Brian Kyle’s mosaic interpretation of Picasso’s painting “Man With Ice Cream Cone” is a refreshing departure from the cute themes that seem to dominate contemporary mosaic artwork. Brian calls his mosaic “The Lecher” and says that some people are creeped out by it. I say that makes it real Art (with a capital A) in the sense of being worth thinking and talking about.Mosaic Interpretation of Picasso’s “Man With Ice-Cream Cone” by Brian Kyle. Notice how the working lines of the black background all converge on the ice cream to make it a focal point. Improving Picasso?
Brian’s mosaic is also noteworthy because it has some interesting elements that actually build on what Picasso was doing, which is no small trick. (Successfully improving or extending a master’s work is a fairly significant accomplishment any day of the week.) Notice how the working lines of the black background all converge on the ice cream to make it a focal point. I think Picasso would have approved and possibly even been jealous of how Brian used the lines of the background to focus even more attention on the cartoonish black tongue licking the white ice cream.Glass Beads For Texture and Depth Glass Beads in “The Lecher” Mosaic give the surface a texture that begs to be touched. Work In Progress
Brian also sent us a good photograph of the mosaic in progress, which shows the classic direct method of drawing the pattern on the backer and mosaicing directly on that surface.Work In Progress photo of “The Lecher” Mosaic shows the pattern drawn directly on the backer.
Contrast is a good way to create visual interest in your mosaic, and when contrast comes in the form of highlights and shadows, it also creates verisimilitude (the appearance of being real). Highlights and shadows can be as simple as shading the edges of a figure and leaving the center lighter so that the figure looks rounded instead of flat. Or you can be more ambitious and model the folds of fabric and clothing using contrasting regions of light and dark tile.Highlights On Garment Folds
Artist Claudia Benavente’s mosaics are a great example of making images more “real” and visually interesting using highlights on folds of garments and hair. The gold background of the nativity scene below was made using our silver leaf imitation gold mosaic glass.Mosaic after the facade of Siena Cathedral by artist Claudia Benavente is rich with visual interest that was created by modeling garment folds as regions of lighter and darker colors. These colors can be shades of similar hues (Mary’s robes) or different colors entirely (Joseph’s robes). Texture From Mottled Colors
Notice how the stone blocks in the above mosaic are not made from one gray color or even two grays. Instead, the artist uses perhaps six or seven different colors so that the blocks have texture. Think about how much more interesting these blocks are with their mottled colors than if they were made from one color.Hair and Vegetation Caramel Colored Horse Mosaic by artist Claudia Benavente. You can feel the wind in the horse’s tousled mane thanks to the contrasting colors used in the different strands. The use of color in the horse’s body gives it life and motion.
Hair and vegetation are also opportunities to breath life into your work. Instead of making monochromatic shapes or silhouettes to represent these elements, show the internal details.Light and Dark / Warm and Cool Red Horse Mosaic by artist Claudia Benavente uses two different methods of creating contrast: light and dark colors and warm and cool colors.
In my opinion, the Guggenheim museum owns several billion dollars in abstract paintings that aren’t nearly as interesting as the background of this mosaic. Just look at it, and you want to touch it and feel the texture created by the mottling of warm colors with light and dark colors. Notice how the cool blues and indigos of the horse’s nose and eyes contrast with the fiery red background. Notice how this mosaic looks more intensely red with the other colors mixed in than it would have if it were solid red. Contrast is the key to many aspects of visual art, including color intensity.
We now sell glass beads for use in mosaic artwork. We have several types including murano, lampwork, millefiori, etc., but for practical purposes, glass bead are best divided into two groups: those small enough to be glued next to glass mosaic tile without sticking out too far, and those so large that they are best used by pressing into a bed of thinset mortar. In either method, glass beads are a great way to give a mosaic texture and dimension and an eclectic look and feel.Small Beads For Gluing On Surfaces Some of our Glass Bead Assortments are beads small enough to be glued beside thin mosaic tile and not stick out too far. The assortments are made from beads in the same color family as shown. Larger Lampwork Beads For Pressing Into Mortar We also sell assortments of larger Lampwork Glass Beads. These are best used in stepping stone molds or pressing into thinset mortar.
