Sunday, June 21, 2015


Surprising to some perhaps, social justice takes a very big part in my heart. While it has no visual connection to my art, I can’t remain silent today. Although my artistic goal solely aims to highlight the beauty of this world, I can’t mute myself from violence, prejudice, and inferiority I encounter. So today I make a public note of my thoughts. You might not agree with me, but my views could prompt some discussions changing the future.

What America as a nation doesn't realize is how steeped it is in gun violence. It's the only highly civilized country in the world that shows consistent outbreaks of violence. It's “free” and democratic society where people can shoot on the streets, in movie theaters, college campuses, schools, and even in a church. I've never seen so much violence in my life as I encounter it here in the U.S., considering the fact that I have neither lived through the horrors of war nor resided in shady neighborhoods. Streams of violence don’t just come from the media’s twist on sad news. It rather stems from the deep-rooted psychic of the gun ownership and the American culture of violent movies, games, and magazines, where the depiction of "cool" men with multiple weapons somehow justifies their actions, raises them on a pedestal of manliness, and often shows them as singular and the most just defenders of American freedom.
The Hollywood movies impress with reality and cruelty happening on screen. Why does “the Game of Thrones” receive such accolades when every few minutes someone is violently killed or mutilated? Of course, there is an argument that it’s the reality of our world and humanity, but I have to say that teens live and learn within the family unit to be accepting of horrific events instead of learning and appreciating the acts of kindness, love, and forgiveness.

While viewers get horrified and sob over the innocent people getting killed in the movies like “the Hunger Games,” we-as a nation have no problem sending our children to war. Just getting out of school, so naive and unknowing they become the “army proud” and “army strong”, serving our country or maybe serving the views of the elite controlling the end game. In the school awards ceremony this May, I became a witness to complete insanity. After all students got their academic awards, only two of them received the loudest standing ovation. Those students stood together on a podium so sincere and  young, like two birds knowing nothing about the cruelty of this world, ready to take off their parents’ nest. Those were the students going for a career in the army. Why are we so proud of sending children to fight? No academic achievement caused even a quarter of that stir and applause the two students got.
This country is my home, but its actions make me shiver. Currently America is the only power in the world constantly fighting with other nations, thinking that wars and drone attacks will become successful fighting off terrorism, but the terrorism rises in response to ill or malicious actions of the country that sabotages and interferes with other countries' life. Wars simply help to rearrange the natural resources and powers to control the world. The inconvenient to the American world domination, foreign rulers are labeled as "tyrants" on TV and other news media. In fact, the role of the media is so paramount, it can create hype and hysteria out of acts of terrorism, yet it's very quiet mentioning the victims and refugees, simple people who get caught between the war zones and countries' politics...
I get the idea of bearing the arms for protection, but why did the president meet so much opposition trying to pass the law asking for the background checks? The stats show that almost all shootings happen because some crazy people have no problem buying a gun. Despite their history of mental illness, no one alerts the authorities or puts them on the list of possible shooters. Why do we have a “no fly list” and no “no weapons” list? Is it also the obstruction of freedom?

Finally, I get to racism. Yes, it still exists along with our stereotypes and quick judgement. We all label each other once in a while, me included. But being aware of our actions makes the difference. As the most diverse country on the planet, America has made considerable steps towards equality I’m personally very proud of. This is where I see the crystal clear difference between the U.S. and many other countries I’ve been to, but the last shooting in black church has highlighted the truth: people of color still live under the Confederate flag in South Carolina, flying over the state capitol in Columbia, the very symbol of slavery for many. How is this possible in the country that celebrates diversity and racial blindness? It beats me.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Fat-over-Lean rule in oil painting

To create a stable, long-lasting oil painting artists should follow the 'fat-over-lean' rule described in the pictures below. (the pic is taken from Natural Pigments website, I believe where I buy lightfast paints). Otherwise, your art may crack or fall apart a lot faster than the surviving artworks you see in art museums. 

The fat-over-lean rule means that the painting is build in layers, and with each new layer the artist adds more oil/medium to his/her paints. While the first layers have no medium at all (but a little bit of Gamsol to dilute/thin out the paint), the following layers receive more medium.
It's best not to go wild with the use of painting mediums and keep it simple: add just enough to make the paint flow, as the mediums weaken the paint film.
The most stable medium is linseed oil. There are many other alternatives that affect the drying time of the paint, such as poppy oil, walnut oil,etc.

