Category Archives: Flickr

Artist Watch: Cynthia Monica

I’d like to introduce you to Cynthia Monica. Her mosaics are so vastly different to what I think I could ever do – a lot of texture using a combination of natural materials, found objects, glass… Love it! Here’s her story:

“I am 58 (hard to believe), and I was born and raised in the West Los Angeles/Santa Monica area of California.  I think my first inkling of being an artist was as a child.  I loved to color in coloring books, and my claim to fame was being the “best colorer” on my block, along with being the best handball player in school, I should add.   I always loved choosing beautiful colors, and of course the pages in my coloring book were very neat and I never went outside the lines.  I adored my art teacher, Mrs. Shubue, in elementary school and loved to make things in her class. My first job at 16 was working at Pacific Ocean Park (POP) on the old Ocean Park Pier, that subsequently burned down.  It was a great adventure.  I had a blast working at the paint pots, squirting plastic bottles of paint onto whirling paper. When folks were finished, I matted their “masterpieces” in cardboard frames.  On my breaks I rode the rickety old wooden roller coaster, and I saw Sonny & Cher perform live when they were still wearing fur vests.  I think there were all of about 30 or 40 people watching them on that typical sunny Southern California day, standing on an outdoor stage right in front of the roller coaster.  I am definitely a child of the 60’s, as I went to “Love-Ins” and wore flowers in my hair.  I saw Jim Morrison and the Doors at After Hours on the Sunset Strip; Jimmy Hendrix at the Forum, and many other famous musicians of the 60’s.  What a “trip”.  I became a bit rebellious, cutting school and experimenting with drugs a bit, after all, it was the 60’s.  I expressed myself by making collages on my bedroom door, painting the inside of my closet purple, and putting my mattress on the floor.  My family always thought of my creative endeavors as “weird”, a label that still sticks with me to this day.  In high school my major was art and I started out in college as an art major.  I loved every medium I was introduced to; ceramics, print making, graphic design, painting, drawing, etc.  I just couldn’t get enough.  At that time I wanted to be a graphic designer.  I always had a fascination with logos and lettering and design.  I had a graphic design class and next to me sat a very talented young man, who had amazing drawing skills, and one day while we were in class he produced the most incredible drawing I had ever seen.  I looked at his work, and thought “I could never be that good”, and that turned out to be a very pivotal moment in my life, because there and then, I gave up my dream of becoming a graphic designer.  I ended up as a Philosophy major, and graduated from UCLA with a BA.  A lot of good that did me, as I did not want to teach, or pursue a career in academia which is about it, as far as philosophy goes.  So I floundered around for many years, working different jobs, in advertising, interior design, real estate, and others, searching for something, but not really knowing what.  I was always taking ceramics, or drawing or painting, interior design, graphic design, computer design, or any art class I could get my hands on in the evenings.  As I got older I decided I needed a “proper career”.  I was always interested in the psyche and the human experience, so off I went to USC for graduate school and I became a psychotherapist.  I worked in that field for about 10 years, but it always seemed like something was missing.  During that time I met my husband, Corbett, and after living in California for all our lives, we moved to Portland, Oregon, practically on a whim.  We have now been here for 11 years, and for the last 4 years, we have lived out in the country, on the Sandy River.  We have a couple of acres, and feel blessed to live in the midst of such splendor and beauty.  With the support of Corbett, I left my career, and through his encouragement began pursuing my long lost dream, to be an artist.   I started with crockery and taught myself how to mosaic through trial and error.  I graduated to glass and became enthralled with vitreous, smalti, and now mixed media.  I am still trying to find my “voice” it seems, but it is the journey, I have learned to love.  I am fascinated by the process of each piece, as well as the outcome.  Sometimes I paint, or work in collage and other mediums, as I love them all.  I am happiest when I am creating, and feel a bit lost when I am not.  As of late, I am trying develop my online skills and presence, joining various social networking sites.  It is a big learning curve for me, but I’m getting more knowledgeable, slow and steady.  I spend hours on  flickr, as I love to see the mosaics created by others.  I have also started a blog, titled “Outside the Lines”, which serves as a reminder that I don’t have to stay inside the lines anymore, I can even scribble if I want.  I have met some amazing people online, and feel blessed to a part of the virtual group of mosaic artists on flickr and CMA, for they are some of the most kind and generous people around. For a time, I had a hard time thinking of myself as an artist, although I have studied many art mediums through the years, and have always had the inclination.  But, finally, I just became used to the idea.  Yes, I am an artist, and I’m not sure where I’m going from here, but I know I will be fulfilled as long as I continue to pursue my passion – art.”

