Monday, June 14, 2010

Mosaic Monday/ Making Pretty From Pretty

In mosaics there are a gazillion styles and ways of working. I am very new to the craft so I sort of break it down into two camps, the figurative and non figurative artists. I am more of a figurative artist wanting to take glass or other material and paint a picture with it in order to tell my story. Non-figurative artists use design, composition, pattern and repetition to tell their stories. Non figurative mosaic artists will take stunning materials and make stunning mosaic work. They often let the materials guide them and find more abstract methods to communicate their stories, often times the materials themselves can be part of that story.  I have personally never understood the point of making more "pretty" out of "pretty" as it seems rather redundant you know. After this recent workshop I have a brand new respect for abstract or non figurative works.


The first thing I learned in my mosaic workshop with Emma Biggs is that it is not so easy to just take pretty materials and make something pretty. Non figurative work is very very hard, no matter what you are working with. I was chipping the glaze off an ugly tile to create a very scruffy distressed tessera but I saw people working with really yummy yummy stuff that were having just as tough a time on their projects as I was with mine.

I learned that pattern and repetition in mosaic work is not rigid and the most important thing when setting up rules for your own work is to be consistent with those rules.

I learned to avoid or maybe just respect the triangle in mosaic work. I am not going to abandon triangles because I happen to like the energy that they create. I will however be much more aware of them when I use them and aware of that energy and aware of the attention they demand.

We talked a lot about the play of shiny materials against matt materials and how they throw the light around.

More than anything I think I learned the importance of finding meaning for yourself in your artwork and having the ability to communicate that passion not only through the work but verbally as well. Emma seems to be a very humble person in general and yet when she talks about her work and about mosaics there is an electricity in the air. When you have that sort of enthusiasm about what you are doing it comes across in your work, and people can not help but respond to it.

I think it will take weeks for everything I learned to really sink in. When it comes to mosaics I really learned that I have so much yet to learn.

 This is Emma. 
Each day she wore a different scarf wrap around her cast. On day three I was wishing I had been shooting her lovely bandages each day. Of course I probably would not have had the nerve to ask her to let me shoot her arm each day.


Above we are standing around Joyce's work as she and Emma discuss her project. On the last day we had a look at each project and everyone had a chance to share what they were doing. Joyce is playing with broken china, and pieces of hand made ceramic tile, combining them in a very wonderful way.

This is Katrina above with her piece. She is working with muted tones and playing with the surface of the stone, contrasting shiny textures with matt.

Lee Ann above with her piece.
She had a really dynamic design and was working with fun colors. I really enjoyed watching this piece progress.  She got a lot done on a very large project.

Tricia's Work. I love the design concept on this. Tricia was playing with tone and created a triangular center on this piece that she made lighter in hue than the outer circles. See what I mean about yummy materials. Tricia had a candy store of color that she brought with her every day. I can't wait to see this finished, I think it is going to be very cool.

 Deb's work. This is one of my favorite projects above and I don't even know why. Maybe it was the terrific collage design sketch she is working from. I should have shot that too. Deb seemed to have a clear plan and the matt quality of the black tiles next to the blue was just perfect.

My work in progress. This is the basic design on mine above. Below you will see how much tile I actually got laid down. I am liking it ok, but it really is very different for me. I am going to see it through to the end though, I know I will learn a lot from this project. Right now the overall design seems very flat to me which is weird considering how chunky the materials are.

There were a lot more cool projects than I am showing here. Once I get a chance to sort through the pics I will post them to an album over at flickr and facebook. I really enjoyed this workshop. I learned a lot from Emma and from my classmates.

Thanks to my dog art readers for reading through the workshop posts. I'll be posting more animal art later this week.  It is business as usual around here today as I try to get caught up at Art Paw.

Workshop Related Posts:
Rap Music, Mosaics and Birds
So We Begin
Getting Way Outside My Comfort Zone


7 comments:

cbmosaics said...

How cool, Rebecca! Thanks so much for sharing your class experience. And good for you for going out of your comfort zone! Looking forward to more progress. :)

Rebecca Collins said...

Thanks Christine for reading along! Don't know when I have written so much blog content in such a short time. It is easy to blog-write when you are excited about something.

AutumnLeaves said...

I so love mosaics and have been itching to try one for quite some time. I'm going to have read up on the materials used (such as what you use to stick the glass, tiles, or other materials to your boards). These are all so pretty and I hope they send you photos of when they are finished. I also look forward to seeing your piece. It so far has a retro vibe to it for me. I think, like you, I'd want to be more figurative in my work, not as abstract.

Moira said...

This post was really inspiring to me. Watching you and the other artists learn from a master. Thanks for sharing the experience and letting us look at your process. Creation is always a mystery and it is fascinating to watch others work.

Also loving your new blog design. Looks awesome!

Rebecca Collins said...

Sherry : Take a class if you can and if you choose to go it alone then look for books by Emma Biggs and also Sonia King.

Moira, hey girl thanks for dropping over and reading through my lengthy novel here. I am glad you found inspiration, It was a very inspiring 5 days for me.

Sonia King said...

Great observations and write up. Love the pic of Emma laughing :-)

Rebecca Collins said...

Hi Sonia, thanks for dropping by. I like that shot of her too, she is such a fun lady, and a real trooper for coming to us with broken ribs.