Art Like Tinkertoys

Dear Liza,

There are all kinds of art. Painting, sculpture, singing, writing, acting, architecture. All of these consist mainly of a set of skills combined with a desire to explore or show the world in a certain way.

I am not particularly good at any of them. I can draw a cat that looks like a cat if I have to, but it isn’t my strong point.

And, I’m realizing, that doesn’t preclude me from being an artist. Just like so much of what I enjoy in the world are combinations of things, the way images are arranged or layered, can be a work of art.

This is where collage, mosaic, and assemblage come in. The arrangement and layering of paper, images, and objects as a work of art that explores the way the artist sees the world.

To me, it feels more like playing with tinker-toys. I find bits I can manipulate and put them together to make something pleasing to my eye that says, well, whatever I want it to say. And, for want of a better word, I will call it art.


Grandma Judy

Paper Mosaic Reprise

Dear Liza,

I have been bitten by the mosaic bug again, and I looked online for some inspiration. I found this is 1,600 years old mosaic, and I chose it because I love the eyes.

I know mosaics are labor intensive and wanted to start small, so I focused on just “the windows of the soul”, using a piece of backing paper about 5 x 8.

I sketched the basic shape in yellow pencil on dark paper about 5 by 8 inches. The dark background would mimic the grout usually used between tiles.

Since I loved the irregularity of the skin tones, I decided to paint a bunch to play with. Painting these swatches on heavy watercolor paper makes for bits that are easy to handle.

Then came the slow part, trimming and fitting and gluing. They should be small enough, but not too small, close enough, but not too close. It is intense work and I can only do it for about half an hour at a time.

There is a lot of second-guessing and talking to the bits as I work, lots of squinty work.

I was hoping to get this piece done today, because summer weather is predicted to start this weekend and I will (with any luck) be busy with planting and such.
But I didn’t. Here’s what have for now.


Grandma Judy

A Paper Mosaic

Dear Liza,

You know I love mosaics. I am fascinated by how the tiny bits fit and flow together to create larger images. I have taken hundreds of pictures of mosaics over the years.

I have even made some! The side table we use everyday is made from upcycled plates, a big broken bowl, and floor tiles from a building that was torn down, years ago, in Salinas.

But mosaics made from tile or plates are very heavy, and tend to be large. Good for a garden, maybe. But that’s an idea for later.

But mosaics made of paper could be smaller and lighter. And since one of the things I like best about mosaics is using ’damaged goods’ to another purpose, why not recycle some of my less-than-successful pictures into one?

I also had scraps from trimming a large piece down for cards…

Maybe they could work together? Because of the hot orange, I started with a starburst idea.

Could it look even better with the blue and black? I tried. Oh, yeah.

Continuing with the blue and into the green, I like it better and better.

And though I can see ways I could have done it better, I like this a lot. I think I will be playing with this some more.


Grandma Judy