LMA: Tell us about your artistic background
KD: Recently, I have been remembering the great pleasures
of finger painting. One of my earliest memories is standing at the
easel in preschool and painting with my fingers on a large glossy
pad of paper while watching the other kids playing with building
blocks, reading stories, etc. I realize that the creative process, the
tactile nature of it, has almost always been an essential
expression of my life force. It did not seem to matter whether
someone else supplied me with materials or not, for there was
always something I would find that could be utilized; sticks,
leaves, charcoal from the fire, mud, rocks, and so on. I made art
all through school. In high school, I created an art portfolio in AP
(Advanced Placement) Art. I started college majoring in Interior
Design and shifted my degree to Psychology when my blueprint
teacher told us the first ten years of our careers would be
drawing other people’s blueprints.
LMA: Do you have any professional art training?
KD: Yes. During college I took all the recommended art classes for my degree towards Interior Design.
Stag Chair by Katrina Doran
LMA: How did you get started in mosaics?
KD: I spent years doing various types of work and had
reached a point where I needed to make art again. I tried painting
and could not achieve the feeling I wanted to convey. I did know I
needed a medium with more texture. I experimented with many
things and, after trying to personally reinvent the wheel of shards,
I took a weekend workshop with Sonia King and knew in that 2-
day workshop that this was what I had been looking for. I was
completely immersed in this fine craft when the piece I had made
from that workshop won an award.
LMA: How long have you been creating mosaic, art, etc.?
KD: That first mosaic workshop was in 2002 and I have not
stopped since. I so fell in love with the medium and realized its
potential of endless variety could take a lifetime to explore.
LMA: Did you start with mosaic or did you work in other mediums before working in mosaic?
KD: I always loved working with clay and because it was
considered a craft, I thought I needed to pursue a more
sophisticated line of work and chose Interior Design. I enjoy
putting a good room together and spent many years as a
decorator. I also received training as a gourmet chef, another love
of mine and worked as a chef for a small business. For many
years I performed as a variety of characters for special events
and made all the costumes and props. Those years taught me so
much about organizing a show, production, and getting over
being shy. It was the perfect lead up into what I now do as a
mosaic artist and teacher.
by Katrina Doran
LMA: What about mosaics resonates with you?
KD: The thing about mosaics that resonates with me is first,
the tactile nature of the materials and second, that I can mix all
kinds of things together. When I first started making mosaics, I
did not have money to buy any materials. I had my $12. pair of
side biters and whatever else I could find; broken plates,
discarded mirror, pebbles, rusty bits, and so on.
LMA: What is your favorite part of the mosaic process?
KD: My favorite part of the mosaic process may be the
design. Then, the gathering of the tesserae and then, the
conversation that begins to emerge as the piecing begins.
by Katrina Doran
LMA: Do you have a favorite subject matter? What is it?
KD: Lately, my favorite subject has been cats, big cats.
LMA: Where do you find inspiration for subject matter?
KD: Inspiration comes from everywhere for me. A
conversation may spark an idea, other people’s work can inspire
me, a broken shard, shadows cast by the trees, the changing
light of the day, and so on.
LMA: Do you have favorite materials you like to work with? What are they?
KD: No. I like them all. When I am working with natural stone I
get excited about the stinky ones, that sulphur smell just takes
me somewhere earthy and real. I am in awe and wonder of shells.
The reflective nature of Italian smalti is saturated and rich. Dishes
and figurines evoke memories and tell stories. Transparent glass
makes everyone happy. Then, there is gold…yummy, delicious
Tashi the Tibetan Tiger Rug by Katrina Doran - as viewed through the cat portal
LMA: What is your favorite thing you have created and why?
KD: My favorite thing I have created so far is Tashi the
Tibetan Tiger Rug. It’s an eight foot long by 3.5 foot wide marble
and porcelain mosaic. I made it for myself as the generator for
The World of Doran Studio. It makes me happy every time I step
on it and seems to bring joy to those who see it.
LMA: What would you like to learn/add to your mosaics experience?
KD: I want to experience a mosaic retreat with Helen
Bodycomb. I also have a sometime-in-the-future plan to host a
mosaic retreat in Greece.
LMA: What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of mosaics?
