Tuesday, March 22, 2016

My Love Affair with Mountains

My most favorite subject matter for mosaics is the Great American Landscape.  I say 'most' because I enjoy investigating numerous, varied subjects and themes through my mosaics but the landscape owns the greatest part of my heart.  I hike around the country, take lots and lots of reference and inspirational photos, do a ton of sketches when I get back to the studio and then ... I hand cut and shape the thousands of pieces of glass it takes to create each one of these mosaic mountain scenes that are actually much larger than you can imagine from these photos. They span up to 4 feet in width and I plan for them to keep getting larger!


I had a full year off from creating my mosaic landscapes in 2015 due to an extensive cross country journey I embarked on which took most of that year and about 6 months to plan and organize leading up to the trip.  This leaves quite a gap in my portfolio but I've been very busy since returning to Colorado and back to work and eager to create as much as possible!

Fun Fact: In just one of these mosaics, I've counted there to be about 2,000 hand cut circles. I often ask myself what was I thinking?!?! Hope you enjoy and are inspired to get out there and surround yourself with our incredible landscape this Spring, the time of the year when a part of the landscape that has been a sleep for many months reawakens and brightens up our world with the most beautiful shades of color spread all around.

Sunset at Trillium Lake, stained glass mosaic (framed), 24" x 48", 2016
Available for Sale: http://kasiamosaicsstore.blogspot.com/

In September of 2015, while traveling around the United States, I spent a few days in the Mt Hood region of Oregon.  We camped in a national forest near Trillium Lake.  This was part of our (my partner Kyle and I's) 8 month long cross country trip.  The days spent in this area were calm and relaxing.  The forest was quiet, the skies blue and mostly clear, The MOUNTAIN was majestic.  Most of our trip was very busy as we were combining travel with work so it had its moments of stress.  But here we found a tranquility we longed for in those busy days.  The feeling that filled me while at the foot of Mt Hood, watching the setting sun and the still reflection of the vista in Trillium Lake, knowing that there is turmoil and boiling lava below, was magical.   

High Alpine Lake, stained glass mosaic (framed), 24" x 48", 2016
Available for Sale: http://kasiamosaicsstore.blogspot.com/

This mosaic is inspired by various hikes here in the high Rockies of Colorado.  Rather than paying homage to a specific lake, this is a tribute to high alpine lakes in general.  I've lived in Colorado since 2012 and have hiked to many such lakes as this region is blessed with countless gems of this sort.  I don't quite have a favorite but have some that I've visited more than others in the Indian Peaks Wilderness as well as the Rocky Mountain National Park both areas within driving distance where I've lived, ideal for day hike excursions.  In this mosaic I worked to convey the feeling of being in such places, hiking up high above the treeline, being surrounded by beautifully patterned granite mountains and rocks, coming upon a pristine body of water, encircled by peaks that shoot up to 13,000 to 14,000 feet into the perfect and warm Colorado Sky that is the bluest blue I've ever seen.  Having completed and stepped back from this mosaic, I now see that it can be so many more places that I've imagined, depending on who is viewing it and what amazing places they've gotten to experience.

Sunset Over Boulder, stained glass mosaic (framed), 24" x 48", 2016 
Available for Sale: http://kasiamosaicsstore.blogspot.com/

Having lived in Colorado for years, I have seen many beautiful sunsets over the foothills.  Often the really good ones are seen from the car, driving between Denver and Boulder or Boulder and Lyons.  You just sit there and take in that fleeting magical color display.  The mountains change colors.  Everything in the foreground begins to blend in and become one, making way for the show the sun has in store for you. When surrounded by such beauty, you don't always jump at the photo op, sometimes you just look.  I've seen many incredible sunsets here.  This mosaic is an impression that I carry with me.  I just flip through the many beautiful memories I have and there it is, a compilation of my favorite Boulder View glowing in Blue with bursting sunbeams lighting up the clouds.  This is why so many people fall in love with Colorado. 

Ptarmigan Trail - Glacier National Park, stained glass mosaic (framed), 30" x 30", 2014
Available for Sale: http://kasiamosaicsstore.blogspot.com/

This mosaic is inspired by one of the hikes we did in Glacier National Park in Montana in the summer of 2014. We combined the Ice Lake Trail with the Ptarmigan Tunnel Trail. On this 15 miler there were too many awe inspiring views to count. It was impossible to choose a favorite ... but emerging of the Ptarmigan Tunnel after 10 miles of pushing along, crossing our fingers not to run into a grizzly, yet kinda hoping to get a glimpse of one in the distance, trying to take in all the beauty of the lush and colorful, flower filled landscape, the final view of the Belly River Valley with the bright blue Elizabeth Lake appeared on the other side.  It was so drastically different than everything leading up to it that it made the strongest impression on me. Still today it is as clear in my memory as if I was just there.

