Wednesday, July 28, 2010

My Inspiration Fridge

I like to be reminded, often, of the artists I admire and learn from. My fridge features a rotating display of my favorite inspirations. You can see that those who have a way with color are high on my list. Betty Bolivar, whose card on the top middle features one of her unique portraits, is always fresh and inspiring. Elizabeth St. Hilaire Nelson, whose peacock is middle-right, creates luminous color in her collages. Tom Stephens, just above the water dispenser, is a Sarasota artist who builds layers of texture and color in paintings that I always find engrossing -- they are almost like mosaics with blobs of pigment.  

One of the markers I use to judge artwork is the fact that you never get tired of looking at good art. Naturally I see my fridge many times during the day, and I always get inspired by what I see -- it's almost like taking a class every time I walk into my kitchen.  What inspires you?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Pineapple - Phase 2

Here is the almost-complete pineapple. I just have to do the background, which will be three shades of purple. I'll start with a light violet next to the pineapple and progressively get darker out to the borders. Then I'll need to take it to my friend's house and make an exact template for the size of the hole it's going in. I'm going to have to add something in the bottom of the space, because the surrounding concrete veneer is about 3/8 inch thick, and the mosaic at this point is only about 1/8. I'm leaning toward putting down a couple of layers of mortar - I plan to consult with a friend who is a professional tile installer.

I had fun with the oranges and yellows in the pineapple, laying them in a pattern that makes the fruit look 3-D, in a sort of abstract way. The planes of the tiles (I left a lot of them square) remind me a little bit of how a geodesic dome creates a round shape with lots of flat planes. The leaves were harder - lots and lots of special cuts - but I'm happy with the result.

Fellow mosaic artist and blogger Eve Lynch (see link to her blog on the right) commented that the idea of filling holes with mosaic reminded her of a British artist, Jimmy South, who installs mosaics in potholes around London in guerilla fashion. Great idea! What a nice surprise to be stuck in traffic, look down and see a work of art in the road. 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Pineapple - Phase I

This is a mosaic in progress for a friend's driveway. In one section, she has a thin - about 1/4 inch - stamped concrete "veneer" in a brick design. Water has seeped underneath, leaving a section about 4 feet square that came loose from the thicker concrete pad underneath. I'm creating this pineapple in matte glass tile to go in that section. I'm adhering it to mesh, in oranges and yellows; the background will be shades of purple and violet (my friend likes color.) When it's done, I'll use something strong and waterproof to adhere it to the driveway pad, and grout in place. The second picture shows my cat, Furbaby, who always wants to be where the action is.

One of my very first mosaic commissions was for another friend whose new house had settled, making cracks in several places in the large floor tile. Since it is almost impossible to match new tile exactly with something that has already been installed, she had the idea of little mosaic scenes for each part. We brought in a handyman with one of those hand-held tile saws, and her made random shapes in each area around the cracks. He then cut pieces of luon (very thin plywood) for me to work with. I glued the designs directly onto the luon, fixed them into each cut-out and grouted in place. The second picture shows one of these mosaics. There are about 7 or 8 throughout the house.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Conceptual or ... ?

For the past week or so I've been thinking about the judging on the TV show "Work of Art." So far, I have to say that I've agreed with the judges' decision about the overall winner, but their unfailing praise of pieces that are purely conceptual leaves me a little cold. Does no one value beauty or well-executed technique any more? In my mind, good art has several aspects to it besides concept.

I've run into this question when I've tried to write an "artist statement," which almost every exhibition requires. Does anyone read those? It often seems a waste of time, and so many of them read as if they were a strain to write. It's as if your work doesn't have value unless it has some philosophical or mystical basis. Maybe it takes more years than I have under my belt to develop that sensibility; at this moment, I just like to create things that are beautiful or interesting to look at, or which solve some design problem, or which express some particular feeling. That's about as conceptual as I'm going to get - at least for now. What do you think? 

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Thanks, Mom

My mother was cleaning out some boxes recently and found these buttons - an early "mosaic" project that I had completely forgotten about. I must have been in junior high or high school, and I think I was intending to make these into jewelry; some of them have brooch pins glued to the back. 

It made me remember how sweet it was to grow up in a house where creativity was encouraged and there were always art materials to experiment with (my mother taught elementary art). All kids should have that kind of opportunity.

These also reminded me of a mosaic form called "micromosaic": exquisite creations using tiny pieces of enamel, glass, semiprecious stones, and found objects. The art form dates back centuries, but there are many artists doing it today. I know a mosaic artist in Atlanta, Janice Schmidt, who creates beautiful one-of-a-kind belt buckles in micromosaic. I'm working a lot larger now in mosaic, but I sure appreciate the patience and steady hand that this type of artwork requires.

Thanks to all the Moms out there who save everything! Some day it may spark a happy memory.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Thoughts on Independence

July 4th is always a special day for me, not only because it's our national holiday, but also because it's my birthday too. I've read a lot about our founding fathers, and continue to be amazed that such an extraordinary group of people lived on this Earth at one time and managed to agree with each other enough to put together the framework for this wonderful country of ours that has endured - through thick and thin - for 234 years with freedoms intact.

I am especially thankful whenever I think about how we are at liberty to create any kind of "art" that we feel like. If you watched last week's episode of "Work of Art," you might have shared my reactions: I don't enjoy "shock art," but I sure appreciate the fact that those artists can create it without fear of being hauled off to prison or worse to satisfy the blindered views of some totalitarian rulers. Sure, our institutions of government and politics have great faults, but repression of freedom of expression is not one of them. Cue the fireworks.