My painting from January: ‘Contemplating’

'Contemplating'  Study, Drawing and painting


Here is the finished painting, with a photo of the earlier stages on the right.
The process of creating it started with a drawing, which I then printed on a small canvas and did a color study on, and finally, transferring the drawing to a canvas and painting.

I chose the name after the painting was done, by looking at it and thinking what it is that it suggests to me.

‘Looking Forward’: My recent painting

Looking Foreward

'Looking Foreward'
‘Looking Forward’, 17”x24.5” oil on Board

Here is the study I did for this painting (minus the last few brush strokes to finish it):

Study for "Looking Forward"

The model I was painting was a beautiful woman in her 50’s. I decided it would be a good challenge to paint her younger because it would force me to understand how the light interacts with her flesh. It wasn’t easy and if anything, it was a good reminder of the need to further study the anatomy of the head. As usual, trying to draw from imagination is the best way to realize how well you have the form conceptualized (or not!).

It was interesting, and I appreciate how the model brought this mood and attitude with her to her sitting sessions (most notably at first! before it started being boring and uncomfortable I’m sure).

This painting got me thinking of just how much of myself I bring into a painting vs. how much it is about capturing the model.

I think nowadays (or maybe always!) it is considered graceful to focus on capturing the essence of the model who is sitting for the artist. Paintings are usually named after the sitter, as well. But for me, I always make it about myself and how I feel  – even when it is a male model. It is a human being, and that is enough for me to relate to their experience.

I feel like when I re-create them on my canvas that figure exists in a different universe. And I capture how they feel while in that world. It’s almost like writing a story in the third person… Often this form of writing makes the writer relate to the characters more personally than if they wrote it in first person form.

‘Glass Bottles’, a recent oil painting

It’s been a long time since I last updates my blog.

I’ve finished the first semester at my school. I’m on a winter break, working and saving up for the next semester, resting and doing a lot of passive thinking.

First, I’d like to share the last two projects I’ve been working on before I went on a semester break.

(Click image to enlarge)

The second one is a 2 week figurative work, which I could not get a good picture of. So it will have to wait a bit more for me to share it.
More to be posted later this week.


I wish you a very Merry Christmas, or other holiday you may be celebrating.


Recent paintings and thoughts about modern Art (Weekly #24)

Long time no see, Blog. Don’t ask, I’ve been sick for a week and had a lot of other stuff going on, but I’m back, ready to provide you with some fresh content.

First is the painting I did at my Atelier last week, working from a live model for 5 days. This was done in 4 colors: Redish brown, Yellow, Black and White.

I would get cool tones from mixing black and white to make a gray, or from mixing black and yellow to create a green, warming it up with red as necessary.
I was able to achieve a peach-brown by mixing my brown with white, or leaning more toward an orange by mixing it with the yellow, neutralizing it as necessary with the black and white. Wooha!

I also started working with a new palette which I absolutely love. It’s a glass palette. The neat thing about it is that I can control the background color against which I mix my colors, which allows me to see what I’m mixing so much better.

I decided that from now on I will start using a paper color that matches the average color of the skin tone of the model in the light.  It really helps.

Here is the painting, done over 5 sittings of 3 hours each.

One of the things I learned here was how to solve the problem of cropping a figure against an abstract background. In this case, for example, I wanted to emphasize the triangle shape his arms created and end the painting there without painting the lower body part. The reason for this is that I felt that the core of the pose for me was the strength created by the two joined arms and that it was framing the body nicely. I liked the strength of it.

But then the problem was how to get rid of the rest of the body mass without making it looked chopped off. At first I simply didn’t paint it, which gave it a lovely Cheshire cat look, where one sees only the head of the cat. As lovely as that was, I decided against it. And painting carelessly and mostly using my subconscious the idea came to me to paint the beginning of the other parts in the right value, but with the background color instead of the flesh tones. This allowed me to then dissolve it at will into the background without making it feel like a strange operation was involved.

If you’re not an artist, this might bore you to death. And it might still bore you to death even if you are an artist, I don’t know. But it doesn’t bore me! Which is why I keep talking about it. 🙂
But anyway, indeed, it’s time to move on.


I also painted a few still life paintings. I am painting them quickly, one every day or two, with the purpose to practice and learn paint handling. Here is the result:


My next project is going to be a group of glass objects. It’s going to be longer than these studies – a 2 week project or so.

My next figurative project is going to be 2 weeks long, working from a live model again – a male model. I don’t know what the pose will be because I have no control over it. I will choose the angle and how I render it, but that’s about it. I hope it will be something I like.


