The deadline is approaching! For more information or to submit your work, click the SUBMIT button below:
Fullness, in progress. 60" x 36" | 152 cm x 91 cm. Stone, minerals, vitreous, mother of pearl, mosaic gold.
In a previous post, I talked about my new iPad w/Apple Pencil and the Procreate app, which my daughter gave me for my birthday. Above you see my initial attempts with Procreate.
The Apple Pencil definitely takes some practice. Blending and shading are certainly doable, but I'm far from mastering it. This really is a powerful tool.
What I did was to import a photo of the mosaic in progress. I also took a photo of the tiles I have chosen and was then able to create a palette. From there, I just started coloring and trying out different pencil tip options and blending tools.
There is a marked difference in the sky between the left and the right photo, although both are very rough. The pencil is very sensitive and takes a lot of practice to handle fine detail. But, I think this is so awesome to be able to do this!
The photo on left shows my intention for the body of water at the bottom left. I'll be getting started on that moon reflection today.
The submission deadline has been extended to September, 1, 2017. For more information or to submit, click the SUBMIT button below.
It's not often that I can get a pic of one of my sold works in situ, much less a perspective that highlights a textural element so well. Of course, the shot is into the light, which made the mosaic rather dark. I did my best to lighten it enough to see it, without it too adversely affecting the background.
Here's a closer-up shot:
What an amazing thing it is when somebody loves something that you have created enough to purchase it and make a place for it in their home. How very wonderful!
I'm somewhat sentimentally attached to this work, as it marks a pivotal change in my relationship to mosaic-making, so it's a bit sad to say goodbye. It will be missed, but it's found a new home.
Two bits of news: 1)There will be a book and 2) The deadline is approaching!
Based upon the submissions received thus far, I will be going ahead with a book featuring decorative mosaics!! However, I am still hoping for more submissions!
Do you need more time? Should I extend the deadline to September 1? If I hear from you that another month would help, I will be happy to extend the deadline. If I don't hear from you, the deadline remains August 1.
The book title, dimensions, number pages, and price are yet-to-be-determined. These decisions mostly depend upon the number of pages, which is primarily based upon the number of mosaics to be featured. More good news is that I will be able to sell it on my new storefront site, J MOSAIC, which will allow me to keep the price very reasonable for a softcover digital print book.
Keep those submissions coming!!
Being a fan of Margo's work, my interest was piqued when I saw on Facebook that Margo was doing an online class through Mosaicartsonline.com. I looked into it and was fascinated to see so many courses with so many talented mosaic artists. Never having attempted mosaic jewelry in any serious way, I decided to try it out and I enrolled in Margo's class.
I watched the entire course one morning and then purchased her kit from di Mosaico. I received the kit yesterday and on right is what it looks like.
I chose the Medium Blue mix from the extensive mix options. The pendant blank is very shiny and pretty, although different than the kind that Margo uses. Not sure which I like better.
I've got a bit of traveling coming up, so I probably won't get to this pendant until mid-August or so. At that time, I will be able to rewatch the course segments as needed. I'll be looking forward to this little project.
So I did tinker with that hair today and I am liking it more than I did pre-tinker. We'll see if I can leave it alone now and move on to the water.
Adding a double dose of new to this project: My daughter gave me a new, big iPad for my birthday this year, along with an Apple Pencil and the Procreate app. I'm heading out to San Jose, Oakland, and San Francisco in a few days and then, immediately after return from CA, I'll be heading to the Aspen Music Festival for about a week. While vacationing, in my free time I'm going to play around with Procreate and try out sky ideas for this piece on an imported photo, like one above. Should be interesting!
Both of the above photos were taken with the iPad camera, and I'm really impressed with the quality. Also, because of the size of the mosaic, it's pretty difficult to get a good straight-on perspective shot. With the iPad, however, I can stand on a stool and hold the iPad as high above the mosaic on the table as I can. Still, you can see I can't get the entire mosaic, but it's good enough for now.
Well, I'm feeling brave today, or at least brave enough to post pics of my current challenge. Embarrassment notwithstanding, I will share this project as I go.
