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.
Angela Bortone and Natalija Moss recently restored a marble mosaic interpretation of a detail from Botticelli’s Venus, the well-known Renaissance painting.
They used the Hercules Precision Stone Chopping Machine to cut the Mable Mosaic Cutting Strips they used for the work.
Note that many colors of our Mable Mosaic Cutting Strips are currently out of stock but will be restocked in 45 days.
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.
My recent blog article about small mosaics has a section at the end that explains how to take catalog-ready photos of mosaic art. My article about mosaic frames includes some discussion about the best light for photographing artwork and the need to avoid foreshortening.
I know why the issue is coming up more and more in my thoughts.
People are emailing me photos of amazing artwork, but all too often the photos leave me wanting to know what the artwork really looks like without lighting or angle issues. I can tell that the art is good and that the photos don’t do it justice.
Some artists are bad about photographing their artwork because they are always consumed by their latest project and drop artwork quickly once it is deemed complete.
I have been making some small mosaics on our bamboo mosaic coaster backers, and I wanted to share a photo of the collection so far and talk about some more advantages of working in a series of smalls.
Each of these coasters will be a “tile” that is used in a large sculpture that is in the form of a framed altarpiece with a small door at the center. An altarpiece is a backdrop for an altar or sacred relic. The wall in which the door is set is tiled with these coasters and makes up most of the area of the flat altarpiece.
I’m thinking I will use the sculpture as a removable cover for my generically-tiled fireplace. Then I could make a little art shrine in front of that, nothing elaborate, mostly found-object curios for my cats to knock over.
The whole assembly will be called the Doorway of Curiosity. It will be fun to hear what little kids ask about it. I’ll put the dinosaur bones and gold ore in front of it.
Back to the advantages of a series of smalls.Many Are Called
“Many are called, but few are chosen.”
Not all of these mosaics will make the cut and end up on my sculpture, and that is a very good thing.
Being able to take a risk and try something different without being committed to using the results is very liberating.
I will use most of these coasters as tiles for my sculpture, the vast majority in fact, but I can tell right now that the cat mosaic won’t be used. It doesn’t have the right mood. The cat looks sad and scared. That’s not the right feel for a doorway of curiosity.
If you design a larger project built from small studies, you put yourself in the position of being able to use only the best of what you make for the actual project.Art Versus Real Life
My mind never designs just one version of anything. My mind spends a lot of time detailing alternative versions even though they won’t be the version I actually make.
I think this problem is shared by a lot of visual artists and creative makers.
Small works help me with that overwhelming feeling of having more ideas than time. For me, that feeling can strike pretty hard if I am working on a larger project that keeps getting interrupted by real life.
We all have periods when life stuff gets out of hand and studio time is limited.
How do you keep working on your art during the busier periods in your life?
The beauty of working in a series of smalls is that they can be completed in shorter studio sessions, sessions that might be frustratingly inadequate for a larger work.
Over the past twelve months, I rewired my house and worked on a ton of ecology projects and did a lot of maintenance that I had put off over the pandemic.
Choosing this series of small mosaics as the art project for this busy period was the right thing for me.
When I was younger, I noticed that busy periods resulted in more frustration with my art because I would suddenly find myself binging on a project that had exploded out of my mind.
Those passion projects that explode out of nowhere like that usually aren’t small or practical. It’s better to conceive of projects that can accommodate time limitations, and a series of smalls does that.Mosaic Coasters by Joe Moorman with the artist’s toes and the spot where I spilled stuff last week. Photographing Your Artwork
It’s fairly easy to make catalog-worthy photos of your artwork, even with a smartphone, which is how I made these photos (Samsung Galaxy 8).
Take at least one photo with the camera pointed directly at the artwork. Don’t photograph two-dimensional artwork from an angle so that it is foreshortened in some way.
Don’t photograph your artwork indoors under yellow artificial light.
Here’s how you do it.Photograph your artwork outside, but not in direct or saturated sunlight. Late afternoons and overcast days are good.Lay your artwork flat on the ground and photograph it straight down. Use a stepladder if needed. Make sure that there is a straight gap of background showing all the way around the artwork. If the gaps run at an angle to the edge of the artwork, then the camera isn’t being held perfectly perpendicular to the artwork.
A stylized logo or pattern is different from a picture of an object. In a picture, the goal is to create a sense of verisimilitude (likeness) by including small details and visual complexity. In a logo, there is an opposite emphasis. To create a logo, images are “posterized” and every element is reduced to monochromatic color fields and small details are eliminated.
Before I write about how well artist Curt Gassmann used gridded element in his Minnesota Vikings logo, I need to explain why you shouldn’t use them in a mosaic picture if your goal is to make the image as interesting as possible.
Artist Marianne Limandri’s mosaics are good examples of how to create more interesting designs by thinking in terms of curves instead of straight lines.
Straight line segments (or their imperfect representations) occur all the time in nature, from cactus needles all the way up to the endless horizon on the open sea, but they are the exception more than the rule. Nearly every other element in any given natural scene will be anything other than a line.Lines by Default
Straight lines are much more common in human artifacts and architecture. If you are trying to train your mind to see and depict the natural world, you need to unlearn some default modes of visualization.
Start thinking of lines as temporary starting points and design aids that are discarded as the work progresses.
Paints can be blended to any shade or hue, but the mosaic medium requires that an artist render an image in a limited set of fixed colors.
The color palettes of molded glass tile product lines are limited to 40 to 60-ish colors, and this limitation seems to encourage novice artists to work in a posterized style of monochromatic color fields.
You can fight this tendency toward dullness and increase visual interest by variegating your monochromatic color fields with multiple shades of the same hue or a set of related hues.