I actually have a lot of thoughts about art and about my art, but they have not grown deep enough roots yet in my mind to articulate or write about.

I find that usually when I have an idea, it is not isolated – it is part of a generalization which relates to other areas of my life, and the process of forming the generalization and making the connections takes time and thinking which spans over years sometimes.

I was thinking about what art IS. I believe if you ask someone who has been through art school they will tell you that everything can be made into art.
If you asked what a spoon is and someone told you that a spoon could be anything and everything you would think they are nuts. Why? Because a spoon is a specific object, with a specific shape-family and function.
But the same does not apply to art. Why? Because the identity of art involves a high level abstraction. Forming the concept of what art IS involves identifying a lot of abstract qualities about art. In our modern age where people are taught not to trust their own mind, performing this level of abstraction on our own is extremely difficult, borderline impossible.

Similarly, the question “what is a spoon” is much easier than “what is justice?”. The later involves a chain of abstract concepts which need to be retained and which have no immediate physical manifestation. You don’t “see” justice in the street the way you might see a spoon.
The essence of “justice” is hidden in actions, in seeing similarity and relating them to one’s existing spiritual values. It’s harder to do.


In the last decade there has been a resurgence of classical realism. In the last 10 years over a dozen ateliers have opened across the United States and Europe where none existed earlier on. The only option for artists seeking training was an art degree, which was a pile of wishy washy intellectual crap without a single course offered as a saving grace to develop actual rendering skills. Pretty much, that was it.
The leading premise was that to teach an artist anything concrete would be to destroy their artistic freedom and identity – to make them into a mold. But actually, what this idea mean is that to have an identity means to lose freedom. In fact, if something has no identity, it does not exist.

We are conceptual beings, but to form those concepts and concretize them we need a visualization of them. Something like “Pride” may only be understood when seen on a human face or through some action (like soldiers, going to war). There is an inseparable connection between the tangible and the abstract. Take away the tangible and you “art” is a pile of materials. It is no longer ART. It’s a piece of no good junk. (OK, I may be going overboard here, but I couldn’t resist. I just love calling things a piece of no good junk, especially in a southern accent for added emphasis). It’s true of most of them anyway, if not all. I wouldn’t know because I find them too boring to pay attention to.

Believe it or not, I got my share of hate for my belief. As if that’s gonna stop me. If you want someone who supports modern art you only have the rest of the world to talk to. Don’t take your insecurities in your opinion out on me.   You don’t see me torturing you because of what you believe, right? That’s because I am confident I am right.

Anyway now that this issue has been settled, I’d like to talk some more about something else on my mind.

As my “About” page mentions, I model in order to pay my tuition and living expenses. (By the way, buying any small piece of art off my hands would be SO appreciated).
I’ve had some thoughts about modeling. I absolutely love doing it. It involves standing still in a pose or several poses while a room full of people creates art based off of you.
I realized that what I enjoy about it resembles very much my motivation in making art.
When I am motivated to draw, paint or sculpt, the subconscious, underlying motivation is being able to communicate something to someone. Something which I feel very intensely about and which is unique to me. It’s as if a voice in my mind looks at the subject I want to paint and says to the future viewer: “Look how wonderful it is. See what I mean? See?” and then I am able to show what I mean by emphasizing all the things I see about it through rendering it. The way I would render an expression, or contort or stretch the body, or emphasize a certain light. All those things come together to show a vision, and the satisfaction is from having that vision understood and admired.

Modeling is the same in some regards. Through the way I hold my body I am able to communicate a vision. It is then up to others to interpret it or capture it as they like, but I do my part in describing something. The difference is that in this case the model’s body becomes the medium and he or she are a flesh and blood sculpture of their own vision (in case they decide on the pose). I enjoy this part of the job, which is otherwise physically demanding.

I’m all out of things to say tonight and so I’d like to end the post here.


Lastly, I’m happy to announce that I will be giving an interview about my art to The Objective Standard magazine. My deep thanks to Craig Biddle.


Wishing you a happy, productive week, and a fun holiday season,





Paintings, Drawings and Atelier projects (weekly #22)

Been busy busy in the past 2 weeks. Finally started painting this week.

Here is the first painting I did this year, during a 2 hour sitting:

(Enlarge all images by clicking on them).

