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Mid year already?!

How can it be?! The trees are already blossoming, it *almost* feels like the chill may be dissipating – though Winter will come back with a vengeance to be sure. It is August after all. Yay! I made it through July. My least favourite month in Canberra…

Sometimes I feel like the world is moving around me in fast motion – everyone so busy going here, going there. It’s nice to not feel like I need to participate in all that. Just sit back and watch, potter around in my garden, so to speak. Things are blossoming in my metaphorical garden, but I admit to sometimes wishing I had more time. I’d like more time to read. I’d like more time to devote to my other hobbies: crochet, roller derby and more recently raising chickens. I’d like more time to spend with my kids. Sometimes I feel cheated that I can’t spend more time with them – that’s probably been the harshest wound that divorce brings. By the same token, it is also a gift in that we cherish our time together.

The last year or so has also brought many lessons both good and challenging. Lessons are always a gift, even if hard to swallow. What it meant was that I didn’t create as much as I had planned. Not even sure that I had planned much. I still, however, feel that procrastination is in fact a good thing. There’s a lot that is happening in the quagmire of one’s brain whilst playing in a different stomping ground and I’ve learned to embrace it. Through embracing it, I feel like I am more confident in certain areas of what I do and so now I allow myself the time I need to process, even if subconsciously.

So… what have I created? It feels like not much, but I’m not sure that’s all true or important! There’s a lot going on in my brain and I’m no longer rushing to get it all done. I have time. I have plenty of it as it turns out…

What I have started to do is make my own projects a priority. I finally got some concrete poured and created a floor mosaic. So it’s not finished… yet! But I’m almost there. Literally less than a square foot left to do! Part of it lies on the floor in my living room at present. I look at it, and look at it some more. And while I look at it and work away on this, I’m thinking about my other projects.

The community project for the Queanbeyan Council is going well. We’ve entered stage 2 of the project. Two more groups will begin tomorrow to fabricate their mosaics. It’s pretty exciting! I went past the other day and saw that the Queanbeyan High School’s three panels have been installed. The morning we were meant to do it was too cold, so I never saw them get adhered to the seating… The themes explored are Youth, Education and Sports respectively: –

 

I recently learned that I have had some of my work published in a book. I havn’t yet seen the book, but lots of great artists in there and I’m very stoked I got in!!

Lastly, I am still teaching. I’ve made a few changes but for now am keeping with the classes I have always offered. Registrations for all mosaic classes are on my website. This semester they include the basic mosaic classes as well as a Mosaics on Mesh class and a glass class (Patterns & Shapes: Push-in Technique). Next year will see at least one or two new classes which I’m quite excited about. It’ll also be nice to teach some new things!!

Anyhoo! I’m off to tend to my garden…

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Filed under Architectural Installations, Art, Artists, Australia, Canberra, Classes, Community Projects, Finished pieces, Floor, Inspiration, Kim Grant, Lifestyle, Mandala, Mosaic, Murals, My projects, Public Art, Round the World, Uncategorized, Works in Progress

More Mosaics Found in Canberra

I had to go visit a doc a little while back. The hour and a half of waiting for a 10 minute consult was made worthwhile when I walked past this church in Turner. It is the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Not sure who the artist is as there was no plaque to be seen, but such spectacular work!! All smalti, including some gold smalti there…

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**UPDATE**

The artist is Leonid Denysenko, an Australian artist of Ukrainian descent. You can read more about him here. The mosaics were made around 1987 and were installed in 1988.  It’s not clear, though, from the wikipedia entry whether or not he also fabricated the mosaics or if he just designed them.

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2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 52,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 19 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Midnight Garden – a community mosaic project with children

As I’ve mentioned previously I was contacted a little while ago by a public primary school here in Canberra to  lead a mosaic project with their students. What came out of the brief discussions we had was to create a feature mural and some extra mosaics that will float around the courtyard. The theme of which is a macro garden.

