Archive for December, 2012

California Central Valley, From the Sky

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on December 10, 2012 by Laura Paull

California Central Valley, From the Sky

Photo loosely based on aerial photos of the California Delta by Adrian Mendoza.

I’ve long been transfixed by the patchwork quilt of the farmlands occupying the vast Central Valley of California, as seen from the air, and the way the rivers wind their way through them, having their way with the land.

My boyfriend Adrian Mendoza loves to photograph from small planes, particular the area known as the California Delta. I’d studied hundreds of his photos, trying to figure out how I could translate the delightful natural patterns into an adequate mosaic.

I started working on this one during a workshop with Sonia King at the Institute for Mosaic Art in Oakland several years ago. The main gift she gave me was her advice to try to create the flow and movement of the water. My glass cutting skills were crude so I ended up laying the water pieces in and tearing them up again many times before I was more or less satisfied. One big decision was whether I could use that big piece of brown glass with the flow already  captured — without breaking it up. I chose to use it as is, and I think it works to convey the watery muddy overflow at the bend in this river.

But the real challenge was capturing any sense of distance and perspective. The photographs I based this piece on covered a vast expanse below, and the details were so tiny. I really had no idea how small or large the tesserae needed to be in order to show a given measurement of distance; the result is that it looks cheerful but more clunky like folk art – an entirely different image than the photos.

Friday night I had a chance to discuss these issues with the mosaic artist Kate Kerrigan, who works in representational and landscape mosaics based on her own photographs. She showed me, in her commissioned piece showing a Stanford architectural scene, how incredibly tiny the tesserae had to be in order to show the archways in the distance of her piece – a distance that could not have been more than a few hundred feet from the buildings in the foreground, as opposed to a few thousand, as from an airplane. Smaller than a newborn’s pinky nail.

So I’m looking forward to taking her one-night class at the IMA, May 2, on working from photographs. I expect to come away with a better understanding of  perspective and a few solid revelations.

Meanwhile, I gave this piece as a wedding gift to a Central Valley girl who I know and love, and she says she loves it.  So it’s on to the next one. I know I’m not done with aerials.


In Awe of Kate

Posted in Uncategorized on December 2, 2012 by Laura Paull

Looking forward to Kate Kerrigan’s new show in  North Beach (San Francisco) opening this coming DEC. 6.  Her transition from photographer to mosaic artist (though she still shoots photos as the basis for her mosaic work) has resulted in some of the most exquisite renderings of light, of luminosity, of composition and perspective, that I have seen in any mosaic work

I’m so impressed that I’ve signed up for her May 2 workshop at the Institute of Mosaic Art. Here’s the information about her upcoming show:

Focus Gallery 
1534 Grant Avenue (North Beach) 
San Francisco, CA 94133 
Show dates:  December 6 -18, 2012 
Opening Reception: Thursday, December 6, 5-8pm  
(also First Friday North Beach Art Walk  Reception December 7,  6-9pm)  

Gallery Hours: 

Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 2-7 
Thursdays and Fridays 1-7
Saturday and Sunday noon-5
Closed Mondays

Paisley Quartet, Panel I: Repetition? FAIL!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on December 2, 2012 by Laura Paull

“Pattern can identify different cultures at a glance, can suggest other places, can conjure varieties of feeling, can change expectation, relieve boredom and calm what is cluttered.”
-Jacqueline Poncelet, Ceramic Artist

Laura's Mosaic 01

Completed this first of four paisley panels  I have planned – the study in purple – at the end of October. As I reflected in my previous post, I was seeking to discipline my mind and hands enough to design and implement an actual pattern, which was one reason why I chose the paisley form. Every paisley design I saw in my research depended absolutely on the repetition of a motif, no matter how simple.

In this respect, I failed. This piece contains three paisley forms, and each one turned out entirely different. The call of experimentation, of playing with color and available materials, was just too great for me.

I did seek to create some repetition in the use of the round blue glass pieces in the fat parts of the paisley, and in the way I surrounded these pieces with smaller tesserae. The arrangement of color, especially in the places where there is a progression from one color to another – a spectrum – as in the flower stems, was deliberate.

But overall it appears I am unable, at least with this design  and within the square foot of the  substrate,  to come up with a satisfying pattern that I can repeat. Maybe someone can help me figure out why. I have no background in graphic design, textiles, block printing or any other medium in which paisley designs are common. But it’s not as if I haven’t doodled in my day and come up with a pattern.

What I found in my process was that I was more interested in finding a visually pleasing flow of color, allowing my materials to find each other, and dance.  Maybe the fact is that my  artistic inclination is toward the abstract. If so, I won’t resist. But I have an instinct that working within the restraints of a motif (paisley), and trying to discipline my design, will improve the outcome of any future work I do, representational or abstract.

So although a part of me is longing to break free, I won’t abandon my paisley studies. I’ve started Panel II, this one in the Theme of Green.