I also went back to my dear skull, this time to finish the battle. Indeed, it is a glorious one. One which will be remembered in the Ifat history books of painting progression. This is the second skull I am painting, in the same setup. I worked on the first for 3 months and decided to start over because I judged it to be overworked and too far off.
In working on the current one I realized that I am unclear on the global value relationships and did a small study to figure it out. It’s a very analytic process, not a lot of fun and surfing going on there. Here is a neat photo I took of the painting, the study (middle) and the setup of the skull itself.

At the bottom of my easel is attached a new note I wrote to myself with some stern reminders on proper work methods. This is my attempt to assign myself as my own enforces. I even added some dramatic emphasis to make sure I understand how serious I am about these rules! It’s working great so far.

The one thing I still need to add in my studio is a note my brother wrote me for my last birthday which made me feel very good about what I’m doing.


More stuff:

The sketch I discussed in this blog post has developed into a fully developed skeleton on which I planned to overlay muscles, flesh and ultimately make into a full human being with invented lighting and all. Now that I started painting this drawing will have to take a second priority, but it is wonderful to be able to draw something from imagination and see it come to live without a model. It will be interesting to see it through. Here is the skeleton I drew (the sketch from which it started on the right):

Another quick and fun drawing I did a week ago:

Turns out that sometimes being in a bad mood helps me bring more emotion into an artwork. The art process can become an outlet for what I’m feeling if the subject matter fits.
At this time I kiss goodbye to the quick block-in’s section of the curriculum. Here are a couple of the last block-in’s I did:



One of the forms of analysis that come to me most naturally, as a natural desire, is to understand the form I’m looking at in 3D. I think every artist has different tendencies in this regard. Some tend to see more graphical shadow shapes, some focus more on gesture lines. For me it’s been the planes and 3D connections. I don’t remember experiencing it when I drew from photos before joining the atelier, but once I started doing long drawings from life, it was one of the main things I was thinking of when drawing. I find this pleasurable in rendering as well, because I feel that by pulling my lines in the direction of the turning of the form I’m creating something real inside the page, as if I could almost slide my hands on it as if it were a solid object. Sounds a lot like how a sculptor would think. Indeed, I love sculpting too. I would definitely do some of that in the future, if time permits.

I find that painting does not come as easily to me as drawing does. But slowly I’m beginning to remember how to paint. I’ve had nearly a whole summer to forget it, with exception of a painting I consider successful which I painted in August.
I wish you all a good week, I appreciate your interest,


Prints of my portrait of Ayn Rand Available (The Objective Standard cover)

Prints of this drawing of Ayn Rand that decorate the cover of the current issue of The Objective Standard are now available for purchase!

Visit This Link.

Here is the drawing itself:


In purchasing there are several size and framing options.




Ayn Rand portrait commission

I’ve recently completed a commissioned drawing for the magazine The Objective Standard: A portrait of Ayn Rand, my favorite philosopher and author and a figure I deeply admire. Ayn Rand’s writing has profoundly changed my life and I was honored to take on this commission of rendering a portrait of her.


Some early stages: The Block-in of the drawing:

The main challenge in this project was to render a portrait of someone without a direct reference. I therefore had to study her features from various photos and T.V. interviews and base the drawing off of my understanding of her features as well as general knowledge of anatomy.

Here are some of the studies I did in preparation for the drawing:


Leftmost: A drawing of Ayn Rand’s eye on toned paper using black and white  pastel pencils.
Center: A drawing to establish the mood and character of the piece.
Right: A drawing in graphite studying Ayn Rand’s features.

Another challenge was to get the expression just right.
If I had to describe how I think of Ayn Rand in a concise manner, I would describe her the following way: An intense, uncompromisingly truthful individual with a deep and all-pervasive joy of life.
This is what I was aiming to show in the drawing and I have accomplished it to my satisfaction.

The process of making it has been enjoyable and exhilarating because I was listening to Ayn Rand’s interviews in the background as well as podcasts by her intellectual heir, Leonard Peikoff, which reminded me just how valuable Objectivism is to my life.

On a different note – This Monday, September 17th, 2012 I’m going back to study full time at my school, Georgetown Atelier. The year will start with lots of gesture drawings and constructive anatomy. I feel excited to use my accumulated knowledge to draw and improve my skills to create more integrated drawings. I’m very excited!

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‘At Rest’, finished piece

24” X 18”, oil on Linen stretched on board, limited 4 colors palette.

Painted at my school, Georgetown Atelier.



My weekly post #17

A finished drawing that I started a long time ago. This is 8” X 11”, Graphite on white paper, with digitally enhanced contrast.