster

And, what do you call it when a mob attack police officers in riot gear and march into the US Capitol?

The US Capitol Riot of 2021
Police officers dressed in riot gear secure The US Capitol

Related Links:


Georgia on my mind

All the news about Georgia is interesting, but I find it amusing that whenever I hear the news about Georgia, I can almost hear the song, Georgia on my mind, by Ray Charles. Do you know it? If not, I embedded a version of the youtube video for your viewing and listening pleasure at the end of this article.

I have been experimenting with a number of sketches for my next project, and I have incorporated some ideas with this portrait, mixing some of my early year painting style with contemporary realism ideas. They don’t really go together just yet, but I will keep at it.

I have heard so much news about Georgia this week in the States because of Georgia’s Senate race. There has been much speculation about what could happen based on who wins the race. 

Between all the news about Georgia’s Senate race, I was drawing a portrait, which I appropriately named it: Georgia. It felt like the right name for today’s work after all the talk about what’s happening in Georgia.

26/100 Faces

Related Post:

Materials Used:

  • Blackwing Pencils – Used by famous artists since first introduced. These pencils drive nicely.

Finally, here is Ray Charles, singing Georgia on my mind – Live 1976