I started this piece over 15 years ago. At the time, I wanted to do something big, so I impulsively rushed into what turned out to be a less than half-baked idea. I wanted to work with some stones but had no idea where to get anything but the small, tumbled, polished ones that you see. I had the idea for the moon, the full feminine, and the earthy palette, probably inspired by the small slate tiles that I used in the border. Ceramic trim pieces, in a dark gun metal gray—more of a hematite— make up the border outlines, along with small mother of pearl rectangular beads.
It did not take long for me to get stuck on it, and then overwhelmed by the fact that I had not figured out several square feet. The hair is where I stopped, lacking the skill and the patience, as well as an idea, of how to handle it.
Also overlooked was the fact that the cement board needed both hanging hardware and some kind of support structure on the back, as it had too much flimsy in it for it to be stable. So, it was relegated to various storage locations throughout the years. What to do! It was so big that I could not just throw it away—I would have had to cut it up or have it hauled off. I liked the original idea, however, so continued to hang onto it, hoping that someday I would know what to do with it.
Finally, after moving into my new studio, it was time to make a decision. I decided to finish it and, in the process, treat it like an exercise. I've added both a support frame and hanging hardware, and have the hair mostly under control, but will work on it some more—it's too organized. I did those mountains this past week and enjoyed working on some andamento. They are meant to appear silhouetted and far in the distance, on the other side of what will be a body of water in the lower left corner.
The photo at right is a bit like what I am going for. I've never attempted a water reflection—neither sun nor moon—so that will be a good exercise.
I'm not sure that the new and the old will marry well and be harmonious and whole. The perspective is not realistic; in fact, none of this is realistic.
Then, there is all - - - that - - - sky. I want to try something in the sky that will be new for me and also challenge me in what I think will be some very beneficial ways.
I've been studying Menossi's Tramonto, on left, for inspiration, with both andamento and the way that he layers the sky.
I've got about four shades of vitreous in a kind of gray-blue, and may work in a bit of sheared smalti for scant clouds. Gee! Not sure I can pull it off, but I will give it a go.
No, I don't like the apostrophe shape in the moon. It was meant to be a swirl, but I can't say what happened to it. There are other issues as well, too many—too many to change. That's the deal: I won't change what I did in 1999 and I will try to be true to it's beginnings.
I know I'm a little late i getting to this, as I thought I would have been ready before the spring. Well, so much for plans. Various things, including our dog's ACL surgery, have reordered my life a bit. Ah well, life is surprising that way.
It's time, now, for me to start thinking about offering instruction here in my beautiful, new studio! I've had inquires throughout the years, but never really had the studio space, and was otherwise not ready to tackle it. I'm ready now, to at least start thinking about it.
To that end, I have created a survey that I hope will be helpful to me in determining where to start, and what may meet people's needs. If you are interested in mosaic instruction here in my Tulsa, OK, studio, please take a few minutes to complete the survey below. I will be very grateful in you do!
I am pleased to announce that this tasty cookbook, featuring mouth-watering mosaics—and recipes, of course—is available for sale! I think there may be a few used copies of it still available on Amazon, but I am now able offer it on my new storefront instead of via Amazon. I can offer it for a little less—$22—and the price includes shipping. My apologies, but I am only shipping within the U.S. at this time.
The book is an international collection of recipes and mosaic art. 63 recipes and 64 mosaics have been contributed by the international mosaic community. The collection of food and drink-themed mosaic art is diverse and robust. Includes conversion tables, quotes and tidbits, and a few personal stories.
To take a look inside the book: Slideshow Preview
To purchase: Buy Book
After my lengthy discussion yesterday, here on my blog over the course of six posts, I could not help but notice all the terms that I used to talk about mosaics: craft, fine craft, art, and fine art. This can be confusing, and it is quite likely that we would not all agree on these terms.
Clearly, however, those of us who talk about fine art mosaic, and elevating mosaic to a fine art status, have some THING in mind when we use the term fine art.
I thought that I would, today, talk about what I mean when I use various terms. You may or may not agree with me, but my usage is informed by my 20+ years in mosaic. That's not to say that, therefore, I am right, rather to offer that I have a valid basis for my views.
