Here’s the backstory on my most recent piece, #sofun. I was inspired by a seventies style retro rainbow like these that I spotted in a store.
The rainbow prompted me to think of how I could design a wave in the same style. It involved a little math and lots of planning. I started by painting a few different designs. I honestly find the top design more pleasing, but felt like the lower design was more on par with the retro vibe I was seeking.
An added challenge was the fact that I am currently nursing a partial tear in my LCL (forearm), a chronic case of tennis elbow, and various shoulder issues. This meant I had limited use of the usual array of mosaic cutting tools and had to use a lot of precut tiles. I prefer to cut most of the tesserae that I use for mosaic, but for this particular design, the uniformity of precut tiles helped me to keep the design on target and forced me to rest my arm.
I’ll spare you all the methodical and measured details that were necessary in its creation, but it involved a several stages of taping, grouting, re-taping, and more grouting to get the reversed mirror image.
You can watch it come together if you visit my instagram page. I am having technical difficulties getting the video to directly load here. The instagram link is below.
I’ve also included a few closeups of the finished piece.
Besides glass, I incorporated some tusk shells into the white curvature of the breaking wave, and enhanced that with glass droplets and tiny little split teardrop glass beads to give some dimension, and suggest the splash.
The top and bottom of the wave are outlined with glow in the dark glass, and I embedded a few glow in the dark glass chips within the splash.
I created this piece with the intention of selling it but I've decided to keep if for a while. To me, it embodies the fun of living at the coast and I just don’t get enough chances to hang out on our beautiful beaches.
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I recently finished Faultline, pictured above. When I blog about a piece of my art, I usually start with the process and photos. Then, if there is an accompanying poem, I post it at the end of my blogpost, (only if I’m feeling courageous. I’m still not very comfortable with sharing poetry in public). In this post, I’m starting with the words.
With Faultline, I wrote the poem over a decade ago. A lifelong friend who also enjoys writing poetry and I have recently been exchanging a few poems, and this is one I dug out of my poetry vault. I decided to finally create a mosaic visual to go along with it. You can scroll down for more photos or hang in here with me while I describe how I arrived at the above work.
First, the preface to the poem: (Actually, it serves as the preface to any poem I write).
“One summer, I challenged myself to write a few poems. I enjoyed the process and have continued to compose them, using insight from my own experiences as well as inspiration from friends looking for love, or running from it. For whatever the reason, at an early age, I was given the role of trusted confidante, privy to intimate secrets, or sometimes burdened with dark truths I’d rather not know. Each allows me to empathize, my mind easily slipping on another’s shoes, be they well-worn or shiny new. I do this mostly while wide awake when I'd rather be sleeping...”
I figure that this is my “alibi” of sorts, so it might remain a mystery if I wrote a particular poem about myself or not. Chances are, if you are reading it here, it's not. Some of my friends admit secret delight in the sometimes vengeful poems written on their behalf. Don’t mess with my friends, or I may come after you with some barbed words.
This fissure did not come without warning
A chasm not so sudden to ones so keen
Plates shifted beneath foundation
Long before it tumbled.
Rumblings taking place deep within a buildup of layers
Maybe not audible,
Not surprisingly reveals two sides.
Once together, now separate
Souls, actions, words, regrets
Echo across canyons of reflection
Stake the other side
And I don’t want it
Faultline is about any estranged relationship be it romantic, platonic, familial, generational, or with colleagues or supervisors. It’s a fact of life that not all relationships last, and we can be grateful for the positive ones that do make it through the muck, and there will be muck. Respect commitment, but recognize toxicity. As I write this post in the aftermath of another horrific school shooting, I’ve realized that the meaning of this poem may also be interpreted to apply to situational divides. Sadly, human nature seems to first look to blame a side, a person, or a belief, just to gain understanding of events that have blindsided them or shouldn’t have happened.
To illustrate the poem, I first lay down a meandering asymmetrical line of reflective tile.
I then built up two sides into which I could embed some “chaos”. This chaos consisted of a lot of chunky reflective silvers, which included stones like galena and quartz and mica, glass beads, and broken pottery.
These silvers transitioned into blues which included glass, unglazed porcelain, kyanite, and larimar. The blues were bordered by an edge of reflective mirrored glass.
Finally, the piece transitioned into white, my favorite palette. This white portion was mostly made up of glass, but also included stones like selenite and marble. To finish it off, there is a smattering of coastal elements including shells and coral.
I am happy with the way this piece turned out. I like that it illustrates the words of the poem, but the overall palette of the piece and contrasting dimension allow the piece to stand on its own without its deeper backstory. I hope the viewer can share an appreciation for what I find to be its intrinsic beauty.
Below is a video of how Faultline came together.
Thanks for stopping by,
Sound of Sunshine
Here’s a look at my latest piece, Sound of Sunshine. I live in a coastal community and take loads of photos which inspire my art. I get neither sunrise nor sunset from my property. However, I can take a short walk to the bay to get both.
