My Mosaic Process: Establishing the Concept

I’ve been thinking a lot about my process lately.  In talking with with clients, potential clients and curious art lovers at the the the recent Guild show, I found myself trying to articulate what I love about mosaic work and in so doing describing the process I follow when planning and completing a mosaic.  The simplest and briefest explanation is that I enjoy all of the many different skills I employ during the mosaic process.  From the initial idea through research, drawing, design, color planning, material selection, stone setting, glass cutting, grouting, and sealing, I am able to exercise skills gained through a lifetime of art study and work.  In this and following posts I hope to illuminate some of the steps involved when I create a mosaic.

It all begins with the initial idea.  If I’m working on my own this is internal, but if I’m collaborating with a client on a commission this involves quite a lot of communication.  Commissioning a work of art, as opposed to buying a previously completed work, provides the opportunity for collaboration between client and artist.  In the best circumstances this allows an individual to see their ideas made visible through the skills of the artist.

At the outset of this journey I try to determine my client’s hopes for an outcome through conversation and focusing questions to tease out the details that will help me begin to build a concept for the finished mosaic.  Initial questions concern scene, mood and color palette and will include the details of the eventual site of the mosaic if it will become an integral part of a room.  If my client is close enough for me to make a site visit, this provides me with a wealth of visual information that I can apply to the eventual mosaic.  I take reference photos during this visit as well as measurements, when necessary.  If a site visit isn't possible I depend on my client to provide me with the information needed as well as any photos that will help me understand their vision for the completed piece.  I try to gather as much information as possible to inform my concept for the completed mosaic.  Following this initial phase of gathering information, I move on to the sketching and drawing that will result in full size presentation drawings for the client to consider.  I will elaborate on what this involves on my end in my next post!

— Gretchen Schaefer, Great Blue Mosaic