In the photo above, I am hoping to illustrate the difference between fine and not fine. Both are decorative mosaic pieces, and could broadly be called decorative mosaic art. The one on the right displays a fineness that the one on the left does not. The vase on the right also displays a higher degree of skill and creative design.
Further, I would say that the one on the left could qualify as craft, but not fine craft. Although, I would not categorize the one on the right as craft, fine or not. Why? Because of the degree of skill and the level of design. Is this too subjective? Perhaps. But if you can't tell the difference in quality between these two items, then it probably does not matter.
How about another example?
Here we have two examples of decorative mosaics (well three actually, as there are two mosaic candle holders in the left photo), which can be broadly categorized as decorative mosaic art, although the one on the left could easily be called craft. The candle holders are nicely done and you could say that they are technically finely done, except that the design—if you could even call it that—is just so simple and basic that it can't qualify as fine craft.
The bottle on the right, however, is quite finely done, and the demands of the design require a good degree of skill to execute. I consider this a fine decorative mosaic, and would certainly allow that it is fine craft, as well.
Last but not least:
I categorize all three of the above wall pieces as art, but they are different degrees of art. The still life on the left is art in that it is expressing a point of view. I talked about this one in What's In A Name? #5. It is not fine art because of the lack of skill, both artistically and mosaically.
The mosaic in the middle, L'entrata, is a beautiful mosaic, executed with a high degree of technical skill. While it is certainly art, the question of whether or not it is fine art is a bit murky, and will have to defer to the eye of the beholder. The design, if you could call it such, is basically in service to a photograph. I know that this kind of talk can stir emotions, but I am willing to acknowledge that this issue is, indeed, an issue. And I am also willing to acknowledge the view that this mosaic may not be fine art, as fine as it is, primarily because of its not being terribly original.
Regarding the mosaic on the right, Piercing the Veil, I consider this an example of mosaic fine art. Is it good enough to hang in a museum, or win an exhibition? That is not for me to decide. But it displays a high degree of technical mastery and it is a unique expression of an idea and a point of view. From where I was as an artist when I made this piece, this was a sincere attempt to communicate an idea with the highest degree of skill that I possessed. I call it fine art.
Now, you may not agree with my conclusions about the pieces that I've used as examples. That's not the point of this post. I'm just hoping it will contribute to the discussion.
Still with me? Because if you're not, I'm just having a conversation with myself. Nothing new on that count.
So what is the above mosaic all about? Well, I was at a loss as to what might be useful for this final post, so I just chose one of my favorite things that I have ever made. Fine art? No way.
It is a nice little piece of art, in my opinion, but perhaps just barely art. I made six of these in 2012, each one a bit different, but extremely similar. So, are they art? If not, what are they? Craft? Like a lot of things that we create, it may be somewhere in the middle.
As I behlold this, I will tip the scale on the art side. It exhibits a fair degree of mosaic skill, and I think that the sky is more than just a bit crafty. But, does it have a deeper meaning? Express a point of view? Make a statement? No, no, and no. Maybe it's just floating around in that no-person's land of crafty-art or arty-craft. To this beholder—me—it's a little piece of art.
I've tried to be very tactful in this series of posts, as I know this can be a touchy subject for some people. Maybe it seems that I have kind of danced around the topic, but I've meant to use examples and my own personal experience to make some points. Too subtle? Well, I can remedy that.
Over the years, I've spent many hours visiting other mosaic artists' websites. I italicized mosaic artists because the term is as pesky as mosaic fine art. Just because someone calls his/herself a mosaic artist, does that mean that they are? Just because they call their work fine art, does that mean that it is?
From a lofty distance, we can take refuge in saying that it's not up to us to answer those questions, that it is all in the eye of the beholder. But for the sake of this discussion, my answer to both of those questions is emphatically NO.
Now, let's get serious:
- Are you clear on what your work is, and on what your work is not? On the degree to which your work is craft, fine craft, art, or fine art?
- Do you want your work to be regarded as mosaic fine art?
- Do you have an idea of what is and is not mosaic fine art?
- Do you have a website gallery, titled fine art, with uninformed crazy-paving frames? (Crazy-paving is quite legitimate and awesome, when done correctly. When done incorrectly, I call it uninformed, which is the good-cop's variation of the bad-cop's amateur.)
