Category: Art blog

Browse drawing lessons, painting techniques, art show reviews, art history lessons, and studio notes in the art blog by Veronica Winters

how to frame art on paper_how to frame art on canvas

How to frame art on paper and on canvas

How to frame art

In this article I’d like to share the basics of framing and how you can do it yourself inexpensively. Professional framing is your best option because it takes quite a skill to frame art well. It also involves some talent to pick the right kind of frame that adds beauty to the artwork and not subtracts from it. Professional framing is expensive, and if you have to mount an entire solo show you know how draining that is financially, especially if you just begin showing your work and it’s not in a commercial gallery setting. If you are not an artist, but you have just purchased an original drawing and want to frame it yourself, you’ll find lots of useful information here.

There are two types of framing depending on the medium: artwork on paper and art on canvas/ panel/ wood. To frame art well, paintings and drawings require a different skill set as well as materials.

cherry blossoms_how to frame art on paper
Cherry Blossoms is a soft pastels drawing framed with a double mat: gold/ light beige and a golden frame. The colors of the mats and frame pick up on warm colors in the drawing.

How to frame art: video #4

In this video I recorded the basic process of mounting a photo onto backing and finding the right mat for it. It also includes a section on framing canvas art.


How to frame art on paper

How to frame art on paper: golden metal sectional frame, white mat, plexiglass and backing are shown here

Framing supplies

Besides an actual frame, every drawing/print/photo should have a mat and thick backing (mounting board), and either non-glare glass or acrylic plexi-glass. If you go to a museum, you’ll see plenty of examples there. The majority of framed work on paper that includes photography has a white mat and a simple frame around it. While you can pick a frame to your taste playing with the styles and colors, the color of the mat should be reserved. And if you are not sure about the color, stick to a white mat.

how to frame drawings_veronica winters
These are custom-framed colored pencil drawings. The one in the center has a metal sectional frame, while the other two drawings have custom-cut real wood frames. Notice that while the color of each mat picks up on the colors found within each drawing, the mats are not too dark or ‘heavy.’

Mats: white vs. color

how to frame art prints

If you are not sure about color and it’s your first time framing art, always pick a white mat as opposed to a color one because it won’t overpower your drawing or print. If you still want to play with color a bit, do a double mat. White never subtracts from your drawing, while color mats may overpower your artwork very easily. I often see drawings framed with black mats, and most of them kill art visually. You end up looking at the mat, not the artwork. White mats come in different shades of white, and you need to pay attention to its temperature. Either warm white or cool white is fine as long as you match this color temperature with the color temperature of white in your drawing.

This colored pencil drawing has a double mat. Gold is the inner color and light grey is the outer color. This light grey mat mimics the colors seen in glass. Gold metal frame and plexiglass complete budget framing.

If you want to do a double mat,  have a color mat as your inner layer and the white mat as the outer layer. So you have a quarter inch color stripe around the artwork but the overall color remains white. The hue of your color mat should pick up on one of the colors present in the drawing. This is where professional framers are really good at. They have the talent to pick the right colors for your inner and outer mats and match that with a beautiful frame of the right hue and style.

Technically, any mat creates a barrier between your art and glass. Beware that photographs stick to glass eventually if they don’t have that space. If you decide to stick a picture into a ready-made frame without the mat, add corners that would maintain necessary space between the photo and glass.

how to frame art on paper
Sometimes you can buy a standard frame with a fancy mat opening. The color of the frame matches the color of the napkin ring in the drawing, while the design of the frame complements a light pattern on the napkin.

Mats: standard vs. custom cut

how to frame art on paper
Here you can see that the distances between the frame and the image are not the same. On the left, the image has a preferred equal width/distance maintained around the image, while on the right you see a picture that has varied width in a white mat. It’s done to fit a non-standard mat opening into a standard-size frame. | The image is taken at the Ringling museum in Sarasota.

Standard mat has a 3-inch width on all sides of the drawing. It gives your drawing necessary space between the mat and the frame. This 3″ distance can be altered however. A lot of times expensive artworks have mats with a much wider width that add richness to art. Sometimes you see framed photographs that have mats with varied widths (right image) that allows for placing prints and photography into standard frames.

All materials must be acid-free, which include backing (mounting board/foam board/foam backing) and a double-sided tape. If it’s not the case, your drawing will yellow with time. Tape holds it all together but it also yellows the surfaces if it’s not acid-free. Beware that the ready-made frames you find in craft stores and Walmart don’t sell with necessary acid-free backings. Therefore, they are not suitable for professional framing.

How to frame art on paper
Consider how your artwork would look as a group. Consistency in mat color and framing helps to unify displays of art on paper.

Mat Cutters

Logan 650 Framers Edge elite mat cutter model for professional framers

You are lucky if your drawing is completed on standard-size paper and you can just buy all the supplies at any craft store to do the assembly. But what if your drawing has different proportions and is far from standard mat openings? Most of the time you have no choice but go to a framer, so he can cut the right mat for you. However, if you do a lot of drawing and plan on selling your work, it’s a good investment to buy a professional mat cutter and learn how to cut mats yourself.
Mat cutters give the greatest flexibility possible in mat cutting. You can cut mats to any size. You can also cut it to fit the overall dimensions to standard frame, making a nonstandard opening. Logan mat cutters are not cheap but they save you lots of money in the long run. You can buy large sheets of museum board in any color and cut them to size. It takes practice to learn how to measure and to cut mats, especially the mat openings, which have a beveled edge as opposed to a regular cut. Correct measuring and cutting of mat boards is a skill that demands practice and patience.

The quality of a mat is determined not only by its thickness, but also by the cleanness of the beveled corners. If a blade is not new or cutting is sloppy, the inner corner edges look uneven. I think it’s best to learn the basics of mat cutting at a framer’s shop, or perhaps to find a detailed video of the process shown online. I used to cut mats myself using the Logan mat cutter, and I found this process quite frustrating at times because you’ve got to be perfect every time doing it.

Glass or acrylic plexi-glass

You can frame drawings with regular glass but consider the overall size of your piece. Glass is very heavy. It can break to many pieces cutting into art. It’s also reflective. So it depends where you are going to hang your artwork to minimize the reflections.
Plexiglass is light and many galleries require plexiglass as opposed to glass to minimize possible damage during transportation. However, plexiglass scratches and becomes useless once even a tiny scratch is there. The cost of plexi often exceeds the price tag of glass. Another thing to consider is reflections.  Pick a non-glare glass vs. regular glass. So you can actually enjoy looking at art from any corner of the room.

Types of Frames: metal vs. wood | Consider lifespan of your display.

There are three types of frames. Plastic, metal and wood. The choice is largely determined by your pocket book, but I strongly suggest not to give in into buying plastic frames or some craft-store frames that may look decent at first glance. Such frames don’t hold up well: they scratch, break and fall apart too quickly. They also don’t provide adequate support for art in hot and humid climate bending and loosing their original shape quickly. The hanging wire and hardware are not there to support artwork larger than 11×14″.

Metal sectional frames at

Metal sectional frames is a solid alternative to plastic frames if you are on a budget. They last for years and don’t scratch easily. Sectional frames come in a variety of colors and styles, assemble easily and hold up their shape for a very long time. The only drawback is that most frames have small width and therefore provide economy framing, unlike the real wood frames. At the same time, metal sectional frames can be great for some contemporary art and photography. Many have canvas depth to frame canvas art as well. In my experience, if the artwork is larger than 16×20″ acrylic plexi-glass may not hold up well within the metal sectional frame if the backing is not thick enough. Plexiglass tends to pop out of the frame in large drawings and large glass sheets are also too heavy for these frames.

The back of an assembled metal sectional frame.

Wood frames

Real wood frames at

Real wood frames come in a variety of styles. They are the most beautiful, durable and stylish. Wood frames have varied width and finish and the professional framer can really make it or break it picking the right frame for your piece. Usually the wider the frame, the richer your artwork would look in it. However, the style of the frame is more important than its width because it needs to complement your drawing. Well framed art always looks amazingly beautiful.
I buy real wood sectional frames that are cut to my dimensions and then I assemble them into finished frames. It’s not difficult, but requires some patience and care to do it right. I buy all the supplies in varied sizes at American
If the frame is standard size (8×10″, 16×20″, 18×24″ etc), you can buy frames at any craft store. However, the variety and quality of ready-made frames is not great in comparison to those found online.

Shadow boxes and canvas floater frames

how to frame art on paper_how to frame photography_shadow box and float frame

Sometimes canvas floater frames or shadow boxes may work better than the traditional frames. Glass suspends the artwork and creates open space between the art and the frame.

9×12″ colored pencil drawing on 3 layers of acetate-like film. This drawing looks interesting in a floater frame.

How to frame art on canvas

how to frame art on canvas
Keeper, 36×48″ oil on canvas, framed with a real wood black canvas-depth frame

Here is a basic guide how to frame art on canvas. Framing of oil/acrylic paintings is easier in a way because there are fewer moving parts involved. You’ve got to pick the right frame and assemble it, if it’s not a ready-made frame. Art on canvas, panel or wood doesn’t need glass for display. Oil and acrylic paintings look best without it. Also, remember that these paintings would need canvas-depth frames unless it’s a panel. Usually panels are thin, unless they are cradled.

Types of frames for paintings

how to frame art on canvas
Tenderness, oil on canvas, 24×36″, framed with custom-cut gold wood frame

Once again you have three choices: plastic, metal and real wood frames. Go for the solid wood picture frames because they last the longest, look beautiful and you frame it once. Metal sectional frames is a good choice for some contemporary paintings, especially abstract art.
The style of the frame should add to your painting. Some paintings look beautiful in golden baroque frames, others in minimalist black frames. Canvas floater frames give an interesting effect to some contemporary pieces.

Most people consider their interior space and style, picking frames. While it should harmonize with the rest of the space, always consider how a framed piece looks on its own. If the artwork has some warm, golden tones, pick a golden frame. If  the piece has silvery, blue-grey tones, silver frame would be good. If the painting is standard size, you can find a ready-made frame in a craft store or online, but remember that canvases are between 3/4 and 1″ deep, and not every generic frame would work for a stretched canvas.

Canvas-depth frame

american frame wood frame_canvas depth frames

In this image taken from you can see that the frames have three dimensions: H height, W width and R rabbet. Rabbet should be at least 1″ if you have a painting on canvas. Some canvases require even wider rabbet height.

Canvas floater frames “suspend” your painting inside the frame without touching it while most other picture frames cover the edge of the artwork. Personal aesthetic plays big part in picking the frame. In this image you see a white floater frame that extends the whiteness of the canvas. The entire canvas floats within the frame.

White float frame | King Woman show | Art by van Roos

Most wood picture frames cover the painting’s edge like you see in the image below.

veronica winters painting_how to frame art on canvas and panel

In this screenshot taken from you can see the difference in the look of these two types of the frames. Canvas floater frame has a deep opening to nest the canvas painting inside. These are the bars in the back to which the painting attaches. A wood frame covers the edge of the painting where canvas slides into a channel.

