Before I Was An Artist, #2 / by Jacqueline Iskander Mosaics

Wood specimen with a story, and a future date with mosaic destiny, I'm fairly certain. Roughly 8" x 3".

Did you think that this series would move in a chronological order, from past to present? I suppose that I did. But it won't. Today, I feel the need to reflect on more recent happenings. 

I'm in this position of reflecting, in general, because I decided to not make mosaics for some period of time. That period of time, I estimated, would be between a few months and forever. Why? Something just was not right in my relationship with my work, something that just did not feel honest, felt a bit corrupted, like I took a wrong turn somewhere some time ago, but had just kept going. I just had to stop. And when I did, I looked around and realized that I had completely wandered off the path, any path. Where's the path? I saw no path. Hmm...

Well, that all sounds rather serious, doesn't it? Dishonest, corrupted, lost my way - indeed. What way? Did I ever really even have a way? No worries - I will not lead you into the psycho-emotional brambles of my interior forest, at least not so obviously. It's just that I received a nice email today from someone who had read my blog. She was very generous in sharing that she can relate to such life predicaments, and saw a lot of parallels between us. It made me feel like I should provide a little backstory. 

Now, it's not just about the art. Is it ever? In recent years I've had a lot of other things happening in my life that were bound to have an impact on my mosaic passion, not the least of which is that I have been doing it for almost 20 years. My kids are now all grown; I have been blessed with two grandchildren of whose lives I have the honor to be a regular part; I lost my younger brother in October 2014; and I spent the month of December 2014 with my daughter, in San Jose, as she underwent her gender reassignment surgery. Although I felt prepared, psychologically and emotionally, for Allison's transition surgery, it seems my body was still to take the blow. I was sick with a terrible cold, sinus and respiratory infections for the entire month. That was probably the worst month of my life, being so sick and needing to nurse my daughter through that. I had to be there, no question about that. No other place that I could or would have been. But, whew!

Throughout the remainder of winter and into the spring of 2015, I found myself running out of mosaic fuel. I finished up a couple of things. I tried to start a couple of new things. I gave up on those couple of new things. The last mosaic I made was in honor of my brother, Loner, in AprilI abandoned the studio before summer started, except to make some decorations for my two grandsons' Thomas the Train joint birthday party in November. I had decided to take an indefinite sabbatical. 

Instead of making mosaics, I would study cooking and wine. I would go to Culinary Arts School. All my life I'd never been much into cooking, as I found it completely intimidating. Sure, I could design and execute a mosaic from a bunch of raw materials, but cooking was just beyond me. Planning a meal, making a list, going to the store, preparing the meal - what a damn chore! My mother was not a very elaborate or exotic cook. We grew up on canned vegetables and fruits, and she basically repeated the same recipes she knew. I don't mean to criticize, but she was just a typical middle of the country, not very imaginative cook. After I started traveling to Italy and France and Turkey, and being married to an Egyptian, I started to be a little more interested in the quality of my food experiences. And then, there was wine...

I have been cooking a lot in the absence of mosaicking, watching cooking tutorials and lessons online, and studying about wine. I'm feeling much more competent in the kitchen and truly enjoying it. (My family seems to be enjoying it too.) So that's good. But let me tell you about what happened last week.

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