These beautiful sunrises and sunsets teem with brilliant color, but every so often the sky is devoid of much color. As I frequently do, I took liberties with the true colors from my inspiration photo and “dumbed it down," so to speak. My plan for this piece was to be more abstract with a white sky and blue water, but I had an assortment of beautiful gold tesserae and I just couldn’t help myself.
Ditching my initial abstract plan, I put the sun into the composition. In fact, I even ended up starting the mosaic by creating the sun first. Not my intention, but I started this piece just as the new year was beginning, and it seemed a bit metaphorical, i.e., new dawn, new day, new year.
This piece took a little more planning than normal. I couldn’t use thinset to self-grout, because some of the stained glass is transparent and I didn't want dark thinset to alter the color of the glass, but I didn’t want the interstices within the blue water to be light colored, so I adhered the larger pieces with white thinset under the glass. I then had to go back and use the dark thinset between the larger pieces so that I could adhere the dimensional pieces within the interstices. As usual, I was messy with the thinset and had more cleanup than I should have. I never learn.
For the sky, I added a bit of off-white “aura” to the sun and created a slight contrast with the sky in a truer all white with white grout.
For the most part, this piece articulates the image that was in my brain (and the tweaked inspirational photo).
Below is a short video of the piece coming together, from my initial sketch and notes through its completion.
Locals may purchase this piece through Coastal Art Center of Orange Beach beginning March 11 during the Orange Beach Festival of Art. If you are elsewhere, please feel free to contact me. Measuring 21"x30", Sound of Sunshine can hold its own unframed, since the sides are finished with colored thinset. If framed, I would recommend a floater frame.
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I consider myself fortunate to live in a coastal area. I find inspiration everywhere, from tiny treasures that wash ashore to awe-inspiring sunsets to the quietly lapping waters of the back bays. I also take a ton of photos. Some pretty good, others maybe not, but most do still serve to inspire me. Sometimes I will combine the elements of several photos into one concept for a piece of art. That’s what I did for The Fog.
I live within walking distance to Arnica Bay, an offshoot of Perdido Bay which is part of the Intracostal Waterway system. Sometimes, the fog rolls in, blanketing everything in the tiniest of fine misty white droplets. So much so, that you cannot see across the bay. This piece started with a photo, that I then tweaked with an art app on my Ipad.
I will sometimes take liberties with what may not be an accurate representation of the colors around me or in my photo. I had some unusual elements that I also wanted to incorporate, so I also “cheated” a bit with my composition and added some seagulls. I love the way their dimension casts a shadow.
Below is a video of how the piece evolved, with each edit representing around one hour’s worth of work. Unlike a painting, it can be rather difficult to change your mind about the direction of a mosaic, and sometimes be pretty annoying when you have to pry up what you may consider a mistake. You can see that this happened a few times with this piece.
Although literally The Fog represents local terrain, there is a deeper meaning to this piece. My sweet mother made it to the age of ninety and died just months before I began this piece. Of course, she was on my mind as I created it. My mother was a single mom for much of her lifetime and very resourceful with her limited income. She was a gifted teacher, intelligent, and patiently kind. A few years before turning ninety, the ravage of dementia appeared, robbing her of her once envied mind. I am grateful that she remained communicative and could still recognize me before she died, but it was heartbreaking to watch her mind fade. As I created this piece, I could not help but think of the analogy to "the fog of dementia." Below is the accompanying poem, which for me alludes to the way there are moments of clarity with dementia when "nothing is wrong" and then suddenly something misfires and the moment is gone.
Like a stealthy morning fog
That sneaks in to bathe the unsuspecting.
It swirls, taunts, and envelops,
Then retreats to prepare for another certain ambush.
Stolen moments of brilliance surface to
Cleave the murkiness
Claiming a celebrated,
But provisional victory.
The Fog is currently available at Coastal Art Center of Orange Beach.
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*Scroll to end for update on this project.
I recently finished a mosaic entitled Seacrets. It was a commission for a lovely snowbird couple who winters here in our area. They have supported me in the past and have purchased two of my other mosaics. The husband wanted to surprise his wife with another mosaic for Christmas.
Their beachfront condo was in the process of a renovation, so I went down for a site visit to see the space. Rather comically, (I think), I was told the designated place of “honor” was to be directly above the toilet. Hmmm...okay… Once I actually saw its intended home, I could understand why that location was selected. The bathroom, though beautiful, is windowless and is the only one in the condo. Both the owners and their guests will face that wall as they enter the bathroom
My only artistic directive from the husband was that he wanted the mosaic to be “organic”. I sent him some photos of materials that I had taken with me on the site visit, which included soft greens to complement their paint color and the shower tile.
After some consideration, I decided the space called for an interpretation of the scene that was out of the window that did exist in their living room. With that in mind, and after a lovely gaze out of their balcony window, I decided to create a “fake window” for them with my mosaic.
I took a photo, then manipulated it to a very blurry rendition altering the blues to more green hues, as if one were gazing out a foggy window.
I then painted a "guide." Many times, I may paint a composition directly onto the substrate, or I just wing it. In this case, I was using tinted thinset as my adhesive, and just found it easier to place my painted guide beside me as I worked.
