Thursday, January 12, 2012

Tracy Pennington, Madcap Mosaics


MARtisans42photo by Deborah Stanley 2011


1. Share what you do and WHY?

Tracy Pennington:  I make mosaics. During a difficult time in my life, a counselor suggested I do something artistic as therapy. I wandered around Hobby Lobby looking for something to do. I walked out with a beginner's mosaic kit and some stained glass. I thoroughly enjoyed the making of that first mosaic, and felt a new awakening in my soul. I realized that not only did I like making art, but I MUST make art. I love the mosaic medium because it is a slow, reflective process. I can think and feel my way through the work.

2. Where was your studio located prior to coming to Mellwood? and how do you describe your studio at Mellwood? and what do you enjoy the most about it? (I know this is kinda 3 questions in 1)

Tracy:  I worked in the guest room at our house. The room was crammed with stuff I picked up off the curb that "I was going to do something with", and little shards of glass were flying everywhere while I worked. I also felt guilty when working at home, like I should have been doing housework or spending time with kids instead. My husband suggested I find someplace else to work, and we were thrilled to find Mellwood! My studio is MINE! (said by the mother of 6 children : )) It is my place to come and create, reflect, and listen to my soul.

3. So I take it that upcycling and refashioning are a big part of what you do. Do you look at a curb find and then create a design for it, or do you create a design first and then look for a curb find? How do you go about pulling it all together? (and you look wonderful and peaceful to be the mother of 6!)


Tracy:  It bothers me to see reusable materials going to the landfill, so if I see something I think I can use I pick it up. Sometimes I start with the material and design with it in mind, but more often the stuff just sits around waiting for inspiration to strike.

I have a sketchbook where I get everything off my chest. Some designs never become anything, while others nag me until I follow through. I find a base for the design, prime it, and sketch on it. Then I glue on tiles, glass or wherever else I'm working with. Sometimes I pry them off and rework it. Sometimes I let a half done piece sit around until I can figure out what is wrong with it. When I am happy with the piece, it gets grouted, cleaned up and hung up.

4. What do you want from your art? What would bring you the greatest joy?

Tracy:  My art helps me process hopes and disappointments, trials and triumphs. I want my art to mean something. It is my soul reaching out, asking for understanding..."Do you feel this way?"..."Am I alone in the world?". I feel the greatest joy when I see others connecting with my work...that is the greatest validation to me.

5. What question would you like me to ask the next artist?

Tracy:  I'd like you to ask the next artist....How do you define 'success' as an artist?  

Thanks Karen! Some difficult questions....

To view more of Tracy's artwork and workshop offerings, go here.

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