Information Mastercopies

The Met Copyist Program – Week 1

I began copying The Denial of Saint Peter by Caravaggio at The Metropolitan Museum of Art earlier this week. The Met Copyist Program reopened once again after being closed for two and a half years due to the pandemic—I am honored to be one of the ten participating artists. I have copied many paintings there in the past, but this will be my first time copying a painting with oil paints.

I will be posting my update, so please come back to check out my progress.

So why choose Caravaggio? There are many answers to that question, and perhaps I do not fully understand it now, either, but it made good sense for me to choose the painting because all the other choices didn’t make sense to me at the moment. As I read about Caravaggio and get to know his works, I feel as though I have made the right choice. I may tell you all other reasons later, but let me tell you one reason now—I have been learning and copying some works by Velasquez and that led me to Caravaggio. 

Step 1 – Setup camp

Setup the easel pretty far back from the original so the visitors can view the painting.

Step 2 – Decide on a composition

After some thinking, I toned the canvas using red umber and began drawing exclusively using raw umber.

Position each figure into appropriate placement on the Canvas. Peter looks weird here!

Step 3 – Keep drawing before time is up

Working rather quickly, I drew the woman, the soldier, and then Peter. I intentionally drew the woman bit smaller.

The image shows the painting in progress, just before I worked on Peter
Oil Sketch after the first painting session at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

My first painting day at the Metropolitan Museum was a lot of fun, and I got around to speak with really nice visitors from all of the world.

Sending special thanks to the copyist program for this exceptional opportunity to learn from the masters. THANK YOU!

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Iran Protests the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini and Fights for Women’s Rights

On September 13th, Mahsa Amini was detained by the Iran’s morality police for the country’s dress code violation.

Tragically, Amani died shortly after being detained, and the people, now angry over injustice, have begun protesting.

Throughout human history, those that seek power do so by oppressing selected group of people, and have used strict dress codes as a way to fuel their campaign. In that way, people argue, that head covering is a symbol of oppression.

Shown is a painting of a Persian Poet—completed yesterday here in NYC.

My heart goes out to Amini, her family, and her people.


Art of Being an Artist

After painting for a number of years, I have come to a conclusion that being an artist is an art itself.

I have certainly learned a lot about myself and the world around me during that time. I suppose that has been real nice side effects of all this.

What’s even more astonishing, though, is how much I have improved in seeing. I mean, my painting techniques certainly have improved, too, but the most profound change in me—I must say— has been the way I see the world. And, this effect of seeing is even more shocking when I look at one of my earlier works. What was I exactly seeing?

At times, when I am painting, strangely, I feel as though I have always have been here, present, and so real all along, simply painting and being.

Time certainly moves differently when I am painting. It doesn’t move in a linear fashion, but rather, it moves all over—similar to how snow falls on a windy day.

Each day, I reflect on my work and what I have painted. I also share my work online with my audiences and get amazed at how I am now connected to so many artists and enthusiasts all over the globe.

One thing is for sure: this is a very special time in human history.

Oh, the selected painting is a portrait of Fatima that I painted at the Art Students League of New York at the end of July.


Are We In A Recession?

So everybody is talking about recession and inflation these days. I am no economist, but even I could have predicted inflation months ago. Are we in a recession? I believe so.

So why am I talking about all this? I am interested in all things human. And our economy and world issues are directly related to figurative and portrait paintings that I produce. I believe that painting portraits of those that are living through this time needs to be captured, because it is human experience—this is our experience.

The theme painting for this portrait is the portrait of Arielle that was completed at the end of June as inflation boomed and recession loomed.

So Are We Really In a Recession?

Here are 3 reasons that lead me to believe that we are in a recession:

  1. High Gas Price – The cost to fill up cars increased from $2 per gallon to $4 to $7 per gallon in the recent months. These cost have started to come down, but the gas prices still remains high. And, in short months, cost of almost everything has gone up to balance things out.
  2. Many NYC Stores Remain Closed – Some of my favorite stores in New York City are closed or forced to close. As a related observation, NYC still feels half empty.
  3. Definition of Recession – As of last week, the U.S. confirmed two consecutive quarters of decline in a country’s real gross domestic product (real GDP). That means we are in a recession… isn’t it?

What Now?

Given the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia, and continuing issues around the world, it would actually be strange if economy would be normal. While recession and inflation are important topics, I believe these are symptoms that were caused by the real issues that need to be addressed.

