my . artist run website  

 

You know that time you were too busy to write a blog post, so you linked it to someone else's blog post? He he he... yeah.... but lucky for me, this one is ABOUT my work.  I hope you'll check it out! 

 

A huge thank you to Mosaic Art Supply for their complimentary blog post about my portraiture. The teacher's pet in me is beaming.  It feels great to be recognized.

https://blog.mosaicartsupply.com/skin-tones-and-mosaic-portraits/?fbclid=IwAR0M4J743QlkdACAw_cj-Wl1z0XHNzElL-KxU6WkeH3CQ6-HtiSvuZnowhM

 

Now back to the business of running a creative hub AND fulfilling customer art requests!

 

 

 


Isn't it ironic that my last blog post, promising to follow up with a completed portrait image, was titled, "Forget Me Not"?




It has been over a year. Ooops. Consistency is something I am working on.  In the meantime, I've been pretty busy.  Had I blogged about the projects, I may not have had time to complete them all.  I moved, both my houseful of kids and my studio.




I completed multiple custom portraits of people and pets,


 

won the local Art Battle,

 


 

made and sold a dozen+ acrylic paintings, created two very large school murals


(panel 3 of 3 for BC Children's Hospital)

(TPS Mural, created by 200+students)

was juried into the 2nd annual Canadian Annual Mosaic Exhibition




 

and developed a plan to... wait for it... open my own studio. Wow. Where did 2018 come from!? 

 

 

What?!

 

If you've taken a workshop with me, or spoken to me about my travels, this might surprise you.  I hadn't wanted to be tied down by a bricks and mortar location. 




But, you may also remember that I am all for seizing opportunities and recognizing that it pays to listen when the universe speaks. So, what to do?  I waffled for months as I searched for options that made sense.  

 

A brief elaboration is necessary. A wonderful client chose to hire me to create an artwork for their new home. It is large. Very Large. I don't have a room big enough to accomodate its creation. I looked at garages, barns, warehouses, even the purchase of a portable for my backyard!! I fought the idea of running a public studio, until I found my current space. It shocked me. It shocked my family when I came home and told them. Luckily for me, they love what I do, and support my decisions. Luckily for me, I don't let fear stop me.



(Someday I'll share my rhino story.)

 

And so it is that in two weeks I will be having my grand opening. I will be offering mosaic  and acrylic classes, and guest instructor workshops in so many different media. Flashbacks to a business plan from 1998 means I'm also offering space to other local artists who need to expand. 

 

I am incredibly excited, and well, terrified. I'm not qualified. Nope. But I will be surrounding myself with those who are, and those who seem to believe that I am.  

 

If you fall into either one of those categories, and want to connect, I would love to hear from you. I have so much to learn! I have so much to share. Join me! 2018 was tame in comparison to what 2019 is suggesting.

 

 

 




While I plan and complete this custom commission, I can't help but think about the animals in my life; both the current furry family and those that are already gone. 

 

It seems to me that our pets find us, those that need them, at a time when we need them the most.




 

I rescued my wee gremlin Max when I needed rescuing. He gave me structure and a critter to love as I coped with my family's new shared custody arrangement that had me crying as many days as not. He got me outside when all I wanted to do was stay in bed.  He kept me warm and accepted the love that needed an outlet. He made the whole family laugh with his ridiculous antics and served as my ferocious ankle biting guard dog. In return, he got to sleep in a warm bed, and travel with me everywhere I went. 




 

In his deep loyalty and unconditional devotion, he reminds me of my first dog, Mr. Fred.  A Maltese fluffball with a heart of gold, who stole fresh carrots from the garden and was ready to play at a moment's notice, Fred became my best friend when I was five.  We had many pets that came and went in Fred's time. One was a lab destined to be my hiking buddy.  We had only had her for a a short while when tragedy hit.

 

 

Literally. 

 

 

I'd like to think she didn't suffer. That night, sitting on my kitchen floor, holding her collar in my outstretched hand, I cried the deep wail of childhood grief. Fred tried many tactics to console me as he sat by my side. He snuggled. He licked. He whined. When nothing else worked, my sweet dog stood up, and carefully put his head through the big collar that was suspended in my hand.  He looked into my eyes and seemed to remind me that he wasn't going anywhere... I could depend on him to love me through my sadness. I did. Through teenage years and break-ups, family dramas and heartaches, he never let me down.

 

Fred lived to be a spunky old man and loved me as I finished highschool, and came home from university. He was the gold standard against which I measured all dogs.   

 

After Fred, we had some pretty amazing animals, kittens that followed us on long walks, and dogs that could be trained to do anything, but none were ever quite as special as Fred....probably because we had grown up together.

 

So it is that whenever I start a new commissioned pet portrait, I ask many questions about the animal. I ask for their silly quirks.  I want to hear the stories that their human parents want to tell me. I find myself falling in love with every furball that I represent in glass. If I didn't, I don't think I could do what I do. I certainly believe that I wouldn't do it as effectively. The honour I feel when a pet parent chooses me to commemorate their pet with a portrait is great. I take it seriously and strive to truly create an image that reflects more than just how the animal looked. I want my portraits to convey personality.  

 

What is the quirk that you love most about your furry best friend?

 

 

 

In my next blog post, I will share the photograph and final image of "Forget Me Not" my portrait of Butterscotch, the well loved cat who lived to 17 and will be missed dearly by her human mom.