- Do you label your mosaic birdhouses, stepping stones, and candle holders fine art creations?
- In any profession, for your work to be elevated to a high status, a good degree of mastery in your medium is required. Art is no exception. Do you understand the technical aspects of your medium? Does your work exhibit a good degree of technical mastery?
- If you have not achieved a good degree of technical mastery, do you still call your work fine art?
- It probably does not matter what you call your business or your website or your Facebook business page. If you know what your work is, if you are clear on what you are creating and why, the name that you choose is not nearly as important. If your work is stunning and true and fine, your company could be called This Is Not Fine Art, and your work would be still known as fine art.
- Having said what I said in #8, I personally think that if your art is serious, your business should have a serious name, whether it is your own name or not. There is something in a name, and certainly when a name is all that a potential gallery or buyer has in front of them. Just Jackie's Mosaics conveys a different weight than does Jacqueline Iskander, or even Jacqueline Iskander Mosaics.
Over the years, I've been able to observe the evolution of mosaic as a fine art, and it has been quite remarkable and exciting. I've also observed, with frustration, a lack of discernment in various areas and levels of the mosaic community, from individuals to organizations.
This lack of discernment, while understandable to some degree, considering the relative newness and speed with which mosaic has moved, is also a hindrance to it finding its place in the fine art world. This lack of discernment, while played out in public, serves to perpetuate itself, reflecting poorly on the medium as a whole, impeding its elevation.
This is the end of my treatise. Thank you for listening.
It was definitely time for a change of graphic, don't you think?
The two mosaics above were made around the same time, probably about 1997-1998. The one on the left is what happens when someone who has neither natural talent nor artistic training attempts a still life, as well as what happens when one is new to mosaic. Artistically, there are problems with the design, and mosaically there are problems with the execution. Still, this piece hangs in my kitchen today and makes me feel good.
Unwittingly, I was attempting to make art with the mosaic on the left, and I would argue today that it is, indeed, art. It's not fine art, by any measure, but it is art. I was trying to express the warmth of such a scene, as it means to me: the color and lusciousness of such beautiful and delicious vegetables—is there much in the world more beautiful than a large, shiny, purple eggplant? It's a point of view.
The mosaic on the left is decorative, and not terribly fine. If I had painted the tiles myself, the mosaic might squeak by as art, but just barely, in my opinion. It's not a bad mosaic, in the sense that it was soundly made and lives today, but clearly it is not fine art, though art in the decorative sense.
In my early years, I had a website. In fact, I was one of the few mosaic artists to have a website in those days, owing purely to the fact that one of my kids was quite a tech geek. I put everything I made on the site and did not distinguish between fine art and decorative art. This reflected the fact that I did not see a distinction—it was all mosaic, and what else to call it but mosaic art? As best I can remember, my categories were wall panels, vases, tables, etc.
As time went on and my experience and base of knowledge grew, my websites reflected this evolution of understanding. My categories began to reflect wall art vs decorative art. Then fine art vs decorative art. Then I took decorative art off of my main navigation and only had a link to it on my About page. Then I removed it from my About page entirely. Now, I am developing a completely separate website, with a different name, to serve as a storefront for my decorative art. The name Jacqueline Iskander is for my fine art work only.
This has been a process for me—an evolution of understanding, to repeat. Sometimes, it just needs to work this way. Some people, for various reasons, have a more immediate understanding of this. Maybe they have been at it longer; maybe they were always artists; maybe they had formal training or early environmental influences. Lots of reasons, I imagine.
And then there are those that just don't give a damn about any of this. Who cares what you call it? If you are one of those people, you should have stopped reading these posts a while back.
I'll have one more post on this coming up...
I'm going to stick with the above graphic one more time, as it is still be relevant for this post.
There was a time when I did not understand the difference between art and decoration. I chose art that I liked and that I thought worked well with the decor. Whether a vase or a wall item, it was all art to me—all decoration.
My first few years exploring mosaic yielded simply mosaics, not art. I did not think of making art—how could I when I did not even know what it was?