KD: I have no idea how I am ever going to get to all the ideas
LMA: What is your least favorite thing about mosaics and why?
KD: My least favorite thing about mosaics is perhaps large
installations. I get anxious each and every time. Plus, large
installations just hurt. They are hard on the body.
You are my sunshine & Superstar by Katrina Doran
LMA: Tell us a little about your studio.
KD: A few years ago we moved out of a 5,000 square foot
warehouse studio in the Dallas Design District to an old
farmhouse. Our plan is to create an art environment here. It is
taking some adjustment time as the warehouse was such a
different type of space. My studio is in the house right off of the
kitchen. I call it the Great Room because the floors are concrete
and there’s a giant fireplace. The picture window looks out over
the yard leading down to the Trinity Forest. The sound of a
fountain bubbles beneath that window and birds and bees meet
here, at this fount. I have a large standing worktable, lots of
shelves from an old law library, the kitchen table from my
parents’ home and a big easel on which to create.
LMA: Do you listen to music while creating (what type/bands) or do you prefer the TV (what shows/genera/channel)? Silence? Pod cast? Etc.?
KD: I prefer to work in silence. There are times when I will
listen to an audio book, a podcast or to music. However, all those
sounds get stuck in my head and I often feel disconnected from
the work when that happens. I don’t watch TV. I don’t even own a
LMA: What is one of your favorite quotes or sayings?
KD: “Let’s Create magic!” It’s a line from the movie,
Magicians by James Merendino with Til Schweiger, Claire Forlani,
Fabrizio Bentivoglio and Alan Arkin.
by Katrina Doran
LMA: If you could give readers one single piece of advice, what would it be?
KD: Stay true to yourself and be ever curious.
LMA: Tell us about your single greatest mosaic moment.
KD: I have to say, my single greatest mosaic moment was
stepping on to the floor of the Hagia Sofia. I wanted to lay my
whole body down onto that marble and press my face into it.
LMA: Attach 3 of your favorite mosaics by someone else…why do they capture your interest? (see photos below)
1. Five Sisters by Emma Biggs - this one captures my
interest because Emma used ancient artifacts to create a
temporary installation. The textures, the pallet of colors from
natural materials, her discovery of the fingerprints of the makers,
the relationship of the making to the place in which it is installed
and its relationship to Mathew Collings’ painting. There is so
much here. I wish I could have seen it in person.
Five Sisters by Emma Biggs
2. Visionary II - (Lizard) Whisperer by Gila Rayberg - this
one is a favorite of mine and I like to think it is a portrait of me.
Gila’s use of broken dishes and her courage to create her own
style of work is fun to watch develop.
Visionary II - (Lizard) Whisperer by Gila Rayberg
3. Cleo Mussi in her studio - Cleo’s works are fun to look
at. Her use of broken dishes and knowledge of pattern making
creates a fiber art aesthetic I am attracted to. I suspect her works
convey meanings made easier to bear by their playful nature.
LMA: Do you have a favorite color palette?
KD: I don’t think so and yet, I do tend to gravitate towards
the more earthy colors and I often say my favorite color is a
LMA: Who are your top 3 favorite artists or top 3 most influential artists in your work?
KD: Artists that influence me are ones who have or are
creating their own worlds: Nek Chand, Niki de Saint Phalle,
Raymond Isidore, Anado McLauchlin, Barbara Dybala. That’s
more than three so I will stop. There’s so many more.
by Katrina Doran
LMA: What made you want to participate in the Diversity Mural?
KD: I chose to participate in the Diversity Mural for several
reasons. 1. The mural was a Cherie Bosela happening. 2. I
believe human beings are curious creatures of which no two are
exactly alike. All the ways we are contribute to the whole. May
we learn to celebrate our variety and learn to be kind to one
another. The mosaic hearts express this for me. I also enjoyed
the process of creating hearts with several of my students. My
contribution was built in a community of love.
LMA: What is the meaning behind your heart you created for the Diversity Mural?
KD: See above. I will add this: I have to distinguish my own
judgements and prejudices not only towards others, but the
internal ones towards myself. These are often the ones that are
the most harsh. Once distinguished, I am able to relinquish those
judgements and as I do so, I open to a gentle kindness that can’t
help but express itself as compassion for others. The heart is a
symbol of love without measure, one that is ever opening and