Mission Statement

This blog journals my quest of art, whether it is a piece of work that is inherent in nature or one created by artists known or unknown or that I created myself. During this search, I have come to appreciate the magnificence and generosity of God who in his infinite wisdom surrounded us with exquisiteness everyday...everywhere and inspired our human spirit to create beauty that feeds our bodies and souls. Come join me on my journey to find art through my travels and my own creative endeavors. Maraming salamat.

All rights to all posts and contents on this blog, including photos and artwork are reserved by jojo sabalvaro tan.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Paper Mosaic - If I forget you, O Jerusalem

If I Forget You, O Jerusalem
Paper Mosaic
by jojo sabalvaro-tan 2014

After our Holy Land pilgrimage, I wanted to create an artwork commemorating both Israel and Jordan. Inspired by the many mosaics found in Jordan and Israel, most of them from the Byzantine period, I came up with the idea of making a piece depicting the old city of Jerusalem and utilizing the art of mosaic. In this post, I wanted to share my daily progress on this project and some of my processes.

Day 1 - Preliminary Sketch

This is the preliminary drawing on my sketch pad which I originally titled 'Jerusalem on My Mind.'. It depicts a woman who could not get Jerusalem out of her head . I added the word 'Peace" or Shalom in Hebrew on her forehead as a prayer for The Old City of Jerusalem which has been the source of conflict between nations for hundreds of years now and where peace is always tenuous. The drawing sat for a few days while I pondered on how to execute the project.

Day 2 - The Cartoon

After deciding that the project is a go, the image was re-sketched  on tracing paper. This is referred to as a cartoon. I made sure that the finished project will fit into a standard mat board opening.

Day 3 - Transferring the Cartoon unto the Mat Board

For transferring,  wax-free transfer paper was used. It comes in several colors and I used the color that will show up on the mat board.   The tracing lines were gone over with  a pen, details  tweaked and more adjustments made to the sketch on the board.

Day 4 - Starting the Mosaic

On the fourth day,the eye section, the lips, cheeks and some of the nose were completed. The paper tesserae used for the mosaic were individually cut out of glossy magazine pages.

Day 5 - Mosaic work on the Jerusalem Scene

I completed the walls and started on some of the buildings in Jerusalem. The picture also shows some of my basic supplies, magazine pages cut into tiny paper tesserae (in the dish) used for the mosaic, the brush used to apply the paste as well as the awl used to precisely place each mosaic piece. It took an average of 10-12 seconds to apply each tesserae. 

Day 6 -  More Jerusalem Scene

I have pretty much completed the buildings and started working on the hills surrounding Jerusalem.This was the most time consuming part of the project since I was working with really tiny paper tesserae and had to look for particular colors in the magazine to use for each building.

Day 7 - Still More Jerusalem Scene

Today, the mosaic work on the Jerusalem scene is done. I am particularly happy with the way the sky turned out.

Day 8 -  Hair and Face

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, I am now on the face. I tore out a number of pages with faces from magazines to determine what flesh color to use. The first one I applied was too pasty, so each tesserae piece previously applied had to be plucked out from the board. Then I started over with a combination of a number mosaic pieces of different skin colors employing them randomly; it worked out better. For a more realistic depiction of the hair, a solid color was not used in lieu of a color that contained highlights and shading.

Day 9 - The Face 

The face is finally completed.  While developing and working on this project, I decided to changed the title to 'If I Forget You, O Jerusalem', a passage from Psalm 137:5, which I felt was more fitting. 


Day 10 - The Background

 It took me a long time to decide on a background color. I was originally set on a metallic gold which is what is often used in Byzantium mosaics that are not applied on a floor. Gray, blue and red were also prime candidates. I settled on white which for me represents the predominant color of the stone work in the Holy Land.


Day 11 - The Completed Mosaic

I still have to seal the mosaic with Mod Podge to secure all the tiny paper pieces.  Almost 3600  pieces of paper mosaic tesserae were used.  The piece measures 10.5" x 13.5".

If I Forget You, O Jerusalem
Paper Mosaic
by jojo sabalvaro-tan 2014

 Psalm 137:5

New International Version (NIV)

5 If I forget you, Jerusalem,
    may my right hand forget its skill

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