Putting creative thoughts and emotions into visual images is not always the easiest thing to do, even for artists. Now try and make those visions come into being with such rigid materials as a mosaic artist uses and…well…Let’s just say it is even that much harder. (No pun intended!) Cathy O’Connor, however, has managed to find a way to transform everyday found objects and glass into whimsical visual art that keeps the viewer engaged and entertained.
When Cathy and I spoke on the phone, we briefly touched on her background in the fashion industry, advertising, and design, and how the influence of our past experiences can be felt in what we create today. All the moments we have lived and challenges we have encountered during our lifetime, in essence, create the creator, which is us.
We also discussed the hurdle, so many artists face, of self-promotion. When considering how personal what we create is for many of us, it is no wonder self-promotion can be so difficult. Not to mention it can also be considered the “business end” of being an artist, and I can’t really think of too many “business ends” that are fun to deal with! Add social media to the mix and maintaining a website, art shows and exhibitions, business cards, flyers, answering email inquiries, photographing completed work, etc., etc., etc. Quickly we can see how many creatives can become overwhelmed or discouraged in their attempts at making their art full-time endeavors.
Now, let’s circle back to our experiences creating us…Some would view this as saying we are victims of circumstance. Quite the contrary! Once we understand that the choices we have made in our collective past have shaped us into what we have become, we can take it a step further and be empowered by the fact that we do have choices as to what we learn and invite into our lives today. Want to be a better self promoter? Learn about it. Anything we want to be more knowledgeable about, we can learn more about. Anything we want to be better at, will take action, most likely in the form of practice, practice, and more practice.
Of course, there are many things in life that are beyond our control. Like almost everything but the decisions we make. We have a saying around our house… “The choices we make today will dictate the lives we lead tomorrow.” The choices we have made in our pasts, in the given circumstances, have created who we are today. By being honest in self-appraisal today, we can be active in the shaping of the person we will become in the future, one moment, one decision, one choice at a time. Sometimes it is choosing to be open to the opportunities which present themselves, and sometimes it is creating those opportunities.
Cathy shares some of the decisions she has made, as well as what lead her to making those choices in her creative journey, below. With each work of art she has created, she has made choices; subject matter, size, color, materials, cuts, andamento, etc. And with each creation and each choice, she has “practiced” her art. Hopefully you find opportunity to reflect on what has gotten you to where you are today, and what you are willing to do in order to achieve being who you would like to be tomorrow. Most importantly, I wish you a wonderful journey!
MINA by Cathy O'Connor
Memories of Distant Forrests by Cathy O'Connor
LMA: How long have you been creating mosaics and how did you get started in mosaics?
Cathy:I have been creating mosaics for about 6 years, starting in the glass process with stained glass pieces. I could never get the soldering right, felt there was no control while working on it. Mosaics gives you greater control, so you can use the tiniest pieces of glass, thus eliminating a lot of waste that you have with stained glass. I have recently expanded the mosaics into figurines, combining them both, creating picassiette pieces. This gives the work added dimension as well as a touch of whimsy.
LMA: What is your favorite part of the mosaic process?
Cathy: After I create the design, I enjoy the glass cutting and fitting process. It is so therapeutic to just be concentrating on shapes and colors. The time in my studio really flies by.
LMA: Do you have a favorite subject matter?
Cathy: I love creating mosaics with people involved. Big faces looking right at you, challenging the viewer to learn their story. I always begin with their eyes. Once they are looking right at me, I bond with the piece. It may sound strange, but it’s like we are working on it together.
B&W Floral Beauty by Cathy O'Connor
LMA: Who would you say is your biggest influence in your creations?
Cathy: I do love Frida Kahlo. She was a remarkable person being able to create so much work while living through so much pain. I’m influenced by my surroundings as well. Even taking a break at my favorite local coffee shop, I can absorb much information, seeing shapes, layers and colors.
Ms. Octopus Loves a Good Read by Cathy O'Connor
Trout-a-rina by Cathy O'Connor
LMA: What is your least favorite thing about mosaics and why?
Cathy: The learning process: meaning what is the best substrate for glass. I went through a series of pieces cracking because the wood warped. That was a tough learning process, but necessary because I am very aware now of using the proper base.
Wind Swept Red Head by Cathy O'Connor
Lady Millicent and Friends Take to the Evening Air by Cathy O'Connor
LMA: Do you listen to music while creating (what type/bands)or do you prefer the TV(what shows/genera/channel)? Silence? Pod cast?
Cathy: I listen to Pandora while working. Some days it’s Motown, other days it’s the Annie Lennox channel or if I really want to “move” while I work, it’s the Bee Gees channel.
LMA: If you could give readers one single piece of advice, what would it be?
Cathy: Live your passion. Make time for yourself to do what you want to do.
ORLANDO by Cathy O'Connor
Lady of the Rose Plates by Cathy O'Connor