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Artist Interview Mario Picardo - Promarkers, Cartoons and Residencies

by Cass Art

French artist Mario Picardo was inspired to create from a young age. His love of cartoons and comic books galvanised his love of colour, and still influence his visual style today. We caught up with Mario to talk about his creative journey, and find out how Winsor & Newton Promarkers help him realise his practice.

Thanks for taking the time to speak to us, firstly could you introduce us to you and your background?

My name is Mario Picardo, I am 35 years old and a product of the 90’s. I work and live around Paris in France. I am an artist and I graduated in 2013 from the National Fine Arts School (Ecole Nationale Superieur des Beaux-Arts) in Paris.

You were inspired by cartoons and comic books as a child, how would you say you’ve brought those influences into your own work today?

The imagery used in cartoons and comics influenced me the most. I bring these references directly into my work. As part of my creative process, I like to play with a shape taken from screenshots of animation drawings, and transcribe it with my own visual vocabulary. I get inspired a lot by colour codes from animated films, and reuse them in my pictorial compositions. Sometimes the reference may appear directly as it is within the artwork. For example, in 2017, I created a series of paintings around the theme of the animated series “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”. The images were directly screen printed onto the painted artwork.

The way you use colour and shape is striking! We can see how using a non-archival material like Promarker’s would serve as a starting point based on your influences. You have an incredibly strong sense of colour, form and space, how do you approach this in your work?

It all originates from a particular visual approach. I use hundreds of drawings (studies created after watching an animated film) as source material to prepare my paintings. I will then articulate the area like a collage within my mind, always searching for the balance and fluidity typical of coloured shapes. To find my palette, I first create a colour chart as a base, that I will refer to when creating all the colours for one series of artwork. This colour chart is determined by the drawings and studies I create with Winsor & Newton Promarker’s ahead of my actual paintings.       


What is it you love to use about Winsor & Newton Promarkers for your preliminary studies?

At the moment, I like to use the Promarker Neon range to create the base of my drawings. I then overlay colours such as light greys, umber, light blues and pastel greens with Promarker Brush pens to tone down the neon colours in some areas. Reds and yellows are my go-to colours, they are exquisite, iconic. Finally, pale rose hues and blacks are my all-time favourites. They all have a beautiful fluidity and, when superimposed, create beautiful tones. All this informs my paintings.

And what other materials do you like to use in your work?

In my work, I also love using Winsor & Newton Professional Watercolours. I recently discovered their Cadmium-Free range, which possess a powerful tinting strength, that matches regular Cadmium’s. It is quite astonishing. The Winsor & Newton Drawing Inks are beautiful, they give a wonderful intensity to my work…I have a weak spot for the emerald green ink in particular. Finally, since my residency, I have been using the Studio Collection pencil range a lot. The blending capacity of these pencils is remarkable.

Do you have any advice for someone trying Promarkers for the first time?

Promarkers make creating, a very pleasurable experience, it is a wonderful tool for an artist graphically. I love starting my artwork with very strong colours and finishing with blacks to tone everything down. Finally, I don’t hesitate to overlay colours in order to create new ones. Promarker and Promarker Brush offer an endless range of effects thanks to their different nib sizes and types, their blendability, and transparency, their tinting power and fluidity. Although not archival, which being a graphic medium, they do not need to be, it makes the process similar to a painting process. Which allows you to get carried away with all these wonderful colours.    

How did you find your recent Winsor & Newton residency in London, will you be taking some London-style forward into your work?

This residency was a great experience, I was in London for the first time and discovering a city through an artistic project makes it all the more meaningful. I created a large number of drawings and watercolours, which were later the start of a series of large format paintings. I discovered tools, which have now become my everyday companions. I created a reference corpus that I can still use today.

Thanks so much Mario! Finally, what’s next on the horizon?

I have a large number of exhibitions planned for 2021 that are just being finalised, but also a large number of projects that I am currently working on.


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