Saturday, January 19, 2019

Maroon Bells - Autumn Reflection

Maroon Bells - Autumn Reflection, 32"x48", 2018
Available for Sale: https://www.kasiapolkowskashop.com/product/maroon-bells-autumn-reflection/

This landscape is inspired by an amazing backpacking trip in the Maroon Bells Wilderness back in 2013. The Four Pass Loop starts and finishes at this location. It is incredible! You know if you’ve been here.


Just being at this lake, looking at the Bells framed by the forested cliffs in the clear lake feels like you’ve already arrived at your destination. But the wilderness that you walk into is filled with magic around every corner. Crossing each mountain pass, you feel like you’ve arrived in a new world. How can all these places be within walking distance. 


By the end of the loop, it feels like you’ve walked through hundreds of the most beautiful postcards and then you arrive back at one of the most photographed landscapes in the United States. Being here is a very special experience and leaves lasting impressions on the visitors.

I hand-cut all the glass.

To create a reflection of the landscape, I created stencils for the larger pieces. I numbered other smaller pieces to to help me keep track of the reflection as I created it.

The mosaic in-progress. All the pieces are taped together so they wouldn't move out of place as I worked.


Here I am adding each new, custom-cut glass piece one at a time.

Getting close.


Tape peeling after gluing the glass onto the substrate. Next came grouting followed by grout-painting.


The framing of the mosaic - the last step.

Here I am with my finished, framed mosaic.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Exploration of Owls as Mosaics

In 2012 I created my first mosaic owl and it was love at first sight - the beginning of whimsical journey of exploring this magnificent bird in glass form. 

One day while researching a new project idea, I kept stumbling upon beautiful photos of horned owls. I was so drawn to these birds that I had to draw one of my own. I loved exploring the patterns of the feathers and studying the intense eyes to create my very own horned owl seen in the below photo. 


Night Owl, a stained glass mosaic ~SOLD

Even though landscape has been the primary focus for my work, I love revisiting the owl. Each project has allowed me to use a different part of my design brain. I love reinventing this subject and creating new patterns while hand cutting and arranging the glass for each new mosaic.

Below I'm sharing some of the characters that I've given life to over the years. They range from momentous and elegant birds to very playful, silly creatures. I hope that you enjoy a glimpse into my journey.



Freya – The Snowy Owl, a framed stained glass mosaic owl, 21″ x 15″ 
Available: See Freya - The Snowy Owl in My Online Art Shop

Meet Freya, my snow owl. Her name originates from Norse mythology. She is the goddess of love as well as beauty, war and death. She is said to have stunning blue eyes and to cry golden tears. I found this particularly fitting for my snowy owl whom is surrounded by golden tear drop shapes which I orininally designed as aspen leaves. Interestingly enough, snowy owls rarely make the woods their home but that is not to say that Freya hasn’t stopped in the forest to enjoy the rustling of the golden aspens. Snowy owls hunt during the day so she may also be patiently waiting for a tasty treat.
Gaia – Goddess of Nature, a framed stained glass mosaic, 45″x25″
With this project, I wanted to go big, to create a proper tribute to this incredibly beautiful bird. I chose the barred owl as it is naturally a pretty large owl and it has a very powerful presence.

During daylight hours, barred owls roost quietly in the forest, just like my owl, Gaia, who is roosting in the leafy, green tree. My owl unlike the rest of the barred owls is very light in color. I wanted her to be illuminated and to shine brightly among the lushes foliage. 

As her creator, I worked to give her great poise, strength and beauty. While I cut and arranged the glass over my charcoal sketch, what emerged before me seemed to vibrate magic as I looked down into this magnificent bird’s eyes. I decided that she is a goddess of nature. I named her Gaia after the Greek Mythological figure, the mother of all life, the goddess of Earth.


Ice Princess, a stained glass mosaic silhouette, 17.5″ x 8.5″ ~SOLD

With this design, I wanted to do something different. I wanted the mosaic owl to stand on its own without a background and a frame. I created the owl silhouette, something that I've revisited many times since. I chose a barn owl for this project because it is so unique and intriguing to me.

The barn owl is really beautiful, graceful bird. It is reminiscent of a knight armored in feathers – that’s what I thought of when I was designing this one along with her partner seen further down this post.

One of the most unique features of the barn owl is its heart-shaped face. This characteristic made me think of the femininity and the prettiness of this bird. Naturally she evolved into a princess.


Java the Barn Owl, stained glass mosaic, 30″x20″ (31″x21 framed)
Available: See Java the Barn Owl in My Online Art Shop 

Java the Barn owl is a serious, silent huntress of the night. Here she is looking very calm and collected, set against a wooden board. Maybe she is taking a rest in a beautiful barn before she set out for her nightly haunt.

