“I Don’t Know Why Anyone Would…

make mosaics- they are so time-consuming!”  This is a quote from a student of mine who, incidentally, has several future mosaic plans for himself.

I won’t attempt to answer the question of  ‘Why?’  until a later post, but I will say something now about what is wrapped up in a mosaic art package, no matter the size.

Below is a very small, 7″ x 5″, study of a person that I am making, not only to be a piece of art in its own right, but, also, a problem-solving study for a much larger work in which a portrait of this woman will play a part.  When I took these photos, I was almost finished with the piece.  So far, including time spent planning the composition, making preliminary sketches, setting and re-setting tiles, and grouting, it has taken me about 18, maybe 20, concentrated hours of effort.  There has also been a lot of elapsed time in which I have had the piece propped up, looking at it, and assessing what needs to be done, or undone, and thinking about the woman’s expression and its meaning.

Study of Lillian at distance WIP copy

The portrait is propped up in the center of this photo.

Study of Lillian close-up WIP copy

Each of these tiles is 3 millimeters (1/8 inch) on a side.

Study of Lillian head view WIP copyEach of the larger tiles is 5 millimeters (approaching 1/4 inch) on a side.

Study of Lillian WIP netcopy

Because the process of mosaic is so slow, I have lots of time to dig deeper into the meaning of the mosaic, even as I am cutting and adhering tiles.  My original concept often comes to me in an instant, but the execution is laborious and ritualistic.  As I begin work, I must rein in my desire to have the thing finished NOW, and concentrate on being systematic in my procedure.  Each mosaic teaches me about self-control, listening, waiting, observing, and taking action.

I develop a relationship with my mosaic, learning its habits, its moods, its developing personality, even as a child is revealed to its parents over the years together.  A piece of my heart goes into each mosaic.  Not only do I create each mosaic, but they each create me.  I am a different person when I finish a mosaic than I was when I began it.

When you buy or when you are given a mosaic, you are holding the trail of another person’s heart, her thoughts, and her soul.  The mosaic may be earthy, made from the stuff of the ground, but it is also soulful, full of the glory and the imperfections that we possess as human beings.