Hours spent drawing as a child gave way to a formal education and career in graphic design. Now Gabriela’s passion is reflected in her striking portrait paintings.
The series: In January 2002 Gabriela created the first illustration in what would become her signature “Lifeline” series: portraits characterized by closeups of faces, bright colors and heavy lines following the most prominent features.
Evolution: The heavy lines have been a constant in her portraits, but in the beginning the paintings were extremely colorful using bright, contrasting colors, with the lines almost secondary. The series has evolved to a monochrome palette with the lines in white or a contrasting color. Originally working with colored pencils, Gabriela experimented with inks, watercolors, mixed media and oils, until settling on acrylics about 10 years ago. Most recently she has been testing the limits of digital painting.
Process: First beginning with sketches — often two or more for a face — Gabriela then combines the most interesting lines, painting them onto the canvas. She discards all details and focuses on the few lines that make recognizable the character, expression or mood.
Inspiration: The artist’s subjects are inspired by public figures and personalities, family and friends, and interesting faces she discovers. Her favorite painter is Pablo Picasso, but she also draws inspiration from Warhol, Lichtenstein, Matisse, Miró and a variety of other contemporary artists. Originally from Mexico, Gabriela Zapien now paints from her home in Pennsylvania.