This particular owl was was born out of my love for this java colored stained glass created by Kokomo. The colors are mixed in such a way that they create unique and beautiful patterns in the glass - some may say reminiscent of a coffee, maybe an espresso. I searched out a perfect sheet in which I saw my barn owl adorned in glass feathers. I studied the sheet of glass carefully, drawing out all of my shapes and feathers in different sections of the sheet prior to cutting. This was a very calculated project as it was all about letting the patterns in the glass dictate my design.

The plywood into which the mosaic was inserted was as carefully picked out. I searched out a piece of wood with a beautiful woodgrain. Then it was carefully stained and finished to accentuate the glass. The frame was treated with the same care, being matched to the stained glass.



Barn Owl In Camouflage Tights, 16.5″x7.5″x5/8″, a stained glass mosaic silhouette ~SOLD

Here is another barn owl. Can you tell I love these? Besides the barn owl being so pretty, I also see a little bit of whimsy when I look at a real one. What really catches my eye are its long, slender legs. This is where I thought I could sneak in a little bit of humor. 

I dressed the silly, little legs of my owl in tights, not just any tights but camouflage, because, well its an owl, you gotta add a bit of camouflage because these birds are very sneaky and very clever, often blending in so beautifully with their environment. This little owl has always made me laugh a little bit while reminding me of the beauty and mystery of the the world of the night where owls swoop silently through the darkness.



Whoo-Dini, a framed stained glass mosaic owl, 21″ x 15”
Available: See Whoo-Dini the Owl in My Online Art Shop 

Whoo-Dini is another example of a very playful design. With this one I went in a much more whimsical and graphic direction. Stripes and triangles are symbolic feathers in this mosaic. This bird is pretty far from reality but is still very much recognizable as an owl. I love finding that balance with the imaginary where the artist veers away from the norm and enters the playful, child state where anything is possible. 


Forest Owl, stained glass mosaic, 12" x 24" ~SOLD

This was actually the second owl I've ever made. She is sitting amongst the trees on a foggy night, waiting to catch a midnight snack. I wanted it to be playful and shaggy. The night sky behind her is made of mostly iridescent and mirror glass so it has a nice shimmer to the moving eye. 


Hootie, a framed stained glass mosaic owl, 21″ x 15”
Available: See Hootie the Owl in My Online Art Shop 

This design is one of the bunch that I've created to share with my online mosaic owl class students. I wanted it to be a very sweet bird that many people would be drawn to and would want to create as they learn my mosaic technique. I've added lots of fun lessons into this design, including creating a color gradient. 

I had so much fun choosing the color palette, using some of my favorite glass colors. Today this little guy hangs in my studio while it awaits its forever home. It looks over me working on my mosaic projects and makes me smile each time I look in its direction. That is a common theme I've found in my owl series, each one has allowed me to focus on something different while I take a short break from my landscape and sculpture work. Each one is a breath of fresh air where I get to play =)



Autumn Owl, stained glass mosaic, 22" x 17" (18" x 23.5" framed) ~SOLD

This owl was inspired by the autumn colors. I wanted it to be warm and sweet. I imagined it sitting up in a tree on a perfectly warm and bright day, with the beautiful smell of autumn in the air. Its just hanging out, practicing puffing out its feathers for the colder winter days that are approaching.



Percy, a framed stained glass mosaic owl, 21″ x 15”
Available: See Percy the Owl in My Online Art Shop 

I feel that owls really lend themselves to becoming a silly character. I think its something about the eyes and not having a defined neck. Percy was one of those silly creatures for me. I think he has a very endearing sweetness about him that warms my heart. 


Professor Hoodwink, stained glass mosaic, 19"x15", 2014 ~SOLD

Now speaking of silly, Professor Hoodwink is the epiphany of that word. I literally laughed the whole way through while cutting and arranging glass onto of my sketch. That's the thing about working on something with eyes, you pretty much start at each other's eyes through out most of the process. This silly creature really captivated me. Its like he put a laughing spell on me. It was wonderful. Even after finishing working on it, I giggled each time I caught its gaze until if found its forever home. It was a really special experience working on something that made me feel so good =)


Rufus, a framed stained glass mosaic owl, 21″ x 15”
Available: See Rufus the Owl in My Online Art Shop

Rufus is the opposite of silly. He is very serious, one may even think he is a bit angry. My niece actually called this design 'Angry Bird' - I loved it. With this pattern, I wanted the owl to be ernest. The few times I've encountered an owl, it had that aurora of importance, strength and poise. I think of this one as a bit of a watchman, guarding its territory.