The process is described in my most popular video here:

To see my art: 

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Thursday, January 8, 2015


I've been tempted to go and to try yoga for several years. I would meet people occasionally bragging about their yoga experience but not being able to formulate what exactly it meant or did for them. Some would say that they found "the previously unknown muscles" in their bodies that hurt after practice. Others felt nice relaxation. But no one gave me any specifics WHY it was worth going. So one day I decided to try it out for myself, thanks to my friend-Tatyana who brought me to one of local classes. I wanted to understand what was so special about the practice and why there were so many yoga studios popping up in every town. And so I went.

I did a new client special for a month where I could try any kind of yoga and any instructor offering the class. (@ YogaLoft in Mercato, Naples ). Here is the result. While Yoga includes partial mediation and relaxation practice that might look like a Lamaze class to some active adults, it's actually good for body and soul. It lets you be in the present and quiet your racing mind. Yes, even relaxation can be a challenge. It takes me a considerable effort to let my body and mind go into the la la land during the session.
It stretches my body in a different, new way. I'm a runner who also lifts weights 3-4 times a week but yoga does something different to my body. While some poses might look easy to do, they are not easy to hold correctly for a required length of time. All poses require "how-to" knowledge of shifting or redistributing your weight, so that you can hold yourself working and stretching your muscles. Some seniors  manage to stand on their arms and the head. (Yes, this blows my mind too! This is definitely something to work on for me) Yoga teaches me balance mentally and physically, giving lots of positive energy.
Deep breathing is vital to yoga practice. I've realized that I don't breathe deeply but tend to hold it, making my breathing very timid. Deep, exaggerated breathing is very important to mastering the technique.

Lastly, an experienced instructor makes all the difference in understanding yoga to practice it correctly. I was very lucky to meet Meredith Musick. She is serious about teaching and correcting positions. My fellow-yogi might not agree with me and I’m very tempted to know what they have to say to enrich my experience. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

What’s in your tube of oil paint?

While I'm not an expert in art conservation, I am the artist who paints full-time. After years of painting, conversations with other professionals and some research, I can offer my basic guidance choosing oil paints. Feel free to research this topic further via my references or by contacting products’ manufacturers, or any other way you may see fit.

Artists have many choices. Picking the right brand of oil paint can be a challenge. Some brands are promoted so heavily by art supply companies that artists buy their paint without a second thought. When I was a student, the quality of paint hardly ever mattered to me and my most common determinant was the price. Today as I take care of my art, however, my buying choices are strongly influenced by the quality and lightfastness of oil paint.

There are several important properties of oil paint artists should pay attention to. The most necessary information can be seen right on the tube. Don’t buy paint that doesn’t have the following data printed on it.

1. Transparency vs. opaqueness of your paint.

An empty square, half-empty, or filled square-gives artists information about the paint’s transparency. While some colors are transparent, others are opaque or semi-opaque. Some brands just say “Transparent” or “Semi-opaque” as opposed to assigning a specific symbol to it. So when I chose my paint for glazing-applying transparent layers of paint-I look at the square/ or a note on transparency to determine if my paint is naturally good for glazing. Some transparent colors are Gamblin’s ultramarine blue, Michael Harding’s bright yellow lake, or Charvin’s transparent yellow ochre, etc. Opaque or semi-opaque colors are often good for scumbling.

