Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Ena Sroat – Stone Sea Studio

Mosaics first caught the eye of artist, Ena Stroat, when she worked as a historical tour guide in Italy, showing tourists the rich artistic treasures of the Vatican. She was taken by the permanence of mosaic art... how mosaics hundreds and even thousands of years old were still amazingly vibrant and intact. She was attracted to the quirky animal stylizations, intricate designs and ancient worlds that existed on her tours of Rome.

Ena wrote, “The timeless appeal of mosaics soon had me buying my first set of tile nippers and attempting my first mosaic (with many a cut and nip to my own self!) “

Now back in her native home on the island of Hawai'i, mosaic continues to
provide an inspiration and a medium for expressing the world around ber with her unique, handmade creations.

“For me, part of the magic of mosaics lies in the reflective nature of the medium. Mosaics can shimmer like light on water and alter interactively with the viewer’s position. It can also be a tactile experience when juxtaposing reflective
tile and matte stone. Each individual piece is also a unique,one-of-a-kind creation by the artist which can never be replicated or copied exactly.”

Sea life is a natural inspiration for Ena as illustrated in her pieces, “Night Dance”: and “Humuhumunukunukuapua'a “
Night Dance

Hawaii also offers Ena artistic opportunities to capture the stunning seascapes and moonlit waters.

Sunrise over Lanikai

I'iwi Birds in the Mist

I found this three-panel wall piece called, "Zen Reflection (Mango Tree and Lizards)" to be especially beautiful:

...and, of course, Hawaii wouldn't be Hawaii without its abundance of rare tropical flowers. Ena's interpretation is stunning in this piece called, "Morning"

...and this one called, "Gardenia".

The name of Ena's mosaic business is the appropriately named, "Stone Sea Studio" where she works on commissions and will copy virtually any design submitted by her clients. You can read more about her, her art and her business at her web site.

Nice little Hawaiian vacation, eh? :-) Thanks, Ena!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

1,000 Journals

This month, courtesy of my Creative Souls pal, Andrea Kreuzhage, I will be offering a free DVD to the lucky subscriber who wins the art giveaway for February! Meanwhile, I'd like to introduce to you the feature length documentary 1000 Journals that Andrea made. I've been interested in this project for a long time!

The Story in short: 1000 Journals are traveling from hand to hand throughout the world. One came back. Where are the other 999?

A peek into the film:

If you are unable to see the video above, please click HERE.

1000 Journals is a film about people whose lives are touched by 1000 traveling journals. These blank journals were released into the world in the summer of 2000, by Someguy, a San Francisco based artist. Some people found a journal, or got it from a friend or stranger. Some signed up on the web and received it in the mail. Some wrote in them, others doodled, pasted in photographs, or added artworks. Some kept them. Some passed them on. There are no rules, and no one really monitors these journals and their movements. And yet, they are connecting tens of thousands of people worldwide, provoking and inspiring them.

In September 2003, one of the 1000, number 526, returned to Someguy, filled. What happened to the other 999? This film tells their stories. 1000 Journals shares the experience of their worldwide journeys, and chronicles the self-governed collaboration of thousands of random people who have added to this global "message in a bottle."

1000 Journals has traveled the international film festival circuit for the past year, and is currently on exhibition at the SF MOMA. But wherever you are, you can now see the film on DVD!


Official website, with many more images, videos, F.A.Q., upcoming screenings and events, and a blog:

Direct link to Amazon

If you're itching to start or join a traveling journal, check out 1001 Journals, the sister site.

If you're a teacher and are planning to use 1000 Journals in the classroom, please feel free to join the 1000 Journals Extension, a teachers' network, with study materials and plenty of D.I.Y. tips.

As mentioned earlier, Andrea has most generously agreed to donate a DVD for this month's Listen to Your Art Beat art giveaway, so sign up for a FREE subscription to be qualified for the February drawing.

~~Please visit my professional web site at: STACY ALEXANDER STUDIOS~~~

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Bethany Ayres

The Esteban Sabar Gallery here in Oakland represents some of the most interesting artists around. Painter, Bethany Ayres’ work is no exception. Her signature trademark is her palatte of only three or four select colors per painting layered onto stained plywood with enamel and oil paints

“Ayres's representational imagery, each individually narrative, offer many samples each of both patterns and pathos. The thrust is to provide an entry point to
the image through the narrative; to inspire discussion that ultimately arrives at an increased curiousity about contemporary representationalism. Some
reoccurring themes are surprisingly traditional, for instance the meaning of value contrast and/or the significance of composition as a symbol in itself within the image.”

Her early works focused on "paradoxes in bilateral symmetry," and while her newer paintings' compositions still inform the subject matter and content, they are much more active. The difference starts with the more circular, almost spiral format, which in turn give rise to more imaginative, allegorical narratives; and results in a sustained upsweep of action and understanding.

Ayres received her Master of Fine Arts Degree in 1998 from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, in Philadelphia, PA; and a BFA in 1996 from the Center for Creative Studies in Detroit, Michigan.

