Tuesday, November 23, 2010


My newest Elaine Goodman book arrived last week, The Human Form in Mosaic.  I have not read the book carefully yet, but I've been noting different techniques she demonstrates for depicting figures and portraits, while scanning the text.  Between the recent trip to Turkey and this book, I was inspired to take a break from the Rapunzel series to just practice.  I used some small scraps of wedi given to me by my tile-setter friend, Frank Lynam.

For the first, I found a photo in a 1970 National Geographic I happen to have of a Tibetan refugee.  I did a very simplified sketch of her face and proceeded to fill in the spaces with my stained glass scraps.  This is a very different style than my usual faces, less stylized, more emotional.  I usually create faces that express a certain contentment, peace, and joy.  This face expresses pain and loss.  My goal was to do my first portrait based on a photograph, and to see if I could create contours without andamento.  I'm pretty happy with it as a first attempt, but disappointed in myself for the inadvertent extended groutlines, particularly the one slashing her left cheek like a giant wound. 

Next, I designed a face from imagination, more true to my usual style.  Again, there is one particularly offensive groutline that seemed like a good idea at the time; that curved shape that runs from under her eye to the hairline.  I don't know what I was thinking, but sometimes these mistakes become glaringly clear once the piece is grouted.  Also, I wanted to add detail in the iris by cutting tiny little pieces of glass as rays from the pupil.  It makes her look like a zombie instead.  It might have worked in an ungrouted mosaic, but not here.  I am tempted to paint the groutlines there to solidify the iris.

I am finding Elaine Goodman's book very helpful, but I feel that a hands-on workshop is really necessary.  I hope to invest in one sometime this year.  In the meantime, I'll actually read this book and keep practicing.  I'm registered for a mural workshop with Josef Norris at IMA in February and I plan to begin facilitating community mosaic this Spring. 

1 comment:

  1. Good for you for trying new things and sharing your process. Curious if you photograph your pieces prior to grouting? Sometimes the camera "sees" it more clearly than we do, and when we look at the digital image rather than the piece itself we see it through fresh eyes.