• Value Contrast in Abstract Mosaic Artwork

    Value Contrast in Abstract Mosaic Artwork

    Natalija has made some abstract stained glass mosaics over the years, and I noticed something about one of them last week: It’s as a great example of value contrast and its power for creating a sense of depth and increasing visual interest.

    I’ve written previously about the importance of value contrast in figurative mosaic artwork for depth and visual interest, but seeing it demonstrated in abstract mosaic art “proves” the point more objectively.

    In abstract art, there aren’t figures to create a sense of depth with some figures in front of other figures. There isn’t perspective either.

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  • Mosaic Planter Grouted in Sections

    Mosaic Planter Grouted in Sections

    Artist Donna Stern recently completed a round mosaic planter, which she grouted in sections.

    I wanted to share that work for several reasons, and not merely because it is solid work with an emphasis on primary colors with a good balance of warm and cool colors.

    There are several discussion points:

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  • Value Contrast and Variegation in Small Mosaic Artwork

    Value Contrast and Variegation in Small Mosaic Artwork

    I have written quite a bit about using color variegation to increase visual interest and the importance of value contrast in mosaic artwork.

    These two concepts are related, at least in a crude way: they both involve using multiple colors instead of one color, and they both make the artwork more interesting visually.

    Value Contrast

    Contrast in value is usually encountered in the form of highlights and shadows, although it should be noted that even abstract art is much more visually interesting when there is contrast in value.

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  • Student Mosaics & Black Grout

    Student Mosaics & Black Grout

    The mosaics in this article are mostly student work and use a wider grout gap than I recommend. The most-helpful tip about grout color is to use smaller grout gaps:

    The smaller the grout gap, the less impact grout has on the image and its colors. The process of grouting is also easier with a smaller gap.

    All that being said, some artists like wide grout gaps because they give the mosaic the look and feel of tiles pressed into wet mortar. That’s fine. It all depends on what you are trying to do.

    Most of the improvised tile/found-object mosaics of Mexico have that look and feel because that is what they are, and they are nothing short of magical.

    These mosaics are from one of Jill Gatwood’s many classes. As a group, these mosaics illustrate several discussion points about grout color.

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  • Excellence in Mosaic Art

    Excellence in Mosaic Art

    In my post, “Agonizing over Mosaic Icons,” I discussed artist Sue Hague’s mosaic reproductions of Greek Christian icons, and the troubles she was experiencing due to the grout gap.

    My advice to Sue was to eliminate the grout gap in her future work because these icons weren’t architectural surfaces exposed to the elements. The grout isn’t needed. Make the tiles touch. You couldn’t do this on a backsplash, but for an icon or plaque; sure, no problem.

    I am pleased to announce that Sue took the advice to heart, and the results are soooo good.

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  • Rendering Light with Verisimilitude in Mosaic

    Rendering Light with Verisimilitude in Mosaic

    Artist Karen Kittmer’s mosaics are beautiful works of art. They are also worthy of study for several different reasons if you are serious about improving your own mosaics.

    The first reason I recommend Karen’s work for study is that she renders light and shadow with photographic verisimilitude.

    The second reason is that Karen isn’t limited to photo-realism but also creates imaginative pieces including mosaic sculpture. There is Art in the art.

    Serious students of mosaic technique might also want to take a look at Karen’s work because she uses an indirect method with a photograph or painting as cartoon (mosaic pattern), and she lays the tile out on top of that.

    Beginners should be advised that this method requires commitment and artistic skill and isn’t a hack that eliminates either.

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  • Grout Study: Mixed-Media Mosaic

    Grout Study: Mixed-Media Mosaic

    Artist Lorie Beercheck emailed me an in-progress photo of the mixed-media mosaic sign plaque she was making as a housewarming gift for her friends new B&B.

    Lorie wanted advice on the grout color.

    I was glad to give it because the mosaic was a mixed-media figurative image and so more likely to impacted by the choice of grout color.

    There were also some special concerns that made good points of discussion.

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  • Mosaic Virtuosity: Stained Glass Paintings

    Mosaic Virtuosity: Stained Glass Paintings

    Artist Lisa Sunshine’s stained-glass mosaics are tiny 4-inch iconic images intended for use in an illustrated alphabet series.

    I’m not sure whether these images are Sunshine’s own compositions or if she is using an existing illustrated series as a model, but either way the mosaics are virtuoso stuff.

    Sunshine’s mosaics are “impressionistic paintings” rendered in stained glass, they are miniatures, and they make the rest of us look like amateurs.

    TIP: Most people wouldn’t enjoy working in this small size and would prefer a 10″ or 12″ backer, especially if the mosaic contains multiple figures.

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  • Using Floor Tiles as Backers for Outdoor Mosaic Plaques

    Using Floor Tiles as Backers for Outdoor Mosaic Plaques

    Concrete stepping stones should be used as the bases for outdoor mosaics that will be walked on, and the stepping stones and thinset mortar that you would need to make those are available at most any building material store.

    But what if you want to make small mosaic signs and mosaic plaques for your garden or porch?

    Large porcelain floor tiles make great bases for these outdoor mosaics.

    Ever since I started publishing updates on my mosaic door project that uses bamboo coasters for the bases of the small mosaics, I have been hoping that someone would email me an outdoor project that used “large” porcelain floor tiles as bases.

    By “large” I mean anything 4 inches or larger.

    Artist Cathy Reisfelt delivered.

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  • Mosaic Hallucinations

    Mosaic Hallucinations

    The month of January is tax prep and inventory season for our glass mosaic tile business, and it’s been a stressful time each and every year for 20 years, at least for a week or two or certain days.

    This year is particularly stressful for a variety of reasons: unprecedented inflation, weak sales, bookkeeper gone incommunicado, personal tragedies, you name it.

    And to top it off, just yesterday I came down with the horrible sore throat and sinus infection that half the half the kids in my son’s school have been passing around since October.

    Well, my neighbor gave me one of those moth pills that help you sleep, and I think I drank too much cough medicine on top of that because I had weird dreams all night long and woke up the next morning outside by the tadpole ponds.

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  • Mosaic Mural by Stages

    Mosaic Mural by Stages

    Artist Kim Kahrilas’ bunny mosaic mural uses pet portraits and children’s book illustrations for inspiration and demonstrates how you can create a larger project by making it in modules.

    Kim made the mosaic on sections of tile backer board, with each section or panel having it own composition: four separate stand-alone scenes featuring bunnies plus some more narrow divider panels and the grass underneath the other panels.

    Kim says that it took 2 years to complete the project and that looking back over the photos made her realize that she had completed a lot of other projects during that period.

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  • Mosaic Door First Full Revision

    Mosaic Door First Full Revision

    My Mosaic Door Project was something I had never done before: combining a work of art that was being made for magical/spiritual reasons with a commitment to FINALLY start doing a good job of photographing my artwork as I work and creating good teaching examples.

    I’m the guy that has never photographed vacations and wilderness trips and important peak experiences. I am too busy experiencing things to document it.

    Needless to say, creating art is one of those times I am too engaged to with what I am doing to be photographing things, at least at the best times or stages for a good how-to photo.

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