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My Journey to Recreate the Iconic Mona Lisa

The Mona Lisa, or La Gioconda as it is known in its native tongue, is a masterpiece of portraiture by the Italian Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci. A work of inimitable fame, it was crafted in the years 1503 and 1517.

In an effort to understand how Leonardo and his contemporaries would have beheld the Mona Lisa, I undertook the speculative and subjective task of reconstructing it.

However, the varnish and oil paints at the Louvre Museum in Paris, where the artwork resides, have significantly darkened and yellowed over time, causing the once vibrant colors to fade. Thus, the Mona Lisa is not seen in all its original splendor.

Stage 1

This is part one of a video series on how I painted the Mona Lisa using oils and glazes.

I have begun the first stage of the painting, using a semi-opaque brown paint and a mixture of black and brownish-red to create glazes for the subject’s hair and dress. I have outlined these features with a brownish-red hue and am now adding shadows to give depth to the composition.


In the next stage, I will continue to model the light and shadows with a monochrome palette, as these elements serve as the foundation and main components of the design. By carefully building upon these stones of the composition, I hope to create a cohesive and striking work of art.


Stage 3


Stage 4

Stage 5

Stage 6

Stage 7

Stage 8

Stage 9

Stage 10

Stage 11 Finale Stage

Breaking News: SuhoArt Etsy Shop is Now Open – Order Your Custom Oil Portrait Today!

Greetings, my dear art lovers!

I am thrilled to announce that you can now order a custom, hand-painted oil portrait from me through my Etsy shop – SuhoArt.

Are you looking to immortalize your cherished memories onto a canvas of unparalleled splendor?

At SuhoArt, I specialize in creating custom, hand-painted oil portraits that vividly depict your precious moments and capture their essence. I provide you with the opportunity to immortalize your cherished memories in a truly exceptional and unique work of art that you can cherish for a lifetime.

I’m an expert at making portraits that vividly depict your precious moments and capture its essence with unmatched skill.
I am certain that I can create a masterpiece for you that you will cherish for a lifetime since I have more than three decades of experience painting portraits.

My process is a true labor of love. I start by carefully assessing each photograph that you send me, paying attention to every detail and adjustment that you request. Then, I begin working on a canvas enlargement, using oil paints to bring your photo to life with unique brushwork and three-dimensional texture. I take great pride in creating 100% genuine hand-painted portraits, using only traditional techniques that are true to the art form.

Once your portrait is complete, I will email you a photo for your review and offer modifications until you are 100% satisfied. You needn’t endure a lengthy wait to witness your cherished memories metamorphose into a breathtaking masterpiece. Within a mere span of 2-3 weeks, your precious moment will be immortalized onto a canvas of unparalleled splendor.

Now, I am aware of your various beliefs. “Why should I choose SuhoArt for my custom portrait?” Well, my dear art lovers, I can assure you that I am not just another portrait artist. At the core of my artistic ethos lies an unwavering dedication to providing you with the utmost excellence in service. Employing only the finest materials and techniques, I endeavor to create a masterpiece that will grace your collection for generations to come.
Discover the treasures of my creative sanctuary on Etsy, awaiting your indulgence with just a click of a button:

www.etsy.com/shop/SuhoArt

and let me turn your cherished memories into a true work of art. You will be satisfied with the results, I assure. Thank you for considering SuhoArt, and I look forward to creating a masterpiece for you soon!

“Ethereal Radiance: A Pastel Hymn to the Blushing Dahlias”

Size and Medium

This grand pastel composition measures a stately 50 x 65 cm on paper and is one of my favorite mediums, only second to oil painting.

Versatility of Pastel

Pastel holds a distinguished place in my repertoire due to its ability to closely resemble oil paint in color range and versatility for creating delicate transitions and bold lines.

