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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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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*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.
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