Category Archives: Improving Your Art

Articles with ideas to take your art to the next level.

Missing Tiles Detail View Mosaic Art

Why Did My Tiles Come Loose From Thinset?

Recently, artist Jackye Mills emailed me about a problem she was having with her first mosaic project, and it really caused me a lot of angst because the artwork was a strong design that was otherwise well executed. I hated the thought that a first-time mosaicist could do such a good job on something so ambitious only to lose the project due to a technical issue. Continue reading

Glass mosaic with stone background

Making Mixed-Media Mosaics By A Process of Elimination

Artist Susan Watson created a stained glass and stone mosaic for her studio exterior wall and chose the background color and material using a process of trial and elimination.

Mixed-media mosaic artists often choose backgrounds by laying tile on the pattern or backer after the figures have been tiled, as I explained in my recent article How To Choose Mosaic Background Colors and Patterns.

Black Considered For Background

Black was considered for the background because black makes colors “pop” or seem more intense. Susan decided black was too dark and didn’t look good with the colors where the mosaic would be installed.

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Anime Girl Mosaic Art by Natalija Moss

How To Choose Mosaic Background Colors and Patterns

Background colors for mosaics should be chosen based on how well they contrast with the colors used in figures. For this reason, most mosaic artists will tile their figures first and then choose their background colors by a trial-and-error process of placing tiles on the mosaic backer and just seeing how they look.

The same approach can be used to decide what pattern of placement (andamento) you should use for the background. You look at what you have in the figures in the foreground and choose a background pattern that is compatible. Continue reading

Class Photo With Mosaics

Opus Pixellatum Mosaic Class Photos and Videos

Frederic Lecut’s “Opus Pixellatum” Mosaic Class was a lot of fun, and I think the mosaics were very successful, especially with the improvised tweaking and colorization that students did in phase two of the process. In the photo above, instructor Frederic Lecut kneels in front of the class.

When people are in position at the end of the video, here is who you are looking at from left to right:

  • Robbintina Harrison holding her adorable granddaughter’s portrait.
  • Joanne Remppel holding her rescue dog’s portrait.
  • Kate Carroll holding her friend Martha Barton’s portrait.
  • Daniel Adams holding his self portrait.
  • Amy Galbavy holding her self portrait.
  • Apryl Howard holding her self portrait.
  • Daniel Baxley holding his self portrait.
  • Stephanie Cosenza holding her son Danny’s portrait.
  • Sandra Atherton holding her self portrait.

Continue reading

La Primavera Mosaic Michael Kruzich.

Mosaic Artist Michael Kruzich’s Must-See Work

Mosaic Artist Michael Kruzich has a body of work worth taking a look at, especially if you have any doubts about how well dramatic lighting can be rendered in mosaic portraiture and other figurative mosaic artwork.

But that’s not all that you need to see of his work. Michael has also made some mosaic-clad figurative sculpture that is as interesting in it’s abstract geometrical textural elements as it is in it verisimilitude –plus he has some stylized, classical and medieval interpretations. These stylized pieces are as eye catching as Michael’s naturalistic work. The reason is simple: All of Kruzich’s mosaics make great use of contrasting light and dark elements in addition to using strong pairs of complementary colors.  Continue reading

Marlene Dietrich Mosaic

Inspiring Mosaic Portraits Using A Grid Pattern

David Armstrong has created some inspiring mosaic portraits, and he did it using whole tiles arranged in a grid instead of irregular pieces cut and fit as needed. Normally, I dislike mosaic designs based on grids because they lack the extra visual element provided by tile arrangement (andamento), but David’s work has tons of visual interest that more than compensates for this. Continue reading

Class with Mosaic Master Frederic Lecut

Artist Frederic Lecut has agreed to teach a class in which student will create a naturalistic mosaic portrait of their own eyes using Frederic’s Opus Pixellatum technique. We are very excited!

Take a look at Frederic’s mosaic eye portraits to get an idea what you will make in this course, and we think you will be excited too. This course will definitely improve your mosaic skills regardless of what style you work in. Continue reading

Pan's Head mosaic in progress

Pan’s Head Mosaic: A Classical Interpretation

Artist Frederic Lecut’s “Pan’s Head” mosaic has a style that matches its theme, and it is a great example of using classical elements in a contemporary mosaic.

The face of the “goat-footed god of Attica” or Pan is the subject of Lecut’s mosaic, and consequently the artist incorporates several aspects of ancient Greek mosaic in his design. Continue reading

Interpreting Artwork In A Different Medium

Interpreting a work of art in a different medium is a matter of capturing the essence of the original without being an exact copy, although most people would prefer to see a copy that had no departures than something that was unrecognizable. With that in mind, the first step in creating an interpretation of an existing work is to identify what features are most important about it, what things define it in essence. It depends on the work of art. It isn’t always a particular detail or figure. It isn’t always the colors.

A Case Study

Cypress Bayou Painting by Joe Moorman

Cypress Bayou Painting by Joe Moorman

Cypress Bayou quilt by Jackie Iglehart

Cypress Bayou quilt panel by Jackie Iglehart. Click the the image to see a larger version.

Recently, artist Jackie Iglehart created a quilt panel interpretation of my painting “Cypress Bayou” and won this year’s quilting challenge at the Valley Forge Homestead Quilters Guild in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. I was blown away by the results. Jackie’s quilt panel captures the look and feel of my painting to an extent that I doubted was possible in that medium. Continue reading

Mosaic Interpretation of Picasso Painting

Brian Kyle’s mosaic interpretation of Picasso’s painting “Man With Ice Cream Cone” is a refreshing departure from the cute themes that seem to dominate contemporary mosaic artwork. Brian calls his mosaic “The Lecher” and says that some people are creeped out by it. I say that makes it real Art (with a capital A) in the sense of being worth thinking and talking about.

Picasso Mosaic Interpretation

Mosaic Interpretation of Picasso’s “Man With Ice-Cream Cone” by Brian Kyle. Notice how the working lines of the black background all converge on the ice cream to make it a focal point.

Improving Picasso?

Brian’s mosaic is also noteworthy because it has some interesting elements that actually build on what Picasso was doing, which is no small trick. (Successfully improving or extending a master’s work is a fairly significant accomplishment any day of the week.) Notice how the working lines of the black background all converge on the ice cream to make it a focal point. I think Picasso would have approved and possibly even been jealous of how Brian used the lines of the background to focus even more attention on the cartoonish black tongue licking the white ice cream.

Glass Beads For Texture and Depth

Another thing that makes Brian’s mosaic worth looking at is that the artist successfully used glass beads with ordinary flat glass tile to give the surface texture and depth.

Glass Beads in The Lecher Mosaic

Glass Beads in “The Lecher” Mosaic give the surface a texture that begs to be touched.

Work In Progress

Brian also sent us a good photograph of the mosaic in progress, which shows the classic direct method of drawing the pattern on the backer and mosaicing directly on that surface.

Picasso Mosaic In Progress

Work In Progress photo of “The Lecher” Mosaic shows the pattern drawn directly on the backer.