Working at the pool for the last couple of days, I have been thinking about what grout can do for a mosaic image.
I am using bright white grout now. It looks great around the pool at this point, but we will see how it ages and maybe curb our enthusiasm! I decided that in all areas, the grout will either get whiter near the edge of the pool, or at least a lighter shade of what is being used in more intensely colored areas. That has been done in the area of the horseshoes and the acuba plant forms in the image above.
Also at the very edge of the pool I will use white cement paint to continue the white up to the edge of the liner. Not wanting to interfere with changing the liner in years to come, the grouted edge stops well short.
The tile in the ground area of the design is getting subtly darker as it migrates towards the foreground in the picture above. Therefore, the grouted white lines will be more readable there than in the lighter areas. I want that to happen: for me, color and value must always be changing.
Additionally, I am experimenting with using totally different grout colors within the prickly pear leaves. They were grouted first, and the white grout added later. I am looking for a kind of approximated painterly line where the two grouts merge and have not succeeded with that yet.
In the piece above, done a couple of years ago, my changing color and value philosophy gave me fits. My idea was that in the center of this piece, the grout would be midnight blue. As it worked towards each side, it would get yellower, finally being the yellow of the tile surrounding this rug (but before it would get yellow, it would be greenish, thanks to color theory). I wanted the tile rug to have dark drama, but also wanted the lines in the big yellow area around the rug to disappear. If midnight blue had been used for the area around the mosaic, the bold lines against the yellowy tile would fight with the mosaic image.
Looking at the central area of the piece when the grout application was first finished ( a rectangle bounded by two arrows), it looks as though there is a haze caused by not wiping the grout well on either side of an area which has the darkest grout. The problem here was not my failure to wipe and therefore causing a haze on the tile, the problem was color theory! The tile being on the yellow/gold side, and the midnight blue grout having a handful of yellow/ivory thrown in, created a complimentary color situation in that area that read as “haze”. It was absolutely confounding!
The first of the three pictures above shows the ungrouted problematic rectangle. The second is a detail of the rectangle after it has been grouted according to my plans. You can see that the center of the shape is clear, the edges of the shape are clear, but between the two, where I was mixing the two colors, a strange effect is happening. It looks hazy, but is not.
In the last of the three pictures, the problem has been solved by using only midnight blue throughout that entire rectangle. It reads fine and is not confusing considering that the rest of the mosaic contains grout which is gradating from blue to yellowish. Experience is a great teacher.