Author Archives: Virginia

December 2016 – a new direction

Very sorry about the way of the 2016 Presidential election, in fact, still reeling in disbelief.  The only positive for me personally is that I retreated to the studio and found new energy.  The first results follow. (for sale at C’ville Arts Gallery)

“Untitled 11-9-16″ … 8.5″ x 6.5”, mixed glass, ceramic, stones

“Untitled, 11-10-16″ … 8.5″ x 6.5”, granite and marble

“Untitled 11-11-16″ … 8.5″ x 6.5”, smalti and antique glass

“Untitled 11-12-16″ … 8.5″ x 6.5”, marble, granite, glass

The following piece, the first in the Shifting Sands series, has sold.

SHIFTING SANDS 1, 2015 — 12″ x 12″, smalti and millefiori

Now, energized, I have been experimenting with materials and technique.  I created the following piece for an upcoming auction of small mosaic works supporting Doctors Without Borders.

“Swish” — 8.5″ x 6.5″, smalti and paua shell

The next piece in the same vein, also available for sale at C’ville Arts Gallery.

“Gathered” — smalti and paua shell

A December 2015 Update

Finally had my only three 2015 pieces photographed….

BLUE RIDGE FALL will ship to its new owners on Monday.  Stained glass, 12″ x 18″









SHIFTING SANDS 1, smalti and millefiori, 12″ x 12″… Next piece will be 1A, as I haven’t finished with this thought yet.  I am pondering adding dimension.











SHIFTING SANDS 2, smalti and cosmos, 10″ x 24″










I recently sold the 2008 piece, SOOTHING THE EMBERS OF MY SOUL (mixed media, 24″ x 18″)




















Though I find a lot less time in my studio because of the resurgence in the real estate market, I will burn the midnight oil right before Thanksgiving to come up with some small pieces for Christmas at the C’ville Arts Gallery in downtown Charlottesville.  I cranked out 20 4″x4″ tiles, selling them for $25 each, which is probably about $20 less than they should be priced… but I enjoy making them and, as always, I learn something every time I do small pieces like this.  They are selling pretty well… probably because they are cheap… but I like to think about all of these baby tiles of mine in people’s houses!
tile 2 tile 1

I also sold a platter made of broken Fiesta Ware, and I think a vase has sold etc.

It’s very quiet “out there” right now real-estate-wise, and I’m ready for Christmas, so I’ll take advantage of the down time over the next 2 weeks and work in the studio.

Itty Bitty Pieces of Stained Glass

Artists who choose to work in mosaic do so for a myriad of personal reasons, but one reason will be shared by each — the selection, placement, and resulting combination of individual materials on a substrate provides the artist and viewer with a sensory experience unlike any other art form.  Many artists working in mosaic are accomplished painters and sculptors, and they come to mosaic with those traditions leading them.  Mosaic adds a whole other dimension to their work.

For many artists working in mosaic, the technical challenges of mosaic drive them.  I know that’s a big part of my personal selection of the art form.  The act of creating a work of art in mosaic can be very physical… from material selection, to material manipulation and use.

For the past couple of years, I’ve been working on a series of four small works (the four seasons) for a very patient couple.  A couple of months ago, I collected random images from Google that visually described fall color in the Blue Ridge mountains.  The people buying these works had expressed an interest in what they viewed as abstraction of a recognizable image.  Like the piece that they bought originally (Sea of Green), I wanted to express “fall” through an impression of a singular glimpse from my environment.

palette for fall image

I selected glass from my stash, and then I went to work cutting.  As I had decided with the two previous pieces (Sea of Green, representing Summer, and The Red Gate, representing Spring), I cut the glass into very small square-ish pieces.  I did not make any effort for the pieces to be uniform.

I let the irregularity of the color in the glass add movement to the work.  Some areas are blended, others more solid, like the fall color of the Blue Ridge from a distance.  There’s no definition of trees, just an impression using color.

2015-10-08 08.16.43 2015-10-08 08.22.03

Never ask an artist how long it takes them to produce a work of art.  The question may seem interesting, but it has no value… the amount of time invested by an artist has absolutely nothing to do with the monetary value of the work they’ve produced.

2015-10-10 12.13.22 2015-10-13 09.17.48  2015-10-15 09.06.00

Grout is next.


Input versus Output

In my post yesterday I mentioned that I am always taking in the images, sounds and impressions of my life, regardless of the noise.  My life and your life, these are our personal beings and the spaces we embody.  As I was just writing, I noticed the fluttering of trees outside my window, so I walked out to investigate and was gifted by the sights and sounds of part of my natural surroundings.

This is input.  It is stimulation for further consideration.

The key to benefitting from the input is to recognize it, take it in, and hold onto it.  Its the stopping to smell the roses thing, but its also about remembering the bouquet and beauty of the rose later.

I compartmentalize… I have all sorts of boxes that hold the pieces and parts of my day, and then I rest and it settles and becomes a part of my being.

I have a friend, Pam Goode, who confesses she would rather never sleep than miss a moment of the input.

The wow part of making art is this gathering of input; the fun part is the sorting; and the interesting part is the creating (the output).  Without the input, there is no output.