Framing: standard vs. non-standard size

how to frame art on canvas
Venetian boy, 8×10″ oil on panel, real wood silver frame

If your painting is done on non-standard stretcher bars that don’t correspond to standard sizes like 16×20″ or 18×24″ etc., you have to order wood frames online to be cut to your specifications, and then assemble them at home. If artwork is under a certain size, they often do it themselves. An electric screwdriver comes in handy, and you also need some hanging wire and hardware you can buy in a kit online or even at Walmart. AmericanFrame includes the kit with a purchase of custom-cut frames.

In this screenshot from American Frame website you can see how much the frame costs depending on its length. The great thing about this service is that you can order any frame cut to your specifications. You can also order samples and corner samples.


The back of an assembled custom-cut frame with wood hardware package.


Still life with the corals and Venetian mask, oil on canvas, 24×36″, framed with custom-cut sectional real wood frame

Sometimes you can order samples of available frames and put them next to your artwork to see if the style of the frame works well with the painting. A lot of times it’s difficult to say how a specific frame would look like unless you have a sample in your hands. Usually the wider the frame, the richer it looks. Although some abstract paintings would look better framed with thin frames.

This is my copy painting from Bouguereau painting. I picked a ready-made, standard frame from a store for it.
Still life with sea biscuit, 8×10″ oil on canvas paper, framed with custom-cut real wood frame
Still life with starfish, 16×20″ oil on canvas, framed with standard size frame
Moonrise, 5×7″ oil on panel, framed with custom wood frame | Warm white frame picks up on colors of the Moon.
Still life with blue vase, framed with custom cut wood frame with gold accents

Examples of framed art on canvas from the museums

Turin painting_how to frame art Milan art_Magdalene_how to frame art ringling museum artpainting titian in venice_how to frame art Turin painting 2_how to frame art

These are examples of framed masterpieces I took pictures of in Italy and the Ringling museum (3d image). All of them have gold frame but the style of each frame varies. The color of the frame picks up on prominent hues seen within each painting. If these paintings had silver/grey elements, they would benefit from a silver frame. Also, the complexity of the frame matches the exuberant details seen in the painting. For example, the second image of Magdalene has simplified shapes and color that’s supported by a plain gold frame. The exuberant golden jacket of the king seen in the last image matches a more elaborate frame.


In this short video you can see how I assemble custom-cut real wood frame using provided hardware.

Consider space

contemporary interior_how to frame art on canvas

If you plan on having a show, exhibiting a large number of works, consider framing art with similar frames to have a unifying appearance in a gallery space. In my experience, I’ve framed art at different times and my paintings don’t always look consistent, each being framed differently. It makes it harder to present as a team.

If you have a single piece of art, consider the size of your wall space and the artwork’s size. I often see small art displayed on a large wall where one picture gets lost and just looks too timid “eaten” by a large wall space. If you have a large wall and small art, consider grouping small pieces together on a wall to create a gallery. Below you’ll find several examples of art displays.


Here are some of the commissioned wall art pieces at homes of my clients.
how to frame art on canvas
These are various drawings and paintings that are arranged in a wall display.

Venetian carnival contemporary painting

As you can see framing can be fun. Next time you are at an art show or a museum, pay attention to framing, take notes, and frame your pieces in accordance with your knowledge and taste. Good luck!


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Complete video series:

Video #1 Part 1 – Learn what makes a painting great

Video #1 Part 2 – Learn what makes a painting great 2: composition, color, emotion

Video #2 Contemporary Art – coming soon!

Video #3 How to take care of your art collection – coming soon!

Video #4 How to frame art – you are here!

Video # 5 Why you don’t need an interior designer to buy and display art in your home – coming soon!

art palm beach fair 2018 review

Art Palm Beach International 2018 highlights

Art Palm Beach International 2018: highlights

Art Palm Beach International 2018 is a much quieter show in comparison to the Art Basel and Art Context Miami.  The foot traffic commanded a much slower pace that actually allowed for thorough examination of work. Situated at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Florida, the annual show consists of galleries showing art and sculpture with some installation work between January 18-21, 2018. As you often see in such fairs the quality of art hardly matters to be promoted and sold since there is no standard in art to adhere to in the first place. Craftsmanship doesn’t equal sales. We don’t listen to music or singing that is off key, but we are open to looking at and buying terrible ‘art’. Not all presented contemporary art was bad at the fair, but visitors had plenty of chances to feel confusion and doubt in their understanding and appreciation of art. In this post I’ve decided to highlight some of the best pieces that were shown there as well as the worst ones, and a few artworks stuck in between the two categories. A lot of times an idea present in contemporary art overpowers the technique, which weakens message delivery.

A new trend in painting and 3-D art is added sparkle with Swarovski crystal, diamond dust or glitter. I think it cheapens the art for the most part and makes it too decorative. It’s really challenging for the artist to combine new materials with the traditional ones to record a unique vision that stands the test of time. Neon light messages get incorporated into canvas art, and wall art installations may surprise some tech gigs. Paintings look fresh if the artist is able to innovate and to play with the surface itself where the canvas size also matters. Innovation, thought and craftsmanship all contribute to the quality of painting and 3-D art. Here you see these elements at play in different proportions and scale.

If you’d like to learn more about the shown pieces, please contact the artists and galleries directly, I made every effort to identify each picture with the name of the artist or gallery representing him/her. If you see a mistake or want to add a name, please write to

Video of selected works

In the video you see a handcarved/etched glass with a neon sign “Keepworking sucker” by Zac Knudson, 30×51″, Evan Lurie Gallery, and a solar Icd units in plexiglass titled “Perceptual Mirror” 28x17x2″ by Sungchul Hong, Anthony Brunelli Fine Arts.


Highlights from the Art Palm Beach Fair 2018


Fake Fulfillment Center, Shawn Kolodny

Fake Fulfillment Center  at ArtPalmBeach is a 3000-square-foot multi-sensory art installation by New York based artist  Shawn that confronts the reality of modern addiction in a fun way. It consists of a short maze with rooms depicting and confronting the overwhelming drug addiction in our society.

Activation room: raise the caliber

art palm beach 2018
Activation room: raise the caliber

Artists DetroitWick and Crow Studios transform pieces of guns that remain after they’ve been voluntarily turned in through gun buy back and amnesty programs or seized from crime scenes in America, into beautiful sculptures of lucite and prints. Percantage of sales is donated to the Caliber Foundation.

Debra Steidel

Steidel Contemporary Art Gallery

Ethereal and delicate vases reminiscent of the ocean are expertly crafted by Debra Steidel. Their textures look like sand and waves  Coral forms pull you in to touch the form and to feel the breeze of the waves. Visit to learn more.

Arinze Stanley

Hyperrealism from Nigeria, Arinze Stanley, “desolation” | The Art Plug

Marco Grassi

Ransom Art Gallery| Marco Grassi on the left | Isabelle Scheltjens on the right | To learn more:

Isabelle Scheltjens

Isabelle Scheltjens | Ransom Art Gallery
Isabelle Scheltjens | Ransom Art Gallery

This painting is made of glass-fused mosaic! Like in some Dali paintings, Isabelle Scheltjens achieves unusual optical effects with her technique. The abstract image seen up close becomes a giant face observed from a distance.

Unfortunately I don’t know the name of this artist who made this sculpture, but by looking at this man it makes me think of life and balance, and how challenging it maybe to achieve.

Martin C. Herbst

Martin C. Herbst, spheres | Anthony Brunelli Fine Arts |

B.1965, the artist creates a series of painted sculptures that are made of oil/lacquer on mirror-polished stainless steel. They range from 55 to 11 inches in diameter. Herbst paints a face on one half, and the other half of the sphere remains unpainted and becomes a distorting mirror (image below). The spheres rest on hidden rings and depending on the positioning of the sphere, the painted images change quite a bit. The idea for the spheres came to the artist from Italian painting by Parmigianino titled “Self-portrait in a Convex Mirror.”

Martin C. Herbst, spheres


Martin C. Herbst, Hidden treasure
Martin C. Herbst, Hidden treasure

The series hidden treasure explores the mystery of  reflection. We see a woman’s face as a reflection found within the aluminum folds. Mirrored painting moves and disappears in the folds depending on your point of view.

A sculpture found on the floor at the Art Palm Beach 2018.

Pablo Dona

Pablo Dona, Serendipity
Pablo Dona, Serendipity

Pablo Dona creates whimsical installations pink, yellow and blue that are reminiscent of happy childhood. The artist aims to create a sense of magic that every child sees in commonplace objects and surroundings. Installations and photographs of tea cups, books and teacup sets with tiny people engaged in conversation, boat riding, swimming or walking have clean pastel colors that invite us to come back to that pure land of childhood. Whether you want to find it or not, you can contemplate your memories over tiny figures, rubber ducks and marshmallows. Carefully set up photographs seem to communicate a much stronger feeling of a bright childhood moment as opposed to an installation itself.

Irene Wijnmaalen

Irene Wijnmaalen photography, first image: Princess of darkness, 49 inches square, c-print on dibond |

These portraits of women have mesmerizing effect where you just keep looking back at the faces. Influenced by the Dutch painting, Irene creates moving portraits of women that seem to be lost in time.

Erin Anderson

Sirona Fine Art | Erin Anderson, Karen with cloud cover, oil on copper, 36×30″

B.1987, this young artist shows off her incredible talent painting figure on copper sheets. The artist creates visual comparisons between the figure and systems in nature. The metallic texture of the background is fascinating and creates movement and unusual shine, while the painted figure is rooted in classical art.

sirona fine art_erin anderson

Tanja Gant

Tanja Gant, Bacchus, colored pencil on paper | Sirona fine art

Tanja Gant keeps us high on our toes with her colored pencil drawings that have a unique interpretation of ordinary subject, which goes far beyond realism and technical skill.

Sungchul Hong

Anthony Brunelli fine arts | Sungchul Hong, String hands, print on elastic strands

B.1969, Korean multidisciplinary artist Sungchul Hong creates sculptural art out of strings. He prints photographs on elastic cords that he stretches over canvases or within steel frames. The images of grasping arms and hands look beautiful from a distance and puzzling up close. The construction of such images feels disruptive and you want to step back to see the unified piece. Artists often feel disconnected from the world, working alone in their studios. This sense of disconnect reveals itself in separate strings.

 In the video you can notice his wall art installation -blinking solar LCD units titled “Perceptual Mirror.” Grids of identical solar lcd units make changing flickering patterns that communicate life’s impermanence and isolation.

anthony brunelli fine arts_sungchul Hong_ string hands 2

Annalu Boeretto

Ransom | Annalu Boeretto butterflies

B. 1976, Annalu Boeretto lives in Venice, Italy but exhibits her liquid sculptures internationally.  Her mandala-like wall art mesmerizes us with light and lightness, natural beauty and liquidity. Influenced by the long history of Venetian glass blowing and water ways, she creates wall art from different materials that have this sense of lightness and transparency common to water and glass. Fiberglass, resin and ink become Annalu’s materials that “freeze” pieces of nature in art. To learn more:

ransom_annalu boeretto butterflies

Pablo Caviedes

Pablo Caviedes, “On the map”We can look at this image and just see a face, but when a giant plate turns sideways the face becomes the U.S. map.

