Posts By Alex Zonis




6″x6″ (15×15 cm) – oil on aluminum panel

Colombina in Italian means “little dove.” She is a character in the Commedia dell’Arte, a mistress to Harlequin, a clever and funny maid-servant and a wife to Pierrot. She is often the only intelligent person on stage. Venetian carnival mask of the same name reflects heavy eye makeup play character Colombina wears on stage.

This little painting is the 5th in my series Phantasmagoria. I painted it in 6”x6” size as it was meant for Randy Higbee’s 6”Squared show in December 2015, but it never made it there. I had to travel and live overseas for 2 months to be with my family during my father’s illness and passing. The little half-finished Colombina sat on my easel and waited for me to return to her. She was a little trickster indeed, it took me some time to work out her intricacies, curlicues, ribbons and gold.

All That Glitters…

All That Glitters

All That Glitters

6″x6″ (15×15 cm) – oil on aluminum panel

… isn’t Gold.

Of course this is the main idea behind the title and the painting.

Sometime when I am long gone, and my paintings would command exorbitant prices, and museums would be fighting for them (dreams are allowed 🙂 !!), then art historians will be scratching their heads about what did I mean by this image and coming up with their usual nonsense. To spare them this awful fate, I’ll explain :).

This is a Venetian carnival mask called Medico Della Peste, translated Plaque Doctor. Back then in medieval time they began to realize that medics needs some kind of protection when attending the sick, and a mask of this configuration was used cover a face. A scary thought! Centuries later it transformed into a carnival mask, if a little macabre.

The draped dark silk and upturned goblets hopefully add to the dark carnival mood. But there is more to this fabric, this is a blue scarf that I wore as a teenager back in Russia in Kishinev. God only knows how I still have it decades later and continents away, but I do. So when I wanted blue for color composition, I remembered it. Almost every painting I paint has a hidden meaning or a little joke that I keep for myself, for my private entertainment and chuckle. This blue scarf is a reference to my own self in a different time and a different world, when I knew frighteningly little and possibilities were so big.

All That Glitters is the 4th painting for my series Phantasmagoria.

Group Portrait

Group Portrait

Group Portrait

12″x12″ (30×30 cm) – oil on gessobord

I finally finished it!

This painting was in the works seemingly forever. I painted Noh back in 2011, I think. Ever since then I’ve been looking for doll heads to paint more of them. I finally found a treasure trove of them early this year, 2015. And then, in a way it often happens when the right time has come, the husband asked for a new work for the cover of his new book. I started working on ideas and this composition resulted.

It took two and a half months to paint. It is the most complex work I have ever done to date. Even more complex than Adagio for Three Strings! But then, as my daughter pointed out, I always say this.

We will send Group Portrait to the publishing house shortly and hope that it will get approved as cover art for Phenomenology of Empathy by Lou Agosta. It is also another installment for my new series Phantasmagory.





6″x6″ (15×15 cm) – oil on gessobord

First painting in 2015 – Spintop. It is also the last installment for Unwrapping exhibit that will be opening in Mostly Glass gallery this weekend. I am happy and a little scared. Wish me luck!

Many people ask me ask me how long this style of painting takes? I usually tell them – long. It takes a long time, several weeks. A couple or three months if a painting is larger. But how long is long exactly?!

I decided to time myself and find out. So I painted with a stop watch for several weeks, and now can report to you that this 6″x6″ painting took me 52 hours: 7 hours for composition, prep work and drawing, and 45 hours of painting. I started composition work on November 29 and signed the painting on January 27 – almost two months, but holidays got in the midst and there were literally a couple of weeks that I did not paint at all.

2014…. and it’s a wrap!

2014 is quickly wrapping up. It is a dark early evening, too dark to paint, so I am blogging instead. Facebook and WordPress are putting out these computer generated annual content reports, but they are much too silly, or artificial is possibly a better description. So I thought I will tell you what really happened this year :).

I painted 6 paintings:

Ok, the last one – working title Turning Time – is still a work in progress!

E is for Empathy will appear on a cover of my husband’s book A Rumor of Empathy, Resistance, Narrartive, Recovery in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy – Lou Agosta, PhD. Interesting book, check it out!

Adagio for Three Strings has won a Most Innovative award in National Oil and Acrylic Painters Society (NOAPS) Fall Show. Much too excited about this!

