Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Irit Levy

Irit Levy

Irit Levy was a painter before she became a mosaic artist.

She is almost unable to recall a time in her life when she didn’t paint. One of her memories takes place at around age five, when her teacher called her mother to show her Irit’s paintings that uniquely stood out from those of the other children.

“I kept painting women with yellowish high hairstyle (like Marge Simpson..) and perspective houses with flat roofs. I can remember how amused I was hearing them discussing my pictures and I just couldn't be bother to tell them that I was painting my mother (who had a blond Audrey Hepburn coiffure) and our house which had a flat roof...”


Irit spent most of her painting career creating what she refers to as, “big ‘dirty’ abstracts”. Through the years she did a lot of experimental art with other media as well….printmaking, casting, pottery, illustrations, but she didn’t try mosaic art until just a couple of years ago.

Cafe Au Lait

She colorfully describes her exposure to mosaics as an experience in which she was “vacuumed into the medium”. She noted that this experience was unlike anything that had transpired before. She quickly became an enthusiast, all but giving up the other forms of art making.
My City

Irit says she is driven by the mosaic process itself. She creates precise mosaic art that is skillfully crafted with obvious passion. The process seems intuitive, as that of a painter, with emphasis on strong shadows and representations of reflective light. It is, without a doubt, a tribute to color, texture and form.
Tea Break

This artist doesn’t necessarily like to tell people what informs her art. It is her contention that once the art is completed and out in the world, her thoughts and drive are irrelevant. She trusts that the art has a life of its own and that it forms a personal experience of expression between itself and the viewer.

Irit is a woman of the world whose remarkable mosaics show a diversity of mind and spirit. They defy the limitations of the hard tesserae to take on the appearance of a softer medium, paint in the third dimension, perhaps. One can almost see the “brush strokes” or, in the case of her cartoon-like pieces, pen and ink, created by her unique applications of vitreous glass, marble, ceramic tiles, stained glass, pebbles, beads and even sand. She is inspired by many things…by photographs, paintings and objects that she sees in the world, et al, and she always manages to give these things her signature twist, converting them into lively, energetic works of art.
Big Steps

Her portrait work is very strong. Irit manages to capture her subjects in comfortable, lifelike poses, even in abstraction.
Beautiful Woman

I find her cartoon images particularly endearing. Could it be because I relate a little too closely, perhaps? (Yikes! Is this me??)
Big Happiness

Irit Levy states, “In August 2006 I escaped from the unbearable heat into one of the very many beautiful shops in the SoHo, NY. This escape changed the path of my art. It was the amazing Sicis showroom. A few months later I put aside my brushes and paints, turned off my kiln, stored my clay and dived into the wonderful world of mosaics.

“ ….and the rest is…herstory.

Please visit the Irit Levy web site by clicking HERE.

Friday, December 25, 2009

James Vogler -Wax and Oil on Canvas

Having lived just a few miles from the Vermont border at one time, I found myself often driving around the area enjoying the works of local artists. There is a certain feel to a lot of art from this region…a connectedness to the earth, perhaps, or a feeling of serenity and calm.

I recently had occasion to discover the complex, translucent paintings of Vermont artist, James Volger, whose works with oil and wax on canvas stand out from other Vermont artists. They evoke a sense of Richard Diebenkorn ‘s abstract expressionist vision of art. The paintings appear to be generated from two perspectives. On the one hand, they appear to be informed by abstraction, color and tactile imagery, but they also suggest tangible objects and landscapes. In viewing the work, it appears the artist moves back and forth between these ways of viewing his subjects, taking advantage of particular characteristics inherent in the unique properties of the oil and wax.

The artist states, “Overlapping fields of color and suggestions of line and light are used in my painting to create an atmosphere of space between geometric forms. Loosely inspired by elements found within landscape and still-life painting, the figures and forms are replaced by color planes. Color interacts with itself, creating light and depth. Through the intentional process of painting but heavily aided by coincidence, the chromatic forms and planes battle for dominance on the surface, leaving others to be swallowed by another. Through this dynamic but sensitive interplay between transparent and opaque shapes and through the suggestion of emerging and receding forms, the foreground and background become interchangeable. Time becomes marked and space becomes limitless.”

There are a large number of techniques that can be used to create oil and wax on canvas paintings. For example, cold wax medium mixed with oil paint on a palette and applied in layers is one way of describing how these types of paintings are made. At any point during the process of building up the painting, the artist might mix in powdered pigment or carbon, draw with paint sticks or tube paint, use solvent to create lines or expose hidden layers, scratch or gouge through with knives or other tools, use a brayer to smooth and distribute paint.

