FEATURED ARTIST OF THE MONTH
My favorite part of writing the Featured Artist for Luna Mosaic Arts is getting to chat with the artist being interviewed. I have been able to identify with each artist I have spoken with, and Sandra Groeneveld is no different. In fact, she said things I have only thought, affirming that I am not the only person who thinks the way I do! Whew! Thank goodness!!
There is one particular thing that we chatted about that I, became clearly aware of; it is how we feel after looking at some many wonderful mosaics whether it be on Facebook, CMA, SAMA, Pinterest, etc. We both admitted we feel down and not inspired. I admitted that I was not sure what brought this feeling on. Was it an ego blow? Lack of self-confidence or self-doubt? One thing I do know is that after spending an hour or more looking at all the amazing mosaics being created “out there”, I fell exhausted, spent, unmotivated, and a bit depressed even. Why?
Sandra brought up a great point; when we go to a museum, or art show, or gallery, we leave feeling inspired and wowed. We are excited again and motivated. I am not a psychologist or a mindreader. The only thing that makes sense to me is that once the visual stimuli is removed, the creative spirit has room to enter. We allow the art we have seen to be planted as seeds in the fertile soil of our mind’s eye, and nature them until they bloom into the catalyst which will propel our own creative endeavors.
After talking with Sandra, it became even more evident to me that not only do I need to keep learning how to make mosaics, but that learning about mosaics is just as important. Sandra and I talked about having parameters when creating, and how they can actually be freeing as opposed to restrictive. Parameters can actually be tools themselves. All disciplines have guidelines, or principles behind them, and mosaic art is no different.
As the Fish Rots by Sandra Groeneveld
Many an artist will tell you when asked for advice, “keep creating, keep practicing, keep making art!” Let me insert “keep learning” in there. In talking to Sandra, I learned a lot. Not only about her, but myself, and mosaics as well. I hope you do the same from reading Sandra’s responses!
Farm (Crystal River High School) by Sandra Groeneveld
Italy (Crystal River High School) by Sandra Groeneveld
LMA: How long have you been creating mosaics?
Sandra: Somewhere in the 1990’s I made my first 2 mosaics. The first was a plant pot covered with ceramic tiles. The second was covering my bathroom floor. The decorative walls at Wolfgang Puck in Orlando were my inspiration: a bouncy field of white with cheerful splashes of color. Growing up in the tropics gave me my interest in working with ceramic tiles initially. I love the practicality of the material as well as the cool feel of tile underfoot. It is a wonderful medium to make the every day items you live with beautiful. After my career ended with Walt Disney Feature Animation Florida in 2004, I suddenly had more time to explore mosaics. I am drawn to activities that require precision and concentration, so this was a good swap: pixels and CVs made way for tiny pieces of glass. The longevity of mosaics appealed to me very much as well. I was spoiled with the knowledge my work at Disney would live on for generations, so I wanted my new work to do the same.
Dragonfly Birdbath (detail) by Sandra Groeneveld
LMA: I know you do more with art than just mosaics. Can you share some of the other art forms you practice and what you like about them?
Sandra: Drawing and sculpture come most naturally to me, immediate and tactile avenues of expression. They both let me experience what I see. While studying the subject, say a cat, all the aspects that attract me to it; the soft fur, the contours defining its volume, the way the light catches the whiskers, envelop me. Sculpting is drawing in three dimensions. It has its challenges as well as advantages over a pencil. Initially I viewed any drawings only as part of the design process of making a mosaic. Currently I want my drawings to be the actual piece. The mosaic medium too has it challenges versus a pencil. But one of the great advantages is the concept of andamento. It is a unique part of tesserae placement and can be very expressive.
Armadillo (sculpture in clay) by Sandra Groeneveld
Unnamed (sculpture in clay) (just a mouse for fun) by Sandra Groeneveld
Still Lake (sculpture in clay & mosaic combination) by Sandra Groeneveld
LMA: How do you feel these contribute to your mosaic art?
Sandra: All forms of art or craft elevate whatever else you may do. Nothing is isolated. Each discipline contributes to the others in interpreting the world around you.
LMA: What is your favorite thing about creating mosaics?
Sandra: Planning how to best use the andamento to strengthen the work is the most rewarding. It is no less important than the composition or choosing cool colors over warm. It can have as much impact. When working with tile tape, the moment you pull it off after embedding the tiles in thin set is a thrill. The glass is all shiny again and you can finally see the entire piece from the correct side. The cherry on top though, is then leaning down to see light raking over the tiles. You see no color or subject, just the andamento giving the surface life.
LMA: What are some of your favorite materials, tools, etc.? What do you like about them?
Sandra: The choice of my materials and tools has evolved. I started with a household hammer to break up ceramic tiles, transitioned to vitreous tile with nippers and now enjoy a hammer and hardie with marble the most. I jump around to the different materials depending on the project. At one point, I found the possibilities of mosaics paralyzing, too many materials, and too many directions to go. My path forward always had me looking back to ancient times, to the admiration I have for the masters working in stone and glass. Using marble and smalti seemed like the Holy Grail and the hammer & hardie offered the best control, so that was a clear next step for me. Initially, for economy, I only practiced my cutting techniques on remnant marble. The organic quality of stone was a revelation. Its inconsistencies were an asset. This meshed perfectly with the experimentations of letting a sketch be the goal versus merely using it as the composition’s “cartoon”.
Unnamed (just a test of concept) by Sandra Groeneveld
Horror in 2017 by Sandra Groeneveld
LMA: What is one of your favorite quotes or sayings?
Less is more.
LMA: If you could give readers one single piece of advice, what would it be?
Sandra: Study, plan, and practice so you become comfortable with the materials and tools. The more you control the medium and it becomes second nature, the more you are free to be spontaneous and playful.
One Fish Two Fish (detail) by Sandra Groeneveld
Konijntje (aka Bunny) by Sandra Groeneveld
LMA: Tell us about your single greatest mosaic or artistic moment:
Sandra: Process is more rewarding to me than the end goal. On that path, sensing when you just ascended to a new plateau is thrilling. You work and practice, happy with the results, other times not so much. Then, just when you are not looking, something clicks: some of the hardest steps, all of a sudden, come more easily. You reach higher and you struggle along until you feel the shift again. There is nothing like realizing you just stepped up to a new level of proficiency.
Sheldon (detail) by Sandra Groeneveld
Achza Reposed by Sandra Groeneveld
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