Tuesday, October 16, 2007


This illustration was done for a client that wanted to portray its company and its industrial partners as loyal, trustworthy dogs holding their territory against their competitors who are portrayed as flea bitten hyenas, jackals and wild dogs. To create this illustration, I drew the dogs and the map of the US, then scanned them into my computer which allowed me to shift them around and change their values without having to redo the entire drawing every time. This method of illustration also allows changes to be made at the client's request without a major undertaking.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Still Life

Painting and drawing still life is also a very important exercise for artists. They are compact, can be set up just about anywhere in the studio and can linger for as long as the artist needs them. The still life helps the artist keep his arm and eye in shape. Just like a dancer or musician, without constant practice over time you get very rusty. These are a sampling of still life drawings and paintings.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


It goes wihtout saying that a sketchbook is an artist's main resource. It documents places, emotional response to events and builds a library of images that can be tapped for future use. It acts as a visual journal and data source. These are from a small collection of sketches.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Art Brut

This piece titled "Archons" was from my MFA Thesis show. It depicts my older brother and myself holding our father's military swords while standing in front of our mother's home in her village in Greece. Like my other thesis oil paintings, this was done in an Art Brut fashion. I would build up the layers of paint, scrape them back down, build up, scrape down, etc. until I reached a certain level. The process is very time consuming, wastes quite a bit of paint and is physically demanding (because of the scraping). It is a cathartic way of painting though, and very expressive as you destroy and rebuild.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Painting Texture

It is always difficult to represent texture in oil, especially when painting ala prima. This study is composed of objects with distinct textures. Trying to make the painted object "feel" like its real life counterpart is the challenge. Having to simultaneously paint leather, faux fur, metal clips and a painted wooden wall forces the artist to constantly change not only the paint but the handling of the brush.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


These two prints were made with the zinc plate etching method. Aquatint, an acid resistant etching ground is melted on the zinc plate. (There is also a brushable version available) Then using dry point tools, the artist begins to draw into the ground, exposing the metal. The plate is immersed into an acid bath that will react with the exposed zinc and eat away at it leaving a cavity behind that can accept ink. Immersion lasts anywere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes, depending on how dark of a line the artist wants. The process is repeated for hatching or for tinting. To tint areas the artist uses the mezzotint method, sprinkling a powder (or using spray paint) over an area which will leave behing hundreds of little pockets or dots that after an acid bath make an area tinted. After the plate is cleaned off, etching ink is applied and rubbed in, wiping away all excess with paper from a yellow pages. The paper is prepared by soaking it in lukewarm water. Different types of paper require different soaking times. The plate is placed face up on the press with the paper over it and then passed through (electric presses are easier to use than hand presses and have a consistant result). The ink is tranfered to the paper and viola your etching has been printed! A zinc plate can probbably produce 100-150 prints before warping. Copper plates will last much longer, up to 300 prints.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Acrylic Painting

Unlike oil based paint, which takes time to dry therefore allowing the artist to manipulate over a period of hours or days, acrylic paint dries fast. Painting with acrylic has to be immediate. The advantage with acrylics is that you can get transparant effects by simply watering down the pigment and the colors have a high intensity. Mixing acylics is difficult because of its drying time, which can be extended with water. Like guache, watercolor or tempera, acrylic will layer well but will not have visible brushstrokes like oil.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Multiple Color Woodblock

This piece was made with 3 woodblocks. Aligning the blocks perfectly is the most important step as just a few millimeter deviation of one of the colors can destroy the entire composition.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Pastel Painting

Painting with pastel can be much more difficult than with oil. The artists has to be careful not to make any mistakes, because they are harder to correct. The choice of paper is crucial, because the amount of "tooth" determines just how much pigment is applied. An artist with skill in pastel can create amazing textures and trasparancies by layering. This is a pastel study with its initial charcoal value study. Patience is paramount to the execution of a successful pastel painting, and it is difficult for me to spend much time on it. For pastel (and watercolor) master work, go see the art of Brian Busch at:

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Value Study

These two studies show just two different methods in approaching the understanding of value. The salt and pepper shakers were painted in oil ala prima, and the studio was drawn in charcoal and pastel. Value is based on a 10 step scale with 1 being the lightest and 9 being the darkest (10 is reserved for pure black). It is important for an artist to understand the subtle nuisances of value shift, especially because color can confuse the eye into misreading the intensity of the object.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

The Dead Palette

These figure paintings were done with the dead palette which was used by the dutch masters. It is the most ideal palette for the human form as is permits a wide range of values and flesh tones from just a few basic paints. A 10 value scale string is mixed for black&white, reds and yellows. Each string is lined up parellel to each other and the artist can mix only within a vertical range, i.e. yellow 1 cannot be mixed with red 2 or black 3, etc. The two most prominent paints used will be Yellow Ochre and English Red. There is quite a bit of intitial setup to mix the palette properly, but once the artist has it done, remixing at the proper value and color becomes second nature.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Drawing the Human Figure 2

