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Creating Arty

I'm not the best at blogging and get very nervous about what to put down in words. I know people are interested in what I do and how I do it so I thought I would share the making and thought process of my pet portrait of Arty the dog.

I kept this photo of Arty as a puppy for years knowing one day that I wanted to turn it into mosaic. I had no idea of how I was going to do it or which branch of mosaic was going to use. I am a self taught china mosaic (pique-assiette) artist and wanted to attempt to do this in fine china. However, it came clear to me to get the colours and tones in the way that I wanted it wasn't going to work. So over time I researched to see what other materials could be used.

Stained glass seem to be a favourite contender as you can get some many different colours which allows for shading and texture. So when lock-down came upon us and I lost the use of my new studio at Banks Mill I decided to experiment at home.

I use mosaic mesh every now and again in my creations. Using mosaic mesh allows the artist to see through to a design underneath, stick the tiles to the mesh and then when the design is complete you transfer the mesh, with the tiles stuck upon it to the final backing. Perfect for when you are setting a mosaic on a vertical surface or have a complex design. I decided that this would be the best method for this particular project.

I knew I wanted to convey the fluffiness in Arty's ears and those cute puppy dog eyes within the mosaic and that's why china would be hard to use. With the photo of Arty under the mesh I started with his eyes and I knew the eyes would make or break the piece. Next were his ears. I chose to cut the glass in long shards and this also meant that the glass bits were sharp! I was really happy with the colour of the glass I had chosen as it seemed to be perfect for Arty.

A problem I encountered was seeing the detail of the picture through the mesh. I realised the picture was too small (20 cm across by about 15 cm down) and I couldn't see the detail properly around his chin. Next time I will make sure the photo has good contrast between light and shade and larger. Anyway I persevered and took things off and stuck back on again until I thought I had captured the essence of puppy. I then had to decide whether to mosaic the background or leave it. I chatted to my family and decided that it wouldn't add anything to the piece by mosaicing the background if anything it could detract from the subject matter.

Once all the mosaic was finished I removed the mesh, with the mosaic attached from the board. I cut around the mosaic very carefully to remove any excess mesh. Arty was then stuck to a pine board where I then had to make more decisions.

Grout can really help or hinder a mosaic. I know a lot of glass mosaic artist don't grout their artwork as it changes the colour of the glass due to the way the light reflects through it. I had created this picture upon mesh so felt I had to grout as you would be able to see the mesh underneath. So what colour should I choose? My normal favourite is white but doing a test section on his ears it just looked silly. I did however wanted to use while for his white fur. I did a mix of white and cream in the end fading it into each other on his face and chest. I tried mixing a tan colour for Arty's ears but with so many different shades of tan in the glass it just didn't look right. In the end I went for a mosaic artists favourite which is a mid grey. This did seem to blend well with all the colours without standing out in any particular patch. However it did bring down the brightness of the different coloured tanned/brown glass. At first I was a little disappointed but the more I look at it the more I like the sepia effect it gives.

This, like many mosaics, took hours of work but I am absolutely delighted with the results. I am happy to take commissions if anyone would like their pet captured in mosaic, just send me a message.

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