Mosaic Detail Bee over Flowers, Left

Variegated and Mottled Colors for Better Mosaics

I forgot to write about some of the teaching points from Peggy Pugh’s mosaic backsplash.

Variegated and mottled colors create more visual interest in mosaic artwork than monochromatic color fields.

However, there is a limit to how much variation you can put into an area of color and still render an element as a distinct element and make it look separate from the background.

Mosaic Detail Bee over Flowers, Right
Mosaic Detail Bee over Flowers, Right


The blue wildflowers and the green meadow in the background are a good example of a situation where extra care was required.

Both elements are variegated with very light tints of their hues which don’t contrast each other very well. (The lightest green looks not much different from the lightest blue.)

Similarly, the deep midnight blue and the very deep green wouldn’t make a good contrast with each other.

Peggy navigated this hazard by using a contrast of light and dark.

Notice that the green meadow in the background nearest the blue flowers is all light and medium tints of green, while the blue flowers includes petals of the deepest blue.

Small Figures

Small figures are especially limited and virtually no variegation can be used in many of these cases simply because their aren’t that many tiles involved.

There are also situations where you might not want to cut the pieces smaller to be able to include more color variation.

The bee in the foreground is a good example of this point.

Of course the bee could be made from smaller pieces, but the bold cut-out construction of the bee makes it stand out better from the background.

It also helps unify the composition as a whole by being in harmony with the bold construction of the golden orange flowers dominating the foreground.

Contrasting Colors

The contrast of warm golden orange and cool blues and greens in this mosaic is beautiful. The lower portion of the mosaic is a strong composition all by itself thanks to this contrast.

No Opportunity Wasted

“But wait, there’s more…”

Mosaic Detail Redwing Blackbird
Mosaic Detail Redwing Blackbird

Real artists don’t miss opportunities to make their art more interesting.

This blackbird is just a small part of the mosaic, but it is amazing.

The restrained use of iridescent glass for a few of the wing feathers does a great job of depicting the subtle iridescence of blackbird plumage.

And don’t get me started about how much I like the use of the star millefiori for the bird’s eye.

Normally when I see a found object used instead of tiles to render eyes, I don’t like the results. It always seems to look out of place. Here, it looks inspired.







4 responses to “Variegated and Mottled Colors for Better Mosaics”

  1. Sabrina Avatar

    Can you please tell me which glass she used for this mosaic?

    1. Natalija Moss Avatar
      Natalija Moss

      Hey Sabrina, almost all of the mosaic is stained glass. The bird’s eye is millefiori, as are some of the flowers in the meadow, but virtually everything else is stained glass.

  2. Pam Avatar

    This is a stunning and striking work. Peggy has a great sense of color theory. A true work of art.

  3. Jill Gatwood Avatar

    Great post! As a teacher for beginning mosaic artists, I often have to work with students to avoid a background that is too variegated and hides the subject, or uses the same tone/color family in the background and the same thing happens. I’m going to share this post in my next newsletter. (I’m also going to send Joe an example of this mistake in a student piece and how we “fixed” it.) Thanks! Jill

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