Saturday, December 31, 2011

Finished 11th mosaic for children's book!

I was hoping to finish this one by the end of the year and I just glued the last piece today!  I'm on track to finish the book by summer, so continue to watch my blog for updates.  I plan on having an exhibition of my book mosaics next fall or winter, so the early part of next year will be in finding a location to show them, most likely downtown Santa Barbara.

Happy New Year - may you have a wonderful 2012!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Mosaic #11 for Book in progress

I'm really excited about how this one is turning out!!  I might add elastic line for strings after it is grouted, if it doesn't look too busy.  I hope to finish this mosaic by the end of this year.  Next year I will be in the home stretch!!!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Small Works Show

I will have a couple of my mosaics in "Close Encounters" Small Works Show at the Wildling Art Museum in Los Olivos, CA with the Artists Guild of the Santa Ynez Valley.  They will be hung from November 30, 2011 until January 8, 2012.  Come to the Holiday Open House on Saturday, December 3, from 3:00-6:00 p.m. as part of Los Olivos' Olde Fashioned Christmas Event. Free cider and cookies, make your own pinecone ornaments for your tree or as a gift. Singer-songwriter Teresa McNeil MacLean will be entertaining guests in the museum galleries. Artists' demonstrations, including Chris Hansen, Cathy McGavin, and Nicki Beltranena.  Tree lighting ceremony at 6pm.  Wildling Art Museum is at 2928 San Marcos Ave., Los Olivos, CA. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Mosaic #10 for book is done!

Yippee!  One step closer to finishing my book.  It looks like I have four more large mosaics to go (15x24" each), plus one half the size for the last page.  I will also do a couple mini mosaics for the front and back pages.  I should be finished with them by next summer and then send them to print!  Can't wait.  Off to design #11.  :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Designs for SAMA Mosaic Marathon

Yes! Me! I will be leading the mosaic marathon at the next SAMA (Society of American Mosaic Artists) conference in Lexington, KY this coming February. I've created designs for three panels that will be made into mosaics by the conference goers in four days! The triptych will be installed in the lobby of the not-for-profit organization, The Nest: Center for Women, Children & Families. It will be the first time I lead a community built mosaic, so this will be a very new experience for me.

I knew immediately I wanted to use birds in the designs. I did research on the common birds in the area, as well as the trees. I asked the director of The Nest what birds were in the area and he told me that goldfinches were everywhere! I wanted to choose a bird that most people were familiar with so I went with them. When I looked up trees, I fell in love with the tulip tree, the state tree of Kentucky. What gorgeous flowers!!

Now that I had my bird and my tree, onto the design. I love the bird art of Hokusai (here's one of my favorites) and I really wanted to create something with that same kind of space. Once I decided on the size of each panel, I created small rectangles, 1/6 the size of the actual mosaics, so I could draw the flow of the branches first, which, to me, are the most important part to get right because it determines the underlying composition. (I work quite small when I design for large projects because I can see the overall composition so much easier.) Once the basic lines (very basic!) were decided, I could then go into detail and add the leaves, flowers and birds.

When my drawings were done, I scanned them, cleaned up the pencil marks in a paint program, and then printed them to color in. Once they were colored, I noticed a break in the flow of the composition. I realized there were too many flowers in the second panel. The flow of the branches wasn't working for me. Here's what I saw. When I took out two of the flowers, I was much happier with it. Because the panels will not be hung right next to each other, it didn't matter if the flowers connected from one panel to the next.

Once I fixed the flowers, I then began to play with the background in the paint program. For me, the background color is very important to get right, so I like to experiment with colors in the paint program before I actually color them with pencils. Here's some of the many colors I tried:

Once I decided on the periwinkle color, I printed the three panels very tiny so I could figure out the andamento of the background. I have much more control of the flow when it's so small. I draw right over the foreground so my lines are smooth and continuous.

I then colored one of the scans with these new andamento lines and wa la! Done. Here is where they will go. The first panel will be 2 1/2 x 3', the middle panel will be 2 1/2 x 5 1/2', and the last panel will be 2 1/2 x 4 1/2'. The mosaics will be made with Mexican smalti, provided by  The first two panels symbolize the families who come to The Nest, receiving nurturing, support and guidance.  The last panel represents the families, when they are ready to be on their own, flying away.