Jae Yong Kim

Jae Yong Kim, donut think too much be happy 2013-17, ceramic, under glaze, glaze, luster glaze, Swarovski crystals, installation 60×80 | Anthony Brunelli Fine Arts

B.1973, the artist makes playful ceramic donuts. Each has a unique number of glazes and finishes that also include the Swarovski crystals in some. Fun shapes and colorful glazes create a visual feast so much so that you want to run to a donut place to eat some right away.


Gallery art | Mr.Brainwash

Mr. Brainwash established a name for himself in a single show that he organized and promoted to a celebrity crowd in LA years ago. Coming from video taping of street art, Banksy art in particular, this man decided to become an artist himself, making these large canvases that carry instant message in street art style.

Alexi Torres

Universe Einstein, detail, Alexi Torres, oil on canvas, 72×60″ | Evan Lurie Gallery

B.1976, Cuban artist Alexi Torres creates oil paintings that appear woven. These highly unusual brush strokes make this work very different from other figurative paintings.

Zena Holloway

Zena Holloway | the directed art modern | To learn more:

Underwater photography is not an easy fit. B.1973, Zena Holloway takes pictures of celebrities and models underwater. Staged photography involves a lot of prep work with a team and a connection with models to get the shots just right. Her latest projects Sea Women and Body of Water aim to raise awareness of the effects of overfishing and pollution in the oceans.

Oliver Cole gallery: Michael Kalish

Artist and sculptor Michael Kalish makes vivid roses from reclaimed materials that include the license plates. These metal cuts that make up the flowers are suspended above the flat surface to create extra dimension.

Roberta Coni

Roberta Coni
Roberta Coni

Roberta Coni paints women inspired by Flemish painting. Her portraits don’t have the technical skill of the old masters, however, Coni’s eyes have piercing beauty.

Anja van Herle

Anja van Herle, His and Hers, acrylic and Swarovski crystals on wood, 42″ square | Oliver Cole gallery

Decorative and colorful, these sparkling paintings look like fashion ads where a woman’s skin is Photoshoped and lips have heavy outlines. The female faces are playful but not enigmatic.


irreversible projects_skip hartzell

A borderline “genius” art? If you don’t root for cuteness, it’s hardly artistic.

“Genius Art” Conner

Sorry, guys, but this is hardly good art.

Pablo Dona

These pieces are whimsical and fun, but can we really say they are highly artistic creations? Perhaps to some who love toys or want to return to perfect childhood.

Khawam gallery

This concludes the roundup of art you could have seen at the Palm Beach fair. Hope you’ve enjoyed looking at various kinds of contemporary art.

My other posts to check out:

Contemporary figurative realism and more at Miami Art Basel Week 2017

veronica winters artist

How to draw a portrait in colored pencil and mixed media_veronica winters artist

How to draw a portrait in colored pencil and mixed media

How to draw a portrait in colored pencil

This post introduces you to some experimental techniques drawing in colored pencil and more. Here you’ll see how you can combine colored pencil with other art supplies, such as gold or silver marker, acetate-like paper and permanent markers. I’m not explaining the basics of the anatomy drawing here, rather I show my trial and error process in drawing portraits in mixed media. In my experience, I’ve learned that it’s very important to find the right paper for your specific colored pencils. The same professional-grade colored pencils work differently on various papers. I find that if I use Prismacolor Premier colored pencils (that are very soft), they work best on the Stonehenge paper pads, while harder colored pencils do better on a rougher surface. Below I explain what materials I’ve used drawing portraits and with what results.

Artistically, I wanted to depart from expected and accepted realism and to draw a portrait that is playful and well designed. Every drawing has its movement and a color scheme that I plan out beforehand. Those who draw in colored pencil know how long and laborious the process is when a 9×12″ drawing takes up to 40 hours to complete. So planning is very important to success of the finished drawing. I usually draw from my own pictures and rarely take someone else’s references because as an artist I have a vision of capturing the light and color usually absent in phone snapshots. The best investment I’ve made into my tools is the camera with excellent lens. I have Nikon D500 that captures an amazing range of color and tone. A lot of times I draw in colored pencil to develop my artistic ideas that I can take to oil painting.

How to make a mixed media portrait

colored pencil drawing
Christina, 9×12″ colored pencil drawing, mixed media

In this drawing I aimed at putting all the attention to the face of the person by juxtaposing fully-rendered features with the flatness of space in the hoodie and the background. The earring repeats the pattern in the background “connecting” the model to her surroundings.

Materials: Faber-Castell Polychromos colored pencils, Koh-I-Noor Bristol Vellum Paper, Winsor & Newton white pigment marker, Painters gold metallic marker, Grumbacher final fixative for dry media.

how to draw in colored pencil using faber-castell polychromos colored pencils

These colored pencils are not as soft as Prismacolor Premier, but a lot more durable and lightfast, and therefore Polychromos are becoming my favorite colored pencils. They do require a specific type of paper to work on I’m yet to find, so what I’m showing here was quite a struggle in layering the colors because these colored pencils tend to glide off the smooth page but can produce incredible detail in a small area. In the drawing of Christina the face and hair have at least 6 layers of color that may not show as such. I kept layering the color to deepen the values as much as I could.

Once I layered the background colors I wanted to lighten them up a bit and to blend them more. So I applied the white pigment of the W&N marker using its chisel tip. It’s a very soft white and thus instead of using it for the highlights, I used it for blending parts of the drawing. The white space for the hoodie has no white marker, rather shows the paper’s original color.

The earring is drawn with the Painters gold metallic marker and some colored pencil. It does reflect some gold once you see this drawing in person. Metallic accents don’t reproduce in photography and scanning of the drawings.

how to draw a portrait in colored pencil
Christina, 9×12″ colored pencil portrait, detail

The trick to drawing anything is to keep the overall form correct and often symmetrical (here it’s the anatomical features of the person), while shading the image to create a variety of values you see in the reference. Usually students don’t push their tones far enough to create enough contrast in the drawing. In portrait drawing you also need to pay attention to subtle shifts in tone, general color and color temperature (warm/cool) in skin tones. These shifts in color and tone in the skin are not as drastic as in other parts of the person (hair and clothing) on average unless the light is dramatic.

How to draw a portrait in colored pencil and permanent markers

colored pencil drawing, figurative painting veronica winters
Invisible I, 9×12″ colored pencil drawing, private collection

Materials: Prismacolor Premier colored pencils, Winsor & Newton pigment markers, W&N pigment marker heavy weight paper, Grumbacher final fixative for dry media.

This W&N pigment marker heavy weight paper is designed specifically for the W&N markers. It doesn’t bleed through and its smooth surface is very good for colored pencil drawing in general. But you have to get used to it too because layering feels different than on other drawing papers. In this drawing Invisible I I went back and forth shading in colored pencils and markers, creating the first layer with the markers and then layering colored pencils on top, blending them with the markers and layering again. I didn’t use the markers drawing the skin tones. The hair, however, have layers of markers only. I find that these markers don’t layer evenly and I have to shade with colored pencils over them a lot. The main reason for me to try layering with the markers is the speed of covering the background space. Colored pencil is a very time-consuming medium and shading with the markers speeds it up by a lot. Because of their uneven layering, however, I have to shade with the colored pencil over them. What I really like about the Winsor & Newton pigment markers is their projected lightfastness of 100 years… If your materials are not lightfast, they tend to fade off the page quite quickly. Various pigments have different lightfastness rating and you may see some pigments fade much faster than the others.

The W&N heavy weight paper is much better for colored pencil drawing than their lightweight paper. The lightweight paper is just too smooth and too thin to accept the colored pencil. That’s why don’t buy it unless you plan on drawing with the markers only. It’s great for drawing with the markers exclusively.

W&N markers and paper

In my next drawing you see the initial layer done in the markers only that shows how unfinished it looks without colored pencil shading over them. So using the markers helps me to cover the surface quickly, but the refinement is achieved through regular colored pencil layering.

how to make a mixed media portrait

This is the first layer.

colored pencil drawing, figurative painting veronica winters
Invisible II, concept drawing, 9×12″ colored pencil and W&N markers on paper

And here you can see how the surface of the drawing changes by applying white colored pencil over the blue marker. Whenever you want to lighten up the surface with the colored pencil, use Prismacolor Premier white pencil because it’s the softest colored pencil that does the job. You have to use maximum pencil pressure to blend the colors well.


how to make a mixed media portrait
Motherhood, 9×12″ mixed media drawing

In this drawing I’ve departed from straight representation the most. I used a reference snapshot that didn’t have much information for drawing (the light fell flat and the colors seemed off. There was no sense of direct light source. That’s why the photo itself was difficult to draw from). Yet, I really wanted to capture the essence of Motherhood and I think this picture of Veronica and her children has this warmth and idyllic beauty I got so attracted to.

I often think of motherhood. I’ve met women so desperate to have a child they went through surgeries and procedures to become a mother. I’ve seen mothers who sacrificed everything they could for their children. But I also see women who are selfish complainers that can’t think beyond their own life and refrain from giving love to their children. Obviously, they were ignored as children themselves, but as adults we are responsible for our own actions. This drawing is dedicated to all women who go above and beyond themselves regardless and despite their challenges, raising their children.
“Motherhood” is playful and fun because of the pattern with blue butterflies and pink peonies with lotuses I layered over the original image. I took a picture of this pattern on my trip to Japan. I’m more and more interested in the simplification of form and I think the Japanese art is masterful at that. I took main elements from the pattern to create the flow of flowers and butterflies between the figures. In the family photo children play with the necklace, not the flower. To continue with the pattern I used the gold pen outlines for the figures as well as the flowers.

Materials: Faber-Castell Polychromos colored pencils, Koh-I-Noor Bristol Vellum Paper, Winsor & Newton pigment markers, Painters gold metallic marker, Grumbacher final fixative for dry media.

Technically, layering was very difficult because I found that Ploychromos don’t “stick” to the surface of bristol papers. Therefore despite my efforts at multiple layering, the shading seems not quite complete. I always spray my drawings with the fixative to prevent fading and smudging. I strongly recommend the Grumbacher fixatives because they spray evenly and even out the surface beautifully. Cheap sprays don’t get rid of pencil bloom and spray unevenly.


How to draw a portrait in pencil and colored pencil

The silent one, romantic pencil drawing by Veronica Winters
The Silent One, 9×12″, graphite pencil drawing, private collection

Materials: Tombow graphite pencils, 4-6B, 2H, Koh-I-Noor Bristol Vellum Paper, Prismacolor Premier bronze metallic colored pencil, Grumbacher final fixative for dry media.

