Trees, And Bears, And Changes, Oh My!

by | Nov 7, 2023

 The Client’s Vision

One of my neighbors came across my work on social media and was captivated by it. She approached me with a special request – could I  craft a two-sided mosaic to be displayed hanging between 2 rooms with both sides visible? One side would feature a grand giant sequoia tree, and the other would have a subtle bear. She emphasized that she preferred the bear to be discreet, although her partner, turns out, had a different vision. A two sided mosaic was an interesting challenge and I was eager to take it on.

Getting it Right

I started by examining her reference photos as well as viewing online photos of California’s famous giant sequoia trees. I completed my first draft and shared it with her.  Although she thought it was beautiful, she was honest enough to tell me that it didn’t quite capture the unique essence of her specific tree. This observation prompted me to step out of my usual approach for landscape mosaics and draw from my experience in creating detailed accurate portraits of people and animals.

I dove into reworking the tree. I knew it needed a more meticulous approach, one that matched the level of precision that I apply in my portraits of animals and people. It was all about capturing every nuance to make my mosaic version look like her tree. The tree took shape with a newfound precision. My effort paid off and it came to life in mosaic form.

The Reverse Side

Once the tree was satisfactorily rendered on one side, I turned my attention to the other side of the mosaic. I decided to provide a different view of the same magnificent tree, only now with a small black bear climbing among its branches. Adhering to the initial instructions, I didn’t make the bear stand out too much.  I featured him blending in with the tree, similar to how I imaged it would be in actual nature. After much work and, admittedly, feeling pretty good about myself, I was ready to share my creation.

A Change of Heart

When I unveiled the completed mosaic to my client, at first she seemed genuinely impressed. She said she thought it was beautiful, but then she voiced a change in preference. She wanted the bear to have a bit more prominence, despite her initial request for subtlety. Her partner had a say in the matter and wanted the bear to stand out more.  As a recovering people pleaser and someone who frequently changes her mind myself, I understood her dilemma. And as an artist, I’m dedicated to making my clients happy. I needed to think of a way to make the bear more prominent, without redoing it entirely.  Eventually, I found a clever and effective solution in the form of stained glass paint.

The Finished Mosaic

The outcome was met with delight from both the client and her partner. Now, the mosaic awaits its custom frame that will enable it to be visible from both rooms as it hangs from a beam between them. It’s an elegant way to showcase the artistry. And let’s not forget that two-sided mosaics can be quite heavy, especially when using mortar and grout instead of glue as I do.  To address this issue, the client’s carpenter is crafting a sturdy custom wood frame beautiful enough to showcase and support the unique piece.

The Joy of Creating

I’m proud to say that this double-sided sequoia mosaic is one of the most challenging and rewarding projects I’ve worked on. It was a test of my creativity, my technical skills, my flexibility and ability to solve problems. But in the end, it was all worth it.

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