Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Susan Johnson-Walden AKA "BAMA" !

This story begins about twenty years ago when Susan Johnson Walden became enthralled with the idea of making art from stained glass. She was fascinated by the transformation that transpires between glass and light, and noted how a panel seemed to come alive and change as the sun moved across the sky. It was then that Susan decided to undergo her own transformation and become an artist.

Since there weren’t any stained glass classes offered locally, Susan promptly found herself at her local library combing through books that dealt with the subject of stained glass. Soon, she had taught herself the copper foil technique that was made popular by L.C. Tiffany at the turn of the century.

This method of working with stained glass involves wrapping the pieces of glass with copper foil and soldering them together along the length of the seams.

Susan writes, “The closest glass store was 90 minutes away. I went there for supplies and to ask any questions I had. A few years and many projects later, I had a lot of scraps that I couldn't bare to throw away. I made a few kaleidoscopes, but I got bored with them fairly quickly.

That's when I got into mosaics!”

Susan’s first mosaic was a stepping-stone. She loved using her glass to create mosaics and before long, she was hooked. At that time, she worked in a custom frame shop where she first began to sell her work. She has since graduated to more complex projects and designs such as this beautiful birdbath. and this portrait of “Bean” the cat.
When the Internet became popular Susan found a forum where several artist shared projects, tips and encouragement. She is fondly known therein as “Bama” and for saying, “Da-haaaaang!” when she is enthusiastic (or not) about something. Oh, and in case you haven’ t guessed by now, she hails from the Southern US. Here is a picture of her nice little studio where she creates her mosaic magic:

She spends her days and weeks there creating intricate, complex and stunning mosaics.
Blue Jay
Jerry's Butterfly

The support Susan received from her online artist associations was instrumental in her branching out and creating the wide variety of impressive mosaic pieces that are her calling card today. Susan is proud to announce....

“This past year I entered my first art show and won a blue ribbon!”

She placed first in the 3D division of the Winter Arts Festival 2009 Middle Georgia Art Association with her piece entitled, “The Most”
The Most

...and third place in 2D division with one called, "Continuum".

Susan’s work is currently on exhibit at Gallery 51 in Forsyth, GA. You can read more about Susan and her work on her web site by clicking HERE.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Doreen Adams…. One tessera at a time

Doreen Adams

As I write this entry, I am in a beautiful house at the edge of the ocean just south of Santa Cruz. At this moment, I can hear a seal calling through the distant fog. That said, I thought to write an entry about fellow artist and Facebook friend, Doreen Adams, because her studio,, is located in a similar environment in the hills above Malibu, also overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Being where I am right now, (and as a flock of pelicans makes circles in the sky outside my window), I can truly relate to the inspiration Doreen must feel as she looks down over the ocean from her studio each day. I think I understand why she is compelled to create art to express her love of nature and her respect for all living things. Being here has caused me to gain a new appreciation for these things as well as for the art that Doreen creates.

Doreen is one of the finest mosaic artists around.

One of the most defining characteristic of Doreen’s mosaic art is its resemblance to paint on canvas. She tends to lay the tesserae in concentric patterns, using a style known among mosaic artists as ‘painting with glass’. The fine detail with which she executes each mosaic must require the patience of a saint!

Doreen's imagination is clearly not limited to the natural beauty that she sees from her studio window. This piece, entitled simply, "Cheeseburger" was included in the 8th Annual International juried exhibition at the Museum of Man in San Diego last February during the convention of the Society of American Mosaic Artists. The mosaic was also featured as cover art on the "Mosaic Rocks" CD.

When her “White Rabbit” (above) piece won second place in the 3rd Contemporary Mosaic Art Competition “Breaking the Rules” also at the 8th Annual International juried exhibition at SAMA 2009,one of the judges had this to say:

“We love this mosaic! Everything about it is considered. In the first place it is very well drawn and composed – you can feel the white rabbit’s ‘lateness’ and, astonishingly, considering the strong use of complimentary oranges against greens, the overall effect is very harmonious.

Andrew commented on how the tesserae at the front are very small and detailed compared to the larger broader work at the back – this is the opposite to what one would expect and so there’s an interesting lesson to learn here – you don’t ALWAYS have to get smaller and fiddlier as you progress back into the picture.
We would therefore like to award this mosaic joint second prize.
(I will provide the prize for Doreen – namely a book on the work of Boris Anrep, which I feel will be useful to her in her future mosaics.)” Martin Cheek

Talented on many artistic levels, Doreen began her life’s journey in Edinburgh, Scotland, and has traveled the world taking classes from many inspirational artists. She describes herself as a “freelance, self-taught, self-employed artist” and writes, “My love of animals and children can be seen throughout my art whether it be my mosaics, decorative painted furniture, children’s illustrations, fine art paintings and drawings or my handmade crafts. “

Here are a few of Doreen’s watercolor illustrations:

Doreen is available for commissioned work and takes a flexible approach to these projects, sometimes working from a selection of photographs or if possible, paying visits to a specific site personally, to gather her own reference material. As she works through her commissioned art, she periodically documents her progress on her web site so that her clients can appreciate the painstaking detail that she enlists to create their mosaics.

Doreen is a member of SCBWI, (The Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators), SAMA, (The Society of American Mosaic Artists), MAA (The Malibu Art Association) and MAO, (The Mosaic Artists Organization).

Please visit her web site to see more of Doreen's beautiful art work or to get further information.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Latifah Shay – Artist by Nature

Latifah Shay

“I feel such joy and freedom when I create. When I paint I am present with the
truth of who I am. I move through life enjoying, exploring and expressing this
exciting part of my being.”


Latifah Shay is an artist acquaintance whom I met through Twitter, the social networking site. Her notoriety as an artist began in third grade when she won a school coloring contest. Then, in high school, one of her architectural drawings ranked first place in the state competition. Her art fire was fueled, so off she went!
Delicate Intensity

“I attended the architecture program at Texas A&M University. Three years later I
found myself disenchanted. Plumbing, structures and HVAC held no allure for me. I
completed my degree, delving deeper into figure drawing, photography and
furniture design.

Two years later, I began pursing graphic design. Bought a computer, learned the
programs, took classes, and read voraciously. In short time I had a job at a mid-sized
creative company as a designer.”


Her work characteristically consists of "geometricized", concentric forms and hues used independently of their local color. One frequently finds swirls that are full of emotion and brilliant color, moving across a plane. The swirl can be seen as a symbol for the "endless circle" (similar to the endless knot) in Chinese culture.

Feeling My Way

Latifah creates her art for many reasons, but it is, above all, informed by color and a sense of movement. As a mother of 4 yr. old triplets, she finds herself frequently in her local library where she reads with her children. While there, she loves to look at the illustrations and reading about the artists who create them. She is currently attracted to the illustration style of artist David Shannon.

The Truth About Love

“I release so much as I create. I release my emotions, my stagnations and stuckness. I connect with, experience and release my truth as I create.”

Roses and Honey

When her triplets were two Latifah began painting again.
“ Being a mother has brought ligh to my truth. I am an artist by nature. I want to paint, draw and create -- to explore my inner worlds through color, line, form, collage... as much as possible.”

Last month, Latifah attended the Unity Music Festival in Warfordsburg PA. where, for the second year in a row, her worked served as a beautiful backdrop for the main stage musicians.
(Singer Lindsay Mac with Latifah's art in background

Please visit her web site HERE ( for more information about Latifah’s art.

Stacy Alexander