In this drawing I shaded the figure to completion first because graphite smudges and it’s important not to smudge it over the colored pencil areas to keep the color clean. Once the figure was complete, I sprayed the drawing lightly, let it dry, and used metallic colored pencil to draw the leaf design to create the movement. The fixative prevented the smudging. I sprayed it one more time once the drawing was complete. For graphite work, I usually shade the darks with soft pencils (4-6B) but switch to the hard ones to develop the skin tones (2H). The only eraser I use is the kneeded eraser. It leaves no residue and lifts out the highlights beautifully.  If I need to get into tiny details and to erase there, I absolutely love the Tombow  Mono eraser that I order on Amazon from a store in Japan.

Tombow eraser

koh-i-noor drawing paper review

Koh-I-Noor drawing papers are my favorites now! Their surface and thickness is perfect for pencil and colored pencil drawing! The pages also have the unique in&out design, allowing me to put my drawings back into the pad if I need to. I absolutely love the paper’s high quality surface that let’s me color effortlessly, especially when using soft colored pencils.


Attention! My brand new Colored Pencil Manual art book will be coming out this summer with Dover Publications! I’m also working on a complete video course for beginners in colored pencil drawing. The course may release much earlier than summer. It will be available for download from my site. Please subscribe to my list to stay in touch!

How to make a mixed media portrait using dura-lar paper, colored pencils and markers

This is the most experimental drawing for me in terms of its surface. I wanted to create more depth in the drawing and therefore played with the paper’s surface changing it to acetate-like paper. Here I’m showing my experiments in how to draw portraits step by step.

Materials: Faber-Castell Polychromos colored pencils, Dura-Lar Paper, Painters gold metallic marker, a scalpel/ X-Acto knife/ scissors for paper cutting, Grumbacher final fixative for dry media.

how to make a mixed media portrait using duralar
how to make a mixed media portrait using duralar paper | model Veronica P.

Dura-Lar is a .0005 matte and archival film that’s translucent and non-tearing. This is the acetate-like paper that’s quite transparent and therefore needs some backing to show the drawing in full. Either white or color acid-free backing is necessary to begin drawing because you can’t really see the colors unless you put something underneath your artwork. In the first image you can see how translucent it is where both white paper and brown paper show through. I didn’t use white pencil to draw the highlights, rather they show as white because of my white paper placed underneath the drawing.

In the second image at the top you see me layer basic anatomy structure and a hair pattern. I use Faber-Castell Polychromos colored pencils to draw the image. Because this paper is very smooth, it basically accepts a couple of color layers, making it difficult to create subtle transitions in tones. I’ve tried to use Prismacolors with this paper before, which are much softer pencils and have found it even harder to create subtle transitions in color and tone. However, the very effect of transparency can be explored a lot more, in my opinion. It’s possible to place different backgrounds and photographs underneath the drawn image, creating a different sense of depth and realism.

In the third image at the bottom you see me layer as much color as possible. I must say that I was interested in drawing the hair more than the face.

In the last image you see the second layer of this transparent paper placed over the portrait drawing. I tried to cut this paper with a scalpel but found that it was really hard and small scissors worked much better, cutting out the shapes. Paper cutting turned out to be a very laborious process just like the drawing on such smooth surface, resulting in much struggle to finish the work. I connected all three pieces of paper with the archival, double-sided tape in the corners.

acetate like polyester film


Bloom, three-layer drawing, 9×12″ colored pencil and gold pen

Once again I’ve played with the Japanese pattern I saw on my trip. I think the best way to frame such artwork would be a floater frame where the image floats in the middle sandwiched between the two layers of glass as opposed to framing with a mat.

What do you think? Have you tried these materials and techniques? Let me know! Feel free to share this post on Facebook and Twitter.

Start learning the colored pencil techniques by downloading the step-by-step demonstrations and art books here.  Once you complete a purchase, the file is sent to you via e-mail automatically! Please check your spam/junk/other folders to see this email. If you can’t find it, please email me:

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how to draw step by step

Figurative realism and more at Miami Art Basel Week 2017

Contemporary figurative realism and more at Miami Art Basel Week 2017

Art Miami and Context Art Miami at Miami Art Basel Week 2017

Art Basel Miami Beach is one of the largest art fairs held in the country every December. These art fairs also include Aqua Art Miami, Art Miami, CONTEXT Art Miami, Art Spot Miami, Design Miami, Form Miami, Fridge Art Fair Miami, Pulse Miami, Scope Art Show, Spectrum Art Fair and many more!

Art Miami and CONTEXT Art Miami are two of the art fairs shown under the umbrella of the Art Basel week in Miami Beach that I visit. Unlike last year, this time many galleries have emerged representing figurative realism. Also, there were more Asian galleries as well as galleries showing photography.


This video is a visual roundup of Miami art galleries, international galleries, 3D art and figurative realism art in Art Miami 2017. You’ll find the images and artists’ names in the post below.

Figurative realism artists and galleries

Brad Kunkle

brad kunkle
Brad Kunkle, oil and silver on wood/linen

In Brad Kunkle’s figurative paintings the feminine is symbolic of the intuitive that helps us – the viewers find purpose in life. By teaching us to study and to interpret artwork, the artist wants us to be more conscious of life and intuition and to feel the magic of life through his paintings. Brad Kunkle depicts women in a palette of warm browns set against the shiny silver leaf to express his idea of female softness and confidence.

To learn more:

Yigal Ozeri

yigal ozeri_painting
Yigal Ozeri, oil painting

Yigal Ozeri’s figurative realism is so stunning, it takes a while to believe that these are actually oil paintings. Born in Israel in 1958, the artist works in New York creating large-scale paintings of women set in lush landscapes. The cinematic quality of his work forces us to stare and study every inch of the oil painting to believe that these are real paintings with the softness of distant mountains and trees, The hyper-realistic figures of women have the immediacy of the moment that are about to walk off the canvas. The artist is represented by Zemack Contemporary Art Gallery.

Clio Newton

clio newton, b.1989 sarah, charcoal on paper
Clio Newton, Sarah, charcoal on paper, 81×59 in

Born 1989, Swiss artist Clio Newton creates hyper-realistic, gigantic drawings of women in charcoal that are larger than life.  The artist captures women with unbelievable anatomical accuracy in black and white that become towering statements of this artist’s talent. to To learn more:

Alonsa Guevara

Alonsa Guevara, Fernanda's Ceremony, paintings of women

Alonsa Guevara, Fernanda’s Ceremony, 80×32 in, oil on canvas | Anna Zorina Gallery, NYOriginally from Chile, Alonsa is one of young figurative painters who shows her work during the Miami art fair. Alonsa’s fruit portraits are about desire, desire to move people.  Paintings of nude women that are often self-portraits are mixed with lush cut fruit and flowers that represent fertility and life, mystery and birth.

To learn more:


Mr. Brainwash

Mr. Brainwash at Miami art fair
Mr. Brainwash, Einstein, 94×46″ stencil and mixed media.

If you wish to understand how this street artist Mr. Brainwash made a name for himself and sold art for millions without any previous knowledge or background in art, you must watch the documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop, 2010. His work continues to appear during the Miami art week.


Mary Jane Ansell

Mary Jane Ansell Miami 2017

Mary Jane Ansell is a British artist, who represents figurative realism in a fresh way by mixing up the baroque influences with military costumes and feelings of love and loss. She creates the narratives around the female figure that appear lost in their own quietness and self-reflection.


Mike Dargas

Mike Dargas painting at miami beach art fair
Mike Dargas

Oversized, hyper-realistic paintings of German artist Mike Dargas depict women’s faces soaking in either chocolate or honey. Discovered on Instagram, the artist often exhibits at the Opera gallery now. To learn more:



FABIEN CASTANIER gallery is one of the Miami art galleries that shows work at the art fairs as well.  The male sculpture is by Mark Jenkins and Speedy Graphito is on the walls.


Bernardo Torrens

bernardo torrens_diana II_art miami 2017
Bernardo Torrens,  The Thinker (top) and Diana II (bottom), acrylic on wood, Miami Art Week 2017

A self-taught Spanish artist paints female nudes in monochromatic colors. He is represented by Louis K. Meisel Gallery.


Carlos Rolon

Carlos Rolon, decadence upon decadence, oil and gold leaf on canvas. Born in Chicago, the artist paints stylized yet delicate floral compositions heightening the baroque luxury with shiny gold leaf.


Fernando Botero

Colombian artist Fernando Botero is one of the most popular representational painters and sculptors today who is known for his humorous ‘fat’ figures that are also expressions of political criticism.


Marco Grassi

Playful and colorful, figurative realism art by Marco Grassi is a visual treat. Although lacking some anatomical accuracy, these portraits of girls have freshness and vigor heightened by the gold leafed shine.



Silvio Porzionato

Italian artist Silvio Porzionato paints large-scale portraits with amazing skill, dragging paint across the background to reveal the humanity of the face and hands.


galerie bhak_art miami 2017
Korean art gallery – galerie Bhak at Art Miami Beach 2017 | Oil on Aluminum, Scratching

Bringing Korean artists to the Miami art fair, this gallery is a pleasant surprise. Figurative realism art becomes a lot more than painting where non-glamorous people star in a space made of scratches on aluminum.

Face, Oil on Aluminum, Scratching, 259 x 200 cm, 2016
Face, Oil on Aluminum, Scratch, 259x200cm, 2016, detail



3D art, sculpture and animation

In the video you see some animation paintings/digital media represented by the Priveekollektie Contemporary Art and Design gallery located in the Netherlands. In Bloomed wall, we study the movement of nature reminiscent of the Dutch still life painting in a series of ‘paintings’ that play animated flowers, birds, and more.

Flutter-Hologram-Pendulum-by-Dominic-Harris | represented by

Flutter Hologram: Pendulum

In this 3D Hologram two butterflies fly inside a jar when exited by the movement around them. They sit down at the pendulum, which represents life hanging in balance.

To learn more:

Carole A. Feuerman

Carole Feuerman, Survival of Serena, hyper-realism sculpture
Carole Feuerman, Survival of Serena, hyper-realism sculpture, lacquer on epoxy resin with Swarovski crystals, variant of 3, 250 lbs, 81x31x37

American artist Carole Feuerman belongs to the Hyperrealism movement making life-like sculptures. She casts real people to produce sculptural artwork that symbolizes strength, survival, and balance.

To learn more:


Tiny nails map out the painting’s surface of this female face with thin threads moving in various directions to make up the tones.

Josepha Gasch-Muche

Josepha Gasch-Muche

German artist Josepha Gasch-Muche makes glass sculptures from razor-sharp industrial liquid crystal display glass pieces! She breaks and arranges thin sheets of glass into strands to make geometric shapes.  The artist is presented by the Heller gallery at Art Miami 2017,

Metis Atash

Metis Atash, Blooming Life | Art Miami 2017

B.1979, German artist Metis Atash comes from consultancy business in Germany to become the creator of sculptures that represent the duality of life and beyond it. To learn more:

Peter Anton

Peter Anton | BOXED DOUGHNUTS, 27 x 36 x 5.5 inches, mixed media, 2011 | Art Miami 2017

Peter Anton is a popular sculptor whose obsession is chocolate, ice cream and sweets! To learn more:


Liquid Art System



Jeff Robb

jeff robb_lenticular photo_context rt miami 2017
Jeff Robb, lenticular photograph | Pntone Gallery UK, CONTEXT Miami

British photographer Jeff Robb experiments with three-dimensional imaging by taking pictures of the female nudes frozen in action and placing them in his lenticular photography. The lenticular photographs give us a mirage of volume and slight movement of a figure depending on the spectator’s point of view.


