Tracy Hodson has once again curated an impressive mosaic exhibition for the Bandon Library Art Gallery. This annual exhibition continues to attract a diverse representation of contemporary mosaic art. Through thoughtful essays and sensitive curation, Tracy offers a deep and informative perspective on mosaic art, which enriches the exhibition experience for all who are fortunate enough to view it.
Please enjoy this year’s essay and a photo tour of the exhibition here.
This photo is a better quality than the one I posted yesterday (at right). It was taken outside in morning light. Although I adjusted it to warm up the natural coolness of the light, it still looks a bit cool. I think part of it is that it has a little more reflection going on, which does help bring out some of the texture.
I prefer the photo in studio lighting, probably because this is closest to what I see when I look at it. But the above photo is sharper and shows more detail.
Lighting can be quite vexing for an amateur such as myself.
About Familial Wounds
I think of familial wounds as being the psycho-emotional wounds that occur in our upbringing, especially through neglect and abuse. Another dimension to these wounds is that they are often ancestral, going back some number of generations. Until one is able to recognize an unhealthy family dynamic, well… it’s just your family and you have no frame of reference from which to have any judgement on it. It’s just how things are. Ignorance obscures your vision. Until an unhealthy family dynamic is recognized, it continues to be perpetuated. At the moment when there is recognition that things are not healthy—not good—a choice can be made.
By some magical confluence of happenings, I was able to recognize my own family’s very unhealthy and destructive dynamic, which began my escape from that dynamic, that worldview. While the word escape is fitting, it is also somewhat lacking because, although I escaped it, it has never left me.
My choice to follow a very different path and develop a very different worldview—a different way of seeing the world and my relationship to it—was the right choice, but it was not easy. I became an outsider in my own family, and as time went on and I continued on my path, it became more and more difficult to maintain a relationship with my parents and siblings. They could only interpret my behavior and choices through the lens of their worldview, the worldview that I was rejecting.
My family did not see an unhealthy dynamic, nor could my parents see the unhealthy dynamic in their own childhoods. So, through ignorance, it was perpetuated. The wounds live on, and are passed on, like DNA. Some wounds are like open wounds, being aggravated by all the things outside of us. Some wounds are just embedded in our tissue, recognized and healed, but they leave their mark. They change us, and in that sense they never leave.
This mosaic came out of my own experience and ruminations on familial wounds. As I was working on it, I began realizing that although I have succeeded in escaping that damaging worldview, and I have succeeded in developing what I believe is a healthy and good worldview, I can feel that old dynamic as viscerally as if I were still a part of it. I am not a part of it, but it is part of me.
So, the dimensional rings in the mosaic represent recent, open, and/or festering wounds. The embedded rings represent wounds that have healed and only their imprint remains. The gold lines represent energy: this could be seen as our body’s natural healing energy, as divine energy—grace, or just consciousness. To me, they are all of those. Of course, the color is meant to suggest tissue, raw emotional tissue. The gradation from dark to light represents hope. The dark swoops from top and bottom—defined by absence of material and connected to the outside border—can be interpreted as darkness, or the perils of the outside world. At one point, I thought of them as the daggers of life. The mosaic as a whole speaks to the healing process—we can recognize our wounds, make different choices, and heal. However, the wounds leave their mark, a testament to change and growth that helps define who we become.
Though the initial concept was of emotional wounds, it evolved toward what is for me the more potent issue of familial wounds. And I can’t say that I had even thought of it in those terms before. The work helped me more fully understand that it is familial wounds that have left their mark on me, and led me to the life I live. Bless those beautiful wounds!
Here’s a slideshow of my best photos from our time in Europe in September.
I was very happy to have sold a few mosaics at the Bandon Library’s 4th Annual Mosaic Show in June, in Bandon, OR. The two pieces, above from my Rhythms series found new homes, as well as the two minis below.
These were two of six little mosaics I did as part of the 2008 MAO Monthly Challenge. Their titles reflect the theme of the challenge.
Memoryware 3” x 2” | 8cm x 5cm. Broken Spode, costume jewelry, glass beads.
Architecture 3” x 2” | 8cm x 5cm. Onyx, hematite, shell, glass, Swarovski crystals.
Someone wanted to know why I thought the andamento for my recent mosaic, Homage To Kilauea, was so difficult. I must clarify that just because it was difficult for me does not mean that it would be for everyone. I doubt that someone like Giulio Menossi, who has truly mastered a very refined andamento in his stunning portraiture work, would have been as challenged on this piece as I was. This kind of refined andamento requires, I believe, a whole lotta practice.