Hands down it is one of the best hikes I've ever done and would do again in a heartbeat. Don't miss it if you are planning a trip to the magic filled Glacier National Park.

Cathedral Sky, stained glass mosaic (framed), 24" x 48", 2014   ~SOLD

In the very early spring of 2014, while driving on US Highway 36 between Lyons and Boulder, I was confronted with the most magical and serene view - I couldn't get it out of my head ... right away I knew that it was meant to be my next mosaic.  Actually I had to put my other very exciting project on hold because I needed to create this one so badly!

The drive on that road is really beautiful with the rolling foothills and our famous Boulder Mountains on display for all the cyclists and drivers to enjoy. The leaves on the trees were newly blossomed and everything was covered in an afternoon haze. The mountains and the sky almost became one as they created a peaceful backdrop for this lovely scene. It seemed kinda cloudy yet the sun was shining brightly underneath the thin layer of clouds. Right away my mind began to race as this mosaic began to come to life in my head during that lovely drive.

The Dallas Divide, stained glass mosaic (framed), 16" x 48", 2014 

In September 2013, Kyle and I were planning a trip to the San Juan Mountains here in Colorado.  But ... due to the epic thousand year flood in Boulder where we lived at the time, there was an unfortunate change of plans.  First we were displaced from our home for nearly six weeks and had a lot of after math to deal with.  Needless to say, we had to cancel our plans. This mosaic was my way of visiting the mountains I dreamed of seeing that fall but couldn't.  

Sanitas Valley - Spring, stained glass mosaic (framed), 24" x 24", 2014   ~SOLD 

Here in Colorado, there are infinite places to hike around and to challenge yourself going up all those high peaks.  But I often like to take the more relaxing path, one like the hike up Mt. Sanitas in Boulder.  I especially enjoy the walk through the valley below, between Hogback Ridge and Mount Sanitas looking toward the foothills, with my favorite view of Green Mountain, one of the high points in Boulder. This is where I can simply enjoy something beautiful while taking an easy morning stroll, taking in a familiar view which I've really grown to love in all seasons and all times of day. 

From the first stroll down this path all the way back in 2012, I knew I either wanted to draw this place or to create a mosaic tribute to it.  I've walked here during every season and decided that I wanted to recreate the spring version first.  Day after day I went in spring, waiting to see an abundance of purple flowers ... I had no luck, maybe bad timing.  I saw lots and lots of yellows =)  Initially I was going to create a yellow field of flowers but then decided that as the artist, I can make them any color so I got my purple field of flowers in Sanitas Valley after all. 

Cascade Canyon, stained glass mosaic (framed), 24" x 48", 2013  
Available for Sale: http://kasiamosaicsstore.blogspot.com/

This mosaic is inspired by my trip to the Teton Mountains in July of 2012. Kyle and I hiked the Canyon/Paintbrush Loop where the mountain views were spectacular, especially from our backcountry campsite in the Northern section of Cascade Canyon near Lake Solitude. Everything was so lush and green, the wild flowers were blossoming everywhere - the blue and yellow ones stood out to me the most but the reds and pinks were equally impressive.  

A thunderstorm was brewing as we arrived at our campsite so we held our breath as it roared.  Following the storm a thick fog rose from the ground to fully cover the tall peaks and decrease visibility of the scenery.  Just as we watched it rise, we watched the fog fall back to the ground and reveal the spectacular scenery back to us.  The fog kept coming and going until it fully dispersed at sunset and we got to enjoy watching the mountains be bathed in the bright light.  

We observed the marmots and the picas and even saw an antelope run across the meadow.  We fished in the lake, listened to the creek run past our camp as we enjoyed our supper and slept under the stars. This was one of the most beautiful places I've ever visited and used a variety of views and aspects that I've photographed to design a scene which I hoped would convey all that I loved about it. 

Impression of a Colorado Fall, stained glass mosaic (framed), 36" x 36", 2013   ~SOLD

This landscape has been inspired by my impression of the changing, vibrant aspen trees in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado where I live. Aspens live in large colonies and many share one root system so they change colors within their group.  That's one of the reasons the fall foliage is so incredible in the mountainous Colorado landscape. While the colors transition from green to yellow, the barren rocky peaks begin getting snow peaked which creates a wonderful accent to the golden landscape.  This is what creates one of the most magical color displays that nature paints for us.  This is why people travel from all over the world just to get a glimpse.  If they are lucky enough, they will leave with this kind of impression that I've worked to capture in this mosaic.