Two of my decorative mosaics were accepted to the first MAI to which I submitted (the vase on the left above was one of them; chest at right the other). At that time, I thought: well then, they must be art. I remember that at the exhibition, a woman was admiring the chest and asked me what was my inspiration. I answered honestly that I just wanted to make something beautiful. It was not long after that that I began to grasp how and why art is different.
The evolution of mosaic as a fine art has been confusing to both individual mosaicists and the mosaic community at large, I think, never mind the broader art world. The speed with which it arrived is rather astounding, which will inevitably lead to such confusion. We, as the mosaic community, seem to be at once fighting to reach that fine art pinnacle, while at the same time being very conflicted about what mosaic fine art actually is.
Well, as I said previously, I don't want to get into trying to define what mosaic fine art is. I think I can, however, whittle away at what I think it is not. For those who are trying to understand a distinction, such an exercise may be useful.
I was talking about decorative mosaic, and how I consider the mosaics on the left and right above to be decorative art, but not fine art. If you feel yourself on edge a little (or a lot) after my mention of fine art, please review #1 and #2 of this ongoing discussion, which will provide a context.
Regarding decorative art, in no way do I feel it is in any way less than any other kind of art. Absolutely not. But, in the context of this discussion, I am clear that it is not fine art. Likewise, I would say the same thing about fine craft.
Let's not diverge into defining what is and is not fine craft. But getting back to my previous statement about the decorative mosaic on the right flirting on the edge of being craft, I should explain that and get it out of the way.
I've spent the last few months mosaicking bottles and frames in that decorative technique used on that bottle on the right. The more I did of this kind of work, the more I could feel the craft-ness of it. I used different colors and patterns, but in the repetition of it, it became a craft. Here I want to quote from a book that has been a constant companion to me and which I highly recommend:
Yes, there is a difference between art and craft—it's just that both terms are so overgrown with fuzzy definitions that drawing a clear distinction between them is close to impossible. ...
Think of craft and you think of furniture shaped by Sam Maloof, of handmade clothing flaunted at Renaissance Fairs, of everything made before the Industrial Revolution. Think of art and you think or War and Peace, a Beethoven concerto, the Mona Lisa. Both disciplines obviously yield good things, valuable things, sometimes tangibly useful things, and at first pass the distinction between them seems perfectly clear.
But is the Mona Lisa really art? Well then, what about an undetectably perfect copy of the Mona Lisa? That comparison (however sneaky) points up the fact that it's surprisingly difficult, maybe even impossible, to view any single work in isolation and rule definitively "This is art" or "This is craft." Striking that difference means comparing successive pieces made by the same person.
In essence, art lies embedded in the conceptual leap between pieces, not in the pieces themselves. And simply put, there's a greater conceptual jump from one work of art to the next than from one work of craft to the next. The net result is that art is less polished—but more innovative—than craft. The differences between five Steinway grand pianos—demonstrably works of consummate craftsmanship—are small compared to the differences between the five Beethoven Piano concerti you might perform on those instruments...
Yet curiously, the progression of most artists' work over time is a progression from art toward craft. In the same manner that imagination gives way to execution as any single work builds toward completion, an artist's major discoveries usually come early on, and a lifetime is then allotted to fill out and refine those discoveries. As the Zen proverb suggests, for the beginner there are many paths, for the advanced, few.
At any point along that path, your job as an artist is to push craft to its limits—without being trapped by it... The difference between art and craft lies not in the tools you hold in your hands, but in the mental set that guides them. For the artisan, craft is an end in itself.
—David Bayles & Ted Orland, Art & fear: Observations On The Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking
Yes, I will concede that the mosaic on the right could be considered craft—fine craft, if I do say so myself. And it is also falls within the general category of decorative art.
That's that about craft, and I'm not going to distinguish between art and craft within a decorative or functional sense again. The thing that I think is relevant, within the context of this discussion, is the distinction between what might be fine art, and what might not be, and why this matters with regard to the struggle of elevating mosaic art to a fine art status.
This post continues a conversation that is based on the belief that mosaic art is not fully accepted and embraced as a fine art by the broader art world. The conversation began with the post What's In A Name?
