1-shower 1

Today is the day.  After a year of looking at the unfinished mess of a shower in our new bathroom, grouting in earnest starts.  Why so delinquent with this effort?  A year ago, I knew what the result would look like.  And it was what was projected.  So I lost interest.

An argument can be made that an artist makes her work simply to see the end result.  And to kind of lift one’s leg to the nearest tree.  Prove that she has been in the area.

1-shower 2

It is impossible to photograph this shower, as you cannot get far enough away from it.  The prone position doesn’t help much.  Most of the lady on the left was grouted a long time ago.

1-shower leg

After the shower floor, just grouted  today, I will take a charcoal grout and apply it around the dark lines defining the bodies.  It is already done in the lady to the left in the previous picture.

1-shower corner

And the horizon lines on each panel will be charcoal.  Simple, elementary, rudimentary.

1-shower three

Of course, all my materials are free, save for the tile mortar and grout.  The white tiles above are remnants of an old project of Glenn’s.  The little glass tiles in the two inch space were bravely saved for me by a designer, from a construction worker who was pitching them.  I cringe to think of all the waste in the world!

1-shower floor

Above is today’s work, and no more can be done until this dries.  This shower base is made of portland cement, is carefully sculpted down to the drain from each wall.  This tile is porcelain and not having a wet saw to cut it, I simply broke the tile near the drain and filled in.  These floors require a lot of finesse.  I hate that big line in the center left.


Gorgeous today, and considering my drying shower base, I am going to work on the piazza.


About the same in terms of work.  But different in terms of impact.


This piece was done in the late nineties, and it relates to my cancer years in that decade.  All of these figures are me, and they are adorned with surgical scars, of which I have many.  Much of the work from this time was an effort to discuss the problem, and jettison it from my reality.  Not healthy to hide it.

The picture plane is about eight inches by ten inches.  The figures are made by satin stitch mostly,  on a fabric plane pieced together by machine.  Most of the fabric has pattern on it so two systems of pattern must work together, that constructed by me with the fabrics, and the pattern of the symbols stitched onto the fabrics.

I cannot paint.  It is too direct.  My shapes have to be put together in bits.  Like in single stitches in the above case.  They cast a slight shadow, rise subtly above the fabric picture plane.  This phenomenon enriches the color and shapes.

1-monday 2

On the pool deck, shapes are made also of bits, and color moves along by darkening or lightening the bits (pieces of tile), or doing the same with grout.  Or both.  The language is always concerned with pattern, and along with the interlocking pattern of the tile, there is layered upon a secondary pattern of, in this case, square brown shapes which are actual tile to be used for a pool, or open curves made of glass.

As with the embroideries, I like to build in as much detail as possible without breaking up the composition and making it unreadable.  Above, within a big neutral shape, it lightens and darkens, contains screen printed tile of beige and white, creating a busier area, and white rectangles here and there and in a line add interest.

1-perfect shadows

Terra cotta grout has been used in the area of the shadows of the pots.  This picture was taken when the actual shadows and constructed shadows met.

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I like for grids, or a kind of “organization” to coalesce in places among all the frenzy.

1-another organized area

Another area of organization among chaos.

1-dark grids

This darker shape has a pattern of bigger lighter square tiles, and dark orange actual pool tile appearing in organized squares.  The grout in this area will slowly darken.  White can kill color.


Or having to live by  We have had weeks of rain.  Some days, blasts came around about every ninety minutes.  People were getting downright cranky.  We were tired of feeling limp.  Moist.

We were lucky on the fourth of July.  We were #79 in the Peach Festival parade in Gilbert, SC.

lee and glenn, virginia and ed

There was a slight sprinkle just as we pulled into line, and then nothing for about six hours.  Best day we had had in about two weeks and as it turned out, for days later as well.  The farmer on my running route cannot get all his crops in.  I asked him if he had ever had this trouble before, and he said about twenty years ago they did.  Pretty unusual weather.

