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Gabriel Picart was invited by the prestigious International Artist magazine to be the artist from Spain in issue #38 (August 2004). A description of the specifics of his technique was included in the feature article on him, under the title ART IN THE MAKING - Achieving an impersonal ideal of beauty .

1. Choosing the right model.

My wife Rosa often serves as my model. Her regular features tend to an academic ideal, and this way I can escape the trap of figurative realist painters, which is making the painting of the model look like the portrait of the woman who posed. In my figurative work, I try to achieve an ideal of beauty that is impersonal, and I avoid reproducing contours and shapes that might look distinctive of a specific person. After posing her in the costume I had chosen for arranging the lighting, I took many photographs of her. This one became my main reference.


2. Priming the panel.

To seal the wood panel surface and protect it from moisture, mold and rot, I began by priming it. (Though a painting is not intended to be outdoors, and surely will be handled and placed with care by its owner, any precaution that will help the artwork endure for ever does not hurt.) After applying the priming with a roller, I sanded down the surface to make it smooth.

3. Drawing with care.

Next, I roughly sketched in the composition with bold strokes of a colored pencil directly on the panel. Then I started making the charcoal drawing. I did it carefully and in great detail, no matter that it must be fully covered by paints later on. I consider this well worth the work and not a waste of time, because it is the framework for my future painting.

4. Establishing a ground.

Next, I laid down a pale ochre acrylic wash over the entire surface for two reasons. One is that I do not like painting on a white surface, and this colour set a warm tone for the painting. The other is to create another isolating layer to prevent successive layers of oil paint from penetrating through the smallest pores left in the primer.

5. Laying down the first glaze.

To me, the two most important qualities of oils are brightness and transparency. At least, these have been their most praised qualities, and the ones that gave them their place in painting art. It is the technique of adding thin layers of transparent oil that gives the illusion of depth and light. I work in this manner, though not the same way in all the pictorial elements of the painting. I apply the most number of glazes on figures, and mainly when working on the skin areas. In other elements, such as backgrounds, where I may use a palette knife even, I apply fewer glazes, mainly to modify colour. My first application of glazes began to define the forms with values and colour.



6. Enhancing with a second glaze.

Here you can see how I added a second glaze of colours to continue building up and refining the values and colours while modeling the forms.



7. Softening to completion.

Due to the face being in shadow, much detail was not required. Notice how the third transparent glazes, applied over the others, make outlines look blurred and create a slight suggestion of fading colour, or 'Sfumato'. To me, this is the key to success in making a realistic painting that pretends to imitate reality.


To protect "Visual Poem" (oil on panel, 127 x 64 cm or 50" x 25"), I coated it with a varnish that is neither too shiny nor too mate.


  • Tools. I use a huge range of brushes, both old and new, as well as painting knives.

  • Support. Panel is my current favourite surface, as opposed to canvas. Among other things, it always looks flat and stiff, unlike canvas that must be strengthened regularly.

  • Oil colours. Titanium White, Naples Yellow Red, Gold Ochre Transparent, Light Oxide Red, Mars Orange, Naples Yellow Deep, Cadmium Orange, Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Red Deep, Violet, Madder Carmine Deep, Cobalt Blue Deep, Kings Blue, Prussian Blue, Cinnabar Green, Olive Green, Viridian, Sap Green and Ivory Black.


"Visual Poem" at the Weinstein Gallery - March 2002, San Francisco, California.

IMPORTANT. This description of the specifics of my technique was performed in 2004. Although my painting technique essentially remains the same, since then I have added some variations. For example, the frequent use of different shades of gray (grisaille) instead of a monochrome background, such as pale ocher in the case of this demonstration. — GP



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