Vermont Autumn, stained glass mosaic (framed), 36" x 36", 2013 
Available for Sale: http://kasiamosaicsstore.blogspot.com/

As you can see from the title above, this mosaic has been inspired by Vermont's legendary and magical fall foliage.  The mountains may be smaller on the East Coast, but the fall colors rival those found in the Colorado Rockies. 

The September prior to creating this pieces, Kyle and I were driving up to our friends' farm and the reds stood out to me as particularly vibrant and shiny.  In this mosaic, the green conifers and half the red trees are created with iridescent glass which shimmers in the light and recreates the impression of seeing the bright, vibrant foliage in person. 

On our drive, there is a particular spot where you can catch a quick but a very expansive view of the mountains, where thy appear very mighty and pointy, reminiscent of the Rockies, disappearing in all directions into the distant sky or clouds - depending on what kind of a day it is.  On this particular occasion it was the latter, the sky was covered in semi dark clouds but there was still enough light to illuminate the the brilliant carpet of trees covering the mountains below.

 Vermont Spring, stained glass mosaic on board (framed), 18" x 36", 2012   ~SOLD 

This lovely scene was inspired by part of the beautiful panoramic view I used to have from my porch while living and working on a sheep dairy farm in Northeast Vermont. In the spring and in the summer, the fields and pastures would blossom in colonies of flowers, change color almost every week as different flowers took the spotlight. I especially loved seeing the yellows and the pinks together. Here I recreated one of my favorite memories of another place I hold dear in my hear, reliving some of my most beautiful memories I carry with me forever.  

 Green Mountains, stained glass mosaic on board (framed), 36" x 36", 2012
Available for Sale: http://kasiamosaicsstore.blogspot.com/

I've always loved mountains but none as much as green mountains! I don't just love mountains but hills as well.  Combine mountains, hills and a perfect blue sky and I'm in paradise =)  I feel that I've been on a quest to find my perfect landscape, my perfect green hills that roll back into the distance and evolve into magnificent mountain peaks.  The search has led me to discover so nay beautiful places.  I realize that its not the destination but rather the journey that I've been enjoying all of these years.

When I lived in Lismore, Australia back in 2006, I was mesmerized by the endless rolling hills covered by beautiful carpet of green grass.  I used to look out the bus window and as it glided up and down the sloping road, I breathed in the scenery and daydreamed of walking through the beautiful landscape.  This is my tribute to 'Green Mountains' veiled in my ideal sky - a place so beautiful it will inspire many to look for it.

 Mountain Spring, stained glass mosaic (framed), 36" x 36", 2012   ~SOLD

Through my work, I explore many aspects of my interests.  I love nature, landscapes, patterns and colors.  I've been drawn to mountains ever since I was a child and am still fascinated by them, in particular by the mountainous landscape after the snow melt when everything slowly comes to life in vibrant colors.  I am fascinated by flower fields that spring up in these environments, away from most people, hidden in beautiful secluded places.  

While I lived on a remote farm in the beautiful Vermont, I got to see the fields change every week - it was spectacular.  One week a field was a green blanket of grass, the next week yellow dandelions covered fifty percent of it - I've never seen anything so beautiful and undisturbed.  The flowers took turns.  Another week the field was pink with clover and so on.

I feel that purple flowers in particular are a sign of the arrival of Spring. I often see them shooting up through the snow letting us know that its that time of the year. It is my dream to find myself in a purple field like the one that I've created in this mosaic. I want there to be a variety of flowers some more pink some more blue but all in harmony with each other existing in that magical moment when its their turn to come out from the earth for that brief moment and to breath in the pure mountain air.
Moving to Colorado in 2012, being confronted with the scope of the Rocky Mountains, I knew I had to add a new factor to my work which was mostly pretty small scale.  Seeing these new, very large and monumental mountains, I didn't want to squeeze them into a small canvas. I decided to direct my energy and focus into mainly large scale mosaics. 

Even though I've been creating mosaics since 2007, this one was the first of its kind.  It was a pivoting point for me and my work.  In the midst of 2012 it became my largest and loudest landscape and it dwarfed my other work.  Up to this point I've worked just as meticulously on my mosaic scenes but due to limited resources I kept the scale pretty small.  Each and everyone of those pieces is unique, has its own story and is filled with the discovery and the play that has shaped me into the creator that I am today.  But every once in a while, I've made sure to take the time to go wild and create something with no boundaries. That is where the biggest magic happens!  That is what this mosaic symbolizes to me.  There are no words to describe the wonder and sense of accomplishment I felt when I stepped back from it and took in what I created.  This is a very special piece for me.

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