Project AVIII

Personal Mosaic (from a project by Isa Gordon)


To understand and apply the properties of value and color.

To explore questions of personal identity--either as perceived by yourself or by others.

Project Overview Using a color scheme derived from found color samples, the challenge is to create a mosaic that expresses some aspect of your own identity.
References for further study Lauer, David, Design Basics, Chapters 12 & 13




value, value scale, value contrast, value pattern, achromatic, additive system, subtractive system, pigment, hue, tint, shade, chroma, color wheel, primary colors, secondary colors, tertiary color, intensity / saturation, simultaneous contrast, optical / visual mixing, pointillism, color discord, emotional color, symbolic color, local vs. optical color, mosaic, monochromatic, warm, cool, analogous, triadic, complementary, split-complementary
Materials illustration board, x-acto, scissors, rubber cement, found color samples





Select an image--one with a good range of values (lights and darks)--to use as the source for the project. The image may be a photograph or a drawing, it may be something you've created, or something you've found. But it should represent something that has a significant meaning to you. Examples may include an artistic influence, a hobby, an important person or place in your life, a political issue of personal importance to you, or it could even be a well crafted lie that you've long hid behind.

Select one of the color schemes discussed in the UNIT VIII overview: warm, cool, monochromatic, analogous, triadic, complementary, or split complementary. Collect a range of found color samples that fit into the color scheme you've selected. You may want to select a scheme and range that has personal significance to you. The samples may come from anywhere, but must be relatively flat (no thicker than about 1/8"). Try magazines, photos, flyers, food labels, fabric, etc etc. Collect at least 25 distinct colors that fit your chosen scheme, and make sure you have enough total material to cover a 12" x 18" surface (in other words, if most of your samples are very small, you should probably collect more than 25).

You may distort or abstract the shapes of your image when interpreting your source image, but try to remain as faithful to the value relationships as possible. You may cut your color samples into uniform small square tiles and create a traditional style mosaic, or you may use irregular shapes or varying sizes as you see fit. You could think of this project as a tangential self-portrait: everything about the image, color choices, style, craft, should suggest your identity on a subjective level--you needn't render an objective image or representation of yourself to create something highly revealing of your identity or personality.

Critique Ideas


When you have completed your composition, divide into small groups and exchange artworks with another group from the class. Within your group, work together to respond to each mosaic in turn. Consider the following:

1. Describe the various color schemes your fellow artists used.

2. Point out any personal and/or cultural symbols the artist used to indicate a particular meaning.

3. Discuss ideas the artwork seems to communicate. After some sharing of interpretations, attempt to state the message of the composition in one sentence. (This artwork is about. . .)

4. Explain how the shapes, symbols, or other elements of the composition support its message.

Return to UNIT VIII Overview