And it is difficult to identify the real issues these days. I would tell you what they were if I am sure of them, but I do not know for certain. I could take a swing at it, but I am sure you can, too.

On a brighter note, I have reached yet a milestone in my artistic journey in recent weeks: I am now better at seeing and mixing skin tones.


Thinking about Guns & Roe

The U.S. Supreme Court made some major changes as I began this new figurative portrait painting. As you probably have heard, here are 2 major changes that I am referring to:

  1. Americans have right to carry firearms in public, striking down state level gun laws.
  2. Removed the constitutional right to abortion, leaving each state to decide for themselves.

American is pretty divided on this issue, but here are some of my thought:

On Guns

There has been increasing number of mass shootings in the recent years. I suppose giving Americans the right to carry guns is an effort to have people to protect ourselves against mass shootings. There has to be a better way to control guns, but that discussion has been stalling for decades, leaving Supreme Court to take immediate action.

On Abortion

It’s shocking to believe that Supreme Court reversed Roe & Wade, especially when the majority of Americans believe in some form of Abortion. Based on recent polls and stats, Majority of the States will settle these issues in favor of supporting Abortion and restore the rights of women in the years to come. Small number of states, however, will likely ban Abortion altogether.


I am not writing this to take sides on these issues, btw—we have various news channels for that type of reading. I am writing down this down to remind me of things that were happening while I was working on this portrait from life.

Be sure to check out my Instagram Reel that shows images of my study, sketch, and in-process images.


75 Basis Points

On Wednesday, June 15, 2022, the Federal Reserve decided to hike the interest rate by 75 basis points. Many of us–even those making this change–probably have little idea what this really means, but it sounds pretty bad when reading all the news that followed. With so much happening in the world right now, who can really predict what this 75 Basis Points will do?

Meanwhile, my latest figurative art project–Portrait of Arielle–has gone through much change–I estimate 10,000 basis points change since the beginning of the week. And, I know exactly what this means and what it will mean next week, because I am looking at it.

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Do You Believe in Second Chances?

Sometimes, we are lucky and we are granted another chance.

Back in March 2020, a day after finishing this portrait color study, the plan to execute a larger portrait of Arielle was suspended. Now, after a long wait, I am standing almost at the same spot where I was 2 years ago…

So much has changed, but at the same time, everything seem so familiar and normal—as if 2 years hasn’t passed.

Pencil Study – June 6, 2022

I am still trying to figure out the final composition for this pose, So I continued drawing this today, focusing on values, and on fabric…

Pencil Study- Part 2 – June 7, 2022


Braiding Cornrows in Harlem

For the past several years, my path has taken me to the heart of Harlem where I enjoyed seeing and interacting with people there. One man—I think he was a security guard or something—always greeted me by saying, “What’s up my man!” Then, I would usually tell him that all is cool with me and then talk about the weather or something.

Near by where this was happening is a African Braiding Shop where I got around to see folks getting their Cornrows and I thought it was one of the coolest thing to see. Everybody there had super-fly, colorful clothing, too.

On a special day, I was inside the salon. The place was full of things everywhere, but not in a messy way, but in a way that tables, chairs, bags, and people all fit and perfectly positioned for this composition.

When the work began, things got real intense. I don’t think they were playing music, but the way everyone spoke made it seem like everyone was singing and moving to the same drum beat.


A Scene from Harlem

Despite all that has happened in the past 2 years, it has been exceptional time for creativity. All of us have different ways of expressing our artistic visions, but I take time to plan and execute paintings that I have in mind. I suppose that’s why I gravitate towards painting from life, because the subject is readily available… 

Harlem-Painting by Je-2022 – This is the initial underpainting

There are so many possible scenes that can make great paintings, so I generally spend a lot of time sketching and painting things that are right in front me until the undeniable “A-ha” moment reveals itself.

Harlem-Painting by Je-2022 – More in progress image



Title: Time
Oil on Canvas
48×24 Inches

I spent 3 weeks painting this portrait.

So much has happened during that time. The war in Ukraine is still raging on, Inflation has been driving up the cost of everything—apparently there is shortage of baby formula, Twitter is slated to be owned by Elon Must, etc.

Despite all that, time moves on.

On the personal front, I began and completed this painting, had a successful class exhibition with fellow artists—One of my painting was recognized with a blue-dot award—and I finished my #100HumanChallenge.