Work at the pool had been suspended.  Makes no sense to lay tile, or grout already laid tile,  if rain is going to blast in and wash the work away, or worse, wash the thin set or grout into the pool itself.  The rains have been accompanied by big winds.  This has not been a fun summer weather pattern!

1-pool 1

Great waves of tile are now pushing towards one another, and being unified by grout.  Finally, bare sharp edges are being hidden from feet.  Now that the weather is better,  the pool is becoming a safer place.  Thank you,  Ra.

1-pool 2

I am excited about the crawling white line within the screen printed tile which circles at a distance the terra cotta rug.  Wish that I had more of it, but, as almost always, the tile is a remnant given to me at the end of some other project.


Work from this morning; done well  before the predicted “isolated” thunderstorm.



Two big storm systems are marching towards each other today.  Light rushes against dark, and will create a vibrant implied line, much like the circular lines made of “jewels” in the foreground.

1-new pool

The shadows seem to be working fairly realistically on the cement deck.  There was not much sun yesterday when this picture was taken.  To the left of the pots it seems like there was.

1-from pool

This picture was taken from the steps down into the pool.  Of course, this work is awaiting grout.  If you look to the very left of the picture, you can see the real shadows the pots are casting at this time of day.  The constructed shadows record the late afternoon.

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The second cluster of pots to the left of the steps is gaining its shadow work.  It connects to a pool rug created and grouted last summer.  This tile is screen printed, light beige and white.

1-POOL RUG 005

The second cluster of pots and their shadows connect at the lower right of the image above.



It occurred to me that the “big picture” in this work was not coming across.  Spending too much time on details, the long view was not recorded.  My bad.  There is a cluster of cement pots, some pairs, some not,  on either side of the steps that lead down into the pool.  The biggest ones have yucca in them.  There are also azaleas and rosemary.

Looking at this picture, it is amazing how ugly the bare cement is around the pool.

1-bad cement

In the background of this picture is my studio, although most of my work is being done in the barn now. We do clean work:  mat cutting, framing,  etc in this building.  From the pool, you step into a little wooden greenhouse, and then into the studio.

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The yuccas cast the most interesting shadows.  Some planters contain annuals so they are empty for some months of the year.  In the image above, you can see cracking taking place in the area where the pots stand.  As I work, repairs are being done, and tile laid over.  In last year’s work, the repairs have held.  We are not going to move the biggest pot.  Tile will be laid around it.

Also in the picture above you can see the problem that I have set up for myself.  There is already a tile rug (terra cotta and whitish) laid under a square table which is at the very top of this picture.  The area where I am working that is getting browner is going to have to lighten up to connect with the whitish border around the terra cotta rug.  Will be fun to figure out!


So why am I writing instead of laying tile?  Raining outside!


Slaving in the sun at the pool is in order once again.

1-pool 2013

The work from last year did not encounter any problems in the pool deck.  This year that cannot be avoided.  Taking up the work just at the deadly looking crack in the deck, Glenn said he needed about six inches on either side to smooth it out with a grinder.  I left that space and went on working so he could do the grinding at his leisure.  Just beyond that start point came a “section” line that the contractor left, and special acrylic stones are being put along that line.  Have done that all along.  They are then grouted over.  These lines are natural places for movement, and we encourage that movement to happen here.

1-other cluster of pots

In the cast shadow above, you can see that one of the four Yuccas at the pool is blooming.  They do it in pairs every year, and alternate years.  Have no idea why.


So.  This cement deck is huge.  In terms of connecting its design with the already tiled wall, the gardens all around, the pool equipment all around, a designer would say to emphasize something, and do it in the language already being used.  The collection of cement planters which have been acquired through the years are already doing that.  But this pool is a busy place with all the frenzy of tile.

Decided to record the cast shadows of the pots and Yucca at about 3:30 PM by tracing them on the cement deck.  Tile in that area will be darker than the deck, providing visual relief from all the activity and add drama to each side of the pool steps.  The shadows will be correct only once a day:  wonder how the constructed shadow will interact with the physical one as it moves.  Will be fun to observe.