I know I say it over and over, but really! People are soooooo interesting. Thanks Cynthia for sharing your amazing story. Now for the visual feast:


Meandering


Urban Relics


Emerge #4 – detail


Emerge # 2


Taj Mahal Birdhouse

Finally, meet the Artiste – 🙂


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Filed under Abstract, Art, Artist Watch Series, Artists, Cynthia Monica, Emerging, Female, Flickr, Inspiration, Mosaic, Mosaic Materials, Recycled, Uncategorized, Wall Hanging

Immortalising Childrens’ Art

My 5 year old was playing with sidewalk chalk last weekend on a (very large) stepping stone at the bottom of the stairs of our deck. She drew one of her loveflies, which I adore. I’ve been planning a mosaic rug on this particular substrate and after seeing her gorgeous lovefly, decided to mosaic it instead. It was supposed to be something we did together, however her response to this was “Oh, it’s OK Mum you can do it” 😉

Can I say I love immortalising childrens’ art? What better way to do so than with mosaic!? 😀

Lovefly

Lovefly

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Filed under Architectural Installations, Art, Artists, Finished pieces, Flickr, Floor, Garden Mosaics, Kids, Kids' Projects, Mosaic, My projects, Nature, Pavement, Stepping Stones, Uncategorized

Artist Watch: Ilona Fried

I’ve always been quite fascinated with Ilona and her work and I was excited that she agreed to be a part of this series. I’m deviating from the norm this time around – here’s her story, in her own words…

Although I used to do a lot of drawing as a child, I did not consider myself an artist for most of my adult life; periodically I would dabble in some art form or another, usually ceramics and photography, while working in various professions…I won’t bore you with the list!  I was drawn to art but was also a bit apprehensive about pursuing it – in fact, about 10 years ago one of my photography instructors pulled me aside and said, “I think you really want to be an artist.”  I felt as if he had revealed some deep secret and
although I did not pursue photography as an art form his words stayed with me.

Fast forward to 2001 when I was working as a management consultant and traveling a lot. When 9/11 happened I really woke up to the fact that life is short and that I no longer wanted to be doing a stressful job that I did not enjoy. To quell my anxiety about the future I started designing jewelry and months later worked up the nerve to resign and start a jewelry design business.  I loved combining color, shape and texture in my jewelry and finding new materials to use, but after awhile I felt limited by the jewelry format as a means of self-expression.  I wanted to work with color, shape and pattern on a larger scale and to create fine art. Although I had taken a few painting classes over the years, the medium did not grab me.  Mosaics seemed like the natural next step in my creative path, allowing me to continue working with my hands and with a wide variety of tesserae – beads, ceramic, glass, stone and more.

I took my first mosaic class in 2006 in a community education program – the instructor showed us how to cut and what adhesive to use, and that was about it.  Not completely satisfied, I decided to study with the experts and in the spring of 2007 went to the Mosaic School in Ravenna, Italy.  There I was very surprised to discover that even I could cut teeny tiny pieces with a hammer and hardie!  When I returned to the US I saw a call for an all-mosaic exhibit in the Boston area, where I was living at the time.   Back then I had only made a handful of mosaics and two were accepted.  I was thrilled! One of them sold after the show ended.  That helped me take my mosaic making a bit more seriously. And having one of my pieces published in Brit Hammer’s “Mosaic: Finding Your Own Voice” inspired me to keep going, as have all the many wonderful mosaic artists I’ve met at SAMA conferences and online. I really enjoy using an ancient medium to express contemporary themes and being part of an international community of artists; I’ve traveled to two dozen countries and lived overseas a few times – in Hungary, Ecuador, and Mexico – and so I welcome any mosaic-related opportunity to get on an airplane.