Ruud van Empel

Ruud van Empel photography of black children
Ruud van Empel

This is one of few photographs that stood out from a crowd of paintings at the Miami art fair. The unusual part is seeing a black kid in a beautiful, not diminishing way. And even more surprising part is that the artist is white – Dutch photographer Ruud van Empel.  A child with mesmerizing eyes doesn’t really exist because the artist’s pictures are multilayered images. Photoshoped from many photographs, these black girls look like painted figures – symbols of childhood innocence.  This deliberate deconstruction and reconstruction of digital imagery gives the artwork a mesmerizing quality.

To learn more:


Javier Bellomo Coria

javier bellomo coria_face_art miami 2017
Javier Bellomo Coria, Ilze, printing of pigmented inks on textured paper, 86×61 in,

Javier Bellomo Coria is an Argentinian artist who finds his influences in photography and architecture to create the paper sculptures. Realistic portraits look like gigantic puzzle paintings seen from the distance, yet when you walk around one, you find another image – a landscape printed on the other side of the artwork. The multi printed image is cut into numerous pieces and assembled again to reveal human fragility and multiplicity.

To learn more:

javier bellomo coria_art miami 2017
A close-up view


Russell Young

russell young_marylin_art miami 2017
Russell Young, Marilyn, acrylic screen print Femme Fatale series

Russell Young’s oversized and glamorous depictions of iconic celebrities and figures are chosen based on a personal tragedy of each celebrity. Death, addiction or other fatalities brought them down only to glamorize their status even more. Just like Warhol, the artist knows how to attract attention to his work, combining the diamond dust with the iconic imagery everyone is more than familiar with.

To see art:


This sums up my explorations in figurative realism at the Miami Art Basel Week 2017. Hope you like discovering new figurative painters and gain some insight into contemporary Miami art scene and beyond!


Check out my art prints and art gifts at

The Art Deco Fashion show at the Richmond Hotel in Miami Beach

The Art Deco Fashion Show, Basel Edition 2017



Contemporary figurative painting

Thank you all for coming out on a cold night and making it SPECIAL and worthwhile! It was such a beautiful art show with music and fashion show. I had a lot of fun. Thanks so much to Diderot and the hotel. 🙂

Fashion show by Nadjea Art Deco swimwear:

Songs by Diamone  

Veronica Winters figurative paintings
Sinking of Taj Mahal, Miami Beach
The Richmond Hotel, Miami Beach

veronica winters paintings of women, figurative paintings


Judge Roy Moore represents worship of power and money

I’ve changed my belief that heroes are right saving everyone. Heroes should save children. Assholes will save themselves trumping over everyone around them in any situation. Assholes find a way out by cheating, lying and ignoring principles of morality.

Predators, like the Alabama GOP candidate for US Senate judge Roy Moore stay in power because they reflect the society. Not everyone, but enough people who support a child molester for greater good. When I’ve heard of Roy Moore’s allegations I was also skeptical at first. But his interview made it clear. Roy Moore admits that he “always asked for mother’s permission” to date a girl. There is no need to ask for the permission, when the girl is 18. Moreover, how creepy could you be to be banned from a mall or to call to school? I think 9 women who have already stepped out make plenty of evidence to investigate the case. Yet, many support a person who is for Christian values pissing on the Bible with his actions. Society closes its eyes on Roy Moore because it’s important to win the election to resist the democrats and to unite in a “fight.”  For what I wonder? Definitely not for the rights of teen girls that are traumatized for life by Roy Moore and men like him.

You can’t vote for this man because of other beliefs he supports. Principles of morality can’t be separated and compartmentalized to cherry pick one over the other. His supporters are in denial of the obvious and pretend that those women just came out because of the election. And I agree it’s the case. Why? Because it’s the only time when they finally have a chance to bring him down. They wouldn’t be able to do this 20-30 years ago because women were shamed for actions like this one. Now is their time to come out of obscurity, and to stop being afraid.

Where do we go from here? Why do we fire one man for sexual harassment instantly and this one gets ‘forgiven’ for what happened decades ago? How could he possibly stand for conservative values, proclaiming himself as a defender of marriage when it’s one big problem he doesn’t want to deal with.

And if Roy Moore wins this election, it only means that the society as a whole is not ready to think and act in terms of love and compassion for others (abused children), rather people still prefer thinking in pragmatic terms of monetary rewards and promises. If child molesting is your principle, please don’t justify it by your Christian values. That’s precisely why some people like me don’t believe in the institution. This worship of power and money won’t make America great again.

salvator mundi by leonardo da vinci_veronica winters blog, fake orb

The Salvator Mundi painting of Leonardo da Vinci: is it real or fake? da Vinci’s orb is not his.


The Salvator Mundi oil painting by Leonardo da Vinci (Italian, 1452-1519)

After reviewing all available information online, images and other literature I’ve found about this work, I believe that the Salvator Mundi is not pure da Vinci. If not a skillful forgery, this painting has passages painted by Leonardo with the rest filled in by his student at best. The more I study this painting, the more inconsistencies appear in the entire image of the Salvator Mundi. In the following text you’ll find why the authentication process of da Vinci’s work is so speculative.

da vinci salvator mundi after restoration
“Salvator Mundi” Oil on walnut panel, 25 13/16 x 17 7/8 inches (65.6 x 45.4 cm), Private Collection

The last artwork authenticated as Leonardo’s – the Benois Madonna (the Hermitage, St. Petersburg) was over 100 years ago. With just about 15 paintings coming down to us, finding a new da Vinci is extremely rare, which partially explains its price. Now we know that it’s the most expensive work of art ever sold at auction. Salvator Mundi  or Savior of the World sold for the astronomical $450,312,500 (that includes buyer’s premium) at Christie’s New York. While you can find plenty of information online about the artwork’s ownership and how the Salvator Mundi arrived at Christie’s, I’d like to talk about this painting from the artistic point of view and what inconsistencies I see in it, despite the fact that I’m not a Leonardo’s expert. When art sells for millions we want to question its origin from the get go. We can also say that when art sells for millions, every expert would agree on its provenance, right? I’ve changed my mind after listening to the interview with an art dealer Robert Simon who made me believe it’s the real Leonardo because of a very slow process of discoveries he outlines in his story (Suggested Donation podcast: After listening to the podcast, I got interested in researching the available documentation and imagery, and therefore the more I looked, the more doubtful I became of its origin once again. Here is why.

The over painted version of Salvator Mundi is on the left, while the restored version is on the right.

In his story Robert Simon describes the terrible condition he found the artwork in. Although he saw the beautiful hand immediately that didn’t correspond stylistically to a harshly overprinted face, Mr. Simon had no idea it would be art by da Vinci when he got this artwork. In the interview you’ll learn how slow the process of discovery actually was, working closely with the restorer Dianne Dwyer Modestini, Senior Research Fellow and Conservator of the Kress Program in Paintings Conservation at the Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. Both of them found clues to the fact that this artwork may be by Leonardo, and eventually Robert Simon introduced this painting to the Leonardo’s experts in London to see if it were his indeed.


The strongest references leading to the existence of the Salvator Mundi by da Vinci

In the scholarly article by Joanne Snow-Smith she traces the whereabouts of the artist by looking at the trail of paperwork registered in royal courts. She concludes that Louis XII, the king of France, ordered a direct commission to Leonardo da Vinci in 1507, made payments for it between 1507-11, and demanded its completion and turn over in 1513. So the artwork was painted between 1507-1513 (painting on and off for years is a lot like da Vinci). And the artist turned it in in 1513 to the king’s intermediaries. Next year the king’s wife died and he donated the artwork to a convent in 1514 where it remained for over a century until it got to Charles I royal collection. Below you’ll find images with dates that don’t quite correspond to this timeline. For instance, Leonardo’s studies of clothed arms and chest were done between 1504-8 and many paintings with similar composition are dated before 1507. Joanne Snow-Smith proposes that Leonardo painted two copies of the Salvator Mundi based on similarities and differences in the etching, copy paintings and the Windsor castle drawings. ( Source: “The Salvator Mundi of Leonardo da Vinci” by Joanne Snow-Smith, Arte Lombarda Nuova Serie, No. 50 (1978), pp. 69-81).

So the Leonardo’s Salvator Mundi painting existed for sure,  maybe even in two versions, which is also possible because the artist painted two versions of the Virgin of the Rocks. What raises questions if the etching was done from that da Vinci’ painting hidden in the convent for a century. The etching by Hollar becomes important because it’s one of the strongest visual references to the proposed original, or perhaps, it served as a prototype for a beautiful forgery. I’ll explain why.


Wenceslaus Hollar’s etching, 1650 | Before the modern printing process ever came to existence, it was common practice to produce etchings of masterworks for wider distribution among the royalty, wealthy and public. It’s definite that Leonardo worked on the concept of this painting because he gave it to Louis XII in 1513, and one etching (3 versions of the etching) completed by Wenceslaus Hollar after the original were registered in the royal collection of Charles I of England. Hollar signs and dates his etching, with Latin inscription that ‘Leonardo da Vinci painted it.’ This etching was done from Hollar’s previous drawing that he could have sketched while on a visit to the convent.  According to Robert Simon the etching has a large jewel in the clothing that was painted over and then re-discovered in the original painting during the restoration. Yet, there is no clear evidence that the Leonardo’s painting was indeed the prototype for this etching.

(What is etching? Intaglio or etching is one of the oldest forms of printmaking where an artist would draw an image with a needle on a metal plate, engrave it with an acid, then charge with ink to impress the picture on paper with the press.  A single image could have many stages or states in its development when the artist increases contrast by building up strokes in the shadows. Every new state goes through the same process of acid corrosion, inking and printing.  Because the artist hand-inks the plate and decides how much ink to remove from it, the final image may appear much lighter or darker. Not a single stroke can be removed, so artists exercised great control over the quality and quantity of their strokes. Master etchers among the old masters to check out are Rembrandt and Durer.)

If we begin to compare this etching to the discovered Salvator Mundi we can observe three things. The eyes look in different direction. Christ has a definite beard in the Hollar’s etching unlike in the presented painting, and the depiction of the orb’s reflection is not what the scientist artist would actually see but is repetitive in both etching and da Vinci’s painting, and even copy paintings. If the etching was done from the original da Vinci, it raises questions how the artist could have ignored the effects of optics he studied so carefully. (Below you’ll find my photos of the orb and how it appears placed in a hand).

