Behind the Art: Mosaic Toucan

Hello Readers!

Well it’s the first Tuesday of the month and that means instead of telling you all the secrets behind my books, I’m sharing the story of one of the art pieces I worked on during the previous month. Last month I stuck with an image from my own garden, but in January it was time to head to the tropics with the Mosaic Toucan.

The Inspiration

My husband and I went to Belize several years ago for our honeymoon. The first week we spent in a little place near the Guatemala border called Clarissa Falls (go there if you can!). The woman who runs the place, Chena, has a soft spot for injured critters and will give them a place to rest and be safe as they rehabilitate. One of her success stories was a toucan that still came around to say HI once in a while. Well, during our stay, Mr. Toucan showed up and I had the opportunity to give him a little piece of fruit (and let me tell you those big beaks are intimidating!).

Ever since, I’ve been fascinated with toucans.

Moving on to a Rough Idea

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Toucan, oil pastel, 12×16″

Adapting a design from Paintworks Magazine I did an oil pastel of a toucan perched in a tree and really liked how it came out. Then my mom dropped off a pile of art/craft things she no longer wanted. One of the items was a pad of heavy, shiny paper used to make cards. Well, I’m not really into making cards and was wondering what I could do with it.

I have a strong interest in mosaics and would love to do them, but tiles are crazy expensive and I simply don’t have the space to dedicate to a mosaic workshop. But seeing that paper with its bright colors had my mind clicking away.

Harder Than It Looks

So much gluing!

So much gluing!

Using the design from the oil pastel and looking at the colors in the pad of paper I noticed I had every color I need except for black. No matter, I’d jump off that bridge when I came to it. I transferred the design onto heavy-duty canvas paper and then set about to cutting my “tiles.” Ugh.

I started with the sky using bigger tiles (about 1 cm square) and that went relatively fast. When it came to the leaves however, the big tiles were just too big. So, I quartered my tiles into tiny little chips and started gluing. And gluing. And gluing. Oh, and trimming away slivers and corners not eh tiles to get them to fit correctly.

A Problem

By the time I was left with only the toucan to complete, i still had no black paper. What to IMG_0865do? I really wanted the toucan to pop from the design so I decided to draw him and color him in on bristol using colored pencils. Then I cut out the toucan only to find out he didn’t quite fit in the space I left for him. Oops. I ended up roughly filling in the area where he would go with tiles to cover up my mistake, then glued the toucan over the cover up.

So Happy With the Results!

I really love how this came out. It was a crazy amount of work, but sort of that work where you can just zone out and all the sudden an hour has gone away. I probably won’t do another one this month, but it’s definitely a technique I will try again.

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Sorry, It’s Already Sold

Mr. Toucan is already sold. Another piece I did with a swirl of North American butterflies has also already sold, but my other project from January, a trio of chickadees, is still available and will go live on my Etsy shop WritePaintCreate tomorrow.bflycolor

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Thanks for reading everyone and stay creative!

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