I went away and created a design that fit to the brief, but that was also going to be simple enough for a whole school to participate in. In my opinion, too much detail can be overwhelming. I also like stylised designs, as I suppose one can tell from my work. I suggested some colour themes and created colour packs for them to refer to, but emphasised that these were suggestions only. I think ownership comes from choice in process and it was important to me not to take that away. I worked in small groups with kids once a week and the teacher leading the project worked with kids throughout the rest of the week. All the kids cottoned onto the hows and whys pretty easily and then took the information and passed it on to their peers who had not yet participated. As we fabricated, the kids made changes to some of the colour selections. 🙂 The kids have been so great! Most of the panels have been fabricated already. There was always a lot of interesting conversation, a lot of problem solving (not only of the mosaic, but also of social matters in their lives). It was a lot of fun to listen to them all talk. Of course, the part they loved the most was smashing tiles!

It makes my day to hear things like:

“When I grow up, I want to be an artist” and  “This is so fun, I wish we could do it all day”, amongst many other uber cool other statements.

Yesterday I started on the installation. One of the teachers walked past while I was working and she said to me “you are such an inspiration to these kids.” I wasn’t too sure what she meant by this and after chatting with her she remarked on me being a woman doing what I am doing and how it is inspiring for kids, both male and female, to see me creating large scale mosaics: teaching, fabricating, installing etc… I never thought of it like this. Ever! Wow. It was a pretty empowering moment and one that makes me feel like I am on the right path for me. I am exactly where I should be.

Anyway, a year 6 teacher was keen for her kids to be involved. They’ll be assisting me in the rest of the installation as well as grouting the project which will basically happen next week and the week after which puts us in line to completion for the end of term.

I also had a number of students discuss with me the name of the mural. They came up with Midnight Flowers, which I thought was way cool. We settled on Midnight Garden, after some discussion, to include the whole scope of the project.

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Big THANKYOUS to all those involved: students, parents of the community and teachers, in particular Hazel who is leading the project from the school perspective and the Principal, Lindsay whose understanding of the value of art for children is invaluable.

I’ll post final pics when we get there 🙂

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Filed under Architectural Installations, Art, Artists, Asian, Australia, Canberra, Community Projects, Female, Flowers, Garden Mosaics, Kids, Kids' Projects, Kim Grant, Mosaic, Murals, My projects, Nature, Ornamental, Public Art, Retro, Round the World, Schools, Uncategorized, Works in Progress

Rosella, Mural WIP Pics & Community Project News

My 9 yo son managed to get his first 3D mosaic completed the other day. It was his first time using glass too. He ended up burning out with the background (all that was really left to do), so I had to help him get that part done, but everything else he did on his own, right down to the cutting of glass. I love that he loves it and doesn’t just do it to please me… He has named the chook Rosella and she sits out by Liberace 🙂

I’ve moved along quite nicely with my Secret Hideout mural. I have three panels left to go. Scored some interesting tile off a tiler in Belco Mall today, who rummaged through his rubbish bin for me. I’ll probably try and use it for the shell section of the snail if I can make it work. I got to use the gran tronconi millefiori that has been sitting in my studio since the SAMA 2009 conference… Almost forgot I had it! I’ve been loving working on this. It’s so nice to work large – I L-O-V-E, love it! Can’t wait to get his one up and start on the next mural for the house. Swimming in ideas. I’m online less (good news), generally more satisfied with life and energised to get on with things. YAY! I love my job.

In other news, the project at a primary school here in Canberra is going ahead. We’ve pretty much started. My design was accepted and now it’s up to me to enlarge, code and chop it into enough pieces so that each class can have a good go. I’ve got tile pack samples to bring in. The kids range in age from pre-school to year 6 and I believe there are about 450 students in total. They will be making their own tiles and firing them in the school’s kiln (yes they have a kiln!!) and these will be used in the border of the mural. Sneak peek of the first draft design:

We’ll be going with a dark blue background on this one as this is the main colour of the school. The flower pods themselves will be bright and colourful with plenty of mirror (of course) and I’ll be using some of the green paua shell tile too. So exciting!! Originally the school was aiming for an end of term unveiling (6 weeks away), but this is now flexible, which is actually good for everyone involved: me, kids and teachers!! Overall dimensions of the mural is 2.1m H x 4m W. So, on my to do list this week is enlarge, code and chop. One of the hardest aspects of mural making. The planning is tedious but necessary or the whole thing doesn’t come together in the end, quite literally! I need to find a good space that is large enough for me to enlarge and template out the design of these sorts of installations. It’s a nightmare doing it in my home as I don’t have the wall space, but by the same token I don’t want to rent space out. Argh! That backyard studio is sounding more appealing every minute of every day, hehehe.