I am super excited about this project! I am really looking forward to seeing my designs come to life in February. If you're at the conference, please come by and lay a few pieces down! I'd love to see you. :)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Book mosaic #10 underway

The book has been on hold while I was creating designs for a large mosaic project to be created in February 2012 (more details on that later!). Back to the book this week and it feels good! Once again, Raymi makes another appearance. She'll be in several more pages before the book is done. There are only a couple of main elements on this page so it is mostly background, which hopefully means it will go kinda fast. I have maybe five more mosaics to create after this one, so I need to get rolling if I want to be done by next summer!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Finished Mosaic #9 For Book!

I'm so happy to be done with this mosaic. It took a very long time, my longest yet, AND it created more future work for me: I had to change a couple of things to make them work for this design, and now I have to change them in previous mosaics! It's times like these, I wish I were a painter!

Here are a few detail shots. I've been adding as many personal touches as I can to this book. Raymi, our cat, features heavily in this book! The guitar is my husband's. And all of the artwork on the walls will be of my already completed mosaics. I take photos of them and put them in between two pieces of glass. I then seal the edges with tape so the grout doesn't seep through later. Here's a couple of my cats!

I won't be starting mosaic #10 for a few weeks (but hopefully sooner) while I work on a design for an upcoming project. More details on that to come later!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Two Years on my Book!

I know I haven't posted in over a month, but trust me, I've been working hard on my book! This week marks two years since I started the process. Wow! I remember thinking I'd be done in a year. Now I'll be happy if I'm done in three!

I'm in the middle of mosaic #9 and have gotten the hardest parts done, so the rest should go much faster (famous last words, right?). Here's a little bit of it. Raymi makes her fifth appearance in the book. She's really small in this mosaic, about 1x2", and I struggled with cutting glass for her eyes because of that. However, I found this millefiori that fit just right! She looks a little bug eyed at the moment, but she'll look better grouted. :)

I decided after my last mosaic trade that I was going to focus on the book alone and not create mosaics for any other purpose, (unless a commission happens to come my way!) With that in mind, my ultimate goal is to finish one mosaic a month. At that rate, I would finish around January of next year. I would then spend a couple of months making changes to the mosaics. I have a long list of them, some very small, others will take a lot longer. I realize my style and skill level have changed and grown since I began, so that is making it a bit difficult because I'd do so many things differently now. However, I'd never finish the book if I kept making changes as I grew! So I will try and keep it under control, ha.

After that, transferring the mosaics on mesh to wedi and grouting them will take me a looooong time. Then photographing them and having Barb put the book together will be about another month. All in all, I'm hoping the book will be ready to go to print by summer of next year. I can hardly contain my excitement! But that is good motivation to finish as soon as I can. Thanks for following my progress!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

New mosaic cats

I took a break from my book to create two mosaics. While in Austin, during the SAMA conference, one of my favorite mosaic artists, Martin Cheek, approached me and asked if I'd do a trade with him! Well, I've done so many mosaic trades over the past few years and had decided I wouldn't do any more for awhile because they take time away from my book, but could I pass this up? No way!

Martin wanted a cat so we decided on a cat trade. I already own a mosaic of a mouse by Martin, which I bought a few years ago, and I was more than happy to add to my Martin Cheek collection! I went on his web site to look at the many cat mosaics he had already made. When I saw Skinny Cat, I immediately knew that was the one I wanted! He shipped it to me while I got to work on his mosaic. Blue Cat, which is 8x10", was modeled after our family cat, Raymi, who has appeared in more of my mosaics than I can count! Check out Skinny Cat! I love those wild eyes!

Then he told me his daughter, Mollie, really liked my cat mosaics and would I be willing to do a trade with her as well. She makes adorable fused glass jewelry, mostly of animals, including cats, ha. So I said, absolutely!! She's going to make me either a turtle or a cat necklace. See how wonderful they are?! If you want to see more of her jewelry, follow this link. Spotted Kitten is the mosaic I made for her. It is 4x5".

As for the book, I am currently working on the design for Mosaic #9. I hope to get started cutting glass in the next week and will keep you posted with the progress!!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Mosaic #8 For Book is Finished!

Just finished my 8th mosaic for the book, so excited! It took me about 100 hours to complete. Here are a couple more shots. This is an indoor scene, and these are the artworks hanging on the wall. I used photos of actual mosaics that I created in the past, cropped them the way I wanted, and then put the photos in between glass. I then taped the sides so when I grout later, it won't seep into the photos. It was great that I have these three tree mosaics, all in a similar style and color scheme because they are noticable, but subtle. If I had used any of my cat mosaics, they would've taken too much attention away from the scene. I'll save those for later... :) Anyone recognize the tree with pink flowers? Anyone? Irit? LOL

I now have six more large mosaics to go (15x24") plus two to three smaller ones (15x12" or smaller). I think I can finish by the end of the year!! First, I need to make a couple of cheeky cats (more details later) and then, back to the book!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Progress on book mosaic #8

