Monday, January 11, 2010
Mosaic Monday / Inspiration
This week I want to talk about inspiration a bit. All of us have favorite artists that inspire us. I have long admired the work of Barbara Benson Keith. She has a design background that shines through in all of her work. Barb has a fondness for animal subjects and I enjoy her mosaics for that and yet it is the way she creates her compositions that really sets her work apart. You can really tell that she has thought about the negative space in a piece, the balance, the contrast, all of the design elements are present in her work and doing what they are supposed to do.
Barb's new work of Elmer the pig has really inspired me this month. When I stumbled on to it in her flickr stream I immediately saw something brand new in it that I could not even put my finger on at first. Then it hit me, this mosaic work is "loose". Then it had me asking myself just what is "loose" in mosaics? Cutting and placing tessera is a slow time consuming process that requires patience, discipline and control. How do you achieve a loose quality with such an exacting and demanding process? Barb has achieved a fresh looseness with Elmer in both cuts and color. In this new work her colors and shapes collide in an organized randomness that is just breathtaking. You have to click through to her original photo and look at the enlarged version to take in all of the little surprises that are hiding in this piece. In the middle of Elmer's head is a small bright green glass shard that is brilliantly out of place. The choice to place that green shard right there seems odd, random, quirky and it totally puts this work over the top for me. There is another lovely piece of lime green jumping out at us in the ear over to our right. It is these unexpected little color-jewels that really make this work special.
In the deeper green background she has outlined Elmer with rigid green squares as if they may somehow contain him, but this stubborn pig seems to have a will of his own. Elmer is footloose and fancy free, he is a pig that is not going to be bogged down by the tediousness of the mosaic process.
Elmer has me asking myself how I will be able to get loose in my own artwork this year. I want to find that odd "out of place" green shard in my life and in my art that will make my work sing.
Follow Barbara's art on her blog: http://barbarakeithdesigns.blogspot.com/
Or check out her main site: http://www.barbarakeithdesigns.com/