Thursday, January 5, 2017

#4 MMM: Prep Work without End

 Welcome to my studio......
...where, in a space 14'x18,' I'm supposed to make 3 mosaic murals -- each 10 feet high by 11' wide or greater.  First step was to order materials.  Some come in bags, but others come on sheets like you'd buy in the DIY store and these must be soaked off the paper or mesh, and then dried overnight before being sorted into bins.  How many?  Thousands....

tiles soaking

tiles drying

Next is to trace the template onto mesh.  Thanks to Bobbi S and Cathi T for noticing that we needed to number EVERYTHING-- lest we lose track.

Tracing the template onto mesh, referencing gridded "map" 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016


All along I've known these were big walls -- approximately 11 wide by 10 tall -- but it never hit me HOW BIG until I put up one of the templates I had printed. Yikes!  That's going to be a lot o' tiles.....

I'm 5'3"  and the full height isn't shown, but you get the idea.  Going to do this wall first, even though it is the 3rd one, because it seemed to be the...  not easiest per se, but the one with large simple areas.  Ha!  Was I ever wrong -- seems to be easier to be complex than simple. 

** These posts are current, but the activities described are from the past 2 months;  just now getting around to blog.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

MMM (Making the Mississippi Mosaics) #2

Next step is to add color, even though it's not certain what tile colors will be available when they are finally ordered.  Since mosaics are closer to pointillism or pixelation in affect, it can be a challenge to get across one's idea in a different medium. Finally, there's that pesky artistic license.  Speaking of license, note the extensive use of of a certain state's license plate colors.

"One Mississippi"

"Two Mississippi"

"Three Mississippi"

Sunday, December 18, 2016


Long time no see.....  and no blogging, either.  Hopefully that's about to change.

My latest endeavor involves 3 mosaic walls for the MSP airport restroom areas at Gate 4-6, concourse C (Delta). Approximately 325 square feet overall, this project has been in the works for about a year but actually started making it not long ago. With help.  Lots of help.

The task was to come up with 3 related images that "spoke" Minnesota.  My personal feeling was ABSOLUTELY no loons or lumberjacks.  Since the state is all about water, and the Mississippi is the biggest coolest waterway ever, here are my sketches of three different views of the river.

The Headwaters...

bustling St. Anthony Falls.....

and stately St. Paul.

Unless you know it's the Mississippi, how do they appear related?  Decided to emphasize the "arc" presented by the curve of river and shoreline. Also decided to flatten shapes and repeat a limited palette of blues, greens and whites.  Something cool I discovered after the fact:  If you line them up side by side, you can travel the river through all three picture planes.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

"Helping" bites the dust

Well, as so often happens the "real" painting was not looking as good as the study, so I trashed it.  I might revisit again someday when not trying to reacquire my painting confidence.  I swear, I look at work done 15-20 years ago when I didn't know what I was doing, and they are all SO SO SO much better than anything recent.  And at that time I had 3 kids to carpool to activities, a job and was working on my latest degree.  

Not being an idiot, I know better than to think I need to recreate that environment in order to get my mojo back.  I am older, have less energy, and am less inclined to take risks (now THAT's a problem); but I'm also wiser, more experienced, and have honed down my scattered interests somewhat so as to make better progress in a few areas.  Most important is knowing what makes the paintings I dream about.  (Not subject matter, even though it seems my "oeuvre" has been painting people.)

Competent technique, confident application, and something to say.  The challenge is sitting steadily on all 3 legs of that stool at once.

Friday, February 27, 2015

"Helping" All Drawn Out and Ready to Go

22 x 30, Fabriano Artistico Rough paper

There was no way I was going to draw out all those flowers and stuff, so effort concentrated on the 3 subjects and some of the shadow shapes so I don't forget about them.  This and the next stage are my favorite parts of painting, where all potential lies ahead and no screw-ups have yet occurred.  

Thursday, February 26, 2015

"Helping" - Color Study

8 x 6 wc study

The purpose of this is to try out colors in a small format, see if anything bugs me, and to warm up with the paint and the image.  Where will edges be hard, soft, rough or removed altogether?  Is there too much white that should be tinted back?   And so on.... The hospital chose to commission a 22 x 30 full sheet watercolor  based on this study (remember, guidelines were Norman Rockwell, Americana, nostalgia). 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

"Helping" - A Watercolor in Progress

Visual thinking in the sketchbook


Sometimes while at work I have time to work out my ideas
for a painting.  On the left are notes and possible formats, movement, where to put the forms and how big.  On the right sketchbook page I dinked around with wc pencils and whiteout.  Next came the value sketch, just to check the shapes; although this usually happens before the color thinking.  I like to simplify it into a notan (Japanese word meaning black and white design) and then see if I can get to as few shapes as possible.  Counting just the large shapes, there are 5; putting in a few of the smaller shapes brought the count to 8, which is well under the goal of no more than 13.  So, this looks like it will work. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

"Waiting for the Parade" Completed

     Oil on canvas, 24 x 36

All done and varnished - finally!-- but now I can't take a decent picture of it because of glare....  oh well, on to the next (commissioned by same hospital in SD).

Sunday, February 8, 2015

End in Sight, Yet Far Away

Missed my self-imposed deadline of Sunday, so I'll be at it again next weekend. So many little things to attend to!  The front five kids are pretty complete, except for maybe putting a bomb pop in the hand of the kid on the left and de-activating some of the stripes on the romper on the right, and adding folds.  Pavement needs to be scumbled over this dark layer, and then figure out what color shadows ought to be.  I like the shadow colors on the curb.  All of the other people, their clothing and skin and well -- everything-- needs attention.  Hopefully, whatever that ends up being will not require much change to the front five.  Now I guess I know why you're not supposed to take isolated parts to completion ahead of other stuff.