1-pool entry

Above contains a close-up of the little acrylic stones used in the contractor’s expansion cracks.  They will be grouted over with the rest of the tile.  Also, you can see the shadow cast by the bannister leading down into the pool.  Going to make a sundial out of that shadow, and visually record  several points and the time of day.  Fun!


Wish all customers were like Mike.  He gives me interesting venues in which to work:  bathrooms, outdoor showers, kitchens.  Glenn once did a Lascaux-like painting in a different part of his bathroom from where my arrowhead mosaic is.  Mike is the most unusual art collector in my experience.  And whether it is conscious or not, he totally understands the tailoring of one’s living space for personal pleasure and needs.

He excavates and recycles buildings, and finds lots of great stuff as a by-product.  If he likes the stuff, he pairs the items with rocks and has piles of these sculptures around his acreage.  If he doesn’t care for the stuff, he gives it away.  Like to me.  The other day an old leather basket in which farriers carry nails (or used to).

1-leather basket

Do what you want.  I don’t care.  And as he says these words, he moves his body further away as if his being too much in the conversation will spoil my ideas.


So now Mike wants to save a tree.  Glenn cleaned out the wound, packed with with appropriate patch cement, leaving a picture plane for a cubist face.

The face starts on the kitchen table.

1-early cubist face

And undergoes changes on the kitchen table.

1-cubist face

Now to get it transferred to the tree and grouted where it will undergo still more changes.   The glass tile and broken glass in the profile image on the right will shine when car headlights hit it.

1-far away shot



The back plane of this piece started with a sample sheet featuring different patterns and colors of marble that a company offered.  A designer gave it to me after it was out of date.  Imagine all the out of date samples in the world and what they could make?   Where do they go?

Once,  conversing with some salesgirls at a tile outlet, they implied that a smart person would look in their dumpster.  They had a boss from hell.  He would have never stood for anybody diving that dumpster.  I felt like Nancy Drew (minus the fine convertible that she drove).  Those samples stood me in good stead for quite a while.

See that rope style tile in the image above?  That and a couple of the others on this back of my new piece are from that dive.













Information on this piece upon request.


I want approximation with these ladies of the shower.   They should look “drawn” with a wary hand.  Like a graphite drawing where several lines, one over another “estimate” the contours  (a contour line is one that describes a three dimensional shape) of the shape, with grout I want to create that same kind of energy.  Make sense?

1-second today

A fairly big space has been left between the ground and the figure when laying the broken tile.  This space will define the contours of the figure.  So these places where the lines are wider, grout will gather and make a bigger statement than those between all the tiny pieces of tile. To further carry this idea, a darker and shinier tile was applied at the edges of the figure.


This shower is not any easier to photograph now than it was last summer when this big project started!

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Above white grout has been applied to some of the ground area behind the figure and to the shower edging of white tile.   The horizon line has been left along with the edges of the figure to take a darker grout.  The trunk and torso of lady number one has been treated with terra cotta colored grout.  So close to the tile color, it makes for a more solid figure in contrast to the ground which now has a network of white lines within it.


This charcoal grout application is the one that will make the big difference in the work, and give it the simple primitive drawing like quality.   Thankfully it is working as expected.

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Today was the beginning of the real fun.  Months of thinking is proving out.  The strange thing about this is it has become a matter of principle to me never to take a shower inside.  Not so my husband; he says he has always wanted to take a shower with three ladies!

Related Articles:

“Making Art Is Hard”  (

“Detail Work”  (

“Progress on the Shower”  (

“In Progress”  (

CHICKEN POSES AS SHADOW (porch and patio art)


Mixed media including wooden window frames, tile, found objects, and graphite.


Side view to indicate depth.


Detail of tumbled glass.




More tumbled glass.



“Chicken Poses as Shadow” was created thinking of installation on porches or patios.  The size is 40″ x 30″ x 3″.  Terra cotta shards, tumbled wine bottles, flea market objects as well as window frames and tile headed for the waste disposal site are the means of expression in this piece.  POR.