 

The teen years are like grouting. 

 

That statement might seem like a stretch if you do not

1) have a teenager and 2) make mosaics. 

 

Chances are though, that if you are reading this, you probably fit into one if not both of those categories. 



With a new mosaic project, like a baby, we carefully plan everything to perfection.... outfitting the nursery/studio, purchasing all the necessary supplies and things we imagine our new baby just can't exist without - you know... expensive art glass, hand polished gems and every adhesive imaginable, just in case.   It doesn't take long however for reality to sink in. 

 

There are tears, late nights, lots of coffee, and sometimes we swear to never give birth to an artwork again. Then the morning sun arrives, and hits the glass in the most spectacular way. Rainbows glint, causing us to forget the pains of being a new parent, errr ...artist.

 

So, we dig into the reality. We put on our big girl bandaids. We adjust our design and tempo to a more practical pace and do the sweaty hard work of making sure we attend to raising a mosaic. We ask ourselves all the right questions: Do I want this mosaic to grow up to be Classical or Liberal? Organic or Commercial? 

 

(Of course I am mixing things up. I am mid-project. Like any new parent, I haven't slept.)

 

We raise it to follow rules of design and andamento, reminding it to adhere to specific Opus styles.

(Sectile and palladianum for the liberals, vermiculatum and tesselatum for the conservatives).

 

 After all this emotional work, like any child, an artwork begins to have a life of its own.  It surpasses the dreams we had for it.  And that is when we know, it is time to give it some freedom. It is time to grout.

Frought with anxiety, the teen years have arrived.

  

Consider how much grouting is like raising a teen:

-Dirty.

-Best done wearing gloves and a mask ( I have boys).

-A time of discomfort and anxiety

-Disciplined yet flexible

-Allows your hardwork and prep work to shine through.

 

 

Grouting allows us to step back and admire from a distance.

If we have raised it right, its andamento will shine at this stage and we will be so proud.  We will notice how shiny the adhesive free surfaces are... or whether we need to do some remedial discipline in that area. 

 

The mosaic will burst forth with confidence or shrink into the oblivion of a poor grouting job. Grout tests the mettle of any mosaicist, just like the teenage years test the strength of our foundation in the young years.

Grouting highlights the unique beauty of a piece of art for which you can only take partial credit. Like our children, there is magic in raising our artworks that can not be explained by planning alone. 

 

It also signals the completion of a soul-filled process. As a mosaic 'comes of age', the artist must let it go, accept it with all its beauty and flaws, and choose to love it through all of its flaws and moments of perfection. 

 

And I think THAT is why, tonight, I sit here contemplating, writing to you, instead of grouting a project.  I love it... in all of its imperfections, and perhaps I am just not ready to let it go. 

 





 

Yesterday, I had the privilige of speaking to a group of colleagues, members of the Women's Art Association of Hamilton, at the Art Gallery of Hamilton.   

 

Months ago, I was approached to present to the group on the topic of mosaics.  As you can imagine, I was honoured, excited and had the Dreaded Dooms.  You know what I mean... that little voice that echoes so loudly in your head when someone dares to suggest that you are competent, interesting, or have value to add. The voice that reminds you how little you know, how you are exceptionally untalented, and that all of your success was only by chance.  (Yeah, Dreaded Dooms is a bit of a nasty piece of work.)

 

So, as per usual, I procrastinated.  For some reason, I drown out DD best when under considerable time restraints.  I also procrastinated because I do consider myself an able speaker, especially when I am speaking about something that I love so much.  The day before my presentation, I sat down to actually plan my talk.  With visuals to guide me, I knew I was ready.

 

In the spirit of going to meet an old friend, I packed up samples of my work, my tools, promotional material, and my powerpoint for further visuals.  I then proceeded to leave some of that in my foyer as I zipped out of town, but hey, that proves my humanity. Sitting beside me, Dreaded Dooms reminded me that no one would probably show up. I cranked my music and sang my heart out so I couldn't hear her nagging.

 

My audience was engaged as I shared my mosaic journey. They related to the difficult challenges that brought me back to my art. They asked insightful questions about the technical aspects of creating glass mosaics. They celebrated my successes, and applauded my work.  When I looked around the room as I presented, Dreaded Dooms was nowhere to be seen.  For a presence so loud and so hard to shake, she was conspicuously absent. Positive energy scares her away. Dreaded Dooms is quite the chicken. She only preys on weakness.

 

 

What I have discovered, is that my weaknesses of procrastination and perfectionism...

 

side note:If you procrastinate, you are not giving it your all, so you thereby mentally remove the expectation of perfection. It is common in overachievers. Unfortunately, while removing the pressure of perfection, it does usually also remove the potential for 'perfection'.  One of many dysfunctions, shared by many!

 

...have built a wonderful strength and resilient skill: being present and authentic and speaking from my heart instead of from a notepad.  I love to engage with others, and have the opportunity to communicate about my art: both my intention, and the perceptions of others. So, as tiresome as DD is, I have to thank her. She has forced me to rise above my fears, connect despite my inadequacies and grab onto the opportunities others might deny.

 

So, go ahead Dreaded Dooms, tell me how horrible this next piece will be, and that everyone will suddenly wake up and realize how awful my mosaic skills are... I'll be happy to crank my tunes, sing my heart out, and prove you wrong.