Sunday, July 4, 2010

Featured Artist of the Month: Janine Irisarri

Featured Artist of the Month: Janine Irisarri

Name: Janine Irisarri

Contact info:

What kind of mosaics do you make?
I use stained glass.

When did you start making mosaics?
Spring of 2006

How did you get into mosaics?
After I retired from teaching Spanish, one of my goals was to learn how to draw and eventually learn how to paint. I was on that path, taking drawing classes and some painting classes, when a fellow MMG member, Barbara Steen, told me about a mosaic class that was being offered at the Minnetonka Center for the Arts. They needed more people for the class so I decided to take it! Who would have thought that this class would launch me in a new direction, exposing me to a medium I knew nothing about! But here I am 2 years later and totally committed to mosaic art. I love the reflective qualities of the glass, the colors, and the fact that mosaics breathe new life into my drawings. I also find, the challenges that making mosaics present, stimulating..... except for the little cuts and glass slivers that imbed themselves into my fingers! I had no idea that band-aids would be an essential supply along with rubber gloves and grout!

What inspires you?
I find inspiration in the sensual shape of a pear or flower petal as well as in geometric designs. Shape and pattern are the two things that capture my attention. One can find inspiration in everything, it is just a matter of allowing oneself to see.

Gustav Klimt has been an inspiration to many artists and I have seen many of his works redone in mosaic. I love his use of pattern and the detail he incorporates into his work.

I am also inspired by the works of other mosaic artists. I admire the mosaic artist that can render the human face, capture the cast of light on an object or depict the gentle folds in a piece of fabric. That is truly admirable.

How did you develop your style?
I don't think I consciously set out to develop a style. You could say that my style is the result of discovering what best works for me. At this moment, I feel most comfortable working in a more precise style. Attention to detail is a characteristic that seems to repeat itself in my mosaics too.

I believe that my style is "a style in progress". What evolves from more learning, more practicing, and more experimenting will become my style.

How did you learn to make mosaics?
I have taken several classes from Sharra Frank and the one class that started it all at the Minnetonka Center for the Arts from Carrie Dean. Beyond that I have poured through many, many mosaic books reading about how other artists work. My favorite at the moment is Mosaic: Finding Your Own Voice by Brit Hammer-Dijcks.

How do you work best?
SLOWLY! Sounds funny but that's one of the things I appreciate about this medium. With mosaics I feel I have a fair amount of control over the outcome. I can place each piece of glass as carefully or as quickly as I choose. And I can remove a piece of glass if I need to... kind of like erasing a line you don't like in a drawing. I work best if I start out with a fairly well defined plan... even if I end up changing some things in the process. I admire those artists that can work in a more spontaneous manner and that may well come to me as I progress.

How do you approach a mosaic?
Often I will have an idea or an image and it will percolate in my mind for months before I am finally ready to use it. The best way for me to bring the image out is to start with a drawing. In many cases, it begins with several small drawings of the subject. When I was working on my piece, Two Red Pears, I had red pears all over the kitchen that I was using for drawing purposes. My husband received numerous reprimands when he tried to take them for lunch! But he learned.... and the operative question became.... Is this pear edible?!

My mind will spin with questions about how I will render this subject with glass.... what shapes of glass will I use, what colors will work well together and what color grout will I use to unify the piece? After presumably answering all of my questions, they are always subject to revision! All this before one piece of glass is cut.....whew!

What do you do with your mosaics once you finish?
Up until now, I have only exhibited my work in the two shows that MMG had last year plus in the State Fair Creative Activities Building. It is my goal to develop a body of work that I might be able to exhibit someday. I would also like to enter a piece in a juried show. Right now, however, my finished mosaics are resting comfortably on a bed in the spare bedroom!

What have you learned?
The learning curve has been high over the last 2 years... learning about adhesives, cutting glass, design, color, and probably a lot more! Perhaps this is one explanation for working so slowly and carefully.

I have learned that you can't rush the process if you want things to turn out right. Also, if you have a good design to begin with, half of the battle has been won. For me, the work that is done before the first piece of glass is glued down is perhaps the most important

If anything puts fear into my heart, it's the grouting process. I become so attached to the piece before it's grouted that I'm afraid the grout will ruin it. I have resorted to making small samples using different grout colors before I actually grout the final piece. In my most recent piece, Poppies in a Blue Vase, I used three different grouts. This testing process served me well in determining exactly what grouts to use.

How do you fit mosaics into your personal/family life?
Mosaics fit perfectly into my life at this point. A few years ago, while working and raising two children, it might have been more difficult. Now, however, with only a husband (who is still working) and two adorable standard poodles to care for, I can pretty much dedicate as much time as I want to mosaics.

Where do you work?
I have a small space in the basement that I call my studio. It isn't much but it is totally mine and I don't have to worry about flying shards of glass. The only problem is trying to keep it organized because a small space can soon become overrun with clutter.

What is your favorite thing about working with mosaics?
I actually love the whole process....from the initial designing, envisioning the final mosaic, working out the challenges, watching the transformation from one small piece to a whole and finally to seeing the finished product.. There is nothing more satisfying than looking at a piece that you have just grouted and feeling happy with the outcome!

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