Looking back over my years of mosaic experience, I feel like I have only dabbled in this kind of andamento. Without years of experience doing this kind of thing, I find it is vital to draw out the andamento, piece by piece. I did not do that with this mosaic because, when I started it, I was just playing around. As I progressed on the work, my innate sense of seriousness and challenge led me to take the andamento more seriously than I had initially intended.
So, what was so difficult about it for me? Three things:
- The spaces, which I'll call channels, around the large shale pieces and the small stones are very narrow. That's a quarter in the pic on the right, which is about the size of a euro. (It's cloudy today so the image at right is on the dark side—apologies.) The channels primarily range about 3/8" wide to about 1 1/4" at the widest, not counting the lower right area where the blue flares out to the edge.
- The average size of the smalti pieces is quite small, the majority being between 1/8" and 1/4".
- It is just very tricky to express flow around sharp curves and into and out of areas of varying size—small to large/large to small—and where the flow goes in all directions.
With such small spaces in which to work, I felt like a more refined andamento would best express the flow that I wanted. My study with Menossi doing portraiture is the most refined andamento I have ever worked with, and the most difficult. Expressing the contours of the face, flowing in and out of the shadows and angles and fullness and hollows of a face, using andamento as well as color and shading, is a demanding technical skill.
I worked with this kind of refined andamento on a recent work, Storyteller, but to a much lesser degree than I attempted here. After completing this work, I've decided to do another work incorporating this kind of andamento. I'll blog about it as I go, starting with my next post in the next few days. The piece will be similar to this one and will present the same andamento challenges. Let's see how I do.
In the last few days since finishing Stabby, I've been playing around with simple patterns and color combinations for decorative 2" frame options. I've put them all together on these two idea boards.
The bottom board includes corner option patterns. I've come to prefer a continuous pattern around the frame, without any corner deviation of the pattern, but—surprise—not everyone is like me. 😎
I was able to primarily use remains from previous projects that I have accumulated over the many years of making decorative frames, bottles, magnets, and a few boxes.
Now, it's time to get back to an art piece that I started before Stabby came into my life. I'll also be transitioning to working on an easel after 20+ years of working on a table. I guess I'm ready for an adventure!
I really can't believe that this mosaic is 11 years old! This was my first serious attempt at working with these gorgeous materials, and was the beginning of a love affair that lasts to this day.
It seems that most people think that the title refers to the biblical Old Testament which, although not intended, is understandable. The title actually refers to the fossil's voice, its story, which is very old indeed.
Old Testament now sings its song in the beautiful home of a Tulsa architect.
I was fortunate enough to attend Lynne Chinn's recent class at Julie Richey's studio in the Bishop Arts District in Dallas. It was an outstanding class. Lynne is such a good teacher and a super fun person as well. And Julie really has the hosting thing completely under control.
Julie's studio is really in a fabulous location, with food and lodging options within walking distance in the lovely artsy area that is the Bishop Arts District. This was just a wonderful workshop experience.
Adding to my small but growing collection, I acquired a piece each from Julie and Lynne. I think they are just perfect for my studio, don't you? (Just click on the images for a larger view.)
This is a little exercise I did in preparation for my next mosaic, which will be much larger at 27" x 36" | 69cm x 91cm.
As you can see, I've used quite a range of values in different shades of browns and reds. I had intended to go a value lighter, but realized that I did not want it that light for this upcoming work. I'm not even sure that I want to go as light as I did in this little exercise.
I never feel like I am very good at this, but I feel compelled to keep doing it. I take photos along the way, converting to black and white which is very useful.
I was not focusing much on technique here, just shading. After I got started, I decided to try to also work in a circular pattern, although I won't be using such andamento in the larger work.
This exercise was very helpful. It helped me to eliminate lighter brown shades, and to better define the range of values that I want to use in my next work. I can see that I'll need to expand the medium-light values to develop that mid-range more fully.
I've often been frustrated when I see some of my photos, that I have become accustomed to viewing on a monitor, in printed format. This is because of the RGB to CMYK conversion. I'm thinking about this now as it relates to my upcoming book, CREATIONS, and as I've been working with literally hundreds of images.
The above awesome graphic illustrates the difference between RGB, which is how we see images on a computer screen, and CMYK, which is how we typically see images in print.