The second strongest visual reference to the existence of the Salvator Mundi are da Vinci’s studies located in Windsor castle collection.

two drapery studies for salvator Mundi by da Vanci
Two drapery studies – preparatory drawings for the Salvator Mundi by da Vanci  in the royal collections at Windsor Castle, England, 1504-1508. These two drawings is a clear evidence that Leonardo studied the folds and disposition of Christ’s tunic and its sleeves. The drawings are modeled in two colors in chalk characteristic for the classical method of drawing in that period.  These studies of drapery show that Leonardo’s was influenced by Greco-Roman art and must have studied classical sculpture during his travels in Rome and wanted the clothing look natural and graceful. It also proves that he worked on the concept of the painting. 

We can also see that the drawings show two different positions of the arms with folds falling differently. One of the hand positions is captured fairly closely to the original drawing in the etching and painting. This serves as evidence to connecting the painting to these prep studies for the Salvator Mundi. (Images: |


Albrecht_Dürer and school of da vinci_mundi
1. Albrecht Dürer, c.1505, (unfinished), The Met        2.   School of Leonardo da Vinci, c.1503           3.  Cesare da Sesto, 1516, Wilanow Palace, Poland (Images source: )

There are also many copy paintings made from either the original or the etching, letting us believe that the artists were familiar with the original composition of the Salvator Mundi and painted either copies or their interpretations on the theme. By looking at these painted copies we can see striking similarities to the etching and the da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi in the depiction of both hands, the orb, and the figure positioning painted by various artists. However, based on the existing documents and style, the da Vinci painting was painted between 1507 and 1513, while he was in the service of king Louis XII, which places some of the copies before  da Vinci finished working on his painting. Unless da Vinci had conceived and began working on this composition before 1503 (Mona Lisa was begun between 1503-6), and other artists had already seen it, it’s difficult to believe that this composition is original Leonardo.  Leonardo’s drawings of clothed arms are dated 1504-8. Therefore it’s either the fact that these paintings were done after a different painting (and not from the da Vinci’s), or Leonardo borrowed the composition and its elements for his work from the Flemish painters and the Vera Icon (Head of Christ) by van Eyck (now lost and existing in contemporary copies of his workshop). Or Leonardo made the first version of his painting before working on the Louis XII commission, which is less likely.

Salvator Mundi, Workshop of Hans Memling, Flemish, 1475-99, the Met. “Christ is shown here as the Savior of the World, holding in his left hand a cross-topped globe representing the earth, while his right hand is raised in blessing. This was a popular type of image in fifteenth-century Flemish painting and merged the themes of the Holy Face (Christ’s features miraculously imprinted on a cloth) and Christ in Majesty.” (Source:
Vera Icon (Head of Christ), Jan van Eyck workshop


Hans_Memling veronica holding her veil, 1470 and christ in turin
Hans Memling, Veronica holding her veil,” 1470, early Flemish painting (left) | Veronica’s Veil with the image of Christ on display in, Turin, Italy


What looks like Leonardo?

His Face

By looking at some copy paintings above it’s easy to see that these artists were able to copy the beautiful hand, orb and delicate pattern of the clothing. However, none of them could copy the same glowing face of the da Vinci painting. The ambiguous face in the Salvator Mundi is so much like Leonardo. Illusive. Ethereal. Glowing. The artist achieved such appearance by glazing very thin layers of oil paint mixed with the medium (walnut oil) to produce this effect – the sfumato technique, the very style we see in the Mona Lisa, the Saint John the Baptist, and in the Virgin and Child with St. Anne. And by looking at the painting for the first time without studying it carefully, it’s easy to conclude that it’s by Leonardo because the painting style is so similar to other works of this period by the artist.

da Vinci faces taken from his paintings from left to right: 1. Angel from the Madonna of the Rocks 2. Salvator Mundi 3. The St. John the Baptist 4. Virgin of the Rocks 5. The Virgin and Child with St. Anne (bottom) 6. Mona Lisa 7. La Belle Ferronniere 8. drawing for The Virgin and Child with St. Anne .

In traditional way of painting the artist sketches out the form in a warm brown paint on panel or canvas, and develops color and volume in subsequent layering. In the technique of the old masters multiple layers were very thin to achieve the desired atmospheric effect. The da Vinci’s sfumato technique involves multiple glazing of thin paint, so thin that some areas don’t even show up in the X-ray examinations. In his podcast interview Robert Simon describes how they took a probe on the face of the Salvator Mundi to reveal 17 layers of paint.

However, while the painting style is so Leonardonesque, the crooked tip of the nose and the cross-eyed appearance of Christ raise questions for me as an artist. Being a scientist, Leonardo’s anatomy drawings show exquisite understanding and perfection of human form of that period, so these anatomical discrepancies look like obvious flaws. Why would the artist paint the body of Christ with such symmetry and ignore the symmetry of the eyes and nose? One explanation is that the panel has cracked and warped so much in five centuries that it changed the appearance of the drawing in the nose and chipped off some paint in the eyes (which is hard to believe because the pupils look so uneven, and the shape of the eyes is different).   I would like to hear the restorer’s explanation to understand this. If you look at this picture where I overlay straight lines over his face, you can see how really crooked the nose is, which lines up with the mouth but not with the top part of the face. The eyes don’t line up either, each having a different shape. In other Leonardo’s drawings and paintings you can see a more complicated rotations of the head that demand a perfect line up of facial features.

Moreover, In the Hollar’s etching we can observe that the Christ’s eyes look in a different direction compared to the painting. The man also wears a definite beard in the etching unlike in the da Vinci’s painting that looks illusive.

The face has a beard. The eyes look in a different direction than the found da Vinci.

On top of that the presented Salvator Mundi has a non-existent neck. When you look at the line up of faces from da Vinci paintings above, you see a different style of handling neck painting by the artist. All of them are cylinder-like and quite definite.

His Hand

The Salvator Mundi blessing hand is the most realistic, da Vinci-like element in the entire painting. It’s elegant design and unbelievably well-painted anatomy make it the best hand by Leonardo I’ve seen in comparison to his other paintings.

The Salvator Mundi’s hand is the most beautiful element in the entire painting.
Details of hands painted by da Vinci.

His Hair

Details of the curly hair painted by da Vinci.

While we can see the Leonardonesque hair in this portrait where every strand is observed, this visual element is actually prone to copying well by other artists (see the image above of Salvator Mundi, School of Leonardo da Vinci, c.1503 ). And it was a popular element in Italian painting too that makes it much harder to make a statement that Leonardo was the only artist painting these beautiful curls in this manner. Leonardo got his initial training in the Andrea del Verrocchio’s workshop in Florence where he assisted the master artist in completion of art, working among many other students.

Here is first known work where da Vinci painted the angel to the left.

Verrocchio,_Leonardo_da_Vinci_-_Battesimo_di_Cristo sm
Verrocchio with the assistance of Leonardo da Vinci, the Baptism of Christ.


Verrocchio, Tobias and the Angel | This painting shows how Verrocchio himself painted the curly hair.


These are examples of other artists painting the curly hair before and after da Vinci. They have similar style that makes it fairly possible to copy da Vinci’s hair. | From left to right: Italian painting details, Turin and Durer’s self-portraits.

How the painting gets cleaned

1. The removed overpainting reveals the image beneath it.      2. Overpainted version                                              3. The restored painting


In general, paintings get cleaned by removing the varnish, which is a protective coating that traps the dirt and UV light, and protects the oil paint from damage. Usually the removal of old varnish, reveals a much lighter and brighter painting with the original, beautiful colors painted by the artist. High-quality paints wouldn’t fade as much, rather would become more transparent with age. What we see in the first image is the removal of the overpainted image that reveals the original painting underneath it. White lines look like gesso marks crudely painted over the cracks of the original painting trying to fill them in. Oil paint is applied over the gesso to create a painting. By comparing the first and the last image we can see how much restoration was done. In the interview Mr.Simon says that the Salvator Mundi came to him in terrible condition: the walnut panel had a big vertical crack that was poorly repaired and repainted multiple times over. Smaller cracks and hastily repairs damaged the surface to a great degree.

Dianne Modestini made an incredible job cleaning and restoring the artwork. She didn’t just create a new version of Christ like we see in the overpainted image in the center. Rather, she stripped the painting down to its original state, fixing the “scratches.” The Da Vinci’s signature style – sfumato and the ethereal appearance of the face, are present after 500 years from its creation. The original color of clothing may have been different, however, probably having brighter blues in the beginning. Here is what the restorer says about the painting on Christie’s website.

“Dianne Modestini explains that the original walnut panel on which Leonardo, who was known for his use of experimental material, executed Salvator Mundi contained a knot which had split early in its history. However, she concludes that important parts of the painting are remarkably well-preserved, and close to their original state. These include both of Christ’s hands, the exquisitely rendered curls of his hair, the orb, and much of his drapery. The magnificently executed blessing hand, Modestini notes, is intact. With regards to the face, Modestini comments, ‘Fortunately, apart from the discrete losses, the flesh tones of the face retain their entire layer structure, including the final scumbles and glazes. These passages have not suffered from abrasion; if they had I wouldn’t have been able to reconstruct the losses.’

During the conservation process, pentimenti — preliminary compositional ideas, subsequently changed by the artist in the finished painting, but not reflected in the etching or painted copies — are observed through infrared imaging, and duly photographed. The most prominent is a first position for the thumb in the blessing hand, more upright than in the finished picture. IRR imagery also reveals distinct handprints, especially evident on the proper left side of Christ’s forehead, where the artist smoothed and blotted the paint with his palm. This kneading of the paint in order to create soft and amorphous effects of shadow and light is typical of the artist’s technique in the latter part of Leonardo’s career. ” (source: )

da Vinci’s materials and the preparatory ground

Because the artwork’s creation is placed close to the Mona Lisa painting in its style and dates, one of the clues to the authentication of the Salvator Mundi  would be the examination and analysis under a microscope of preparatory ground (gesso) underneath the oil paint. It’s known that Leonardo tinted the ground in two colors: blue under the top/ landscape area; red under the bottom area in Mona Lisa, La Belle Ferronniere, The Musician, and St. Anne. ( Pietro C. Marani, Leonardo da Vinci, the complete paintings, Harry N. Abrams, inc. publishers, p. 198). Such examination would also reveal marks of an underlying drawing traced in the ground. Christie’s website mentions spolveri — pouncing — can be seen running along the line of the upper lip. “The rest of the body has a much looser, brushy underdrawing, with further small changes of mind. This combination of careful preparation for the head and much greater improvisation for the body is characteristic of Leonardo.” The X-rays would show different positions or variations of features from the finished painting. Because da Vinci painted in very thin glazes, some elements like an illusive smile or hair may not show up in the X-rayed images.

On the Christie’s website you’ll find this statement. “Powerfully convincing evidence of Leonardo’s authorship was provided by the discovery of numerous pentimenti — preliminary composition ideas, subsequently changed by the artist in the finished painting, but not reflected in the etching or painted copies. The most prominent of these — a first position for the thumb in the blessing hand, more upright than in the finished picture — was uncovered and photographed during the conservation process.” Further examination with infrared imaging would show additional pentimenti- changes in the drawing, which are recorded on the Christie’s website as subtle changes found in the contour of the hand holding the orb.