Technique and Inspiration

In this piece, I have used circular strokes of soft pastels to bring texture and vibrancy to the pink petals of the dahlias. The profusion of wavy petals creates an ethereal halo and light plays a crucial role in imbuing the piece with a sense of flourishing. The dahlias, with their connotations of hope and desire, speak to us of an idyllic existence. This artwork is a celebration of the infinite swirls of petals, reminiscent of storytelling. It is a pleasure to behold and allows the viewer to get lost in its kinetic void. The inspiration for this work came from the beauty and visual fragrance of dahlias in the great outdoors.

Creative Process

Soft pastels are also used in my creative process as a means of sketching and studying for larger oil paintings.

Fun Fact

Dahlias have been esteemed for their unique and varied floral shapes since ancient Aztec times, who believed them to possess medicinal properties.

Is Abstract Art REALLY that Different from Photorealistic Art? The Surprising Truth About these Controversial Styles!

To consider abstract and photorealistic art as mere ends of a spectrum is to underestimate the complexity of the artistic world. The non-representational forms of the former and the highly detailed, photographic representations of the latter may appear vastly different, yet both have been met with skepticism as to their worthiness as true Fine-Art.

The photorealistic, with its technical precision and lack of emotional depth, may be seen as nothing more than decorative and not worthy of the title of true art. At its best, abstract art may be decorative and pleasing to the eye, but it often lacks the emotional power and cultural significance that is deemed essential to true Fine-Art.

At its worst, abstract art can be seen as simply a collection of random shapes and colors, lacking any real artistic value, and should be delegated to the category of garbage.

In truth, both forms of art may be considered pseudo-art, rather than true Fine-Art, for they fall short of the basic assumptions about the nature of art held by many.

To learn more about the nature of art, you can read my other article “What is Art?”

Part 2: The Case for Renaming Abstract Art as “Anti-Art” instead of “Fine Art”

Abstract art, often considered a form of Fine-Art, has been a topic of debate for many years. While some argue that it is a legitimate form of artistic expression, others believe that it should not be considered art at all, and should rather be called pseudo-art.

One of the main arguments against abstract art is that it does not meet the basic assumptions about the nature of art held by many people, including those in non-Western cultures. These assumptions include the idea that art should be made with special skill and care, and not simply by chance or accident. Abstract art, however, often relies on randomness or chance in its creation, making it difficult to see it as a true form of art.

Another assumption about the nature of art is that emotionally meaningful forms of visual art consist of representational imagery, rather than abstract forms. Abstract art, by definition, is meaningless because it does not represent anything in the real world, making it difficult for many to connect with it emotionally and see it as a legitimate form of art.

Furthermore, a true work of art is thought to involve more than just technical skill or craft. Making for example photorealism and hyperrealism questionable art forms. True Art should have a personal sensitivity, talent, or vision that brings a subject to life and imbues it with meaning in a compelling way. Abstract art, however, often lacks this personal touch, and can sometimes be seen as simply a collection of random shapes and colors.

In conclusion, while abstract art may be appreciated by some, it does not meet the basic assumptions about the nature of art held by many people. Therefore, it should not be considered a legitimate form of Fine-Art, and should rather be called anti-art or non-art.

Please read the first part of this topic.

Mi az a művészet?

Sok ember, beleértve a nem-nyugati kultúrákban élőket is, a művészet természetéről olyan alapvető feltételezéseket tart, amelyek eltérnek a legtöbb művészeti kritikus és szakértő által képviseltektől. Ezek a feltételezések a következők:

– Minden műalkotás különleges készséggel és gondossággal készül, nem pedig egyszerűen véletlen szeszély, szerencse vagy baleset által.

– Hogy a vizuális művészet érzelmileg értelmes formái tényleges vagy elképzelt személyek, helyek, tárgyak vagy események két- vagy háromdimenziós ábrázolásaiból tevődnek össze, és nem absztraktak.

– A képek, bár nem feltétlenül realista stílusúak, a kulturális kontextusban érthetőek, és olyan eszméket és értékeket testesítenek meg, amelyek képesek másokat érdekelni és megmozgatni.