I'm getting close to being done with this mosaic! I hope to be finished by this weekend. Here is a small, small bit of the entire mosaic. It's probably about 6x7". I had a lot of fun putting in the millefiori, making it much more playful than if there was none. The pink millefiori on the pillow was hand made and given to me by Gila Rayberg quite awhile ago, and I'm happy I finally found the perfect use for it. Thanks, Gila! And the millefiori on the blanket I just bought from Martin Cheek at the SAMA conference. They are little moons, but work perfectly for the edge of the blanket. The chair was such a challenge for me to make it appear 3D with just one color of glass, but I'm happy with it! I will post again once I finish this mosaic, which will be very, very soon, woo hoo!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

SAMA in Austin, Texas!

I’ve finally gotten a moment to breathe and post about my experience at the SAMA conference in Austin, Texas. It was great fun! I took three workshops: Mosaic Portraiture with Carol Shelkin, Designing and Presenting Sculptural Mosaics with Sherri Warner Hunter, and
Finding Your Voice with Pamela Irving.

I looooved Carol’s workshop. She is an amazing teacher. So warm, so personal, so smart and talented! I only got one eye done on my portrait of Jack, but that is what she expected of us. It was difficult for me. I had a hard time committing to gluing anything down. And then when I did, I’d pick it up and redo it again anyway. I was the only one doing a portrait of somebody I knew. The rest were using photos that Carol supplied. And in hindsight, I would have picked one of her photos instead of Jack because I wouldn’t care how the mosaic turned out of somebody I didn’t know. It would be more of an exercise, and practice. With Jack, I wanted it to be beautiful and perfect. So I think what I will do is make a portrait of somebody I don’t know first, to practice and experiment and play, and then do Jack.

Sherri was great and her class was very informative. I took it to see if I thought I might be interested in learning to make sculptural mosaics in the near future. While I would love to mosaic a pre-made sculpture some day, I’m pretty sure now that I don’t want to learn how to make the sculptures themselves.

Pam was such fun, so charming and talented. We worked very spontaneously on a portrait using materials we were to bring that had meaning, for instance, dishes that belonged to a loved one. I didn’t have anything like that to bring, so I brought materials that I didn’t generally use so at least I’d be doing something different from what I usually do. While this approach was fun, I prefer using stained glass and millefiori, as well as planning out my mosaics a little in advance.
I really enjoyed the mosaic salon where we got to bid on each other’s mosaics. My cat mosaic sold to a sweet woman from Kansas. (She happened to be visiting her daughter in my area today so stopped by to visit!)

I did spend more at the marketplace than I intended! I thought I’d just buy mille and be done, but there were a couple new vendors and I found some really beautiful glass fusions from Helios Glass and some pretty square tiles from Mosaic Outpost.

The mosaic exhibition was pretty nice. A bunch of us went a couple days early. Karen Ami did a gallery talk which was great – lots of participation all around. She wanted to know our thoughts, too. It was nice because it wasn’t crowded and you could really get a good look and take photos. Here's one of my favorites, Beautiful Day by Carol Shelkin.

There were some interesting presentations this year, including a panel talk on What is a Mosaic? It has brought up further discussion on CMA, if anyone is interested in following along.

I participated in the tesserae exchange and got some really unique pieces. I won at the raffle for the first time in three years! My prize was some green smalti, which was a particular green I wasn’t interested in, so I traded with Crystal Thomas for her win, a book by Martin Cheek that I didn’t have.
And what would a SAMA conference be without a PJ party and the closing party with lots of dancing! And of course, I had a great time hanging out with my buddies. :)
On my way home, going through security, my carry-on bag was subjected to a random search. (You need to know, I’m not a big traveler at all!) The first thing she asks me is, “Do you have anything sharp in here?” Hahahahahaaa. Um, yes. A few tools and lots and lots of stained glass… I said, “Maybe a tool?” I tried to point to where the tool was and she yelled, “Don’t put your hands in there!!” Yikes! So she confiscated one of my pairs of nippers (for ceramic tile, which I never use), but not the other one (my favorite!), which was about ¼” shorter! The funny thing is the nippers were in a bag with all of my stained glass. She didn’t even see the glass! It just goes to show, if you lie to security, you might get away with it, hahaha.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Recap of SAMA Chicago 2010

As I'm packing and getting ready to go to SAMA's (Society of American Mosaic Artists) annual mosaic conference this Tuesday (in Austin, TX), I realize I never did post about my experience last year. Last year the conference was in Chicago and it was my first time there, and wow, what a city! I loved it! I don't care for large cities (having grown up in and moved out of Los Angeles) but I adored Chicago. The conference was four days long of mosaic heaven. I took three workshops: a smalti/millefiori/glass fusions class with Martin Cheek; an andamento class with Gary Drostle; and a design class with Sue Giannotti. Here's the mosaic I started in Martin's class and finished when I got home. I loved working with the Mexican smalti and fusions, which I had never used before.

