Thursday, March 12, 2015

Interview with Mosaic Artist Lou Ann Weeks



If mosaics are your thing, then Lou Ann Weeks should be a familiar name to you. Lou Ann has been active in the mosaic community for 15 years creating murals, custom mosaics, and original works. Recently Lou Ann announced a product that she developed just for mosaic work called "Skeewpics". After checking out her email announcement and thinking about what a great idea Skeewpics are, I had a "I need to talk to her" inspiration. So here is my interview with Lou Ann.


You’ve been working in mosaics since 2000. What was your first project or introduction to mosaics?

Mosaics took root in my soul when I discovered this art form during a stained glass class.  The teacher had created some small mosaic pieces and they caught my attention – I was never the same again!  My first commission came very quickly after this and it was to create a 7-foot portrait of the Mona Lisa for a local restaurant.  They asked if I could create it, I calmly replied, “Yes” then when I got home, panicked!  I’d never had a commission, let alone done a portrait.  That’s when I got busy and found Sonia King’s class and signed up!  She helped me prepare by creating a small mock-up of Mona Lisa during class so I went home feeling much more confident.  


Do you have a preferred material, style, or technique that you prefer? If so, what type and why? 

My preferred material is stained glass.  My preferred technique is direct.  I also love to grout my pieces.  Coming from a stained glass background has definitely been a major influence in my mosaics – I’ve always loved glass; the color variations, textures, and versatility it provides.  I’ve pretty much done a lot of different things to experience and learn from them, but I always come back to stained glass.  I don’t think I have a particular style, other than I like Realism – I’m not into abstract art.  Also, working direct is where I am comfortable.  I like to see what I’m doing when I’m doing it.  As far as loving to grout, I’m a weirdo; most people don’t enjoy this part, but I feel like it’s kin to Christmas morning.  Cleaning off the grout is like opening a present – you are surprised by what you find!

You have developed your own tool set, Skeewpics. What was that process like?

Skeewpicks came about by my searching for tools that really help me clean away the extra adhesives and grout that always end up on my pieces.  I found myself only using these 4 tools regularly and thought they might help others as well.  Also, they had a really rough grip that kept annoying me, so I came up with a comfort grip for them.  I added a carrying case and there you are – Skeewpicks!  I put together a video on how I use these tools, too; so I hope it will help other artists.

I gather that you have a “day” job in Social Media Marketing. How much time do you devote to mosaics?

Yes, my full time job is in social media marketing.  My husband and I work together and since it is a fairly new business, it takes up quite a bit amount of my time.  Unfortunately, mosaics goes on the back-burner – but, one day soon, I will be able to devote more time to my mosaics.

You’ve traveled to different countries and toured mosaic sites. Do you have favorites? Which ones?

I am very fortunate to have been able to travel some over these last 5 years, and enjoy seeking out mosaics wherever I go.  My husband is a photographer, so I am always able to get great images!  I have been surprised at how abundant mosaics are when you look for them.  My favorite place so far is the ancient mosaics found in a museum on an archeological dig in Vienne, France.  You can walk among these ruins and get close to wonderful, ancient Roman mosaics.  You feel as though you’ve gone back in time.  I’ve written a little about it in my blog on my website, along with other places I’ve been to as well at IC Mosaics.

If you could do anything in mosaic with any material, what would you do?

I would always stick with stained glass as my material.  I am so comfortable with it and never get bored.  As far as a specific project, I am always looking for the next piece to learn more, stretch more and be challenged.

As an instructor, what’s your favorite class to teach?

I love teaching beginning mosaics using stained glass and tools like grinders and wet saws.  There is so much you can do and teaching beginners is so much fun as they are enthusiastic and excited about learning. (Editorial comment: find her classes here.)

What do you like about teaching?

Sharing what I know is what I enjoy about teaching – I also am continually learning from my students!  It’s rewarding when they have finished a mosaic and are beaming in pride and joy.  Working with students in a school setting is also very rewarding, as the whole school gets to see their work and the faculty is very enthusiastic as well.

Additional comments/advice?

I would advise new mosaic artists to not be afraid – just jump in and go for it.  Mistakes will be made, but generally that is how we all learn.  Then I would tell them to join the Society of American Mosaic Artists (SAMA), go to the conventions, and take workshops whenever they can.  So much can be learned there and new friends will be made.

                                                                  Mona Lisa Mural by Lou Ann Weeks

I hope this has been an informative and inspirational post.

May all of your scores run true!

--paula


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