For this method the artist begins by layering the paper with the charcoal powder saved from working with vine charcoal. Using a shamy cloth the powder is gently rubbed into the paper to about a 5-7 on the gray scale. Then using the shamy or kneeded gum, the powder is lifted off the page to create the figure. When the values and forms start taking shape, vine charcoal can then be used sparingly to help define the various masses and outlines. This is more of a subtractive method of drawing and helps the artist use value to create form. As with all drawing, fingers should never be used as the natural oils on the skin affect the surface.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Drawing the Human Figure 1

This nude figure study was drawn using hard vine charcoal. The charcoal stick is sanded with a fine grit paper to a very fine point (the powder is saved for method #2 which I will describe tomorrow). Each mark is applied very lightly and in a consistant direction with build up and some contour hatching to darken areas. The figure is drawn at the 6 head scale and a sight sizing tool is used. The model must be in a relatively comfortable and recreatable position as it takes several hours to complete. Jerry here was sitting on a sturdy cushion. The artist must take care to not press hard or draw past a certain thickness of the point. Erasure is done by lifting with kneeded gum. There is no smearing in this method.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Surreal Still Life Pencil Drawing

This drawing was an excercise to create a surreal landscape using a handfull of elements from a still life. This gives the artist the opportunity to engaged objects from multiple points of view and understand light and composition better. It is rather difficult to come up with a composition that looks "natural," from a surreal perspective, of course, but it is very fun.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Woodblock Print

This piece is a single color woodblock print from a series of 5. Printmaking is an very enjoyable method both woodblock (single or multi color) and zinc or copper plate etching. The artist has to conceptualize the composition in reverse or mirrored and be precisce with the cuts as once you cut out a chunk of wood, you can't replace it.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Ink Line Drawing

These two studies are examples of quick line drawings done in ink. With no pencil underdrawing or the ability to erase the ink marks, the artist is forced to make bold decisions when commiting each line to paper. Unlike the ala prima painting or the silverpoint drawing, which both allow room for some correction, this method is a one shot deal.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Ala Prima Painting

This still life was painted in oil, ala prima, or "in one sitting." The subject is painted for 2-3 hours and forces the artist to make concise and confident decisions regarding composition, hue and brush stroke. I was intructed in this method by Julie Sulzen of the Sulzen Fine Art Studio. http://www.juliesulzen.com/

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Optical Reduction

This nude was drawn using the optical reduction method which is a very precise way of drawing. The artist finds a location in which his sight sizing tool measures the model at a specific unit size. He then backs up to his easel and sizes that unit of measurement on the paper. The two positions on the floor get taped as well as the easel's position. There is quite a bit of back and forth in this process, so the model must be in a comfortable and (exactly) recreatable pose. The artist must also remember to keep his arms extended (it is easier to reproduce that position) and to mark of the standard unit of measurement that you choose (usually head length) on the sight sizing tool with tape.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Silver Point

This is a nude drawn in silver point. This technique requires the artist to make tiny scratches with a sharpend silver wire into a surface prepared with gesso or, as in this case, rabbit skin glue with pigment. It is a method that was used by the masters and really forces the artist to be accurate and precisce with his markings, as there is no erasing. While I dabbled in the technique on my own is was Melinda Whitmore at Vitruvian Fine Art Studio that really taught me how to properly prepare the surface and approach the marking. I highly recommend any artist who wants to draw like the masters to do silver point. Mindy teaches it here in Chicago, so look her up at http://www.vitruvianstudio.com/home

Thursday, September 27, 2007


This is my Ecorche which is the best way for an artist to learn about the human anatomy. It is 27 inches in height and was completely scultpted by hand out of Plastina, a hard oil based clay that dosen't dry. I was instructed by David Jamieson of the Vitruvian Fine Art Studio in Chicago. The class is extremely informative and detailed. Every single artist who is even remotely interested in the human figure should take this class. Their website can be found at http://www.vitruvianstudio.com/home

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Cast Bronze Method

This piece is called "Aspiration-Delusion." As an artist I can only wish to be as skilled as ancient masters and have the conviction of the heroic ideal, but in the world we live in today, that's just not realistic. Below is the method for creating cast bronze sculptures as practiced at the Chicago Fine Art Foundry under Joe Kegler.

STEP 1 – Creating the clay original
The first step is to create a sculpture in either wax or clay. For my piece, I created a simple plaque out of clay, experimenting with surface and texture. If clay is used, a rubber mold must be taken of the clay original. If it a wax original, the piece can go directly to chasing and gating (step 4)

STEP 2 – Making molds
When the clay piece is ready, a layer of clear paint is sprayed on to eliminate the possibility of the liquid rubber being absorbed into the clay. Before the rubber is applied, a release agent is sprayed on to ease the removal of the cured rubber. The rubber itself is composed of a metal based latex mixed in specific proportion with a curing agent. After being mixed thoroughly, it is brush applied to the clay piece in layers until a thickness of approximately 3/16” - 1/4” is reached. After the rubber is cured, release agent is applied again and a plaster “mother mold” of approximately 1/4” is applied over it to keep the rubber rigid for the third step.