I had work in two shows in 2014:

– Matite in Viaggio, Centro Candiani, Venice Italy – October 2014

– National Oil and Acrylic Painters Society (NOAPS) – December 2014

Ardmore overpass 8-1-2012

I participated in my second Sketchpack project

It runs from Cape Town South Africa. Every day for the month of August I drew a small drawing. My 31 drawings traveled to Cape Town SA to participate in a show.


I have started teaching oil painting

and had a number of victims students study with me in my studio as well as online via Skype, gotta love technology!

Paul painting

Paul painting


Urban Sketchers Chicago

Urban Sketchers Chicago, a sketching group I started in 2012, is going strong with its monthly sketch crawls, active Facebook, blog and other online presence. The group now has nearly 350 sketchers and a wonderful unique spirit.

Chicago Sketch Seminar 2014 took place in June 2014 and was a great success. I was privileged to lead a group amazing volunteers and together we created this wonderful event. About 70 sketchers from all over USA and even one international sketcher attended and participated in 8 sketching workshops and 3 sketching activities. And one Dinner, Drinks and Drawing event!

If you are still reading this, I really appreciate!

I hope you had nice holidays so far and wishing you Happy Healthy and Artful New Year!!

National Oil & Acrylic Painters Society – show and award

I am working on a year in review post and first thought to put it there, but I am much too happy and excited and can’t wait – so here is the big news right away:

My painting Adagio for Three Strings was juried into National Oil & Acrylic Painters Society (NOAPS) fall show and was awarded a “Most Innovative” award! I am alongside several artists friends whose work I admire. How totally cool and exciting! I danced a little jig this morning when I learned this news!

Adagio for Three Strings

Adagio for Three Strings

Adagio for Three Strings

Adagio for Three Strings

Adagio for Three Strings

12″x9″ (30×23 cm) – oil on aluminum panel

More often than not these paper paintings take longer than I anticipate. Or hope! I think this one took two months. But I am not entirely sure, and am afraid to investigate. What if it took 3 months? Regardless, it is now complete and drying.

There are are couple of things to mention about this painting. This is my first try working on Dibond surface. Dibond is a two ply aluminum panel used for signs. It can be gessoed and used as painting subtract. I really like it and hope to use it for most of my work. It is smoother and less absorbent than Gessobord. Lovely surface!

I took the level of complexity up a notch with this painting. Crinkled music paper is great fun to paint! My gallery will be happy, I hope :). He loves complexity!

Edgewater goes to Venice

After all the fuss and bother – lost emails, language barriers, and impossibility to communicate – the spirit of art and urban sketching prevailed. “Matite in Viaggio” exhibition opened in Venice Itally yesterday, October 10, 2014. Five of my drawings are showing there!

Matite in Viaggio 10-10-2014 processed Matite in Viaggio - Alex Zonis catalog 10-10-2014

 Here they are in the covered exhibition table – photo on the left. And here they are in the exhibition catalog along with my b&w photo and what seems to be a blurb of text – photo on the right. I wish I remembered what I wrote, and can only hope it is not too embarrassing.

And I almost missed this whole excitement because I could not go, which sucked. But a friend was there and took these photos ( photos © NotNot Tana Luc). Thanks, Luc!!



Ma Chérie Amour

Ma Chérie Amour

Ma Chérie Amour

6″x6″ (15×15 cm) – oil on gessobord

I finished this little painting of cherries in a paper bag last week. This is another installment for the Unwrapped show I’ve been painting for. It came out a nice and shiny little painting, but all I had for it in terms of a title was dull and boring.

So I posted the painting on FB and opened it for crowd-sourching for the title. My friends just ROCK! In 24 hours I had a different problem – too many brilliant titles. 40 to be exact, almost impossible to choose because there were so many good and clever ones. They even created a bit of a rift here in the studio as my husband, my daughter and I had different favorites. In the end I did the deciding – it is my painting LOL!

A portrait for a birthday

I have not drawn a graphite portrait in some time, and so was very pleased when a far away friend wanted a portrait of his sister for her birthday. He wanted me to draw it so he would include it in a movie he was making as a birthday present for her. What a thoughtful thing to do!

Anyway, here’s the portrait

Esther 9-14-2014 lo-res medium


I forgot how pleasant it is draw in graphite and how relaxing – just values, no color.

The bottom line – I want a brother like that!!