Secret Tip for Improving Your Mosaics

Mosaic tile is laid one tile at a time, and the process can be distracting artistically. The mind becomes focused on fitting small pieces together instead of seeing the image as a whole. Fortunately there are ways around this problem.

Seeing the Image as a Whole

Seeing the image as a whole is the key to creating better visual art. That is why painters frequently step back from their easels and squint at their work in progress.

The goal of squinting at a distance is to blur the fine details and see only the general shapes and contrasts on the canvas. The artist wants to know, “Is the image recognizable at a glance?”

Well, that might work fine for a painting on an easel, but mosaic are made lying horizontally. How could you step back from something lying flat?

The answer isn’t to get a ladder.

The answer is to snap of photo of the mosaic in progress using your phone’s camera and look at the tiny thumbnail image.

Sue Hague recently discovered this trick, and she is as big a believer in it as I am.

She writes:

I take pictures of my work at the end of each day and review what is strong and what is weak in my work. I am literally too close to really see what I am doing and I find my head is too into a section to see overall what flaws there might be…

The camera has become my second or other eye and helps me to see it more clearly. It is unbiased and ruthless and very helpful.

Case Study

Sue emailed me an example of a problem she recently solved using work-in-progress photography.

Sue was making a large icon of Christ’s head, and her daily progress photos pointed out that the color scheme she was using to shade the sides of the nose wasn’t working and needed to be simplified.

Sue simplified the colors of the shading, and the results speak for themselves:






3 responses to “Secret Tip for Improving Your Mosaics”

  1. Andreas Symeonides Avatar
    Andreas Symeonides

    Great article, good information and beautiful piece!
    Thank you!

  2. Meru Avatar

    Thanks for the helpful tip! Something I’ve done is to look at a photo in black-and-white to gauge whether the overall value scheme of lights and darks is working.

    1. Joe Moorman Avatar
      Joe Moorman

      That is an excellent suggestion! I’m sure that will help a lot of people who have looked at their work so long that they can’t see it objectively any more.

      I also work on more than one piece of art at a time. Switching back and forth between different mosaics (or paintings or sculptures) has been the best way I have found to keep my eye seeing the art objectively.

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