Artist Donna Stern recently completed a series of abstract mosaics that are exactly what I think of when someone emails asking for fun project ideas for a group day in the studio.
Series of Smalls
The first thing is that it is a series. More importantly, each element in the series is the same size and shape, allowing the individual mosaics to be arranged into a meta composition or displayed separately with equal ease.
TIP: For the solo artist, a “series of smalls” of uniform size allows the artist to explore and hone their skills in a more rapid way compared to making a series of unrelated compositions of different sizes.
The second thing I like about this series as a suggestion for a group activity is that it is abstract.
Abstract mosaic offers a range of possibilities that don’t require drawing an object or composing a scene, but neither does it completely rule out representation of physical objects.
That allows the different people in the group or class to choose their own design and level of difficulty and still be able to make pieces that could be assembled or displayed as part of a whole composition.
TIP: The secret of making a group project fun for everyone is to accommodate different skill levels.
Of course, it is also possible to allow different artists or small groups of artists to make their elements in the series their own way with little or no coordination in design or colors or theme.
Those group mosaic compositions can be the visual equivalent of the traditional “crazy quilt” designs in American quilt making.
Notice how these mosaics aren’t overly large in size or overly COMPLEX in design.
None of these mosaics have designs that are significantly more intricate than the others.
This makes the series a great teaching example for showing a class before a one-day mosaic studio session.
Before you divide the class up into individuals or small working groups, remind everyone about the length of the studio session.
You should mention this several times as you demonstrate the basics of cutting tile and arranging and gluing down pieces.
A simple keystoned curve is the best subject for an intro demonstration, in my opinion.
Talk about complexity and level of detail. Make people conscious of this.
Otherwise many first-timers will fall to work and lose themselves in something so intricate that it will take many days to complete.