Beginner's Mind #4

Beginner's Mind #4. 10" x 8" | 25 cm x 20 cm. Smalti, porcelain, mosaic gold, vitreous, other glass

Beginner's Mind #4, detail

Beginner's Mind #4, detail

My favorite of all four exercises, I believe that this is the most successful attempt to get close to a beginner's perspective. My cutting is loose and I worked rather freely. I started this going a different direction than where I ended up. 

Of course, I can't work like a beginner; that ship has sailed. But I was able to allow myself to let things go, to not focus on precise technique, to experiment — especially with this one, and to let go of the outcome. 

I tried to make a space to learn and to enjoy. I've never quite done anything like this one before, having the blues and yellows meet in this extreme zig-zag manner — and I think it works very well. I'm so pleased with myself to have tried something different, very different. 

Now, could a beginner really do something like this? I think so. Certainly, on a bit smaller scale. I was actually surprised by how fast it went and how forgiving it was.

The blues are very nice mixed this way. I failed to capture it, but the blue glitter tile that I used has some pink/red sparks that show in certain light; the iridescent blue, as well, sometimes reflects pinks/purples, which I did capture some of on the full image.

What an interesting couple of weeks or so. Starting out too complex and controlled, I made my way to a place which reflects the spirit of working like a beginner — or, at least, like a student. This was also an enjoyable exercise which has helped me appreciate my skill level, and the fact that there is plenty more to learn, and unlearn.

I'm feeling prepared and excited for my class, and I'm happy to have four different examples for inspiration and instruction. I've also completely nailed down the materials, of which there is a good variety. 

SAMA Conference Registration Scholarships+


I'm very pleased to announce that I will be awarding two 2015 American Mosaic Summit Full Registration Scholarships this week!! That's right, you've got this week to let me know why its important for you to get to Philadelphia in March to attend this conference. 

For more information, view the application here

Note: Additional funding for the scholarship recipients, to assist with transportation, lodging, and other expenses, is currently underway, thanks to the generous efforts of Krystie Rose Millich, aka TileMosaicGirl. Visit Fund SAMA Conf. Schol. Addl Costs.

Red Play

In preparation to resume work on Fragile Heart, I played with all the shades that I may be calling upon. Some people have a very good eye for value, but I'm not sure that I am one of them. The color is distracting to me, but this is a skill that improves with practice.

Below is the result of my morning exercise. The top two images show where I started, and the bottom two show where I ended up after several modifications. Its pretty tricky with reflection, as well as with the mottled shades of the Mexican smalti, but I do see improvement, all thanks to the black-and-white feature in my photo editor. 

I could go on endlessly making adjustments, but I think I'll stop now and hope for the best.

About Gold

My fascination with mosaic gold began shortly after my trip to Venice for an Orsoni Master Class in 2006. While there, I purchased kilos of colored golds, and a nice selection of whites to yellows. In 2007, I began working with them and I have not stopped.

I love the way that the many shades of Orsoni white through yellow golds are so responsive to light. As I walk around a mosaic with several shades, they seem to change in depth — and of course reflectivity — as though they are alive. The deeper yellow shades actually change to rich burnt umbers when viewing from a side angle, as you can see below in one of my early explorations.

© 2014 Jacqueline Iskander.   Gold Rising   (2007). 13" x 15" | 33cm x 38cm. Smalti, 12 shades of mosaic gold.

© 2014 Jacqueline Iskander. Gold Rising (2007). 13" x 15" | 33cm x 38cm. Smalti, 12 shades of mosaic gold.

I remember Maestro Lucio Orsoni being amused by the common reference of gold smalti: "It isn't smalti; it is nothing like smalti," he said. Of course, it is nothing like smalti. Although the term seems to be more commonly used all the time, I remain a holdout and call it mosaic gold

For an informative article about golds, check out Going for Gold — 10 things you should know about gold smalts from Mused, a very nice mosaic blog that I follow.