Oil on Paper, 12″ x 9″ — As of today, according to CDC’s data tracker, about 25% of 82,471,151 Americans 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.
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.
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:
Yellow Iron Oxide
Winsor & Newton
Winsor & Newton
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.
Although there are lots of colors one can use for painting now, I am definitely a minimalist when it comes to painting in oil.
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
This is my first 2021 portrait–executed on 4 January 2021. This is the 25th of my #100humanchallenge I started at the end of 2020.
I began to draw this painting after spending an hour or so reading and listening to news. I wasn’t entirely sure how far I wanted to go with this drawing. After all, these portraits has been a side project, allowing myself to tune the way I see the world.
Meanwhile, according to news, the world is having a real tough time dealing with Covid-19:
In the States, there has been 352K of deaths from 20.8M cases.
More people are traveling, despite all the cautionary recommendation. I suppose that’s how us Americans have believed from the very beginning: give me freedom or give me death.
Of course, I am not here to judge what’s right or wrong, but merely recording what I am listening to.
Let me finish my thought on this pencil portrait…
So I have enjoyed using pencil to record what I see. My method of recording mostly has been quick, expressing what I see with line drawings without much shading. I was never a fan of sitting around and drawing for hours with pencils, but I have been pushing myself in the recent months–when I sit down to do these portraits for an hour or two, that’s definitely way beyond how much I am willing to invest on pencil works.
The portrait felt pretty boring to me, but every drawing or failed work could be a stepping stone to a masterpiece!
2020 has been unpredictable. The first half of the year was especially strange. Experiencing the complete lock down of New York City, and all the uncertainty of the near future made everything so strange.
Escaping from all that uncertainty–to my surprise–created unexpected opportunities, connecting me with artists from New York City and beyond.
The selected images on this post showcases some of the works that I created from January to June. The following are the excerpts from my Instagram posts:
January 3, 2020: This is the final product that transitioned me from 2019 to 2020. I finished it around 11:30 AM today.
January 26, 2020: Oil on Canvas – 30” x 24” – Daedalus & His Wings — This is the final view of my latest project. Sending huge thanks to Donato for the inspiring pose!
February 17, 2020: Oil on Canvas—27” x 48” inches: This is the final product. This project—which was executed from Jan 27 through Feb 14—brought lots of good personal memories. Besides my own stories, here are 5 stories that caught my attention in the course of 3 weeks: (1) Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna died in helicopter crash, (2) The Coronavirus scare accelerated as new cases of the virus found in U.S. patients–noticeable number of people in New York City has been wearing face masks, (3) On 5 Feb 2020, Trump was acquitted on 2 Articles of Impeachment, (4) Pentagon diverted $3.8 Billion to pay for a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, (5) Bumble Bees are disappearing due to climate change.
February 28, 2020: I am about to check out “Countryside, The Future” exhibition at #Guggenheim. Oh. In case you are wondering, I safeguarded my latest portrait—still work in progress—from coronavirus. Swipe to see how the painting developed today: I worked on the face and the hands, btw. PS: Seriously speaking, stay safe out there and remember to wash your hands often!
March 10, 2020: Painting slow and painting fast—After spending 2 weeks on my last painting—I need another day or so to finish that painting—I returned to paint an #allaprima to loosen things up a bit. I find it helpful to paint a long and short paintings concurrently and also drawing constantly—See my post yesterday for samples: As some of you might know from looking at my drawings, I am a big fan of quick drawings, especially line drawings.
April 11, 2020: Oil on Linen – This is my first finished portrait of my wife, one of the dedicated New York City Teachers, who has been teaching our New York City students during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As some of you know, the NYC department of education unleashed distance learning to 1.1 Million Students, while continuing to provide FREE ‘Grab and Go Meals’ to all those in need. My hat goes off to teachers, the department of education, and supporting organizations.
This portrait was executed in 3 phases on the following days: April 5th, 6th, and 8th.
May 13, 2020: Oil on Linen, 10” x 8”, title: Raising Covid-19 — Here are the latest stats on Covid-19 (World) 4.3 Million+ confirmed Covid-19 cases, 292K deaths. (United States) 83K deaths—28% of the confirmed deaths in the world thus far come from the United States. I suspect comparing these stats among countries don’t mean much since the majority of the countries are not counting—or testing for that matter—the same way we are counting here in the U.S. No worries, though—We are still # 1.
May 28, 2020: As we welcome the return of traders to the floor of the NYSE this week, here is a painting to remember this epic week—a life portrait of my friend @dougholtstudios, a fellow artist here in New York City.
June 12, 2020: We have welcomed the reopening of New York City after so many weeks of being quarantined. Some states that had opened up first have been reporting increased Covid-19 cases, but that is no surprise. One thing is for sure: reopening of our economy will require relentless forward movement.
Here are the latest stats on Covid-19 (World) 7.27Million+ confirmed Covid-19 cases, 413K deaths. (United States) 116Kdeaths—28% of the confirmed deaths in the world thus far come from the United States.