– Az igazi műalkotás több mint technikai készség vagy kézművesség, és olyan személyes érzékenységet, tehetséget vagy látásmódot igényel, amely életre kelti a témát, és meggyőző módon jelentéssel ruházza fel.

– Minden olyan alkotás, amely nem rendelkezik mindezekkel a tulajdonságokkal, vagy sikertelen művészet, vagy nem-művészet.

Michelle Marder Kamhi Ki mondja, hogy ez művészet? (Who Says That’s Art?) című könyvének gondolatai inspirációként szolgáltak ezekhez a gondolatokhoz.

What is Art?

Many people, including those in non-Western cultures, hold basic assumptions about the nature of art that are different from those held by most art critics and scholars. These assumptions include the following:

• That all works of art are made with special skill and care, not simply by casual whim, chance, or accident.

• That the emotionally meaningful forms of visual art consist of two- or three-dimensional representations of actual or imagined persons, places, objects, or events, and are not abstract.

• That the imagery, while not necessarily realistic in style, is intelligible within its cultural context and embodies ideas and values that have the potential to interest and move others.

• That a true work of art involves more than just technical skill or craft, and requires a personal sensitivity, talent, or vision that brings a subject to life and imbues it with meaning in a compelling way.

• That any work that does not possess all these attributes is either failed art or non-art.

The thoughts in Michelle Marder Kamhi’s book Who Says That’s Art? have served as a source of inspiration for these ideas.

To learn more about the nature of art, you can read my other article Why Abstract Art Should be Called “Anti-Art” Rather than “Fine Art”

Must-Read Books on Art for Every Artist and Art Student

I am always looking for books that will inspire, inform, and push me in my creative path because I am both an artist and an art instructor.

Over the years, I have discovered many amazing books on a variety of subjects linked to art, including perspective, anatomy, art theory, drawing, painting, teaching, and more. I want to share some of my favorite books on these topics with you in this blog post, all of which I heartily endorse.

Whether you are a novice or an experienced artist, these books will provide insightful information and helpful advice to help you develop your abilities and broaden your appreciation of art. So let’s get started and look at some of the top art books I’ve found!


Harold Speed, a well-known painter and instructor, wrote this book as a handbook on oil painting techniques and materials. It focuses on form, tone, and color while discussing subjects including painting technique, painting from life, materials, a painter’s training, and more. A comprehensive examination of several painters’ painting techniques is also included in the book, along with close to 70 images and sketches that serve as text illustrations. Although it is written with serious amateurs studying the technical elements of oil painting in mind, anybody who enjoys art will find the author’s insights into the mind and workings of the artist fascinating.

I’ve discovered as an artist that traditional art methods may be learned from earlier masters. Fundamental concepts like tone, texture, color, and drawing were all highlighted by greats like Andrew Loomis and Harold Speed. I was also influenced by Harold Speed’s book “The Practice and Science of Drawing.”

The author’s commentary on old master paintings inspired me to pay closer attention to tonal variations and lost edges. I found the book to be thoroughly documented and full of insightful truths that have helped me on my artistic journey. I would recommend this book to serious students and professionals who value traditional art techniques and see art as a way to elevate the human soul through the expression of tones, edges, drawing, and color. While I was familiar with some of the material, I found the comprehensive approach to teaching foundational disciplines to be engaging.

If you are a teacher, I would suggest reading the contents and sharing this knowledge with your dedicated students. Despite having painted for many years, I have found that this book and others, such as “Carlson’s Guide to Landscape Painting” by John E Carlson, have provided me with a strong foundation in traditional oil painting techniques and have helped me improve as an artist. I am always seeking to learn and grow on my artistic journey and am grateful to have these resources available to me.