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Filed under Animals, Art, Australia, Birds, Community Projects, Flowers, Garden Mosaics, Kids' Projects, Mosaic, Murals, My projects, Nature, Public Art, Uncategorized, Works in Progress

Crystal Thomas Mosaics’ e-Tutorials

I mentioned in an earlier post that Crystal Thomas allowed me the use of two exercises from one of her e-Tutes for the class I taught in Grafton. I’ll make note that I did specifically ask her for this along with a payment to do so (ie: I didn’t just use them) and I thought it was worth writing a blog specifically on these e-Tutes as I found them so very helpful.

Crystal currently has three tutorials:

  1. A Mosaic Flower Tutorial (Check out her flowers, they are done in a layered style and are just beautiful – I own one!!) US$14!!!
  2. An Andamento and Keystoning workshop (SUPER cool and excellently (is that a word?) explained with a ton of exercises, including the “answers” to those exercises – you simply cannot do without this one!! It will change the way you work for the better!) US$18!!!
  3. Mosaic Skulls 101 (Cyrstal’s mosaic skulls are one of a kind) – US$12.50!!!

You are also able to purchase the Andamento and Keystoning workshop with Crystal’s Top Five Tips. I think it’s great to get tips from different artists. It’s always interesting to know how certain people like to work. Crystal is not currently offering any teaching, either as a group or individually, but does plan to do so again in the future so stay tuned. In the meantime spend next to nothing (seriously all these tutorials are worth more than this!!) and purchase all three tutorials.

detail of 3 Poppies, © Crystal Thomas 2010

“Luis” – Talavera skull, © Crystal Thomas 2009

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How Mosaic Art Assists Childrens’ Learning Abilities

I’ll be meeting with a primary school this week to discuss a potential artist in residence opportunity and create some work with their students. The prospect is an exciting one but I am also keeping a level head about it at this early stage… This, together with the children’s workshop I will be facilitating through the Sydney Children’s Festival in October, motivated me to put in writing how mosaic art affords some real, concrete learning opportunities for children. This is what I came up with. I’m sure I’ll be updating this post as time goes by so please let me know if you feel there is anything not listed here.

Mosaic art assists in the development of:

  • Counting
  • Matching
  • Sorting
  • Recognition
  • Assembling
  • Decision making
  • Manual dexterity
  • Concentration
  • Attention
  • Patience
  • Problem solving
  • Memory
  • Logic
  • Perception
  • Imagination
  • Creativity
  • Intuition
  • Trust
  • Spatial and visual organisation (basics of geometry)
  • Fine motor skills
  • Coordinating a child’s thoughts and actions
  • Hand and eye coordination – extremely important step to help a child achieve difficult tasks easily, including reading and writing
  • Correlation between seeing and doing (sight and touch senses)
  • Math skills as the child learns about basic calculations, surface area, the best way to break down a larger area into smaller ones, shapes, spatial visualisation
  • Skills children will need to learn to read and write
  • Curiosity
  • Language skills as the child listens and follows instructions and talks about what they are doing
  • Creative self expression
  • Self exploration
  • Self discovery

In addition to the above, larger community projects teach:

  • Peer to peer interaction (subtly helps children to understand the relationships between people while learning to deal with them effectively)
  • Collaboration
  • Cooperative learning strategies
  • Self esteem
  • Confidence
  • That a child is one of many, each as valuable as the other
  • Tolerance
  • Difference
  • That a whole is made up of many parts – each one valid, each one value-adding
  • Community spirit
  • Responsibility
  • Safety
  • Friendship
  • That a child’s voice is heard, valid and celebrated
  • Art appreciation

How does mosaic art help the teacher/parent/caregiver?

  • Making mosaics provides an opportunity for formal learning experiences
  • The care provider can watch children work alone or in groups
  • They can monitor they way in which the children speak, move and concentrate
  • It allows for observation of a child to assess their development
  • It also allows for the care provider to understand what interests the child has, what engages them and why

Most importantly, kids love it!!

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Filed under Art, Artists, Australia, Canberra, Community Projects, Kids' Projects, Mosaic, My projects, Round the World, Schools, Uncategorized