LMA: What about mosaics resonate with you?
Sandra: The color and texture of mosaics attracted me initially to this medium. Seeing them in practical settings, in everyday life. The first mosaics I created were to enjoy in my own home; plant pots, stepping stones, floors and backsplashes.
Venus Study#2 by Sandra Groeneveld
LMA: Did you start with mosaic or did you work in other mediums before working in mosaic?
Sandra: Drawing and sculpture come most naturally to me, immediate and tactile avenues of expression. They both let me experience what I see. Sculpting is drawing in three dimensions. It has its challenges as well as advantages over a pencil. Initially I viewed any drawings only as part of the design process of making a mosaic. Currently I want my drawings to be the actual piece. The mosaic medium too has its challenges versus a pencil. But one of the great advantages is the concept of andamento. It is a unique part of tesserae placement and can be very expressive.
LMA: What is your favorite part of the mosaic process?
Sandra: Being in the middle, in the thick of a project is my favorite part of the process. I find the designing of the subject and selection of the materials/colors stressful; the agony of the blank page, the second-guessing if an idea or composition can still be improved. I haven’t been above eating an entire package of Oreos to get me through the first phase. For me, so much depends on having a well thought out palette of materials and distinct vision. If my goal is clear, then I can let instinct take over to make the countless small decisions, during its execution. When I am in the zone, I can let the analytical side take a back seat.
Konijntje by Sandra Groeneveld
Perdido Key Mouse by Sandra Groeneveld
Cow Detail by Sandra Groeneveld
LMA: What are some of your favorite materials, tools, etc.? What do you like about them?
Sandra: The choice of my materials and tools has evolved. I started with a household hammer to break up ceramic tiles, transitioned to vitreous tile with nippers and now enjoy using a hammer & hardie on marble the most. I jump around to the different materials depending on the project. At one point, I found the possibilities of mosaics paralyzing, too many materials, and too many directions to go. My path forward always had me looking back to ancient times, to the admiration I have for the masters working in stone and glass. Using marble and smalti seemed like the Holy Grail and the hammer & hardie offered the best control, so that was a clear next step for me. Initially, for economy, I only practiced my cutting techniques on remnant marble. The organic quality of stone was a revelation. Its inconsistencies were an asset. This meshed perfectly with the experimentations of letting a sketch be the goal versus merely using it as the composition’s “cartoon”.
Barn Owl by Sandra Groeneveld
Sable by Sandra Groeneveld
LMA: Do you have a favorite subject matter? What is it?
Sandra: Nobody has to look very hard to see what interests me the most: animals. That has been the case all my life; mosaic is simply the medium I am currently working in. With that though, I do look at subjects with an eye on what would be the most interesting when done as a mosaic. Subjects with lots of texture or distinct fur and feather patterns are ideal challenges. Having more control over how to describe my subject matter meant getting a good handle on what andamento was and how to use it. I was obsessed with “getting it”, making it come naturally. Working on a few pieces, which were one solid color, no value, was instrumental in making it all click. Everything had to be described with only the size, shape and direction of the tiles.
Title TBA by Sandra Groeneveld
LMA: Tell us a little about your studio and attach a photo or 2 of your studio space
Sandra: I call my workspace “the lab”. That makes for a less intimidating expectation for comes out of that space. The room is 12’ x14’ with a concrete floor and was meant for all my various creative pursuits. It has a great view of the front garden, which features a birdbath to invite the birds. After working with mosaics for about 15 years, accumulating all the various materials to experiment with, I now carefully step around the perimeter of the room since a narrow walkway is all that is left. Floor to ceiling shelves, and stacks of materials on the floor encroach on 3 small tables at the center. The conflict between workspace and storage is clearly evident, but having all the materials in view keeps the juices flowing.
LMA: Who are your top 3 favorite artists or top 3 most influential artists in your work?
Sandra: With the entire world at your fingertips now, I get whiplash from the variety of artists who impress me on a daily basis. Favorites come and go depending on what I am working on. As far as who influenced me to be me, that is a different story, since books were the only artistic influence back in the pre-internet days. An eclectic trio of artists definitively set up my style. I read The Adventures of Tintin by Herge (Georges Remis), the graphic novels about the journalist Tintin and his dog Snowy, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of times as a child. I read them for escapism but the composition, story telling, adventures throughout the world; all executed with magnificent drawing skill, seeped into my consciousness. Another artist, Rien Poortvliet influenced my drawing style the most. His massive sketchbook-like volumes with subjects ranging from dogs to horses to wild animals to farm life in the Netherlands fed my mind and eyes. His way of studying the behaviors of animals and people alike, via his humorous observations and painterly studies set a lifetime goal for me to aspire to. Rounding out those whom I idealized is Rembrandt van Rijn. The lighting of his paintings, the moods created, was what stuck with me the most.
As the Fish Rots by Sandra Groeneveld
LMA: What is one of your favorite quotes or sayings?
Sandra: Less is more.
LMA: What made you want to participate in the Diversity Mural?
Sandra: I wanted to contribute to something good, something of beauty to counteract the bigotry that pollutes and destroys, as it did at the Pulse Nightclub. Being present and being a small part of the effort to honor the lives lost was important to me. I made my hearts as big as I was allowed to, one in each color of the rainbow; colorful shouts. At Luna Mosaic Arts, seeing all the folks working to prepare the contributions for installation would make the tiniest heart swell. Every horizontal surface was covered with the expressions of support from all over the world. Cherie did an amazing job wrangling all the volunteers through many hot Florida days to execute this tribute. That is what I like about the Diversity Mural the most, the remembrance of sorrow is mixed with the work of strangers saying that they care.
Hearts for the Diversity Mural by Sandra Groeneveld