Category: Inspiration

  • Frida Kahlo Mosaic

    Frida Kahlo Mosaic

    Artist Denise Cook’s mosaic portrait of Frida Kahlo is a great teaching example. It illustrates several important tips for making better mosaic artwork. The background and skin tones are made more visually interesting via variegation of shade and hue respectively. There is also a satisfying andamento in the background, and the use of found objects to represent pictorial elements is done seamlessly.

    Visual Interest In Backgrounds

    Portraits often have simple “monochromatic” backgrounds so that the central figure is more iconic.

    In painting, it is easy to avoid boring uniformity in a nominally “monochrome” color field merely by being a little lazy. If the paint isn’t overmixed to perfect uniformity on the palette, every brushstroke can’t help but have a slightly different shade or hue or both.

    In mosaic, you can achieve similar results by using 2 or 3 different tints of the same or similar hue. That is what Denise did in her Frida Kahlo portrait.

  • Mixed-Media Mosaic as Bas-Relief Sculpture

    Mixed-Media Mosaic as Bas-Relief Sculpture

    Artist Mollie Seymour’s mosaic plaque is a depiction of a small pueblo of cliff dwellings in a rugged canyon with water and sky rendered in bold andamento. Mollie made this for the mosaic for the courtyard of a condominium. I wanted to share it because it is a good example of using mixed-media mosaic to make a bas-relief sculpture.

    The Treachery of Images by Belgian surrealist painter René Magritte, 1929. “This Is Not A Pipe.” MMM: Where a Pipe Really Is a Pipe

    Mixed-media mosaic (MMM) is a medium of art where elements of a composition can actually be the item being “depicted.” For example, a mosaic face could be smoking a real pipe. The artist can use a mix of found objects and elements rendered in conventional tile to produce results that engage the mind as both image and symbol all at once.

  • Mosaic Lazy Susan Teaching Example

    Mosaic Lazy Susan Teaching Example

    Artist Kim Wilkowich emailed me a picture of the mosaic lazy susan she recently completed, and I think any artist would be justifiably proud to have made it merely because it is so well-balanced and harmonious in multiple ways. It is a great teaching example for several fundamentals of art and composition.

    Looking for instructions for making your own mosaic on a wooden lazy susan? My previous blog article uses a coaster for demonstrating how to lay up a complex design over a pattern and to be able to edit the design before you actually glue it to the wood. For a lazy susan, you would use the lazy susan to trace a large circle on some butcher paper or pieces of printer paper taped together. I would not try to wrap a circular board with contact paper. Remove paints or sealants from the wood before gluing tiles to it.

    Why does this mosaic look like it could have only been made by an experienced competent artist if not a professional? Of course there is the tight execution and consistent grout gap and strong iconic designs, but for me what sets it apart more than anything else is the consistency between the different panel designs.

    Similar levels of complexity and tesserae size between panels.Colors and design elements distributed between panels.Harmony of color intensity.Balance amount of cool colors and warm colors.Pairs of color wheel opposites used throughout the mosaic. Mosaic Lazy Susan has similar level of complexity between panel designs, even the leaves of the tree and the composite panel design at the bottom have no piece smaller than a piece used in the other iconic panels.

  • Art Therapy Projects

    Art Therapy Projects

    Art Therapist Ellis Eisner sent me some photos of her client’s mosaics and her own work, and I wanted to share them with you and use them to illustrate several points.

    Mosaic the Gateway Medium

    Mosaic holds a special place in art education and art therapy in my opinion.

    Often all that is required to get that process started is let people play with some tiles and a backer.

    People who say they have no artistic ability will suddenly find that they are sliding tiles around to form simple pictures and shapes and designs.

    Sorting a pile of small colorful objects is even more elemental than doodling with pen. It’s something animals do.

    Handling objects is less abstract than drawing. It matters that the tiles are objects with weight and not paper-thin, not merely 2-D shapes.

  • Stalking Van Gogh in Mosaic

    Stalking Van Gogh in Mosaic

    Artist Terry Broderick‘s latest mosaic is titled “Red Light District / Amsterdam,” and it is an interesting follow up to his Pittsburgh Cityscape mosaic, which is equally impressive. I feel like both mosaics could be part of a show called “Stalking Van Gogh in Mosaic.”

    I like the Amsterdam mosaic for several reasons: It’s a good teaching example of perspective and vanishing point and creating a sense of depth. It’s a very fine job of capturing the “temperature of light” and the look of things at night and how you can feel that it is night in the scene.

  • Owl Mosaics and The Importance of Andamento

    Owl Mosaics and The Importance of Andamento

    Linda Lawton emailed me some pics of her recent owl mosaics, and one of them had an issue that made it a good teaching example about the importance of andamento. That mosaic also became a case study for how to mosaic on top of part of an existing mosaic if you want to rework a detail.

    Three Owl Mosaics by artist Linda Lawton. Great Horned Owl, Eastern Screech Owl, Barn Owl

    Since Linda is serious about her art and is always working to improve it, I felt like I could be honest with her in a way I couldn’t when critiquing the artwork of “someone I didn’t know.”

    Over the past few years, Linda had emailed me about several different mosaics where she had ripped up tiles and re-executed details she wasn’t happy with. Some people have the true artist’s obsession with art and making it better, and it shows no matter the age or skill level.

