Figurative Paintings Mastercopies

Painting the soldier’s helmet – Week 6

Today was dedicated to painting the soldier’s helmet.

My initial plan for copying this painting by Caravaggio–just so you know–didn’t include the soldier. I had planned on painting the woman and Peter. But when I stood in front of the painting with a blank canvas, I decided to copy the entire painting.

What I didn’t realize at the time was the effort that I had to put into painting the helmet. Unlike other items in the painting, the helmet includes insane depth to it. I am convinced that the painting wouldn’t look complete–I am only referring to visually aspect of the painting here–without the helmet.

Close up image of the helmet

To develop the deep colors of the helmet, I had to work up to it using layers of paint, which I had built up over the course of several weeks. Caravaggio executed the details of helmet with the bare minimum essential brush strokes and colors.

After about 3 hours of continuous painting, I was satisfied with the outcome. Like it or not, I will have to move onto completing the painting after today’s session.

Figurative Paintings


So much has happened in the month of October. After 3 weeks, I have completed the following portrait of Vincenzo. Yay.

On the last day of the live pose, I decided to paint a small portrait and threw down whole lot of yellow ochre. The main image of this post was the final product.

Oil on Canvas, 30 inches x 20 inches
Figurative Paintings Mastercopies

The Met: Gallery 601 – Week 5

Today turned out to be hands and fabric day. I think it could have easily been a day to work on the soldier, but that will have to wait. 

I rushed to get to the Met, and I began painting shortly after 12 pm. To my surprise, I was able to get little closer to the painting than the other days, which was very nice.

Because there are so many visitors coming and going I have been setting up my Easel pretty far away from the original painting. It’s really hard to get at all the little details, but I decided that will paint what I can see. Besides, when really necessary, I can walk up to the painting and see what I need to see.

Mastercopy – The Denial of Saint Peter – This image was taken after session #5

Reworking the hands took some time because the positions of them are slightly different the original. I also made some modification to Peter’s cloth to compensate for all the little changes that I have introduced.

I also realized that the lights in the gallery 601 are changing constantly. I noticed this when the entire room lit up. While the change was shocking, I was able to see much better. Some colors will need to be adjusted once again…

Figurative Paintings Mastercopies

Mastercopy: Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio – Week 4

Today marks the 4 of 8 sessions of copying Caravaggio’s painting. It’s an important day because today is the day to prepare the painting for following 4 sessions. If any major change or decision needs to be made, today is the day.

Step 1 – I began the painting session by adding another layer of paint on the background, adding a good quantity of paint over the initial thin paint layer.

Step 2 – Position of all five hands were repositioned. This was one of the major decision that I had to make today. I liked the size of all the heads, but all five hands had to be adjusted very slightly so they all look good.

Step 3 – The majority of today’s session at the Metropolitan Museum of Art was spent on Peter’s head, and painting his wardrobe. I know I have to dedicate at least one session just on Peter, so this would be a preparation step for another day. I am hoping I would be able to get to him on week 7.

Cropped Image – Portrait of Saint Peter

Step 4 – The remaining time today was spent on the woman’s face, focusing on colors under shaded areas. I might be able to get at this by glazing, but I decided stick to the direct painting method for now. Some likeness from the original was lost today, but I ran out of time.

Cropped Image – Portrait of the woman

In conclusion, all major tasks for today was completed as planned.

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Figurative Paintings Mastercopies

Painting at the Metropolitan Museum – Week 3

Painting at the Met has been such a unique experience. Some of the most memorable moment thus far has been possible by the visitors that have come to talk with me. One of the best conversation was with a visitor who stopped to tell me that she began painting, too. I was so happy to hear the excitement in her voice—we definitely need more painters using oil in this digital era. 

My goal for continuing to copy the Denial of Saint Peter this week was to cover the entire canvas with paint. I have also made some decision to cover light areas with blighter colors than the original painting for now. I haven’t decided whether to match the color exactly, or to adjust it to make it look as it might have looked 400 hundred years ago—I have been researching on painting restoration on the side. 

One of the major challenge when copying this painting—in my humble opinion—is not so much to paint what most of see, but what we can only see up close. While the photographs of the work doesn’t reveal this, there are a wide-range of colors and shapes that make up the darker areas of this painting. It’s quiet beautiful to see all the shades of colors, for example, on women’s face. I have decided that I will begin tackle that in the week 4, but began working on sample from a live three week pose. Below is the color study where I am studying skin colors under shadow.

Color study – Oil on Cavas, 12” x 9” inches

And, the following post from my Instagram shows the bigger version of my latest project. This is still work in progress..:

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Figurative Paintings Mastercopies

Copying Caravaggio – Week 2

After a long debate about how to approach copying Caravaggio’s painting at the Met, I decided to paint the way that makes the most sense to me. There are online videos and documentation on how Caravaggio might have painted, but they don’t seem all that reliable. During the week, I practiced painting techniques that I would use to execute the copy by painting live models. Here is a sample:

Oil on Canvas, 12″ x 9″ inches

This was a special week for painting at the Met because I had my friends and family visiting me. Luckily, my visitors all arrived after I got around to paint for two hours. My main goal for this week’s session was to complete the entire drawing by blocking in some major areas and to introduce color to set the base layer.

Je’s copy of Caravaggio – Work in progress

Because I am not looking at the painting from an angle, measuring exact proportion has been an issue. I think that’s okay, though—I don’t have to copy the painting exactly. I ended at a pretty good stop point at the end of the session.

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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 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.