The Afghan Girl's Eyes Mosaic by artist Frederic Lecut.

Mosaic Artist Frederic Lecut’s Opus Pixellatum Technique

Artist Frederic Lecut’s Opus Pixellatum Technique is a tool for rapidly creating original photorealistic mosaics and incorporating improvised elements.

Artist Frederic Lecut

Mosaic Artist Frederic Lecut creates striking portraits of people’s eyes, mosaics that are photorealistic in execution and powerful as compositions because they are cropped closely and look almost like eyes seen in a Niqab.

Maribel's Eyes Mosaic Art by Frederic Lecut
Maribel’s Eyes Mosaic Art by Frederic Lecut

A Master of Mosaic Art

Note one very important point about Lecut’s Afgan Girl mosaic: It is not merely a faithful depiction of the famous National Geographic photograph, which would have been a satisfying accomplishment in itself, but there is also sophisticated improvisation with larger tesserae and andamento in the mode of opus tesselatum.

In plain English, what I’m saying is that  the tiles aren’t just generic elements in a grid but have arrangement and pattern in addition to the overall image being rendered. There is some Art (with a capital A) in that mosaic, specifically that type of improvisation that makes mosaic so damned interesting.

If you still don’t know what I mean, then look at the red rows that make up the girl’s hood and the rows of gold, green, and blue that parallel that. That part of the mosaic looks like something out of a Klimt painting and would be an interesting work of art by itself.

Opus Pixellatum

In 2015, Lecut was looking for a quick method to build  huge portraits of the eyes of Yezidi refugees and created a technique using spreadsheets to generate a pixelated patterns from  photographs. Lecut calls his technique Opus Pixellatum, but it is much more than a “paint-by-numbers” system, at least how he is using it and teaching people to use it.

Frederic’s “Aha” Moment

Frederic’s method involves creating a gridded pattern with a number in each cell that represents the color to be used, and overlaying that pattern with clear contact paper, sticky side up and pressing the tiles onto the contact paper.

That is predictable enough, but Lecut’s key insight into how this method might be used to create real Art is that you don’t have to press every tile onto the pattern before your eye can render the image. Press on every other tile, step back and see the image as a whole, and then start improvising on what you have.

Frederic has written a blog article that discusses using Opus Pixellatum as starting point for improvising color substitutions and elements of opus tessellatum.

A Class With Frederic Lecut

In late March 2017, Mosaic Art Supply would like to host on a class with Frederic Lecut in which students will use his Opus Pixellatum technique to create a small mosaic portrait of their own eyes from a photograph. We will be sending out a newsletter this week with details and writing a blog article about the class to be offered.









7 responses to “Mosaic Artist Frederic Lecut’s Opus Pixellatum Technique”

  1. Donna Mayeur Avatar
    Donna Mayeur

    How can you possibly do a mosaic in one day? Are the tiles pre cut? What are materials proviced and what king of substrate used?

    1. Joe Moorman Avatar
      Joe Moorman

      Hi Donna,

      The mosaic would be mounted the first day and grouted the second day. The course is a 2-day event. The tiles are not cut. They are small 8mm tiles being placed in a 7″ x 17″ mosaic. The pattern is created beforehand from a photograph, and so the process of mounting is relatively rapid (4 to 6 hours placement, plus 1 to 2 hours transfer).


  2. Pega Ren Avatar
    Pega Ren

    I would like to know more about these courses. Location? Cost? Timing? TIA

    1. Joe Moorman Avatar
      Joe Moorman

      Hi Pega,
      That was a one-time event for us. You should contact Frederic directly.

  3. Ronald Avatar

    What kind of glue did you use that can be removed afterwards after removing the plastic sheet?

    1. Joe Moorman Avatar
      Joe Moorman

      I don’t remember the details of Frederic’s technique, but we recommend using clear contact paper with sticky side up over the pattern. Once the tiles are places, we lift them off with some Mosaic Mounting Tape, which is also clear and sticky only stronger. Both of these clear materials are self-adhesive and don’t require a temporary glue to get the tile to stick to them.
      I hope this helps some.

  4. Jen Avatar

    Hello, I’m wondering what type of tiles in various shades of grey are used for this? I’m interested in doing something similar. Thank you

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