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:
-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.