About a year ago I thought about relocating to Colorado where I could pursue another passion: hiking.  The “Art Gods” were on my side – I found a terrific studio in an artist building during one of my exploratory trips to Denver.  So I packed up and moved here.  Being outdoors in stunning scenery helps me recharge and gives me ideas for mosaics. Some of my abstract pieces are inspired by mountains and how I feel when I’m at high altitude – completely at peace with myself and deeply connected to the world. Sometimes I am able to experience that same feeling when I am deeply engrossed in making a mosaic. Life doesn’t get much better than that!

Family Outing

Tamago

New Directions

Shades of Memory

Salmon Maki

My Analogous Self

Just love this portrait, everything about it is so great!

Ilona’s website is a treat: clean, organised and well presented, do check it out. It’s everything I love in a website, especially the art! 🙂 If you’re on Facebook, become a fan of her work!

Finally meet Ilona –

Eccles

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Filed under Abstract, Art, Artist Watch Series, Artists, Emerging, Female, Flickr, Ilona Fried, Inspiration, Mosaic, Portraiture, Uncategorized, Wall Hanging

Another Mural Under the Belt, Spring Class Schedule & Tempered Glass Class

I’m done, I’m really, really done!

Mermaid Mural - Done!

Well, I kind of cheated and decided against doing the fish… for now. She looks complete without it and I am swimming in other mosaic ideas and wanting to get a start 🙂 Am really happy with her, and though no name has come to mind, I know it will come, perhaps one day. In the meantime it is Mermaid & Octopus (!). How creative of me.

So I am releasing dates for an early Spring schedule, as I have had a number of enquiries.

  • Exterior Mosaic Basics – the last weekend of August, Saturday 29 and Sunday 30
  • Tempered Glass Mosaics – Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 September
  • Interior Mosaic Basics – Saturday 26 & Sunday 27 September

Just to give a brief explanation of the tempered glass (TG) class as most people are perhaps unaware of the term here in Australia and for the most part are unaware of its use in mosaic. I believe we call it safety glass, for the most part. It is the kind of glass most commonly used in shop windows and, here at least, occasionally used for (the expensive) shower screens. When it breaks, it crumbles instead of breaking into sharp shards hence the safety aspect to it. For a concise definition of this kind of glass check out this manufacturer’s website.  Of course, as mosaic artists, we use it broken. Great for memento mosaics, it also has other broader decorative uses too. Come check out the class and make a mosaic slightly left of centre! Pre treatment, broken tempered glass looks like this:

Tempered Glass Mania

Post treatment, here are some examples of its use in mosaics from mosaic artists on Flickr. You can see more in the Tempered Glass Mosaics Group. (All mosaic works are copyright to the artists and like everything not to be used without express written permission. Please be inspired rather than copying).

Ilana
Ilana by Susan Crocenzi

Knot a Swirl
Knot a Swirl by Lin Schorr

Unrequited Love
Unrequited Love by Stacy Alexander

Diversion
Diversion by Crystal Thomas

Latte Heart Valentine
Latte Heart Valentine by Lori Desormeaux

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Filed under Architectural Installations, Art, Artists, Copyright, Events, Finished pieces, Flickr, Kim Grant, Mosaic, Mosaic Materials, Murals, My projects, Portraiture, Tempered Glass, Uncategorized, Workshops

Artist Watch: Irit Levy

I only recently found out about Irit Levy‘s art. I immediately felt a sense of shame as to how I could have possibly allowed her to fly under my radar! The first mosaic I saw of hers was the tree she made for Christine Brallier, a tree trade 🙂 I’ve been hooked ever since.

For as long as she can remember, Irit always painted and drew. As a young child, she surrounded herself with all sorts of paper and different types of paints and crayons, even creating art from glass as an older child. “With no internet or TV this was my easy escape from boredom”. Irit discovered her local glazier who would give her some coloured glass offcuts which she then cut and glued, “Of course it didn’t hold long. Who knew then about different types of glues…”.