There are several reasons why mosaic art is not fully—or perhaps at all in some places—accepted as a fine art. Historically, mosaic was primarily functional, even in the telling of stories or witnessing of events. Then, it began taking on more decorative and pictorial responsibility as well, but was still a covering, more or less. There is no question as to the relevance of mosaic as a functional or decorative medium. Mosaic as a fine art medium is a contemporary idea, and its relevance as such is not settled.
Mosaic, in and of itself, is not automatically art, anymore than paint or clay or any other medium is automatically art. Art is expressed with a medium, but it is not the medium. Likewise, art is not an automatic result of creative exercise. While I accept that art is in the eye of the beholder, within the context of this discussion: if I desire for my mosaic art to be accepted as that thing called fine art, there is obviously a more objective standard to which I am aspiring.
In reference to the three mosaics above:
Which one of these is not like the others?
Clearly, I'm making a distinction between decorative mosaic art and that peskily nebulous category of mosaic fine art.
Or, is it clear?
With respect to the middle mosaic, I used the medium of mosaic to express an idea and create an art piece for a wall. I consider it a fine art piece. The mosaics flanking the middle one are decorative mosaic and I consider them decorative art. In fact, the one on the right flirts on the edge of being craft—OMG! I said it! (I'll talk more about this in a bit.)
A friend of mine used to say about art: Isn't it all decorative? In the broadest sense, I think she has a point. But within the context of this discussion, we have something in mind when we are saying fine art. I'm not going to try to define what that is so much as I might just try to define what it is not.
Yesterday, there was an interesting discussion taking place in the Mosaic Mentoring group on Facebook. The original poster questioned the wisdom behind how we name our mosaic businesses. Specifically, she seemed to make a connection between how we name ourselves and how mosaic, in general, is accepted—or not accepted—within the larger art world.
To this point, I've included three mosaic images above and ask: Which one of these is not like the others? Hold that thought as I will get back to it shortly.
The issue of mosaic being accepted or not, and what the reasons for this might be, is an important discussion, but one that hinges upon a more primary question:
Do you believe that mosaic art is not fully accepted/embraced as a fine art by the broader art world?
If your answer to this question is No, then this discussion is probably not relevant for you.
If your answer is Yes, then the next question to ask would be:
What do you think are the reasons for mosaic art not being fully accepted/embraced as a fine art by the broader art world?
My answer to the first question is Yes, so I'll continue.
My answer to the second question is: Several reasons that I would love to discuss, but I don't think the name we choose for our businesses is necessarily one of them.
So, now I am going to explore some things, based upon a belief that there is a struggle for mosaic art to be generally accepted as a fine art. Again, if you don't care about this question, this conversation is not meant for you.
Back to my earlier question regarding the three mosaics featured at the top of this post:
Which one of these is not like the others?
I'll talk about this in my next post.
THANK YOU to all who have already submitted work for my book idea! We are on our way to a new and unique addition to our mosaic libraries.
I've been including pics of some of my own decorative work in my promo calls, just to give you some ideas. If you're not quite sure about what qualifies as a decorative mosaic, check out this blog post that I wrote last week: What Is A Decorative Mosaic?
There is still plenty of time to get your submissions in before the August 1 deadline, so please do! If you have any questions at all, please feel free to contact me.
So, after finishing up all those frames, I decided to have a bit of fun making these little magnets. I used some scrap 1/4" thick masonite for the bases, and was able to use mostly leftover tess from previous projects.
Then, I decided to include them in my online store, which I mentioned a few weeks ago. I've been working many hours to get the store front set up and—my goodness—what a lot of work that is! Even though I don't have many items, it's still a big project: photos, pricing, packaging, shipping! It's a whole new world, and my hat's off to all of you who have already tackled this.
In listing the magnets on the store front, I needed to come up with names for all these little guys, and that was actually a fun diversion. I just named them after family and friends that came to mind as I considered each magnet.
I know that I keep saying that I am ready to get to work on that art piece, but I'm going to stop saying that. I will allow myself to work through some more of my decorative inventory for at least another month or so. And who knows, maybe longer! It feels good to be making use of some of the things that I've collected over the years.