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Tweaking: Drostle’s "River of Life" Mosaic, Part 3

On 04, May 2010 | 9 Comments | In Artists | By man-admin

John Lennon sang, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” With mosaics — or any art form for that matter — it is often brilliance that happens when you’re willing to scrap your original plans.

In this third installment of our chronicling of Gary Drostle’s “River of Life”, artist Julie Richey uses photos by Sarah Zirkel to illustrate how a mosaicist identifies weaker areas in a work and then alters them to stunning effect. Enjoy — Nancie (For the previous two installments, click here and here.)
Welcome back to the Drostle Studio, where, I suspect, the “River of Life” has all been filled in (photos please, Sarah?) She was kind enough to send these new gems yesterday, so let’s take a look.
Today, we find the artist “contemplating” the medallion that is also part of the commission for the University of Iowa’s new Wellness Center.
Recognize the pose? Many of us have been in this situation countless times. Finish a large section, take a step back (or stand on a stool to get a better aerial view of your work) and squint a little. Fold your arms. Rub your chin – whiskers, if you’ve got ’em.

Ask yourself, “what’s wrong with this picture?” Analyze. Or analyse, if you’re British. Change points of view. Squint some more. Then, gradually accept the bare facts: you’re going to have to make some alterations. In this case, the skull on the runner, and his “scrawny arm” were bothering Gary.

He thought the skull looked “domed,” so here’s what he did: rechanneled the andamento which formerly outlined the runner’s head, flattening it slightly. And the arm was extended with more dark tesserae to beef it up a bit. Problem solved.

Here’s the gymnast. No issues here. Just gorgeous shading, brilliant use of light source and dynamic flow.

And another diver:

I saved the best one for last. Isn’t she gorgeous? With attitude to spare.
Here’s Gary working on adding some underutilized colors to the background. Once again, Gary’s generosity in allowing us to peer over his shoulder is instructional and fascinating.

Excellent progress. Go Gary! And don’t let all those visitors traipsing through your studio this weekend during Open House distract you from the task at hand.


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  1. Stone Art

    Wow absolutely fantastic work, a true artist. Lovely to be able to see how he makes changes to reach perfection.

  2. Eric

    Such a monumental work, thanks for giving us small-timers a peek.

  3. George

    Dramatic, dynamic work – and very clearly presented. Brava, Julie. Lovely to have an insider's detailed study of the "guts" of the work. (Unlike seeing how sausage is made!)

  4. Nancie Mills Pipgras

    All I did was post, Christine. It's Julie Richey who deserves the kudos.

  5. cbmosaics

    Gary, the work is absolutely stunning. It has been wonderful to follow, Nancie, thanks so much for posting it.

  6. Nancie Mills Pipgras


  7. Gary Drostle

    PS. I don't need to squint, I just take my glasses off…

  8. Nancie Mills Pipgras


  9. Maureen

    That last athlete in her pose is incredible.

    I am so delighted to learn you already are halfway toward the fundraising goal. I did leave a note about both of you at Our Cancer and asked for prayers on your behalf. Namaste.

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