Category Archives: Teaching Art

White Line Woodcut at Mass College of Art

This summer I taught a two-day workshop in white line woodcut at Massachusetts College of Art in Boston, MA.  I had three talented students and we spent our time together discussing the whys and wherefores of making things while carving lines into clear pine boards and painting watercolor onto the boards to create printed images on Japanese paper.  No answers as to why it is so satisfying to learn about color and texture and to explore new materials and to engage in creative problem solving, but we did all of these things as we worked and talked together.

Octopus print my Katie Boulter-Dimock
Octopus print by Katy Boelter-Dimock
Octopus with painterly watercolor backgroud
Katy’s octopus with painterly watercolor background added
Beautiful subtle colors by Elizabeth Pyle
Beautiful subtle colors in landscape by Elizabeth Hammond Pyle.  Check out Elizabeth’s blog:
Inspired by Blanche Lazells prints, Patti Ryan created a fanciful still life
Inspired by Blanche Lazell’s prints, Patti Ryan created a fanciful still life
Katie made a second print and refined her watercolor technique
Katy made a second print which shows off the wood grain in subtle washes of watercolor


Mosaics at Maud Morgan Art Center

Seven students in my class produced beautiful work in a workshop at the Maud Morgan Art Center in Cambridge, MA on two chilly Sundays in April.  We worked on 8″ X 8″ squares.  The birds below are by Debbie Whitney.

Mosaic by Debbie Whitney
Mosaic by Debbie Whitney

You may recognize the mosaic below from my class at Mass College of Art earlier in the month.  Kate attended this class at Maud Morgan Arts to finish up her background and grout and frame her beautiful owl.  This is Kate’s first mosaic.

Kate Larabee's mosaic
Kate Larabee’s mosaic

Susan also decided to take the class at Maud Morgan Arts after taking the class at Mass Art recently.  Her two boxer mosaics are finished, grouted and framed.

Susan Berman's mosaic
Susan Berman’s mosaic
Susan Berman's mosaic
Susan Berman’s mosaic

Susan also worked on an abstract mosaic for the first time.  She worked with gradations of light and dark,  subtle color changes, and varying the shapes of the tesserae.

Abstration by Sysan Berman five hours later
Abstraction by Susan Berman

Jennifer created her first mosaic, inspired by a still life with tropical fruits.  She cut the tiles into very small pieces and worked on perfecting curves and color gradations.

Mosaic by Jennifer Jacoby
Mosaic by Jennifer Jacoby

Leslie has some experience with mosaics and used this class to develop an original design and to work on her composition and the flow (or andamento) of the tiles.

Leslie Walters' mosaic
Leslie Walters’ mosaic

Adria has worked in many other media, and this was her first experience with mosaics.  She used one of her paintings as the inspiration for this abstract composition.

Adria Arch's mosaic
Adria Arch’s mosaic

Dianne has been working primarily in clay, and this is her first mosaic.  Mosaics and clay go together very well; the broken pieces of ceramics can be recycled into a mosaic project.

Dianne Henning's mosaic
Dianne Henning’s mosaic


Mosaic Workshop at Mass College of Art

I taught a mosaic workshop which took place on two consecutive Sundays in April 2014.  Six students worked on pieces that were approximately eight by eight inches.  The class was six hours on each Sunday, and the time flew by.

mosaic by Christine Demers
mosaic by Christine Demers

I emphasize design and color in my teaching.  We used handmade tiles made in Mexico, called smalti.

Debbie Whitney grouting her mosaic
Debbie Whitney grouting her mosaic

Students carefully decide on the size and direction of the glass tiles to best emphasize the shapes in each composition.

Susan Berman's pair of Boxers
Susan Berman’s pair of Boxers

Sometimes students work on special projects.  The mosaic below was inspired by Roman mosaics, and uses a background called Opus Vermiculatum.    In mosaics, Opus refers to the style of the background, and Vermiculatum means “worm-like”.  So in this case the background color wraps around the numbers first, like a worm, then goes in a different direction, parallel to the borders.

A house number by Elizabeth Brown
A house number by Elizabeth Brown

We learn about a variety of mosaic materials, including ceramic tiles, millefiori, and glass.  Some tiles are matte, some are iridescent.

Aimee Carvalho's multi-media mosaic
Aimee Carvalho’s multi-media mosaic

The flow and movement of the tiles (or tesserae) in a mosaic is called andamento.  In the owl below, the tesserae follow the outline of the owl.  The moon and the branch surround the owl to create a circular movement in this piece.

Mosaic by Kate Larrabee
Mosaic by Kate Larrabee