RGB, which stands for Red, Green, Blue, is a broader spectrum than CMYK, which stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black. In regard to printing, CMYK is also called 4 Color. The above graphic illustrates how much narrower the CMYK spectrum is than the RGB spectrum.
Most printing, whether digital or offset, is 4 color, or CMYK. Very high-end and/or custom printing offers CMYK + light cyan and light magenta, and possibly more, or CMYK + a spot color—whatever a customer is willing to pay for. Coca-Cola Red and IBM Blue, for example, are CMYK + a spot color, when in print.
Where the RGB/CMYK difference is most visible to me is in very vibrant blues with some violet. However, it is primarily noticeable in a relative sense: I notice it because I have seen the RGB representation, and I am aware of what is being lost relative to what I see on screen and with my own eyes.
What a nice surprise!!
Wow! I am so pleased with how the book is coming along. It has truly been an honor and a joy to work with mosaic people from around the world. Part of the delight, as I have been receiving mosaic bundles of photos and other information from the artists, is to see so many countries represented.
Currently, approximately 1/3 of the 54 features are complete, although still preliminary until final proofing and approval. This is remarkable, considering that the deadline of Oct. 31 is still more than a week away. The artists have, on the whole, provided excellent photos; where there have been issues with not being able to provide quality photos, I have been able to work with the artist to resolve things and make sure that they are represented.
Out of all the stunning photos of all the amazing mosaics, I have chosen a tentative-almost certain cover image that I believe perfectly represents the spirit of this book. I feel it's too early to release the cover, but maybe in my next update, after the deadline and all the bundles come in.
Although I am not ready to share the cover, I can share a bit about the format of the book.
- The book will be somewhere around 200 pages. It will be 11" x 8.5", portrait orientation, softcover.
- The book should be available no later than late winter-early spring 2018. However, it is coming along a little faster than I had anticipated, so it could be more like mid-winter, or late January-February.
- There will be a brief Introduction, written by me, and possibly an even more brief Preface.
- There will be a Foreword—fingers crossed—written by a very special someone with a broad and knowledgeable mosaic view, matched by their massive mosaic passion.
- Then, there is the heart of the book: the Presenting Artists.
- Each artist will have either a two or four-page feature. I decided against three-page features as that created flow problems. Each artist's feature starts on a left-facing page.
- Each feature begins with the artist sharing about themselves, in their own words, in their own fashion, about why and/or how they do what they do. Approximately 250 words provides several paragraphs on the first page of the feature. Depending on how long this narrative is, there may or may not be an image of their work on this page.
- Photos! You will immediately see the artist's work featured on the right-facing page, accompanied by a brief narrative—in the artist's own words—about each work presented.
- There are a good number of photos that lend themselves to being used in a very large format, either across an entire spread of two facing pages, or filling a single page. These photos are chosen to be presented in large format based upon their size in pixels, on whether the subject matter lends itself to such presentation, and on my attempt to be fair. In fact, there are more than I can feasibly exploit, but I'm doing my best!
- After the Presenting Artists section, and all the hundreds of images, there will be an Index of the artists, providing contact information.
- There will be an index of the works, by category. For example: Furniture, Architectural, Public Works, Exterior Decor, etc.
- There will be an Acknowledgements at the end of the book.
So, that's it! I am so very happy and excited about how this is coming together. By way of this book, I am meeting artists from around the world, and seeing work that I've never seen before. It's completely awesome! AWESOME, AWESOME, AWESOME!
Another birdie leaves the nest! This bottle has found a new home, and thankfully arrived there safe and sound! Cheers indeed!
Another reason to cheer is that the sale of this bottle was the first official sale via my new storefront, J MOSAIC. I'll admit that I was nervous packing up the item, and rewrapped it twice. Then, I nestled it in a bed of compostable packing peanuts, inside of a 500 lb. double wall box. Fortunately, all is well.
My musician son is writing a clarinet solo piece, inspired by this old mosaic. Isn't that cool?
When I look back at an old piece like this, I tend to be pretty critical. It's so easy to see the limit of my technical ability and mosaic education. There is a particular andamento issue that now stands out to me, in the light pink yin of the yin-yang.
Also, the circular pattern of the interstices, cutting through the petals surrounding the yin-yang, was not intentional, although I now consider it a happy accident because I think it adds something. It is interesting that the unintentional—and therefore unordered—petal cuts has created a somewhat ordered circle. Chaos creates order?
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.