Owena framed stained glass mosaic owl, 21″ x 15” ~SOLD

Owen is my sleepy owl. For this design, I asked myself, what do owls make you think of? That day, the first thing that came to mind was a puffy, round owl closing its eyes. I loved that image and of course went to town to create my own version sleepy, chubby owl. That was actually a few years before I created Owen. Its predecessor was named DrOwlsy. I used the same pattern to create Owen but I added this fun brick pattern for the background.

I hope that you've enjoyed a quick glimpse into my growing owl series. There is a lot more I could say about the making of each one and to share lots of fun process photos but I decided to focus on spotlighting the finished mosaics. I wanted to show how exploring one subject in art can be a very fulfilling experience. There is so many ways to reinvent the owl that honestly, I can imagine spending a lifetime on creating new ones, learning and growing with each creation.

Visit my Online Shop to see the mosaic owls that are still in need of a good forever home: https://www.kasiapolkowskashop.com/product-category/owl-mosaics/

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Bear Witness Stickers Are Here!

Here are my first ever stickers! They are the thick vinyl die cut stickers often seen in National Park Gift Shops. I'm a notorious road tripper and a park visitor and I just LOVE getting stickers on my travels - they are my go-to souvenir! I could not be more excited to be releasing one of my mosaics as a sticker for you all to enjoy and to help spread wildfire awareness with. Purchase stickers here: https://www.kasiapolkowskashop.com/product/bear-witness-set-of-both-stickers/

Both versions of the Bear Witness sticker are 4"x4.75" in size
These are perfect for any surface – stick one on your water bottle, growler, car, bike, helmet, other gear, laptop, etc. They are durable, dishwasher safe and weather resistant. A UV laminate protects the stickers from the sun and scratches, keeping them from fading.

5% of the Artist’s profit will be donated annually to Colorado State Forest Service‘s Restoring Colorado’s Forests Fund which “provides tree seedlings that will be planted on lands most severely impacted by wildfires and other disasters”.

Here I am holding the actual mosaic which I photographed to become the sticker - it changes color in the light so I am releasing two versions for a limited time.
Bear Witness, a stained glass mosaic silhouette, 27"x33",  2018 ~SOLD

I worked on this mosaic, while numerous wildfires raged here in Colorado. Surrounding wildfires burned thousands of acres of forest in mountains to the East, West an North of the San Luis Valley where I live. My bear is s a metaphor showing the reality and the danger of forest fires which the Mountain West faces every summer. 
 
This is the regular version of the sticker when the light reveals the deep purple of the trees in the foreground.

Here the wildlife lives in a fragile landscape and has to find its way out when it is faced with the flames and the smoke of their habitat burning away. My Bear is their representative. It is walking though the burning landscape, being the much needed voice of its wild friends. 

This is the special edition of the sticker when the light catches the glass in the foreground to reveal the iridescent quality of the deep purple glass.
Naturally many people are are also being displaced and loosing everything. There is nothing light about the issue of thousands of acres of land burning without containment. I hope that my recent work sheds some light on an issue many people don’t understand. Here in the West you really have to practice fire safety when the fire danger is high. We don’t get much rain and the danger to us all is very real. In the hot summers, we have to be cautious and hope for rain, low wind and send strength to the brave firefighters when the flames ignite.

Purchase stickers here: https://www.kasiapolkowskashop.com/product/bear-witness-set-of-both-stickers/ 

Thursday, July 26, 2018

The Great Wide Open Sculpture Valley

My art and life partner Kyle Cunniff are embarking on our most ambitious art collaboration yet - a 40 acre sculpture park in close proximity to the Great Sand Dunes National Park near where we currently live and create our art. This latest project will combine all of our talents, passions and push our imagination to the next level and beyond! Below is part of the view from our property - pretty wild!


We have called the San Luis Valley home for the last two years. The landscape here is unlike any place we have lived before. It is more vast than the unfamiliar eye can grasp. It is surrounded by mountains in every direction - the Sangre De Cristo Range to the East  and the San Juans to the West. Most incredibly, it is home to one of the most unique natural wonders I've ever experienced - the Great Sand Dunes which are the tallest dunes in North America.


Here in the valley is where we began creating outdoor sculpture, something we've been wanting to dive into for years but were only able to begin experimenting with in our spacious art studio in Alamosa. When it came time to photograph our first collaborative sculpture, it seemed only natural do do it among the brush with the majestic 14,344ft Blanca Peak in the background. This mountain is the landmark feature in this part of the valley and is so close to where we live.



We've been busy cleaning up the property and creating a small road. Progress has been slow, but steady. Right now its just Kyle and me working when we can but probably the biggest factor in our timeline is actually the smallest - our beautiful nine month old son who only allows us to work on the property for a couple hours a day. This will of course change once we build him, his very own sculptural playground but lets not get ahead of ourselves ... yet ... Despite some limiting factors, we are determined and with each hour we are getting closer to start adding sculptural accents to this lovely patch of land.


