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.
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!!
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!
So let's talk a bit about decorative mosaics.
The mosaic above is a decorative wall panel. It was inspired by a necklace found in King Tut's tomb (image at right, photo by Araldo de Luca). While the necklace itself is not purely decorative, my rendition of it is.
I was attracted to the repetitious and almost geometrical composition of the lotus flowers and buds, as well as the lovely composition of the fully opened flowers. I chose the color palette to go with a particular room. No deep meaning here, just wanted to create a decor item for the house.
If you're not sure if a mosaic is decorative or not, explore the intention with which you made it. A still life, for example, may not be expressing a deep meaning, but it is probably expressing a point of view. Did you make the still life of flowers merely to decorate a wall or to match the furniture? Or were you trying to communicate your experience of those flowers?
Likewise, a pet or human portrait—while it may not be a philosophical statement, is most likely an attempt to communicate aspects of its subject.
The above image shows two necklaces: A stunning mosaic pendant by Margo Anton, and a non-mosaic piece that I bought at a museum gift shop in Mesa, AZ.
Since Margo was one of the first to submit for my book, I am pretty comfortable saying that the necklace she made is a decorative mosaic. Her intention was to make something beautiful that someone would find joy in wearing. I can personally attest to the success of her intention.
It's pretty clear that the other necklace's intention is to make a statement. While it is not mosaic, it can hopefully be a helpful example.
So, is all mosaic jewelry decorative? No. As the creator, your intention answers the question. After that, it truly is in the eye of the beholder as to with what level of art it will be embraced.