Since moving to California in 1998, Bethany has shown her work in Philadelphia, throughout Oakland, Sacramento and Balboa Island. Ayres's paintings have been reviewed in the East Bay Express, the Piedmonter, San Francisco Bay Guardian, and Diablo magazines; noted in Art in America; featured in the movie Broken Arrows; and collected in several private and public collections, including The Detroit Institute of Art Museum. Part of her professional reputation is her role as a managing partner in the cooperative galleries of DB Coffman, Inc. Her work is represented by Esteban Sabar Gallery in Oakland, California.

Here is a little video of Bethany from her web site. I am putting it in this entry so you can see what she looks like:

Please click HERE if you can't see the video above.

Check out more of Bethany's work by clicking HERE.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Jane Kellogg - Bits 'N Pieces of Wyoming

Cody is a city in Park County, Wyoming that is named after William Frederick Cody, primarily known as Buffalo Bill. Among its’ population of about 10,000 people lives self-taught mosaic artist, Jane Kellogg.

Jane has a knack for working with different types of tesserae to fulfill the challenge of making it all come together into mosaic pieces that represent, among other things, Wyoming’s native wildlife and beautiful landscapes. Her combinations of colors breathe energy and life into her work.

Hot Summer Sun

“I first fell in love with this form at the Bardo Museum in Tunis where a wealth of mosaics, dating from pre-Roman times delight the eye.”
Spring Garden
Detail from Spring Garden

Some of Jane’s inspiration comes from her abundant flower gardens. However, she has a special talent for capturing the likenesses of the bountiful wildlife that roams the hills and valleys of her state. Meet, Bubba!

The substrate for Bubba was created by sculptor Jeff Rudolph .

Jane wrote, “The only trouble was all those grooves and crevices were impossible to mosaic so I filled them in with thinset.”

(Bubba was sold to Groathouse Construction for $15,000!)

Jane’s penchant for animals doesn’t stop with Bubba. She colorfully represents animals in both 2 and 3 dimensional pieces. Note how well she has captured the personality of this rooster:

The Early Bird

Check out her 3D “Blue Fish”
Blue Fish

Jane is a graduate of the Pennsylvania State University and studied art at the York
(PA) Academy of Arts. She is a member of the Society of American Mosaic Artists and
the Cody Country Art League. She runs a mosaic business called, “Bits ‘N Pieces” that produces decorative mosaic items for the home and garden such as picture frames, mirrors, flower pots, watering cans and birdhouses. Each piece is a one-of-a-kind original design made up of many individually hand-cut pieces, which could be stained glass, china, tiles, glass nuggets and other unusual found objects. You can check out Jane’s work on her web site at CLICK HERE:

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Therese DesJardin Studio

Santa Fe, New Mexico is the gathering place for artists of many diciplines. Today's featured artist, Therese DesJardin, lives in Santa Fe where she owns and operates Therese DesJardin Studio.

She was born in Minneapolis and raised in Florida where she began her art career after graduating from U. of F. with a B.A. in Art Education. She eventually moved to the Connecticut River Valley and began to paint and create the mosaics which I am pleased to feature here today. She tells me she is beginning a new series of work and I will give an update with that once she is finished.

This piece, called, “Terra Song” Infusion of Spirit into Matter” demonstrates Therese’s proclivity toward feminine, layered and sensual work. There is a quietness inherent in her pieces that invites the viewer to pause and take in the subtle details that would be lost at first glance. Her carefully chosen color palettes enhance an emotional expansiveness and contemplation.

In 17th century Turkey, secret messages were conveyed by sending flowers, each one of which had a special meaning. Therese's “Moon Flowers” depicts a beautiful arrangement of individual flowers with messages of their own.

All of Therese’s mosaics incorporate the same qualities of femininity and gentle quiet with the added dimension of the contrasts between man-made objects and natural materials.
Dancing Goddess

Rocks, gem stones, petrified wood, glass, and all types of ceramics create a wondrous montage of effects as demonstrated by this mosaic mandala table.

The elemental and tactical qualities of the objects used in Therese's mosaics add their own distinctive essence to the mix. Various patterns and cuts are arranged in such a way that one object often appears to morph into another as evidenced by this backsplash commission piece called, “Yellow Kayak Iris and Lupin”.

Three-dimensional, materials can protrude and serve a functional purpose. Yet, the lines and craftsmanship of Therese’s work are highly refined, displaying the delicacy of a painting achieved with a saw.

This delicious mural is called, “Blueberry Pie and Bagets”

Therese has participated in a large number of collaborative exhibitions. Her solo exhibitions includ:

"Essence and Soul," Santa Fe Soul, Santa Fe, NM February 2007
"Emergence," Sanctuary Yoga, Torrington, CT November 2005
"Spring Opening," private reception, Madison, CT April 2003
"Summer Solstice," private reception, Haddam, CT June 2001

In addition to creating mosaic art, Therese is also a fantastic painter. Judging by the painterly quality of her mosaic work, it is evident that one media appears to influence the other.