The well-known American painter and instructor who wrote this book is widely recognized by art students as a valuable resource. It covers a wide variety of landscape painting-related themes, such as selecting a subject, comprehending the effects of color and atmospheric factors, and methods for achieving various effects in the painting. The author, John Carlson, utilizes his in-depth knowledge of the physical characteristics of landscapes and his highly developed aesthetic sensibility to illustrate the rationale behind various methods and strategies. The book also offers guidance on texture, glazing, varnishing, bleaching, retouching, and framing as well as practical painting topics like how to utilize a canvas, palette, colors, brushes, and other tools.

The book contains 34 copies of the author’s own artwork. 34 copies of the author’s own work are reproduced in the book, which also has 58 diagrams for clarification. In the preface, Howard Simon points out that the book is beneficial for both new and more seasoned painters since it thoroughly discusses the mechanics of landscape painting while also offering a wide-ranging philosophical viewpoint.

In his book, Basic Human Anatomy, Roberto Osti offers artists a comprehensive, yet flexible and holistic approach to the human body. Drawing on the simple yet powerful formula used by some of history’s greatest artists, Osti provides a step-by-step guide to mastering the essential foundation skill of drawing the human form from the inside out. Through a series of progressively organized lessons, readers will learn to replicate the underlying structure of the body, conceptualize its front and side views using basic shapes, add detail using simplified depictions of complex bones and joints, and master the feet, hands, and skull to create realistic renderings of the human form.

Throughout the book, Osti never loses sight of the fact that this understanding should lead to the creation of art, and he provides readers with numerous visuals, examples, and exercises to ensure that they can apply this deeper knowledge of anatomy to finished drawings for maximum impact. With its elegant prose and abundance of excellent illustrations, Basic Human Anatomy is a valuable addition to any artist’s bookshelf and sets itself apart from other human anatomy titles with its simplicity and clarity.

Part 1: The Case for Renaming Abstract Art as “Anti-Art” instead of “Fine Art”

Since the middle of the 20th century, the art world has seen a surge in abstract art. While some may argue that this type of art has value and should be considered “real art,” I believe that abstract art should not be considered real art, and instead should be called “anti-art.”

One of the main arguments in favor of abstract art is that it allows the artist to express their emotions and thoughts in a more free-form way. However, this freedom of expression does not necessarily make it art. Instead, it could be seen as a way for the artist to avoid the constraints of traditional art, such as the use of recognizable subjects and the need for technical skill.

Furthermore, abstract art often lacks the aesthetic appeal and beauty that are typically associated with art. While some may argue that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, most people can agree that there is a certain level of skill and craftsmanship that goes into creating truly beautiful art. Abstract art, on the other hand, often lacks this level of skill and can come across as unfinished or incomplete.

Additionally, abstract art can be seen as a form of rebellion against the traditional norms of the art world. Instead of adhering to the rules and standards that have been established over the centuries, abstract artists often reject these norms and create works that are deliberately difficult to understand and interpret. While this rebellious spirit may be admirable in some ways, it does not necessarily make their work “art” in the traditional sense of the word.

In conclusion, while some may argue that abstract art has value and should be considered “real art,” I believe that it fails to meet the criteria of what art should be. Instead of being called “art,” abstract art should be called “anti-art” to reflect its rejection of traditional art norms and lack of aesthetic appeal.

To learn the criteria necessary for something to be considered Fine-Art, please read my other article titled “What is Art?

Please read the second part of this topic.

Composition

Creating a painting involves using the outside world to express ideas.

To do this successfully,

  1. you need to have a goal in mind
  2. the technical skills to make it happen.

You must arrange and combine the elements of what you’ve seen to move toward your goal.

Start by coming up with a concept and express it with symbolic themes, then create line and colour sketches to give each moment vividness. Through reflection and examination, you can bring it all together to make a piece that conveys your message.

Principles of Figurative Drawing

Shadow

Without considering its shape, which can take a thousand forms – and is not even considered here – the shadow mass is produced graphically in a short time by darkening a sheet of light-coloured paper to the desired degree with charcoal powder and cotton or chalk powder and a rubbing brush (Wischer, estompe) or whatever.