  • Coronavirus Helmets

    Coronavirus Helmets

    My son and I took a short break from planting our native and heirloom vegetable garden and digging a second tadpole pond and made Coronavirus Helmets, which are an essential piece of equipment these days. The Coronavirus Helmet featured in this post is mine. I have more about Henry’s helmet later in this post.

    As I write, there is almost as much proof that these helmets repel Coronavirus as there is proof that malaria meds work for Coronavirus -at least not any better than any number of existing pharmaceuticals that were designed for viruses and not a protozoa like malaria.

    That is why I feel like I have contributed as much in the fight against the pandemic as Donald Trump has.

    More actually. I spent much of February warning friends and relatives of the coming catastrophe and encouraging them to buy groceries and make other preparations as soon as possible.

    What did the President do in February? He repeatedly claimed everything was under control and played golf.

    My apologies to anyone who is offended by that comment, but you might want to give me a pass for several reasons:

    My ex-wife is from NYC, and I was aware of all the deeply disturbing things that local people knew about Trump BEFORE he entered politics, including assessments by deeply conservative bankers and tradesmen who hated Hillary Clinton with a passion. Most anyone who worked with Trump described him as a crook and cheat with too many ties to the wrong sort of Russians.

    Like any experienced manufacturing engineer, I had a complete safety plan for my employees to work solo shifts wearing N95 masks I purchased well in advance of the crisis, having dealt with outbreaks of flu and stomach virus in production lines before. My criticism of Donald Trump’s lack of a timely response is from professional experience.

    The mosaic business is merely one of my activities, and I spent the past year looking into developing an aptameric alternative to protein-based drugs such as Humira. My masters thesis involved microbiology and the University of Georgia patented it.

    -Joe Moorman, MS, engineer coronavirus-helmet-found-object-art-rear-v2-20200411_175310

    How does a guy who has 8 part-time employees outperform the President of the United States? And how did I do it when my decisions were only based on basic information accessible to anyone who follows international news?

    I don’t often use words like doddamn and futhermucker when I speak to my momma on the phone, but I did when I called her and explained why she needed to stop watching Fox News.

  • Well-Executed First-Time Mosaic

    Well-Executed First-Time Mosaic

    One of the most well-executed mosaics I have ever seen in terms fine details wrought in slivers of glass came to me in photos in an email last week from artist Irene Clifford.

    As Natalija pointed out, ” Most people would throw away tiny pieces like that as scraps.”

    The mosaic is excellent work in several ways.

    The andamento of the mosaic as a whole is instinctive, and it fits the details and curves being rendered naturally (instead of being rows to cover space without much regard for the shape of the color field).

    The size of details relative to tile size is optimal for creating visual interest. That and the andamento impress me more than the exceptionally well-executed details with glass slivers.

    Most people could make multiple mosaics without ever coming close to this level of instinctive andamento or being able to work with tesserae that small, being more or less a sliver.

  • Centering Mosaic Table Top Designs

    Centering Mosaic Table Top Designs

    Artist Stephanie Potter‘s mosaic table top designs are mandalas that catch and hold the eye with contrast, symmetry, and visual interest. They are centered so that the outer circle of tile is at the edge of the circular table tops.

    Mosaics made on wooden table tops are for indoor use. Outdoors, the wood swells and contracts with changes in humidity, and that causes tiles to pop off.

    Mosaic Table Top Stephanie Potter Iridescent Glass Mandala

    Of course, it is easy to explain how you keep a design centered if you draw out all the work lines for the rows of tile, which would be more or less required for such detailed, symmetrical designs like these made by Stephanie.

    But how do you center a mosaic on a round table if your pattern doesn’t show every row of tile? What do you do when you want to improvise a figure in the center of a table but still surround it with concentric rings of tiles where the outermost ring of tile is at the edge of the table?

  • Geometric Architectural Perspectives

    Geometric Architectural Perspectives

    Recently I wrote about The Stylistic Range of Mosaic Art and mentioned that I am still being surprised by the different styles that artists are able to execute in the medium, especially those with formal training.

    I meant formal training in art when I first wrote that, and I was thinking about how technical innovation is easier for someone who has studied the nuts and bolts of different mediums.

    Later I got to thinking about the extent to which art is fertilized by study of other disciplines, and not just the example of how Renaissance artists studied mathematical perspective and anatomy.

  • Public Art and Commissioned Mosaics

    Public Art and Commissioned Mosaics

    Artist Steven “Stevo” Sadvary has a broad mosaic portfolio of pet portraits, cityscapes, signage, educational murals and other public art, all solidly rendered.

    I like public art that inspires people to make their own art, especially children, and I think there are a few things about Stevo’s art that make it optimal in that way.

    Mosaic Sign Phoenix Dragon Tiger Tortoise by artist Steven “Stevo” Sadvary.

  • River and Prairie Mosaics

    River and Prairie Mosaics

    Artist Janet Flom used some of our vitreous tile in some pubic space mosaics in 2016-17 that are photorealistic and well-executed, and I wanted to show them off as inspiration. The subjects of the mosaics are prairie wildflower patches and landscapes of the upper Mississippi River.

    Andamento

    I say Janet’s mosaics are well-executed because the tiles are arranged in lines that correspond to the shape being rendered instead of being placed in a grid where each tile is nothing more than a pixel.

    I greatly prefer mosaics that have this added element of visual interest and think it is worth the extra effort.

    Using an andamento that follows the shapes being rendered also allows you to capture smaller details with larger pieces.