Diego Rivera’s paint was made up of beeswax, lemon resin (resine elemi) or copal, essence of lavender or turpentine and dry pigment and he applied this medium to stone walls to make his murals. The wax and lemon resin or copal were each mixed separately with the essence of lavender by boiling in a water bath or double boiler. When this process takes place, the wax becomes a thick molasses-like substance and is then ground with the dry pigment with a smooth marble hand grinder. Lavender essence is used to thin the mixture. In Rivera’s day, prepared colors were kept as a paste in air tight containers covered with water. The cement or stone wall was then prepared with the lemon resin mixture. If this was too thick and pasty to apply a blow torch was used to soften the material and make it more malleable. Blowtorches were also used to apply the paint to make it more fluid and to fuse the wax into the resin layer below.

Vogler writes: "While working at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY from 1978 till 1990, I continued to develop my style of color field abstraction. After moving to Vermont in 1991, I changed careers and ceased painting while establishing my own business. Three years ago I resumed painting, and currently paint full time most of the year. My work is formed of complex arrangements of overlapping shapes produced in oil for it’s inherent luminosity and mixed with a wax medium to create a matte surface to allow the viewer to see the subtle color relationships. My work is currently in an evolutionary stage with a prolific body of work being produced on both canvas and paper."

James Vogler majored in Art History and Painting at Rutgers University. and Kean University. Originally from New Jersey, he now resides in Charlotte, Vermont. Readers can see more of his work on his blog by clicking HERE.

Recent Exhibits

ECCO Clothes Sept.- Oct. 2009

Maltex Building Burlington City Arts April 2009-Sept. 2009

Chittendon Bank Davis Center UVM March 2009 – May 2009

Sketchbook Project Art House Coop Atlanta Ga. Traveling exhibit Feb. 2009

Museum of Contemporary Art DC.

Chris’ Jazz CafĂ© Phila. Pa.

Laconia Gallery Boston Ma.

Antena Gallery Chicago Il.

Soulard Art Market St.Louis Mo.

3rd Ward Gallery Brooklyn NY

Museum of Design Atlanta Ga.

Chicago Art Source Chicago Il. June 2009

Burlington Art Hop 2008 Maltex Building Sept.2009

Mr. Volger's works are currently in numerous private collections in US and France.

Happy Holidays!

Seasons greetings to all my readers!

As of today, Feedburner reports that I have 3214 subscribers! It has been an honor to be able to use this blog to bring a little more art into your lives. Thanks to all of you for reading. I hope you will continue to read and tell your friends about this blog.

Wishing each of you an exquisite new year, filled with love and happiness, prosperity and art!

Much love,
Stacy Alexander

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Picasso - Tripping the Light Fantastic

Back in 1949, LIFE magazine photographer Gjon Mili went to see Picasso in Vallauris, France. He showed the artist some photographs of ice skaters with tiny lights affixed to their skates jumping in the dark. Picasso was immediately inspired. These photos of his "light graffiti" were the result:

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Art of Crystal Thomas

“ Every day I become more addicted and find myself even more overwhelmed by ideas that I’ll likely never have time to bring to life. But that doesn’t stop me from trying.”

Crystal Thomas

Crystal tells me that there is little that strikes such fear in her heart as much as being asked to describe herself as an artist. I don’t think there is an artist reading this blog right now who hasn’t related to this feeling at one time or another, so yeah, Crystal. Join the club. ;-)

Ginko Fan

Her work is marvelous. One might never guess that Crystal was never particularly interested in being an artist until 1998. That was when she tried her hand at mosaics for the first time. She went on to develop her skills in the medium and, in her own words, “…as I continued to explore mosaic, I gradually began to see the world as an endless buffet of color, contrast, texture, and movement. I’m passionate about mosaic art because of the infinite possibilities of style, material, technique, and subject. I don’t feel bad that I can’t sculpt or paint; there’s an entire world of art in mosaics alone.”


Like so many of us who are hooked on mosaics, Crystal readily admits her addiction to cutting and sticking pieces of things together to create new things. She is attracted, in particular, to the elements that are shiny.

Sweet Deception

Several years ago, Crystal found herself creating a lot of mosaic frames and mirrors. She had just completed the twenty sixth piece and had listed it on Etsy, (an online forum for selling hand made items), when a couple from Texas who were opening a retail art establishment bought all of them. Wow! What a sale!

Black and White Skull

Crystal writes, “A few months later, they called with this proposition: “People in Texas really like skulls. Would you be interested in creating a mosaic skull for our store?” “Sure, why not?” I said (trying to hide my skepticism and slight revulsion of the idea, and deciding not to mention my vegetarianism). “Great,” they said. “We’ll send you a couple.” A few weeks later, a box showed up on my doorstep…with FIVE cow skulls inside. Once I got over the initial heebie jeebies caused by handling dead heads, the rest is history. “

Poppies Skull

In 2002, Crystal went on a mosaic tour led by Gina Hubler. Among her tour destinations was the Mosaic Art School in Ravenna where she took a three-day workshop taught by Luciana Notturni.