While these discoveries of pentimenti and spolveri are good indications of the old master work, they are not exclusive to Leonardo’s method of work. And if we think of a careful forgery, this method of working on a painting could have been forged after reading a comprehensive book on Leonardo.

Da Vinci was famous for his experimentation with materials and techniques (Look at the terrible condition of the Last Supper mural). While most artists of his time painted on poplar panels, he chose the walnut one. (Half of his paintings are on poplar wood). He also was one of the first painters to use the walnut oil, which slows down the drying time of oil paint and thus allows for a prolonged painting period. While the walnut oil doesn’t yellow unlike the linseed oil, it’s less stable and may contribute to a weaker bond between many layers of paint and thus makes the painting more susceptible to damage in the long run.

“Technical examinations and analyses have demonstrated the consistency of the pigments, media, and technique discovered in Salvator Mundi  with those known to have been used by Leonardo. Syson notes particularly the use of precious lapis lazuli in the Christ’s celestial blue clothes, a practice that was unusual at this date, suggestive of the opulence of the commission.”

Da Vinci was not the only artist to use precious pigments in his art.  Florentine artist Giotto (c. 1266-1337) comes to mind. Therefore it can’t be a strong argument to authenticate the painting based on the precious pigments used, in my opinion.

What’s fake? (or added after Leonardo)

The da Vinci’s orb is not by da Vinci

The orb’s reflection makes this painting the hardest thing to believe that it’s by da Vinci. It’s painted with transparency of glass that’s impossible to achieve, considering the shape and properties of the orb, regardless its material. da Vinci was a scientist who studied the effects of optics and light extensively. His knowledge of optics is shown in his atmospheric quality of layering paint on figures and landscape backgrounds. There are many scientific drawings made by Leonardo that show his curiosity and understanding of nature. As an artist he was exceptional at perfecting every aspect of a painting: composition, atmosphere, color, anatomy, etc. While in the following pictures you’ll see how the orb’s reflection actually looks like, I want to speculate that Da Vinci’s original was unfinished at the time he needed to give it to the king Louis XII, and it was hastily completed by one of his students. Leonardo was notorious for not finishing his projects (and not just paintings), and like in the Mona Lisa case, it’s presumed the painting traveled with the artist, and he worked on it on and off for about 5 years.


da vinci orb a fake?
I took these pictures of the orb under different lighting conditions and points of view to illustrate the essence of a problem we see in the painting. The orb’s real reflection is very different from the painting’s. The orb can reflect in three ways. 1. The image of the surroundings turns upside down in the orb when you partially hold it or place it on a stand. 2. The orb reflects the surroundings without turning them upside down. In the second row you see my studio and me reflected in the orb. 3. The orb magnifies the palm of the hand big time (the last row). Depending on the viewer’s point of view, you may also see a weak reflection of the surroundings besides the reflected hand. But in no circumstances the orb can be as transparent as you see in the Salvator Mundi painting.

Isaacson believes that this was “a conscious decision on Leonardo’s part”,[33] and speculates that either Leonardo felt a more accurate portrayal would be distracting, or “he was subtly trying to impart a miraculous quality to Christ and his orb”.[32] Kemp, on the other hand, says the doubled outline of the heel of the hand holding the sphere—which the restorer described as a pentimento—is an accurate rendering of the refraction produced by a calcite sphere.[27] 

Both of these statements are weak on substance because a change in material of the orb wouldn’t make it glass-like, and it seems close to impossible that Leonardo would override his scientific side in favor of creative interpretation. ( da Vinci considered himself a scientist, not a painter by writing a letter to L. Sforza of Milan offering his services to the court as a military engineer.)

Composition and background

Many are concerned with the provenance of artwork due to its tight, so-unlike-da-Vinci composition and a dark, empty background. While the background itself is of a lesser concern here because da Vinci painted several artworks with similar, dark background, what’s unclear why the figure is so frontal and sits so close to the edge.

The_Lady_with_an_Ermine and st john the baptist by da vinci
The Lady with an Ermine, 1489 and St. John the Baptist by da Vinci | These two works are attributed to da Vinci. They both have a single figure placed in a very dark background. The rotation of the figures is characteristic of Leonardo as well as the 3/4 view unlike what we see in the Salvator Mundi.


No realist artist would allow himself to place a figure so tight to the edge of the frame like we see in the Salvator Mundi. While this is a common mistake for a beginner, artists like da Vinci just couldn’t afford sacrificing composition to this degree. When the form is so close to the edge, it creates tension, which every good artist tries to avoid making. If the sleeve or hand get cropped, it should look intentional and more definite (like we see in the Impressionists). In this painting we observe Christ’s hands and arms sitting so unbelievably close to the edge of the painting, the figure barely fits in the frame. The only explanation of such positioning is cropping of a wood panel at a later stage in history of the painting. But we can see the same cropping of the figure in the Hollar’s etching and copy paintings! How would this be possible? Was the original painting cropped within the first 100 years of storage in a convent? What would be the reason for doing so? No adequate frame was found around to fit it in? Was the etching done not from the original da Vinci, which makes this painting forged from the etching itself?

In his art Leonardo rotated the figures to get a more dynamic position of a sitter. He either twisted the figures or used three-quarters view in portraiture art.  Was it his intention to reverse to the iconic imagery of the Medieval art to create a more universal image of Christ? There is a long history of iconography with frontal depiction of Christ that makes me think if Leonardo could make himself skip on his innovations in composition, reverting to this Medieval, symmetrical image of Christ.

Some argue that it’s work by Leonardo because of the triangular composition (hands and head form a triangle). However, triangles were widely used by many artists as a design element in painting. We can also argue that the Salvator Mundi is either a forgery or an inspiration for other artists by comparing its composition to the Durer’s self-portrait at 28. What’s interesting here is that although Durer was German, he traveled to Italy around that time and may have seen the da Vinci’s work-in-progress in person, because this self-portrait is drastically different from his previous two. Or we can argue that the forger tried to create this universal, frontal image of Christ basing it off of the etching and Durer’s portrait.


Durer, self-portrait at 28, 1500, oil on wood



The more I study the Salvator Mundi, the more questions it raises. And the deeper I go, the more puzzling the inconsistencies become, placing a veil of serious doubt over this painting. Despite my first impression that the portrait has this da Vinci signature look where every detail is carefully observed and the skin has his glow, all the problems I’ve listed above make me think that it’s either Leonardo’s underpainting finished by his student (considered the Old Master’s work), or it’s a complete forgery.  What’s clear is that it’s not enough to compare da Vinci artworks visually. Only a thorough examination of all written documents as well as modern chemical analysis of the painting (and the etching) could authenticate the present Salvator Mundi by giving us the original dates. No matter how much time the experts would spend comparing this work to others done by da Vinci, there is still a lot of doubt in place if it’s his. And if it’s not a skillful forgery, the Leonardo’s style is most definite in the face and the blessing hand, not in the orb, hair or fabric, which are fairly easy to forge.

Of course, this painting and its origin may deserve the criticism it receives from people working in the field that includes many experts on da Vinci’s art. Perhaps it may receive some criticism from art critics like we see here by Jerry Saltz. However, if someone is not an artist, hasn’t held a brush long enough to understand how hard realist painting is, or has meager knowledge of art history should refrain from posting negative comments about the artwork and moreover about the restorer herself on social media, which I’ve seen a lot. Please don’t troll without substance.


Scholarly papers database | Snow-Smith, J. (1978). The Salvator Mundi of Leonardo da Vinci. Arte Lombarda, (50), nuova serie, 69-81. Retrieved from

Pietro C. Marani, Leonardo da Vinci, the complete paintings, Harry N. Abrams, inc. publishers

Windsor Castle royal collection:

Christie’s timeline:


Suggested Donation:

contemporary art

King Woman: contemporary art show review

King Woman

King Woman is a contemporary art show with epic impact. Occupying two floors, the exhibition features several strong pieces in contemporary painting, photography and sculpture. This art show is a rare gem, sparkling in a landscape of mediocre art galleries in New York. Both abstract and realistic, artworks have a single vision where a woman is King. The curator of the show is Mashonda Tifrere. She said, “My goal for this show is to highlight work by women who question history and deny limitations, persevering in their art despite social mores and norms. These artists have also found a way to acknowledge their gender but at the same time move beyond it by owning it in an unabashed way – showing that women can be more than Goddess or Queen, that they are capable of being ‘King,’ at the pinnacle of power and strength and skill.”

Art transcends the gender roles, and while it shouldn’t be about the division between the sexes, it’s important to see women have equal say, being presented in exhibitions. While we don’t see male artists showing in groups where their art challenges stereotypes and disparity they often face, women seem to unite in their message channeled through their art. That vulnerable is beautiful! Women artists often feel unimportant and invisible, working alone in  their studios, walking the streets, interacting with people around them. However, their art becomes very powerful once the forces are united in the show like this one.

Carole A. Feuerman

Carole Feuerman is a pioneer artist in hyper-realist sculpture who started the hyper-realism movement in the 70s. She portrays women in steel, bronze and resin so lifelike, you can’t help it but to reach out and touch the sculptures. Tiny eyelashes, hair and droplets of dew make her figures appear incredibly real.  Large and small, her figurative sculptures can occupy a small space in a room or in the entire garden. The sculptures are often integrated into their environment, like you can see in Venice.

On the artist’s website Feuerman explains her work. “She creates visual manifestations of the stories she wants to tell of strength, survival, balance, and the struggle to achieve.”

Chrysalis, 2017, resin, 33 x 36 x 18″

Ingrid Baars

Artemis, 2017, C-print face mounted on dibond, edition of 7, 45″x 59″

This incredibly powerful photograph is inspired by African culture, fashion and women. Romantic at heart, the photo manipulation is the image of  striking beauty and ethereal contemplation.


Yvonne Michiels

Royal Flowers, 2017, Fuji Crystal on dibond with perspex

Based in the Netherlands, the artist creates incredibly moving digital collages of women with floral crowns.  At first sight her portraits of women express confidence and beauty. Women’s faces look so magnificent, you stare at the image speechless, yet we can feel some hidden vulnerability behind the perfect looks.


Roos Van Der Vliet


Roos Van Der Vliet, Storytellers XX & XV, 2017, acrylic on canvas, 37 x 29″

These intimate portraits of women feel incredibly sincere and down to earth. Dutch artist paints women realistically to express her inner desire to replicate reality as close as she can. Her paintings give a sense that women are hiding yet want to be seen. Painting process is always a path to understanding oneself. Here we see the artist making discoveries about her own vulnerability and unimportance in a world around her.


Reisha Perlmutter

Iris, 2017, oil on canvas, 40 x 60″

Reisha paints women floating in colorful water. Abstracted patterns of body and water channel their healing powers where women are allowed to dwell freely in their ever changing environment.

