Archive for January, 2013

Paisley Series, Panel 2: Greens

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on January 23, 2013 by Laura Paull

Paisley Series, Panel 2: Greens

You work feverishly night after night, and week after week — month after month, even!  — to execute a vision. Much of the work is tiresome, tedious. There are not enough ways to cut a square inch tile into different shapes. Your hands ache from gripping the tile cutters. Your neck gets a kink from bending downward for so many hours at a time. But the vision enslaves you. You must see it completed.

You focus your mind to penetrate the task. When you are able, you set everything else aside. In fact, you find, there is nothing else more important, other than earning a living. And you immerse yourself in color and form. In this case, the color green, and its complements.

In the dark of winter when the California landscapes are brown, I exult in the richness of these glass greens. In my mind ‘s eye I am a cat rolling madly in a patch of fresh catnip. And I take from nature the permission to use mad contrasts – tropical pink-oranges; a bit of red with purples. Shocking.

And finally it is done.  And no sooner is it done than the fever subsides, and you are outside the vision again.

How is is possible that, after so much labor and concentration, the work would NOT match your vision of it — not exactly? I imagine this is the oldest lament in the realm of art.

But the fact is that each one of these pieces involves a great deal of experimentation and “on the job” learning. As I am doing them — doing what it is I THINK I want to do –I become ever more aware of what I don’t know, and what I’m doing wrong, and what I need to do next time.

So they are obsolete as soon as I finish them, except as a document of my experience. I know, I know — “it’s all about the process.”

So here’s my accounting for Green Paisley:

On the plus side:

– good blending of various greens to form a harmonious OVERALL green statement in the large paisley, a blending of  pattern and non-pattern; color transcends pattern.

-I love the little area of “pixilated” red/orange/pink tesserae just below the large solid swirl of pink/orange. A good resolution of a materials problem that makes the statement that it’s all about the color.

-I did manage to achieve my previous goal of including repetition: making the same element at least twice! (The two smaller green paisleys). Almost the same. But now that I’ve done that, I’m not sure it’s such an improvement.

-Greater freedom in use of color.

-Discovered the brightening effect of putting in tiny splashes of color within the grey background (I didn’t do this in the first panel, the purple paisley) though I may have gone overboard on it.

On the minus side:

-I realize I have a great deal to learn about:

1-backgrounds, insofar as the arrangement of tesserae: I could use a whole class on it. For example, I chose the crazy quilt option, thinking that it would form a distinct contrast to the ordered arrangement of tesserae in the paisley forms. But would it have looked better if the background tiles were laid out in lines swirling around the paisleys, accentuating their movement? Needless to say, I’m going to have to experiment…

2-The importance of grout lines as an element in the whole. My instinct is that they are as important as the silences in music, or the negative space in a photograph.

3-Proper spacing between tesserae (at least an eight of an inch) if I’m going to grout – placing the tiles so close together didn’t allow enough grout to flow between the tiles. I didn’t pay attention to this AT ALL — because, I think, I was subconsciously moving toward a no-grout technique (in which the tiles are placed closer together ) but I haven’t even achieved the correct use of grouted tile technique before abandoning it! Basically, you can’t have it both ways.

4. Design within the space! Mosaic is different than it would be in, say, a drawing or painting or fabric print, because the options for filling narrow spaces along the edges are severely limited if you want to keep the background tesserae more or less within the same size range. It was hard squeezing them in, in any truly fluid way.

5. Cutting glass. I need better control of cutting curved lines in glass in order to have real options.

So. My verdict: pleasing and happy to look at, but not a major achievement. Looking at my earliest work, I feel like I am going backwards — In “Hiding in Plain Sight” I did so much without having the faintest idea what I was doing, yet it turned out so well. I can only hope that this exercise is a process of turning the process inside out in order to truly master it.


On to Paisley # 3: Yellows.