Crystal says that her personal goals are to simply to continue to learn, experiment and create art that she isn’t embarrassed by and that she would hang in her own home. (I’m thinkin’ MUSEUM here….) She has recently started teaching beginning level mosaic classes in an attempt to create even more hopeless addicts to keep her company.

So far, it appears to be working.

Please CLICK HERE to visit the Crystal Thomas Mosaic Art web site.

Gallery & Retail Representation

• 2009– : Maryland Mosaics, Glyndon, MD

• 2007-2009: Patina, Marble Falls, TX

• 2008, 2009: Ciel Gallery, Charlotte, NC

• 2009: Bassetti’s Crooked Arbor Garden, Woodinville, WA

• 2009: An Ancient Language — A Modern Translation: An Exhibit of Fine Mosaic Art, Granville Center for the Arts, Garland, TX

Publications & Press

• Mosaic Renaissance: Millefiori in Mosaics, Laurel Skye, 2009 (p. 118)

• Mosaic: Finding Your Own Voice, Brit Hammer-Dijcks, 2008 (p. 82)

• Lake Country Life: "Chocolate" skull published, 2008

• Blog features: Mosaic Is Art, Kim Grant Mosaics, Patina, Make Mine Mosaic, Skull-A-Day

Professional Workshops & Education

• 2002: Classical mosaic intensive workshop, Mosaic Art School, Ravenna, Italy:

• 2002: Mosaic Tour of Italy

• 2009: Society of American Mosaic Artists annual conference, San Diego, CA

• 2009: A Lighter Base for 3D Mosaics, Sherri Warner Hunter, San Diego, CA

• 2009: Abstract Mosaics, Sophie Drouin, Portland, OR


• "Modville" wins Flickr cityscape mosaic challenge

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Seattle Mosaic Artist, Kelley Knickerbocker

She describes herself as a “glass texture junkie” who is attracted to the properties of glass and the ways in which it reflects and changes with the light. I describe her as an innovative, talented mosaic artist and educator whose alluring contemporary glass mosaics evoke thoughts of nature, of earthly elements…of fire, ice, oil, water.... There is a certain primal intimacy in the way she fixes these images in glass. She creates a look that engages unique concepts with critical thinking to create a style unlike any other.

33 Degrees

Seattle mosaic artist extraordinare, Kelley Knickerbocker, is founder of Rivenworks Mosaics, a mosaic studio that specializes in custom fine art mosaics and architectural applications.

Her art has been exhibited in local, national and international juried exhibitions.

(Next month, I’ll be taking a class taught by Kelley through Seattle Stained Glass. I can hardly wait!)
Blue View

The artist states:

“Texture and dimension: the stuff of art, the stuff of life. The
textures and dimensions of our physical world - and indeed of our
humanity – result in often startling and profound complexities,
tensions, and contrasts. The possibility of exploring this artistically
in a physical construction sort of way is what draws me to mosaic as an
art form, and in particular to the dangerous topography of raw-edged

Firewater detail

“It’s not particularly friendly work - I go through a lot of
band-aids, and caution viewers to touch at their own risk – but it
yields satisfyingly dense results unachievable by any other means.”

Glimpse detail

Kelley has had artistic interests throughout her life, but the versatility and limitless possibilities of mosaic art facilitated her transition to work as a full-time mosaic artist. Through her studies of glass mosaics, she developed several techniques that she now teaches to other artists, namely: (1) Texture Field, one of Kelley’s techniques in which she creates layered textures using clear glass; (2) Flat Stacking, which is a technique she developed in which translucent glass is stacked over itself on a mirrored or clear glass surface, and (3) Edge Stacking, a technique I’ve tried a few times in my own work in which glass strips of heights are set on edge creating a dense, saturated effect.

Kelley: “I work primarily in glass because of its incredible ranges of color,
opacity, reflectivity, and of course texture. Every surface of glass,
including the occasionally striated riven edge, offers up new
possibilities for visual density, especially when layered over and
against itself in varying heights. Using mirror as a substrate allows me
to experiment with how light passes through and bounces back through
multiple layers of glass, and also allows me to insert unexpected hits
of “glow” into fields of opaque material. Combining glass with opaque
materials such as unglazed porcelain in my mosaic construction was
inevitable and irresistible: the fall-into-me depth of one enhances the
unyielding opacity of the other, and vice versa."

Oil Meets World

Kelley is currently an active member of the Society of American Mosaic Artists.

Oh...and she also has excellent taste in footwear. :-)

Stacy Alexander