Visiting Artist Monica Currie-Johnson Teaches Portraiture

Visiting Artist Monica Currie-Johnson returned to Piece by Piece in October to work with participant artists in creating stylized portraits. Each artist selected an inspiring figure or themselves to interpret into mosaic, using a limited palette of primarily repurposed stained glass.

Creating a portrait is one of the most difficult projects an artist can attempt. In mosaic, the challenge is being able to create the soft nuances of shading and subtle details that make a face unique. “The students were at first a little intimidated by the thought of doing a portrait, but once the colors were chosen, many embraced the process and did a wonderful, expressive mosaic portrait,” said Monica.

Through this workshop, participant artists not only build their mosaic cutting and placement skills, but they also learn to “see” the finer details of the human face. Each artist started with the eyes, which are essential in capturing the spirit of a person. Feedback from the artists revealed that the nose is one of the hardest parts, with ears coming in a close second. Every step was a thoughtful process and artists consulted with each other and instructors to bring their visions to life.

John, a Piece by Piece artist, is working on his portrait of Marvin Gaye: “This is my first attempt at portrait mosaics. Forty years ago, I was fortunate enough to be working as a “roadie” (stagehand) on a tour featuring the great man. His powerful and melodic songs continue to be played on air, even after this notable passage of time. Mosaics are a durable form of artwork. May his likeness, as I present it here, long endure. Like his beautiful music.”

The courage and determination of the artists who saw their portraits through to the end is admirable and inspiring. There is sure to be more finishing their pieces but take a look at the few that have finished so far.


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1 comment

  • Your determination, positivity and talent shine in this self-portrait. I love it!

    Christine Metro on

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