Victoria Selbach

Kali Ma, 2017, acrylic on canvas, 60 x 50″

This painting surprises with its size that creates instant sense of power and control found in a figure. She looks like a goddess or warrior who is ready to concur the world.


veronica winters colored pencil drawing
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The list of artists in King Woman includes:

Rebecca Allan; Azi Amiri; Ingrid Baars; Hunter Clarke; Donna Festa; Carole Feuerman; Lola Flash; Meredith Marsone; Yvonne Michiels; Stephanie Hirsch; Kharis Kennedy; Kit King; Lacey McKinney; Jane Olin; Reisha Perlmutter; Renee Phillips; Trixie Pitts; A.V. Rockwell; Victoria Selbach; Lynn Spoor; Swoon; Tiara; Roos Van Der Vliet; Elizabeth Waggett; Lynnie Z


King Woman is the contemporary art show that runs between October 12th-December 9th, 2017 at Pen+Brush nonprofit art gallery in New York (29 East 22nd street). To read more about the show: 

19th century Russian portrait painting by veronica winters

19th century Russian Art & Portrait Painting: eyes are the window to the soul

Russian Portrait Painting

In this blog post I’d like to introduce you to some of my favorite 18th and 19th- century Russian portrait paintings that I fell in love with when I was a child. These portrait paintings made a considerable influence on my aesthetic and desire to learn traditional oil painting techniques in adulthood. Some of these paintings represent the collision of classical ideals with Romanticism that is obvious in artists’ choice of subject and color schemes.

Art became a source of inspiration early in my life. Many oil paintings were printed in public school textbooks. Russian art occupied the last few pages in those textbooks that were printed in color and on thick paper unlike the rest of the material (the 1980s Soviet Union). Besides one art class in the elementary school, we didn’t have art as a subject back then, so those color reproductions and my parents’ art book collection became my first introduction to Russian art.

Ilya Repin (1844-1930)

Ilya Repin is one of the most well-known Russian artists of his generation. Excellent figurative painter, he is one of my favorites for his moral views and social purpose he channeled through his art. His portraits depict a variety of characters that all share the enormous artistic power and thoughtfulness.

Ilya Repin, Portrait of Garshin, 35×27,” 1884, the Metropolitan Museum of Art

This portrait is one of several that Repin made of Russian artists and intellectuals following his return from graduate study in France. The artist begged the Academy to let him return home, so he could work on the national themes in his painting.

Here is an excerpt from the Met about this painting. “Russian author Vsevolod Garshin specialized in short stories expressing his pacifist beliefs, love of beauty, and aversion to evil. In the early 1880s he became friends with Repin, a leading progressive painter who shared his concern for contemporary political and social problems. Four years after it was created, Garshin, scarred by the suicides of his father and brother and his own mental illness, threw himself down a stairwell and died.” )

Vladimir Borovikovsky (1757-1826)

Russian artist Borovikovsky
Vladimir Borovikovsky,  Portrait of Maria Lopukhina, 1797, 72×53 cm, State Tretyakov gallery, Moscow

Created at the end of the 18th century, this painting reflects the sentiment of the epoch where a man is part of nature. The artist fuses the model with a natural, but decorative landscape behind her where Russian landscape becomes more prominent than it used to be shown in Russian painting. This oil painting has a through balance of color. The blues of tiny cornflowers in the background are reflected in her beautiful blue sash, and the gold of the rye mingles with her jewelry and the golden sash accents. The color of a dull pink shawl wrapping around her figure is similar to the quiet roses blooming by her side. Her white gown finds similar tones with a couple of trees, repeating the diagonal of the figure.

Otherwise standard, diagonal three-quarter view of the woman depicts the beauty of a young Princess Lopukhina (1779-1803) who belonged to the Russian royal family of Tolstoy and died of tuberculosis in her early twenties. Her masterfully painted face shows beautiful restraint. Soft transitions between warm and cool tones, light pinks on the cheeks, greenish shadows, the riveting depth of the eyes, and gentle, rosy colors of the mouth – everything breathes with life. I love this portrait for its quietness, elegant confidence and a masterful balance between colors and shapes.

Borovikovsky created numerous portraits after his work in the military, and then graduation from the Academy in St. Petersburg. He found fame among the imperial court including Catherine II.

Karl Briullov (1799-1852)

Karl Briullov, The Last Day of Pompeii, 183 x 256 inches, 1830-33

Karl Briullov was the last great classical portraitist in the 19th century Russia. Trained in the Academy in St. Petersburg, the artist was influenced by the classical ideals of Rome. Painter of royalty, Briullov had a tremendous skill set that he showed off in his most famous historical artwork titled “The last day of Pompeii, 1830-33” that brought him a widespread fame throughout Europe. Realism and idealism, classical and neoclassical ideals collide on a huge canvas that depicts people in action, running for their lives during the eruption of Vesuvius. After receiving the highest honors at the Academy, Karl Briullov won a golden medal to travel to Italy. Immersed in the classical tradition of painting, the artist had spent three years studying each figure for the Last day of Pompeii, completing numerous drawings. There is movement and balance in every figure, buildings and horses. Every element is painted with great detail and mastery of the form.

Russian artist also produced many paintings featuring royalty as well as idealized Italian themes with lighthearted women doing regular tasks, like picking up grapes or washing clothes. Although those paintings were painted masterfully, they lacked vision and the reflection of some important societal changes happening in the country. Those changes were painted soon thereafter by the Itinerants.

Detail from “The last day of Pompeii”

Detail from “the last day of Pompeii”


Karl Briullov, Portrait of the princess Elizabeth Saltykov, 1841, The State Russian Museum in Saint Petersburg.


veronica winters colored pencil drawing
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Nikolay Pimonenko (1862-1912)

Nikolay Pimonenko, Yule fortune telling, detail, 1888

This painting has such a bold use of color! Strong, single light source illuminates two peasant girls who read the fortune. In the old tradition, girls placed the melting wax into a cup with cold water to capture the “frozen” profile of a future husband. Here they look at the wall projection cast from the melted wax, trying to figure out who the man is. I love how spontaneous and fresh the brushwork is and how vivid colors harmonize to depict festive mood.

Ivan Kramskoy (1837-1887)

Ivan Kramskoy, a leader in the Itinerants movement, was one of the strongest portraitists in his generation of artists. Like other artists in the movement, he believed in public duty and service to people through his art. He was interested in painting national themes, but Kramskoy was also a great portraitist. In 1869 he exhibited his portraits at the Academy for which he won a rank of an Academician. One of his famous artworks depicts a woman who could be either decent or not, but her facial expression is captivating. Every texture is richly painted: the feathers, silk, fur, and velvet. Light yellow light envelops the distant buildings and describes the contours of the figure. The artist puts the same color into the hat’s feather and her face to carefully harmonize the painting.

Ivan Kramskoy, Stranger, 1883, The State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow
Russian art
Kramskoy, the forester,  1874 (84×62 cm or 33×24,5 inches), The Tretyakov State Gallery, Moscow

The gaze of this peasant man is just riveting! Tragedy, disturbance and hidden force reside in his enigmatic eyes. The artist shows a specific type of a man who doesn’t like to settle or to tolerate the abuse of the forest by men. Or perhaps the painting is about poor villagers  who are tired of their endless suffering and are getting ready to revolt against their wealthy masters.

Russian artist Ivan Kramskoy
Ivan Kramskoy portr. of artist’s daughter Sofia 1882

This portrait was painted in the end of the 19th century that marked the transition between the classical and modern art. The artist depicts his daughter in less controlled manner with loose strokes and colorful shadows that show the classical mastery of the anatomy and oil painting techniques. Her thoughtful face possesses no classical idealization, but expresses inner strength and depth of character that’s so hard to reach in a painting. The restrained position of her hands and mouth depicts a very young woman wrapped up in thoughts. Trained by her father, Sofia became a professional artist as well. She received recognition for her artistic skills but had a very complicated life after the revolution.

Ivan Nikolaevich Kramskoy, Portrait of Ivan Shishkin

Ivan Shishkin was a great landscape painter who posed for this masterful portrait by Kramskoy. The background and the pose are so simple that all our attention goes to the face of the artist, which channels so much humanity and life that seems impossible to describe in paint.

Vasily Tropinin (1776-1857)

Vasily Tropinin came from a family of the serfs and received his freedom only at the age of 47. He often depicted scenes of ordinary peasant life that feature women doing hard or meticulous work. Those paintings have jovial mood, celebrating ordinary, domestic life.

Russian art, Tropinin
Tropinin, the lace-maker, 1823 , The Tretyakov State Gallery, Moscow

I’m fond of this painting because it shows the old Russian tradition of lace-making, something I learned how to do in my teenage years, taking a class for a year. A pretty, peasant girl creates intricate pattern with numerous bobbins and thin threads. Captivated by her task, she quickly glances at the viewer only to return to her work. I love the gentleness in her face and a hint of a smile that’s subtle and kind.


To Read about Russian genre painting, click on the image below.

19th Century Russian Artists and Genre Art: the Itinerants movement







Khaleesi Drawing from Game of Thrones

Khaleesi Drawing from Game of Thrones


There is something about the character that attracts you when you watch a movie. I think it happens because you find part of yourself present in that person. Sometimes it’s not obvious and you need to search deep inside to find the connection. Khaleesi has fragile beauty of course, but she also grows to become a fierce and powerful woman.🌟🌟🌟

Drawing is an essential building block to any representational art form. Pencil drawing is something I practice as much as I can because it improves and informs me of shapes, colors and composition applied to colored pencil and oil painting.

Step by Step drawing

Khaleesi drawing step by step drawing_Emilia Clarke

In this photo you see how I began my pencil drawing by blocking in the darks and leaving out spaces for the lights. Both lights and darks become the two extremes between which I create a range of tones at a later stage. I also work on the eyes in the first step to make sure they line up and rotate at the right diagonal.

Drawing Paper

koh-i-noor drawing paper review

I’m amazed by the quality of this paper.  It’s quickly becoming my favorite because Koh-I-Noor in & out pages are thick, smooth, and versatile. I love how easy it is to layer both graphite and colored pencil on it that hardly needs any blending! Also, I can place my drawings back into the pad for a beautiful presentation. I’ve drawn on Koh-I-Noor Bristol vellum, Bristol smooth, Colored Pencil and Black Drawing drawing papers so far. All of them are fantastic! While Koh-I-Noor Black Drawing has thin pages, the rest of them are thick, and all are smooth with a different degree of light texture present to grab the pencil. Give it a try!

emilia clarke as khaleesi from game of thrones
Emilia Clarke as Khaleesi from Game of Thrones | graphite on Koh-I-Noor Bristol vellum drawing paper

Once I’m done blocking in the values and I have developed a range of tones, I work on textures. In this drawing of Khaleesi you see the texture of clothing that I’ve done via rubbings. I placed a pumice stone under my paper and shaded over it with a soft pencil where the clothing should be. This rubbing gave me the initial texture I worked around in pencil to develop it further.

I also use the kneaded eraser a lot to make soft lift outs, to create subtle edges, and to clean up without leaving grease and residue on paper.

To make texture in the jewelry on Khaleesi’s neck, I used some magic tape. I placed it over the shaded area, made short strokes on the tape with a ballpoint pen and lifted it out to reveal this unique texture.


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