STEP 3 – Making a wax positive
After the mother mold sets, it is removed and the rubber mold is carefully lifted off the clay making sure to not tear the rubber. Any clay stuck in the rubber is removed and the mold is wiped down clean. A positive wax is created by melting down a petroleum based wax and brush applying it. The thickness shouldn’t exceed 1/8” – 3/16”, for this wax is to be replaced entirely by metal. (Bronze in this case, but aluminum was also used in several projects)

STEP 4 – Chasing and gating
When the wax cools, it is removed from the mold and the surface is chased by hand and using tools to clean and trim edges, fill in gaps from bubbles and repair any surface damage. The piece is then gated. The gating is made of wax an represents the circulation pattern of the molten metal.

STEP 5 – Investment a.k.a. “Dipping”
This is where the fun begins. Unlike standard investment, which is a cumbersome process and takes up a great deal of space, shell investment is a time consuming, but relatively painless process. The piece is “dipped” into a container containing a slurry which is composed of a polymer based coital and a fine meshed fused silica “flour”. The dipped piece is then covered in a dry, course fused silica “sand”. Each piece requires 7-9 layers. The layers need to thoroughly dry in between each layer and the excess loose sand is rubbed off before dipped. On the second to last layer, the piece is “clipped” with metal at the edges to prevent any cracking in the firing process. The final layer has no sand on it.

STEP 6 – Burnout
When the shelled piece is dry, the cup is grinded down to allow free flow of the wax which will be melted out. The piece is placed on bricks in the burnout room and a blower motor attached to the gas line is ignited. The super hot flame is directed at the bottom and slowly moved upwards, making sure all the wax is melted out. After burnout the shell is placed in a kiln to burnout any carbon scoring. Any micro cracks that appear during the burnout process are patched with a refractory material.

STEP 7 – Pouring
The piece is now ready to be poured. The furnace, which is as loud as a jet engine, is fired up, and metal is placed in the crucible. Depending on the number of pieces to be poured, additional metal is added. As the metal melts and reaches a molten state, the pieces are placed again in the kiln to bring them up to temperature so they don’t explode when the molten metal is poured in. At this point, safety equipment is worn. Heavy boots, heat shields, leather chaps and jacket, face shield and heat gloves. The furnace is turned off and the two man team removes the lid, and uses a heavy duty grabber to lift the crucible out. One man removes any debris and impurities using a scoop, while the other dips a foundry thermometer into the metal to test the temperature. Aluminum should pour at approximately 1300 degrees Fahrenheit and bronze pours at no less than 1900 degrees. A pouring loop is locked into place around the crucible and the team lifts the whole unit and pours into each waiting piece.

STEP 8 – Sandblasting
After a short while the metal solidifies and the shell is broken off. After it cools the gating is grinded off. Any welding or surface chasing is done to repair any discrepancies caused in the pour. When ready, the piece is taken into the sandblasting room, where the entire surface is cleaned and blasted. The blasting itself opens pores in the metal surface allowing it to react with chemicals in the patinas.

STEP 9 – Patina
Patinas are applied on the surface, either with brush, spray or sponge. They react with the metal to create color and texture. When patina work is complete the piece can be waxed.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Bronze Cast Relief

This piece is titled "Diaspora" it is a Cast Bronze relief sculpture. The process of creating a sculpture is amazing. You feel like Hephestius coaxing the elemental nature of metal to do your bidding. I'll ellaborate another time. I learned from Joe Kegler at the Chicago Fine Arts Foundry, the last of its kind in the midwest.

Monday, September 24, 2007

MFA Thesis

This piece is titled "Until it is Made Right" and depicts me as a youth dressed as a "Tsolia" the traditional Greek Independence Fighters standing in front of a stylized parade float of Cyprus, my nation, illegally occupied by Turkish forces for 33 years now. I am a refugee and I will not stop until it is made right. This was the center piece of my MFA Thesis, which was titled "I am Worthy," in homage to Odysseus Elytis' Nobel Prize winning poem "Axion Esti."

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Image post test

This piece is from my MFA Thesis show, it is titled: "Collateral Damage - Thank you Henry." It is a love letter to Mr. Kissinger for all the destruction and death his wonderful policies created. The lives of millions were affected because of one man's hubris and ego.

Opening message

Hello, today is Sunday, September 23, 2007. It is now 10:15 pm CST. I will, hopefully, begin keeping a daily art blog to track my art growth. Wish me luck.