As a young adult, Levy studied painting at the art academy in Israel. She later went on to pursue Economics and worked in this field for a number of years before returning to a different art academy, again in Israel. It was here she met Doron Bar-Adon, who she claims has the most influence on her art today. It wasn’t until leaving Israel that she discovered other mediums, taking pottery very seriously. “Though I had done pottery before, it was actually the first time I dived into “brushless” art. I think that without knowing it yet then, it was at this moment that I was opened to different types of art”.

It wasn’t until mid 2006 on a visit to New York City that Irit discovered mosaic as an art form. “I stumbled, by chance, onto the Sicis showroom. The beauty of this place really hits you. After I started breathing again I knew I was going to do THAT. It took me a few more months and in April 2007 I did my first mosaic.”

“The process of making a mosaic is totally the opposite of painting, of the way I was painting. I was painting big and dirty, no plans in advance, no early sketches and very quickly. With mosaic I am going more and more into the direction of no planning. If I want to make a rhythm in mosaic I need a little planning as I can’t have that rapid brush stroke as I did while painting. I am still dirty and messy but the process is slow and I feel so good with it. I feel that I am growing into the work, that it becomes more and more a part of me.”

Irit’s claims of being impatient and impulsive means she also works on several pieces simultaneously: “… otherwise I couldn’t survive the pace of the mosaic art process.”

Irit has experienced the loss of her art throughout her life, from destroying it herself to burglary: “I am very connected to all my art. If I don’t like something, I destroy it. I don’t keep things I don’t like and I won’t have others have them… Sadly, over the years, I lost a lot of art I didn’t intend to lose. My parents destroyed all the art I did until I left home at the age of 18. I could never figure out why. The second time I lost my whole work was when I was in my mid 20’s when burglars stole all my art in my apartment.”

Irit will be exhibiting 2 of her paintings in the prestigious Biennale in Italy soon. Here is an excerpt of what one of the curators wrote about her work, which Irit feels also applies to her mosaics:

Irit Levy is a highly thought provoking artist, whose art reflects a strong existential contemplation of the world and of ordinary objects. (…. )   “Over the years my art changes as I experiment with new materials and new approaches.  What remains most similar in my art is the backgrounds. My works often show a certain emptiness. The backgrounds are large and usually have a character of their own and at times the content of the paintings seem to be floating. For me, the backgrounds are no less important than the content, in the same way that unspoken words are no less important than spoken ones.”

Cool huh?!Check out her Flickr photostream for more visual stimulation and head over to her awesome blog where she documents her work.

The Kiss

Chez Christine

Smiling Nude

Big Steps

Le Mistral

Quiet - self portrait

Love her work… just love it!

Finally, meet Irit:

Irit Levy

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Filed under Art, Artist Watch Series, Events, Exhibitions, Flickr, Inspiration, Irit Levy, Mosaic, Portraiture, Uncategorized, Wall Hanging

What a Week Can Do

I took the last week off from work and it’s been a productive one! I LOVE being productive… So often I’m busy and I have nothing to show for it. Hate that! I repainted some walls in my house (feature walls – what *was* I thinking?!!!), cleaned my studio and home (really!! have been on a major chuck-everything-I don’t-use frenzy. Getting rid of junk is good for the soul), caught up with friends I havn’t seen in a while, had pyjama days, went on long walks in the beautiful weather we’ve been having, almost finished with the mermaid installation and taught a mosaic class this weekend. I’m jazzed! Feeling utterly refreshed, more organised, less stressed!! Finishing things is good.

The workshop was fun. There were 4 women all up, only one with mosaic experience and she was here to learn about creating tempered glass mosaics, which she’d not done before. It was really a very pleasurable moment to experience their delight in what they made and I now have four enthusiasts to add to my {imaginary} mosaic posse {for when I need help on my future installations that are just in my head presently} 🙂 Fun to watch them ogling over all the mosaics I have in my home from other artists too… 🙂 I feel very blessed, for want of another word… Sharing is good.

Exterior Mosaics + TG students!!