Crab Apple

Therese is available for commission work and can be contacted through her web site HERE, where she has galleries of both her mosaic work and her paintings.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Cynthia Fisher - Big Bang Mosaics

Greetings artists and art lovers. It has been awhile since I've had time to update this blog. I have been working on an exciting new series of paintings that I will tell you about at a later date. Hopefully, I'll get back on track and have the time to write more regularly here.

Last month's art giveaway went to Maria Tallis of Chicago, Illinois.

I am pleased to present today's entry about a mosaic artist from my old stomping grounds in New England.

Cynthia Fisher of Big Bang Mosaics, resides about an hour northwest of my former home in Western Massachusetts. She lives in one of the hill towns where the abundance of nature serves as inspiration for much of her work. She likes to wander about the countryside either on her bike or on foot and contemplate ideas for her mosaics. Cynthia has fully embraced the mosaic art form as the center of her universe. She creates fine art mosaics for public spaces and private shows. She teaches classes and workshops for both adults and children. She works on school projects and private commissions and runs her own mosaic business.

The artist writes”
“BIG BANG MOSAICS came about when I realized I didn't want to stop creating mosaics,(having already filled our home!). In 2002 I took a fabulous business class at our local CDC, or Community Development Corporation, and learned the basics of running a business. Being an artist does not preclude one from the nitty gritty jobs of marketing, finance, and the like. My time is divided between the business half and the art half - private commission work, teaching classes and workshops, conducting school residencies and applying for public art projects. I also continue in my career of the past 15 years as a children's book illustrator. A recent project was My Bodyworks, by Jane Schoenberg and published by Crocodile Books.”

Recipient of the Kinnicutt Scholarship, Cynthia used the Worcesster Art Museum’s travel/study award to go to Italy last October where she bicycled for a week in Tuscany and studied traditional setting techniques in Ravenna.

These days, Cynthia has been keeping herself busy with work created for public spaces. One of my personal favorites of her public installations consists of mosaic “cut outs” that portray little kids all decked out for school. These whimsical little guys now hang in a pre-school in Rogers, Arkansas.

Cynthia recently installed this beautiful mosaic at Colvin Hall at the University of Maine which is her alma mater.

The trunk of this tree of life is made of mirror glass that sparkles and changes as one passes. The writing along the bottom of the piece , “Studium Eruditionis Ardescens”, loosely translates as "Igniting a Passion for Learning", which is the motto for the Honors College .

Cynthia is a finalist for the Christa McAuliffe Planetarium percent for art project in Concord New Hampshire, and a semi-finalist who was selected from 125 applicants for the Orange County Public Art Community Recreation Centers project in Orlando, Florida.

"Voyage" (below) was created for the emergency room of the Children's Hospital of Boston.

As opposed to her commissioned pieces, Cynthia’s personal work is generated from images of her own choosing. This work, entitled, "New England Flamenco" was inspired by mushrooms.

Overall, the work has an energetic, lyrical quality. She uses a lot of blue, accented with reds, oranges and yellows and adds an incredible amount of detail into each work.

The idea for this piece, called, “End of Summer” was conceived during a bike ride through the gorgeous New England countryside.

Cynthia writes:
“Once again, this scene came about while on a bike ride. I often get ideas while out riding or walking, then think, think, think about them and what I want to portray. I experimented with grout lines, different ways of laying tile shapes - in particular the idea of stacking tiles vertically but having color more horizontal (this is what is going on with the green midsection.) I also got the sky to be more chaotic and tempestuous by switching out tiles here and there so the lines didn't run 'straight'. And finally, the handling of the goldenrod was inspired by a student of mine's mosaic.”

"7 Warbler Redux" (above) was inspired by the bird environment, elements of bird life and bird silhouettes.

Cynthia’s “Spawning Salmon” piece is full of movement, aided by the use of mirror and irregular line work.

The first inspiration for her 'Tree of Life' mosaic was a 1" square image of a tree cut out from a newspaper along with the idea 'tree of life'.

“I researched early American Applique books and borrowed from their naive folk art style to depict the elements in this mosaic. The colors were chosen to compliment the room in which it was to be placed.”

"Anabel" is one of her endearing pet portraits:

Cynthia says that her first exposure to mosaics was at the age of 12 when she saw a photograph in the book, "Practical Encyclopedia of Crafts".

“Thirty some odd years later I had my first opportunity to experiment with this medium and I was immediately taken. Creating a mosaic is a combination of rigorous planning in the sketch phase replaced by a spontanaity and openness in laying the tile, where the process stays fresh as you decide colors, tile shapes, patterns, how the tile is layed. The challenge of how to make water look reflective or conversely transparent, how to create depth, how to give the viewer the feeling that colors are blending together; these are all things that make this such an exciting medium to work in.”

To find out more information about Cynthia Fisher, her workshops and classes and to see more of her mosaics, please visit her web site by CLICKING HERE

Stacy Alexander