Shifting sands

Funny that it was just ten years ago that I created my first mosaic.  Seems like so many more years than ten.

Maybe its because I have so many significant life moments happening at once.

My real estate work creates every day events.

At this time of year, the gardens require every day activity.

My relationship with Stephen requires an every day investment of connectivity.

My relationships with family and requisite attention to them can be consuming.

There are the daily tasks.  The housekeeper is sick so I’ll be cleaning house the next few days.  Sounds a little rote and silly, but its something that has to happen and it has to be fit into the day somehow.  So does dealing with the broken ac unit and the concrete pad that’s to be poured.  etc.

I have a friend who prefers to not sleep.  I, on the other hand, look forward to retiring between 9:00-9:30 whenever possible, so I can rise at 5:30 to begin my day.  My daily regeneration is much stronger with rest.  My physical health is important to me and something I also work at every day, diet and exercise have become a sort of “other” job.

And then there is my art and it gets pushed aside.  The work that goes on in my head rarely stops for long, though.  In between the noise of everything else above, there is creative thinking time.  I make it happen because its important and necessary for my health.

My best creative work is the work that relates to my personal growth and the paths I take.  I tend to work best in series anymore.

Currently, I am working on two series coincidentally.



I’m interested in textures, specifically natural textures.  Textures of and on wood are rich and powerful. Wood decays and changes its value, and with its decay it often serves as a parasitic host.  And what beautiful parasites it can host!

The natural evolution of our world… good stuff.





Lately, I have dipped my toes into another series, one of shifting sands.  I spend only two weeks at Ocracoke, NC each Fall, but those two weeks have become an annual regeneration of my soul.  I always arrive in need of rest and renewal, but within days I am wide awake and aware.  There’s something about life around the water that sweeps me away into myself and out into the world, all at the same time.  Several years ago (six! how is that possible?), I began seeing the years captured by the sand and made a couple of pieces expressing those initial thoughts.






I’m taking it a step further and considering the way the sands are constant while fleeting, always shifting.  These two pieces are the beginning and these are not yet professionally photographed.  I’ll call them Shifting Sands 1 & 2 for the moment…

Shifting Sands 1

Shifting Sands 1 (for now) ; 12″ x 12″. smalti and millefiori; 2015

Shifting Sands 2, 2015; 12" x 24", smalti and cosmos

Shifting Sands 2, 2015; 12″ x 24″, smalti and cosmos









Still Drifting into Focus

Some ten years ago, I began creating structural elements for a tropical garden in Mexico.  At the time, there was all sorts of emotional upheaval in my life…  My mother was now in her fourth year with Alzheimers, my father was looking for the unattainable silver bullet, my husband’s mother had died suddenly with a pulmonary embolism, my husband was a mess with grief, his stepfather was out of his mind, we had lost our healthy seven year old Dalmatian to cancer after a huge amount of money and 2.5 years of travel for treatment,  my siblings had chosen not to jump in and help when our parents needed it most, and I had started down that road called menopause. I know there are many people with many more trials than I, but, nevertheless, it was a really rough patch for me.  I was glad to have a crazy beautiful place in Mexico to which I could escape a couple of times each year, under the pretext of renovating the house so we could continue to enjoy it and begin to rent it to tourists.

View from our back door

View from our back door, a few other photos below

Tourists, as it turns out, really want to walk out of their house and onto the beach.  It did not make them nearly as happy to walk the two hundred feet to the Caribbean that we offered.  So, I felt I needed to offer them something outside of their back door, and that became a private oasis of tropical plants and pieces of mosaic.

Though I have created a few other garden objects over the years, most of my work has been two dimensional.  What I discovered about working in mosaic was that I could spend hours cutting and nipping, crashing and smashing, and fussing and placing, and I felt focussed again.  I could also work out the crap that goes along with living… the painful parts of life.  A lot of my work has helped me make sense of anger and unhappiness, parts of my life that, frankly, I probably would have just kept buried forever, if not for my art.  I think I’m a lot healthier today because I’ve been forced to stare it in the eye and deal with it.

I had a website for my art for a while, but when my Dad passed in 2012, I stopped making art for a while  I kept focussed on my real estate business and worked through the grief and pain that Dad’s death brought.  When I was blogging earlier about the development of my work, I called the blog “Drifting into Focus”, because it described where I was personally during those years… I knew I was changing, or, rather, figuring out who I really am.  I feel like I’ve come a great distance in the past ten years, but I realize now that I will always be looking for the next interest, whether it’s a new way of thinking about something or the development of some new skill.

ESCAPE, 2005

ESCAPE, 2005

When I made this piece, the first two-dimensional mosaic that I have in my files, it was right after I emerged from an undiagnosed, but nevertheless real, depression.  It was after my parents had moved out of the family home and into the retirement campus, and at this point, my mother had had to be relocated to the Memory Support Unit, and she no longer knew who we were.  When I began to realize that I was somewhere in some great void and needed to find my way out, I began to recover.  This piece describes, for me, where I had been and how I climbed out of my despair.