The octopus now has 8 legs 😉 I managed to get the last three legs on the other day but let me tell you, for something I would have thought was fairly minor, it was certainly a learning experience. Firstly I did it early in the morning and it was freezing. I don’t “do” cold as it is, but when my fingers and toes are numb I start to fall apart. OK, so that’s an exaggeration but you know what I mean! I also didn’t bring any tools, extra tile, nothing. So I will from now on bring everything as if it is a huge, complex installation. Lastly, I took the mesh piece out of my car and left it outside under a carport while I drove my Dad to the doctor. I was gone no more than an hour. When I went to lift the mesh piece up to stick to the wall, most of the tile literally dropped to the ground. So, even in the slightest bit of moisture, mesh pieces aren’t going to hold (is there an emoticon with rolling eyeballs? If so, insert that here). Just cleaning up to do now: sanding and painting… *sigh*

8 legged octopus :)

I even managed to get my puzzle piece done for Lin Schorr… Her community project is well under way. Have a look at all the submissions so far. Looking forward to seeing Lin collating all the pieces and doing her magic waving of the wand.

Amnesia

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Filed under Events, Flickr, My projects, Rant, Uncategorized, Wall Hanging, Workshops

Artist Watch: Rebecca Collins

I was looking through one of the mosaic forums the other week and came across one of Rebecca Collins‘ octopus pieces. Thinking I had seen it somewhere before (yup, flickr!!) it still struck me and I couldn’t stop looking at her work. There’s something so free about her mosaics and I can’t quite put my finger on it. Anyway, of course typical immediate reaction was that I needed to know a little bit more about her, the artist 😉 So here goes…

Already coming from a creative background (she’s a full time digital pet portrait artist – and I have to say I love what she does there too!! Check out her website), Rebecca discovered mosaics in 2007 when she took a class with a girlfriend on a whim. She’s been hooked ever since. Although she has mentioned before that her works are not intricate or exacting, I would beg to differ. She has her own unique style and it is free, but still very exact. There’s messy and then there’s messy! Of which her work is neither, in my humble opinion. “When I took my first mosaic class I was not sure if I would have the patience or the ability to sit still and work on a piece slowly. It turns out that my impatient nature does show through in my work as I tend to work fast creating loosely cut works with tons of tiny tessera. I do not get horribly bogged down in a desire to create elaborate intricate or exacting patterns. I love it when I see that type of work, but I could never go there.”

I love how she layers her work, how there’s such a bohemian feel to it (and I mean that as a compliment!, not wanting to categorise inappropriately here). She does what my anal self would love to be able to do but finds very difficult to just let go. This statement pretty much sums up what I love about her work: “My interest is in combining layers of collage images and text underneath glass. I use my computer skills to create digital paintings that get collaged with text and other elements for a rich look. I also will create watercolors from scratch and then scan those into the computer and work on them in Photoshop and then print them out to incorporate into my mosaic designs. I enjoy the back and forth of using traditional tools and media along with the computer and all that it offers.”

Her mosaics are, for her, an escape. Dare I say, a hobby. It is her part time passion and she is reluctant to really market her work as she doesn’t want to turn it into a “job” of any sort. “I do love my full time business of creating pretty dog and cat portraits and yet mosaics are my escape from that create-on-demand world. I think that is one reason I often choose squid and bugs as subject matter. I know that nobody is going to ask me to create a mosaic for them of their pet cockroach.” 🙂

However, due in large part to the generous support of her mentor and teacher, Katrina Doran, this year has marked the beginning of taking her mosaics more seriously. Doran curated a show called Exquisite Creatures: the Mermaid and Octopus show. “Seeing my work under gallery lights was just a great feeling. I hope to show more in the future and to start exploring new subjects. I have some outer space theme ideas on the back burner that I want to jump on soon. Like most artists I always tend to have more ideas than time.”

I am absolutely enamoured with her work!!! Colour, texture, layers, vibrance… it has it all!!

More info about Rebecca and her work  can be found via her blog and Etsy shop.

Tommy and the Octopus

King Squid

Queen Octopus

Fig. 3 Bug

Blast Off
One of my faves!!!

And finally Rebecca, with Ajax…

rebeccacollins_with_ajax

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Filed under Art, Artist Watch Series, Artists, Dogs, Emerging, Etsy, Female, Flickr, Inspiration, Mosaic, Ornamental, Pets, Portraiture, Rebecca Collins, Uncategorized, Wall Hanging