Janet Crawford has owned and operated Fog Forest Gallery in Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada since 1984.
The gallery’s current exhibit is called “Piece Works” and has been in the making for several years.
As the name implies, the exhibit features works of art that were created by assembling small pieces, and the exhibit itself is an assemblage of multiple artists and mediums, and so the title of the show is apt on multiple levels.
The mediums include collage, found-object sculpture, rug hooking, mixed media, and of course mosaic.
There are 12 artists in total including mosaicists Kath Kornelsen Rutherford, Tim Isaac, Sheryl Crowley, and Janet Crawford.
I think Janet did a great job curating the exhibit because the mosaics selected show a range of styles possible in that medium.
This article doesn’t include any images of the sculptures, rugs, and mixed-media artwork in the show, and so make sure you take a look at the gallery exhibition.
Artist Caroline Bommer’s recent Sunset Mosaic is a great example of an exception to the rules of mosaic art that I harp on in all my online content. After seeing the finished mosaic, I actually wanted to title this article, “Don’t Listen to Me. I Don’t Know Anything about Mosaic.”Exceptions to Rules of Art
I have often written about how much I like exceptions to general rules and how problematic artistic advice can be, especially when dispensed and consumed as a one-size-fits-all way.
First, there are many different styles of art. If you are trying to paint in a loose Impressionistic style, then following advice about how to paint in the French Academic style with all its crisp rendering will leave you farther from your goal.
I would caution anyone reading different art instruction books to keep that in mind.
I even recommend that you avoid reading some content out of idle curiosity when you know the style being discussed is different from what you are trying to do.
New Mexico artist Debbi Murzyn emailed me some pictures of her mosaic mandalas that she made using Native American symbols as the center of the designs.
She says she didn’t realize her cultural faux pas until she had completed them, and I think she was a little surprised by the fact that she was surprised.
After all, she does live in New Mexico and is sensitive to the problems of cultural appropriation.
To me, that gives some indication that Debbi was focused on the design of the art itself and not thinking in terms of the context of the symbol or how if would play with an audience.
Also, the mandalas don’t reproduce each symbol in the canonical way most commonly drawn. That is another indication that the art was made from the heart as opposed to leveraging the Native American associations with the symbols.
The mandalas are also interesting and skilled art in ways that don’t have anything to do with the symbols.
First there is the subtle use of harmonious hues and contrasts, and there are also some plays on symmetry.
Those were the things that dominated my attention when I first saw the mandalas.
This is an ode to the mosaic stepping stone.
There is much to praise:
Each stone can be its own design or part of a theme, or even part of a larger mosaic image made by placing similar stepping stones side by side.
Stepping stones allow you to build a larger design incrementally, from paths to patios, even whole landscapes.
They allow you to work on a project as you find the time instead of committing to a rigid installation schedule, such as required for pouring a concrete slab.
They don’t require large equipment or contractors.
They don’t require disruption of the installation area necessarily.
They make doing the work as satisfying and peaceful as the results.
In my previous post, I wrote about Peggy Pugh’s excellent use of color variegation and the potential for this technique to cause figures to lose definition when there is variegation in both the figure and the background.
In response, artist Jill Gatwood emailed me photos of a student’s work where the problem had caused the central figure to lose all definition and disappear into the background.
My apologies for the low resolution of the photo, but I was glad to receive it because it is a great illustration of the problem:Kokopelli Mosaic with original grout. If you didn’t know what I meant by figures getting lost in backgrounds, this mosaic is a prime example of what can happen when the figure and the background are both variegated in color.
I forgot to write about some of the teaching points from Peggy Pugh’s mosaic backsplash.
Variegated and mottled colors create more visual interest in mosaic artwork than monochromatic color fields.
However, there is a limit to how much variation you can put into an area of color and still render an element as a distinct element and make it look separate from the background.
Peggy Pugh’s mosaic backsplash makes me wish the vent hood for the range didn’t have to be installed!
The backsplash design is a mosaic interpretation of the view from the window opposite to it in Peggy’s kitchen. The view is of Peggy’s flower gardens with Upper Back Bay in Newport, California in the background.
Peggy says this about her inspiration and the results of her work:
It is a peaceful and everchanging scene of tides, sky, birds and wetlands. The birds are those I see in the yard or the Back Bay, a very inspiring view.
I am thoroughly delighted with the way it turned out. It is not often that my idea of something matches the finished product.-the artist
Recent blog articles have required that I use Adobe’s Photoshop software to correct the foreshortening and skewed angles in the original photographs sent in by the artists.
You can avoid foreshortening and skewed angles when photographing your artwork using the tips I have at the end of my post about frames for mosaic art.
However, you might not be able to avoid photographing your artwork at an odd angle if your artwork is immovable or if you want to capture an iridescent shimmer, which depends on the angle of the viewpoint.
That latter issue was the problem when artist Terry Broderick made photographs of his recent Grand Lake Cabin mosaic.
I was planning to write a post about using Photoshop to correct foreshortening, but Natalija beat me to it when she documented what she did to correct Terry’s photo.
My recent blog post about Lonnie Parson’s Peacock mosaic was a cautionary tale about what can happen when you fail to take at least one definitive photo of your finished mosaic.
I didn’t want that blog post to be about how to photograph your artwork in optimal light with no foreshortening. I wanted the post to be about how good the mosaic was, but since no photo of the finished work existed, the photo issue seemed like the right starting point.
Well, the miracle of Natalija has delivered yet again, and I have a second chance.
Artist Ivana Sorrells works at Mosaic Art Supply, and she made a couple of small mosaic plaques using our vitreous glass tile, stained glass, and 8-inch plywood mosaic backer boards, plus a few odd findings from a few other types of mosaic glass.
These mosaics were quick and easy for Ivana to make because they weren’t large and detailed, and they were the same size. That second point is more important than you might realize.
One you figure out the resolution issues for a particular size backer, you can make additional mosaics of that size much more quickly.
I wanted to share Ivana’s mosaics because they are original in terms of andamento, background, and artistic style.