Stepping Stone Molds are used to make mosaic stepping stones by pressing tile, stone, glass gems and other durable objects into wet concrete. Our large lampwork glass beads are perfect for decorative art were pieces are pressed into mortar or concrete. As always, you have to be careful with stepping stones and make sure you don’t create a slip hazard or position glass pieces in such a way that they can get broken off and leave sharp edges exposed.Ideas For Using Glass Beads
It’s easy to come up with ideas for how to use glass beads in found-object mosaics: just combine them with other items made from glass, porcelain, stone, thicker seashells, and other durable materials. But beads can also be used in figurative mosaic images. Consider the following:
Mosaic tile can be arranged in curved rows to suggest motion, such as when tiles in the background are laid out in concentric rows around the figures in the foreground. The mosaic bird image in our logo is an example of how this works:The bird in the Mosaic Art Supply logo uses background tiles arranged in concentric rows to suggest motion.
Rows of glass beads could be alternated with rows of flat glass mosaic tile to increase the contrast and make each row stand out more and heighten the effect of the concentric rows, especially if the rows of glass beads were placed more randomly and intermittently instead of every other row.
Similarly, you could use single-file lines of beads to outline figures, render letters and numbers, or draw smaller figures.Millefiori and Murano Glass Beads We have Glass Bead Assortments of various types of murano, millefiori, and lampwork.
Most of our more elaborate varieties of glass beads are larger than what could be easily glued on a flat surface next to glass tile –but not all of them! The millefiori glass beads are the exception. They are relatively thin and could be used to suggest smaller flowers in a mosaic bouquet.
In my article Stained Glass Mosaic Art, I explained how stained glass can be cut up into small pieces and used like conventional tesserae or cut larger and used to define entire elements as is done in a stained glass window. In the window mode of working, one single piece of variegated glass is used to render an element, say a tree trunk for example, and whatever shading or detail is provided by the swirls or bands in the glass. Contrast that with conventional mosaic mode, where the shading or detail is built from different pieces of glass, and together they render the tree trunk.
The objection to working in the conventional mosaic mode is that most artists don’t want to lose all the visual interest of the swirls of color by cutting them up. Canadian artist Lorna Ball demonstrates that it is possible to use stained glass cut up into small tiles and not lose the visual interest provided by the variegated colors of the glass.Grey Owl mosaic by Artist Lorna Ball demonstrates that mosaic is a fine art where individual style can be expressed as fully as in painting.
Note the bark on the trees in the mosaic below. Sure, a single piece of swirled glass could be used for the trunks, but could any swirling no matter how beautiful capture the texture and dimension of the bark facets as well as Ball’s separate slivers of different colors do?Up Through The Trees mosaic by Lorna Ball captures the essence of looking up from the forest floor. You can almost hear the birds up above in the canopy.
Lorna’s work also demonstrates an important point about using stained glass cut up into small tile: just because the tile is cut up small, it doesn’t have to be cut up into similar shapes and sizes. Notice in the mosaic below how the black tiles in the branches of the trees are completely different in shape and proportion from the white tiles in the tree trunks and from the yellow tiles that render the leaves:Autumn Trees mosaic by Lorna Ball makes successful use of different shaped tesserae.
The slender black tiles used for tree branches might make you wonder if the conventional mosaic style and the conventional stained glass style can be hybridized, and the answer is a qualified yes. For example, the above scene would have looked odd if the leaves of the canopy and forest floor were rendered in their tiny tiles and the tree trunks were replaced with single pieces of swirled glass. There has to be stylistic integrity throughout the composition, or the odd element will stick out like a sore thumb. The styles are simply too different. Look at the following mosaic by Natalija Moss as a reminder of how different these two stylistic modes are:The Major mosaic by Natalija Moss.
What if the blue strips of the background were rendered in smaller blue tiles in a conventional mosaic manner? Could the face still be composed from large pieces? No, the background would have more visual detail than the figure in the foreground, which is the exact opposite of what is needed to make the figure stand out from the background.