One of the highlights of the conference was the mosaic walking tour. Saw some gorgeous mosaics, my favorite being Marc Chagall's Four Seasons. I could've spent all day looking at it.

The mosaic marathon was fun, as was the mosaic art salon, where you get to bid on another's mosaic art and sell your own. Here's mine, which sold to a woman who also bought my mosaic at the mosaic salon at SAMA, San Diego, 2009! I'm bringing another cat mosaic to this year's salon, so we'll see if it sells or not. :) Had a great time browsing the vendor marketplace, hoping for a winning ticket at the raffle, and listening to some intriguing panels of speakers. There was also a group trip to Chicago Sici's as well as end of the week dancing and pj party!

And one of the best things about these conferences - seeing all of my online friends and meeting new ones! Looking forward to catching up with my buddies in Austin in just two short days!! Will give a full report upon my return!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

One of the challenges of the book mosaics...

Last week I started the 8th mosaic for my children's book and have just come upon this particular challenge I have been expecting since I first started making the book. This is one of the reasons I haven't been grouting the mosaics as I go - so I can continue to make changes.

My challenge is this: re-creating an object from one page to another, but in a much smaller size. I have been consciously aware of this as I've created each design and have therefore attempted to make it work in advance. But some things are bound to be unexpected! So I can't show a photo of what I'm talking about, but three mosaics ago I made an intricate design and now I am stuck because I can't repeat that design at such a small scale. So I will have to go back and redo that first design so it will work in this mosaic. The good thing is, I didn't particularly like the first one so now is my chance to make it even better!
The clock was okay to do since there wasn't great detail in the first place and eliminating a couple of details doesn't change it too much. In the photo on the right, the clock is about 5 inches long. In the first photo, as you can see, much smaller! And check out the teensy tiny millefiori that I am using for this mosaic. It gives you an idea of just how small some of the elements are!!
I'm having a great time, by the way!!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Another Santa Barbara Mosaic Artist

Since I started making mosaics in 2005, I have been looking for other mosaic artists in my area. I know maybe four in town, in the five years I've been looking! This is an area that is in serious need of a mosaic community! I didn't even have a place to go to learn how to make mosaics when I was first starting out. The closest classes were 90 miles away.

Just last year I found Tami Macala, who lives only a few miles from me! We visited each other's studios and have quickly become friends. Today an article came out about her in our local online paper, the Noozhawk. Yay Tami! A year ago she opened the Santa Barbara School of Mosaic Art so now there is actually a place in town to learn mosaics! So if you are living in or near Santa Barbara, CA, (or want to visit!) and wish to learn the beautiful and incredibly addicting art form of mosaics, sign up with Tami. And contact me, too! I'd love to meet more mosaic artists!

Friday, January 7, 2011

My mosaic won 2nd place!

I entered my mosaic, "Please, Can I Come In?" into the humor competition on the mosaic forum, CMA (Contemporary Mosaic Art), and was awarded 2nd place. I won a $50 gift certificate for Maryland Mosaics, of which I spent immediately, haha. The judge, Martin Cheek (who has long been one of my favorite mosaic artists!) said this about my mosaic:

"I’ve long been an admirer of Christine’s cats - of which, this is a great example. I love the limited but PRECISE palette that works so beautifully here. The wavy lines in the sky add an interest to the background andamento- which must represent about 90% of this piece. This would have been a worthy contender for the earlier challenge: Comp 1 on SPACE because compositionally it fulfills that brief...AND it would also qualify for Comp 2 - which was 20 x 20 cm. (8 x 8 inches.)
I love the way that the cat’s paws are lined up with his eyes - the whole face is completely symmetrical - which is what gives him(?) such a humorous look. The little paws overlapping the simple frame are an inspiration.... which reminds me: What is the difference between a cat and a comma? One has the paws before the claws and the other has the clause before the pause."

If you are a mosaic artist and are not currently a member of CMA, I HIGHLY recommend you join (it's free). There is an enormous gallery of beautiful mosaics to which you add your own, as well as an ongoing competition (current one is Medieval beasts), discussion forum, and a great place to network. Check it out!