  • The effect of this process, whereby the bulging and indenting particles of the paper are equally darkened, is called velvety (velouté, sammtartig).
  • On the other hand, if the drawing material (chalk, charcoal or graphite) only touches the surface of the bulging parts of the paper, leaving the deeper parts of the paper (in microscopic terms) intact and therefore light: this effect is called crisp or crunchy (prickling).

Therefore, one of the main qualities of a shadow is its serenity; in a drawing, therefore, the shadow should be corresponding, i.e. velvety. Objects in shadow cannot be definitely distinguished with complete precision; their shape is rather a matter of the imagination, and therefore another of the main qualities of shadow is mystery. This property is imitated and characterised by an indefinite faint spottiness.

There is always a layer of air, more or less illuminated, between the object in shadow and the eyes of the spectator.

This layering is a powerful factor in the artistic perfection of the drawing. This effect can be achieved by treating the shadow with a velvety and then again with a crisp treatment, so that both the colour of the paper and the first velvety treatment remain visible under the crisp one, thus giving the impression of three layers on top of each other.
The shadow should therefore be calm, mysterious and layered, i.e. transparent.

Light

In the treatment of light and shade, one must always handle the bright parts of the drawing with a crisp touch, in contrast to the treatment of shadows. Therefore, the illuminated portions of a black velvet dress should be rendered with a sharp, crisp black, while the shaded portions should be drawn with a velvety black. Hence, it would be a mistaken approach to use a velvety treatment with white chalk.

If the surface of the drawing paper is smooth and of a gray or darker hue, then the bright parts of the drawing should be emphasized with white lines that allow the underlying color of the paper to shine through. This technique aims to achieve the desired vibrancy of light and is especially appropriate for larger objects to be rendered.

As with all things artistic, it is in the proper execution of technique that true mastery is attained. Thus, the skilled artist must be both bold and precise in the handling of light and shade, employing every method at their disposal to achieve a masterpiece of beauty and brilliance.

How to Draw the Plaster Head

It is most advisable, therefore, to choose a paper of moderate gray tone, corresponding to the E-F plane of luminosity, and on such a paper the modelling and rendering of the light mass of the head drawing will require two shades of white and two shades of faint black before moving to the shadow mass.

  1. Once we have gained clarity regarding the cast’s lighting, following the aforementioned rules, we should sketch out the outlines of the cast with charcoal on the center of the drawing paper for better visualization purposes, extending our arm and holding the paper at a suitable distance. The head, together with the shoulders and neck, forming a unified whole, should occupy the center of the paper, ensuring that the margins on all sides remain equal and proportional.
  2. The shaded mass, along with the reflections, should be gently rubbed with black chalk or charcoal powder to achieve a velvety effect at the degree of darkness appropriate for the reflections. To attain simplicity and uniformity in the shaded mass, it is advisable to periodically squint and observe our subject, i.e., to partially close our eyes, allowing only a reduced level of brightness to filter through the eyelashes, thereby separating the essential from the nonessential and simplifying our perception accordingly.
  3. Once the preliminary work has been completed, we proceed to place the delicate white mass on the paper with a crisp touch, and for comparison purposes, we position it directly adjacent or in close proximity to the model.
  4. Any adjustments that may be necessary as a result of the comparison are then followed by the drawing of the shadow accents, also with a crisp treatment, in such a way that the shading applied the first time remains reflective, i.e. backlit.
  5. Next, we apply the highlight with a stronger white, – in full force only when we are somewhat sure of their position,
  6. Lastly, we add a delicate transitional shade between the paper’s clean base color and the edges of the shadow, rendering a subtle gradient that brings depth and dimension to the composition. Thus, with patience and precision, we achieve a work of art that is both masterful and sublime.
  7. The cardinal rule of painting and drawing is that the background must be serene, layered, and recede into the distance. By doing so, its handling becomes less abrasive, and it will be fashioned with a different texture than the main subject (in this instance, the head).
  • Those who draw a dark background to the bright side of the main subject or a light or vivid background to its shadow side or, without just cause, encircle the drawn head with a halo of light, are indeed in violation of this rule.
  • An erroneous background is also one that exhibits the same intensity of color as the shadow of the head, for colors of the same depth indicate an equal distance, causing the shadowed side of the head to appear to blend with the background.
  • Finally, those who create the head’s shadow and the background behind it with identical texture also err in their ways. In such cases, the need for differentiation is overlooked.