2. Pigments used in oil paint determine the lightfastness (resistance to light) or longevity of your art.

This is the most important principle in choosing your paint. While some basic colors have just one pigment, there are many colors that consist of several pigments mixed together along with oil, fillers, and binders. These “new”, not historical colors give artists a lot more color choices but each pigment present in such paint tube should be checked for lighfastness separately. For example, Winton flesh tint has 4 pigments in it (PW6, PW5, PY42, and PV19).
The pigments are described by letters and numbers. For example, PB15-phtylocianine blue is rated lightfastness I. PW1-lead white is lightfastness I. PR2-Napthol red G- lightfastness II, etc.
Here is extensive pigment information database that lists oil paint properties including lightfastness:
Each company performs its own tests on lightfastness of the oil paint. This information is included on the tube too. It reads either as +, ++ or +++, or lightfastness 1, lightfastness 2, or lightfastness 3 and so on. The higher the number (3-4) the less lightfast the paint is. By nature, browns and ochres are often more lightfast than some funky colors, like alizarin crimson or turquoise. Those colors that have lightfastness 3-4 are fugitive and fade pretty quickly. If you paint professionally, those colors should be avoided painting with.
Artists can perform their own tests as well by exposing 1/2 of paint to the sun (while the other half is covered by black tape or cardboard). Lift the tape in a month of continuous light exposure to see the change in color of your pigment. Artist Virgil Elliott has tested numerous colors of various brands and he included a lot of information about painting in his book "Traditional oil painting."

3. Type of oil mixed into the paint.
All paints have some oil premixed into the paint. Linseed oil-is the most stable oil that is also used widely as paint medium by artists. It’s long-lasting and dries quite quickly.
Safflower oil, poppy oil, and walnut oil are other, less stable oils often used as vehicles mixed into tubed oil paint.

4. The amount of fillers and binders present in oil paint.

Various amounts of fillers and binders are mixed into oils as well. They dilute the pigment by “stretching” the paint and thus making it cheaper to the consumer. Fillers and binders greatly affect the consistency and texture of paint. It could affect the drying speed of paint as well. Rublev colors, manufactured by Natural Pigments, don't have any filler in their paint making the oils more stable and with high tinting strength. Like other professional-grade paints, they give artists a lot more pigment placed in a small tube as opposed to cheaper oil paint manufactured in a much larger tube.

Professional brands of oil paints include:

-Rublev colors by NP
-Old Holland
-Michael Harding
-Chroma, etc.

These are great resources for further research:

The atelier movement- a closed group on Facebook-exists for artists interested in classical painting. The group’s administrator is classically trained artist-Graydon Parrish.
-Artist Virgil Elliot:
-Beth Sistrunk's blog:
-Douglas Flynt' blog:
-"The artist's handbook of materials & techniques" by Ralph Mayer:

Visit my website today for tutorials, art and news:

Friday, October 10, 2014

NEW Step by Step Colored Pencil Demonstrations

My new demonstrations in colored pencil & oil are available for download from

Portrait of Sasha, 12 step colored pencil demonstration

Yellow Rose, 6 step colored pencil demonstration

Still life with glass and shell, video and digital file bundle, 12 step colored pencil demonstration 

Thank you for your interest!

Monday, August 4, 2014

About my recent paintings: what it means

Painting is like poetry. It reveals something that is usually hidden, hidden within the depth of our souls. Some call it “secrets,” others label it “privacy.” Whatever that is artists and writers have the guts to deliver it, some do it half-way, others all the way. As a result artists often become vulnerable.
My work is not about photo-realism or copying of reality, rather it’s about achieving realistic effects to believably convey emotions, ideas, and relationships between people.  My painting is always infused with symbolism, which is sometimes unknown to my own logical psyche until it’s complete. Asking the artist to explain his/her painting is like pressing to extract the essence from it, to deliver the “secret” that should be read by the viewer himself. It’s akin to asking writers to give out the book’s ending without trying to read it on your own. After all, painting is exciting while it remains unexplained. My works have multiple endings, sometimes hidden from my own self. Because this type of art is not decorative, it's destined to become part of some museum collection or a private one in the future.
For many my art is too edgy, weird, and unexplained but for some it’s beautiful and evocative of their feelings and experiences. I recently sold pieces painted several years back that communicated feelings of solitude I depicted in a range of blues, trees, and the Moons. They finally connected with the right person who found himself in the same place I used to be in. Although my work is different today, it still relies on the same principles of symbolism and emotion.
Why masks?
“Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.”
Oscar Wilde
Masks deconstruct a person. They make it easy to imagine oneself behind it. There is no association with a “particular” face and the story becomes a priority. Masks also translate into something concealed and thus go beyond our obvious associations.
Why carnival figures?
I love elaborate dress code with as many elements in it as possible. My affinity for baroque style is obvious in works filled with detail, elegance, and beauty.  Several years ago I made arrangements to go to Venice, Italy during the carnival month to take pictures of dressed up people walking the streets of ancient town. Venetian patterns, masks and gowns provide me with infinite inspiration.  