This is a very loose interpretation of a seascape. There is a lot of texture with incorporated stone, shells, chunky glass, and even within the way the material was placed. Like the sea, there are a few surprises. Some you may find if you look closely, and some are a little more hidden. I hope this mosaic evokes the same sense of wonderment as our lovely Gulf of Mexico.
I am happy with how it turned out, and I do like the unexpected dimension one can see upon closer inspection. I also incorporated a few surprises for them, like glow in the dark stars that appear when the lights are off, and a few pieces of their leftover floor tile that I snagged from their discard pile. I wrapped the piece with hopes that the husband could wait until Christmas, so he and his wife could unwrap it together. I have heard from the client, and both he and his wife are pleased. Below is a video of how Seacrets came together.
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*update: These patrons asked for a small companion piece to go along with Seacrets. Below are a few shot of 8"x6" More Seacrets.
Careful, She's Sharp
*Warning: the following is the lengthy, more cerebral, and less succinct breakdown of how my latest piece evolved, which includes photos. Feel free to scroll down to the bottom to read the condensed version, a sassy poem, and view a quick time lapse video of the creation process.
I recently finished the mosaic above entitled, Careful, She’s Sharp: A Woman’s Voice. This concept began with a crude sketch that vaguely resembled a soundwave. Careful, She’s Sharp: A Woman’s Voice is a nod to that soundwave. Though mostly pleasant, a woman’s voice is not always perceived as strong, and all too frequently, is dismissed. This frustratingly archaic practice still permeates today's society, from professional realms to everyday interactions with strangers to the dicey dynamics of interpersonal relationships.
I knew I wanted this piece to be layered, with a textured white background that would be interesting on its own, but secondary to the real star of beautiful stained glass.
The white background also has a line of Italian smalti, (thick Italian glass) bisecting its horizontal center. I cut the smalti into a triangle shape and then placed it pointed side up.
Mosaic is not a fast art. It is very methodical in that every aspect requires thought—material selection, cuts, and placement. None of these decisions are happenstance. This slow process also allows for quite a bit of life contemplation as an artist creates a piece. After I carelessly sliced my finger on one of those sharp points, the title “Careful, She’s Sharp” came to mind.
The title was the catalyst that led me to think about the various connotations of the word “sharp”. I pondered how women use their wit, intellect, gumption, and voices to change their situations. These voices serve as both literal and symbolic soundwaves of declarations that referred back to my initial sketch.
My own circle of friends happens to include quite a few beautiful, smart women that can speak to be heard. I have several friends that have recently left long term marriages, relationships, jobs, or locales that weren’t serving their needs. They found the guts to say, “I'm gonna change this." There have been reclamations of former selves and former lives because they made their voices heard. It took courage and I applaud them for leaving their comfort zones and speaking up.
Yes, we live in the 21st century, but also, yes, women's voices are still not heard like they should be. So old, so yesterday, but tragically, still so damn prevalent. Careful, She’s Sharp represents a defiance of that notion. Women are creatures of beauty to behold, but as there always has been, there are layers upon layers of beauty, sharpness, strength, and discoveries to examine and respect. Careful, She's Sharp is my reminder. You just have to listen.
*Condensed version: “OOOooh, look! Pretty, sparkly glass. Let’s layer it!
Careful, She’s Sharp
Go ahead, take a shot
But careful where you aim
Her words are all she’s got
Though her mission is the same
Her tongue her only weapon
Used with quick precision
If bitter stares do threaten
There is no indecision
Oh, she’s sharp, that one
She’ll cut you like that knife
She’s finally found the guts
To take back her own life
*Time lapse video below of how this piece evolved:
P.S. This piece was created to be hung horizontally, but it can also be hung vertically. It is currently available for purchase at Coastal Art Center of Orange Beach.
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12/30/2022 UPDATE: Oh my gosh, the following still hasn't happened. Here's to 2023. Maybe.
It's been quite awhile since I had intentions to work on getting my online store up and running. Despite a flurry of activity during the first two months of 2017, family obligations derailed most of my creative pursuits during the remainder of that year, and a few subsequent years. Then Covid hit, and lots of other heavy things for many of my friends and family. I squeezed in two large mosaics in 2021, and finally just completed another one. Things may finally have lightened up a bit, but before I add any additional mess to my worktable, I decided to go ahead and bite the bullet and work on my website, (again). Please forgive me as I go through a learning curve. I will slowly add work, with plans to sell my jewelry collection and my mosaic fine art on this site and hopefully, Instagram, uploading little by little as time allows. My work is still available here locally, at Coastal Art Center of Orange Beach, and Gulf Coast Arts Alliance.
I do love to post work in progress and finished work here on my blog. I hope you will take the time to check back in for an occasional look at what finally does get the chance to exit my brain and end up on the "finish line" of my worktable.
Thanks for stopping by,
You’ve landed upon an occasional update about my latest project, an occasional rant about my life, or an occasional sarcastic snippet about whatever. It’ll be mostly positive vibes. I promise.