Often, the premature application of transitional and intermediary shades can ruin a drawing if slightly darker tones are used than necessary, a common mistake among novice artists.

This transition, when exaggerated, provides a false value for darker areas and easily turns towards pitch black. The result of this exaggeration is that, exhibiting a stronger plane break than necessary, it lends an over-aged expression to the subject’s head.

It is also desirable that all of these shading levels stand their ground squarely, separately, and without bleeding into one another.

Perceiving Complexity: The Gradual Unveiling of Objects

The main principle to adhere to is that the painting of the head should progress from afar to near, from uncertain to certain, from whole to detail, from light to dark, and from soft to crisp. The gradual progression of these natural stages should never be overlooked.

This process is akin to approaching an object in the distance, where with each step we take, we can discern more and more of its components and details. Our cognitive faculties operate in the same manner, becoming more acquainted with the essence of things the more we immerse ourselves in their intricacies.

For example, from a great distance, a shiny ball appears merely as a glowing speck. As we draw closer, we perceive that it is half lit and half shaded. Nearer still, we distinguish the transition between the bright and the shadowy halves as a distinct gradation. Finally, up close, we observe that even the bright portion has its own degrees of luminosity and that a reflection is present in the shaded portion.

Thus, during the creative process, the drawing must be kept in a state of constant development, and it would be a mistake to restrict it prematurely with definitive lines. Such an act would also limit the imagination’s participation in the endeavor.

The Art of Whole-Hearted Creation: Putting the Design before the Details

The misguided approach of proceeding with an artwork by completing one detail after another is bound to result in a disjointed and haphazard creation. Indeed, even the most gifted poets and writers do not embark on the creation of a novel or drama by immediately penning the first chapter or scene in its entirety, with all its minute particulars. Rather, they first endeavor to gain clarity on the overall design and key elements of the poetic material they intend to develop.

In this way, they establish a coherent and harmonious whole, laying the groundwork for the detailed elaboration to follow. A well-conceived plan is, therefore, an essential precursor to the meticulous execution of any artistic endeavor, and must precede the elaborate elaboration of its various components.

The Duality of Drawing Techniques: The Smoothness of Stumping and the Crispness of Chalk

Allow me to introduce you to the two opposing methods of drawing – the smoothness of stumping (rubbing cloth, Vischer, estompe)  and the crispness of chalk. Representing the two contrasting approaches of treatment, these two tools prove to be far more efficient than the use of charcoal, which as a drawing medium, allows for the application of both methods.

However, emphasizing the contrasting procedures with charcoal can prove to be difficult, demanding more skill and the use of top-quality paper with adequate roughness or “grain,” which can be challenging to acquire. Charcoal also poses the dangerous quality of being easily erasable, tempting one to engage in erratic, indecisive and careless scribbling.

Therefore, it is with great pleasure that I advocate for the use of stumps and chalk, which offer precision and finesse in their respective techniques, providing a sense of balance and harmony in the creative process.

The Art of Perfection: Drawing Inspiration from the Masters of Antiquity

For if one were to repeatedly behold and keenly observe the old, illustrious statues (or their plaster casts) that present the human form in its utmost perfection, then in the act of drawing them, the student of art, when faced with a living model, will not be inclined to focus on individual flaws and unsightly details, as is often the tendency of novice and untrained artists lacking a discerning eye.

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