Tenderness, oil on canvas, 26x34 inches
This work is about sincere feelings of love, affection, and care, which is depicted through the use of warm colors in the background and the sunlit fabric of the figure. Little birds, flowers, and ribbons signify tender, fragile state of the heart. Usually, female figures depict such feelings but I wanted to break away from such tradition and depict a male figure that could be as elegant and pure.

Promises, oil on gilded panel, aluminum leaf, 26x34 inches
This painting is about the early stage of relationship when many promises are given to each other.  Thus I have two figures facing each other. Red signifies love.

Keeper, oil on canvas, 48x36 inches

Keeper is about forces or powers that go way beyond our understanding or reach.

Hidden II, oil on canvas, 26x34 inches

Hidden I and Hidden II
This work is about keeping the key to yourself, your own heart, hiding from others your most vulnerable self.

Colored Pencil Drawings:

I am influenced by Baroque art that can be described as “over the top,” every corner of a painting or a church is taken over by incredibly elaborate set of information. While my colored pencil drawings are simply studies of light and shapes, they follow the principle of elaborate elegance. Drawings are based on my pictures taken in various churches, palaces and other beautiful places.

Chandeliers of Versailles

All drawings are about 9x12 inches, each took about 50 hrs to complete, drawn with light-fast pencils on paper (archival quality materials).

To see more art visit: 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Gecko, colored pencil drawing demonstration

This is a fun project to draw in colored pencil with kids and adults alike.

Supply list:

* Canson’s Mi-Teintes pastel paper, beige (smooth side)
* Prismacolor Premier colored pencils (colors listed in steps); they can be replaced with other soft, colored pencils
* Turpanoid/Gamsol and a small brush for burnishing (blending)
* General’s pencil sharpener
* Transfer paper, sketch paper
* Kneaded eraser

* Fixative: Krylon UV Resistant Clear Gloss

Step 1
Step 1:  After the basic drawing is completed on sketch paper, transfer it to your color paper. I almost always make my preliminary drawing on sketch paper to keep it clean. The accuracy of the outline is vital to creating realist drawings.
I transfer the outlines using white transfer paper. Its lines are easy to erase, leaving no residue.
Then, I strengthen some lines in colored pencil to separate shapes.
Here I used dark brown (substitute with any dark brown pencil, like raw umber) and dark green to map out the dark spots on lizard’s skin and the cast shadow.

Step 2
Step2: I blocked in the background with indigo blue and the same dark brown (a combination of any dark colors will work well). I added grass green and apple green in the background’s middle tones, and spring green in the light.
To strengthen the pattern on the skin, I added a combination of violet, indigo blue, and dark green.
For the eye, I used indigo blue and dark brown to outline it and draw the iris in. I drew darker values (tones) on the left side of the eye, while deliberately using lighter tones on the right.
Notice that all colors look a lot more vibrant on color paper (Canson’s Mi-Teintes pastel paper, beige, smooth side).

Step 3
Step3: I used turpenoid to blend the background colors and a few spots present on the skin. I let it dry completely. Make sure you use a small brush for your blending with solvents that is not used for anything else. Solvents melt wax in wax-based pencils.

Step 4
Step4: Essentially I layered the same colors in the background and added a few more that included poppy red, aquamarine, light aqua, and limepeel. For the light values of the skin, I introduced parma violet and cloud blue drawing with heavy pencil pressure.
What’s important to understand drawing gecko is to see how the skin pattern is shaped around its body’s gesture or movement. Pay attention to NOT creating straight lines and repetitive shapes. Create volume and dimension by curving the uneven lines around its arms and feet.
Step 5
 Step5: I used a little bit of canary yellow and light pink to put the reflected light onto the gecko. I applied background colors again with heavy pencil pressure. I stepped back to see the drawing from the distance checking values and edges.
Outline a few edges with sharp pencils if necessary.

To see art and art books by the artist, visit:

A few photos to practice drawing:

All artwork is copyrighted.