With the completion of each new sculpture, we've been taking more photos in the great wide open landscape of the valley. During each photo-shoot, we were mesmerized by how incredible the colorful sculpture looked set among the earth-tone landscape of the high dessert of the valley. My mind began to race with possibilities. Quickly the idea of a sculpture park evolved during our conversations of what is next for the K&K Team!



Being out in this kind of great, wide open landscape is unlike other experiences in the outdoors. There is something unique in the desert air that calls for the creative juices to flow. We heard the wind call upon us and set into action! No idea big or small was ever realized with out effort and enthusiasm. We have both. The gears are in motion as we work to sprinkle colorful sculpture among the lovely and very hardy brush.



We've began work on the property and have preliminary plans of the first 10 sculpture that we'll be adding to the park by the end of 2018. I will post updates here as well as on the Enchanted Valley Sculpture Park website (name to be determined yet). Sculpture Sponsorship will be available as well as other opportunities to contribute to this truly unique project. 

Meanwhile if you would like to help support the park, purchasing my art via my online shop is the best way to help propel this project forward: https://www.kasiapolkowskashop.com/ 

To entice support, I will be having a HUGE SALE next week to help raise funds for the first stages of the park. If you'd like to help in other ways, please email me at kpolkowska@gmail.com

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Bear Witness

Bear Witness, a stained glass mosaic silhouette, 27"x33",  2018 ~SOLD

This bear is s a metaphor that shows the reality and the danger of forest fires which the Mountain West faces every summer. The wildlife lives in that fragile landscape and has to find their way out when they are faced with the flames and the smoke of their habitat burning away. My Bear is their representative. It is walking though the burning landscape, being the much needed voice of its wild friends. 

Naturally many people are are also being displaced and loosing everything. There is nothing light about the issue of thousands of acres of land burning without containment. I hope that my recent work sheds some light on an issue many people don’t understand. Here in the West you really have to practice fire safety when the fire danger is high. We don’t get much rain and the danger to us all is very real. Let’s all hope for rain, low wind and send strength to the brave firefighters.

Close Up - the glass looks spectacular when the light hits it just right!

While I worked on this mosaic, surrounding wildfires burned thousands of acres of forest in mountains to the East, West an North of the San Luis Valley where I live.

View of the rising smoke from my daily walk along the Rio Grande. Recently the mountains were actually fully engulfed by the smoke and are no longer visible.


A close up of the fire East of Mt Blanca.

I hope that this mosaic helps to increase forest fire awareness as each year so many people, animals and forests are touched by the effects of fire, often wildfires that were caused by people which is the most devastating part.

The beginning of the project. Here I am working on my copyrighted bear silhouette. This is a special template I've created for my bear related projects.


Initially I was considering creating a pink sunset under the bear's back. But while testing my color palette, the orange glass screamed wildfire and this bear took a turn toward becoming a forest fire awareness piece.

 The stained glass is all cut, arranged and taped for gluing!

A close up of the glass shapes - each piece is hand cut to perfectly fit against its neighbors.

 My grouting set up.

Grouting the mosaic to give it a finished look and to protect the glass edges along the silhouette.

Another look at the finished mosaic. Here the light hits it a bit differently, showing a different characteristic of the glass.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Chipeta-Mai ~ A Handcrafted Glass Matryoshka Sculpture

This collaborative outdoor sculpture created by artist team Kasia Polkowska and Kyle Cunniff will be displayed for the year starting on June 14, 2018 in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Chipeta-Mai, a stained glass mosaic sculpture, 48"x24", 2018 by Kasia Polkowska and Kyle Cunniff (photographed in the San Luis Valley in front of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in Colorado)

Chipeta-Mai is a cross-cultural matryoshka doll. Historically, the first Matryoshka Doll was made in Russia and has since become a symbol in Eastern European Culture where Kasia was born.


This doll was sculpted by hand by Kyle who worked to inspire the nostalgia one often feels when laying eyes on the form of a nesting doll. The doll is adorned in a bright, colorful, hand cut stained glass mosaic pattern created by Kasia. 


To give her a sense of place, she was named to honor the people who's ancestral land we inhabit, focusing on Colorado where the artist team lives. Chipeta was a famous Ute woman known for diplomacy while Mai (Navajo for bright flower) was added to the end of her name for the flower she bears on her belly as many traditional matryoshkas do. 


The warm southwestern colors of the doll further reflect the state where she was realized. The bright orange that wraps around her belly mirrors the sedimentary beds of deep-red and pink sandstone seen jutting out of the soil along the front range of Colorado. 


Her headscarf was inspired by the bright blue sky that's so often filled with sunshine and hangs high above the mountains. 


This doll is a modern artifact emulating the artists' interest in the landscape they inhabit as well as the people that roamed that land long before them.