Piet Mondrian & Louis Comfort Tiffany


A few years after graduating from my university with a Bachelor's in Communications, I debated returning to school to pursue a career in art education. I signed up for a basic foundations course at another college and sat through long hours of art history with a pompous professor and ten 17-year-old freshmen. It was torture. I would leave class feeling like I knew nothing about art and that my skills as a craftswoman were feeble at best. Despite feeling these degrading emotions, I did learn something in the course - I learned about Piet Mondrian.

I'm not sure how his name managed to elude all of my previous art training (four years in high school along with four art courses in college). I remember distinctly when my professor projected a Mondrian painting on the screen, my initial thought was, "What's the big deal?" Blocks of primary colors? Are you sure this didn't come from a kindergarten student? Since that day, I've come to appreciate Mondrian's style, if not respect it. He felt that by simply placing lines on a canvas, using his own awareness of the space but not exact calculation, he could create something natural and beautiful.

Louis Comfort Tiffany, widely known for the Tiffany lamp, was an amazing stained glass artist. Stained glass has always mesmerized me. My extreme fascination of the craft stems back to being forced to attend Sunday mass as a child. There I would sit in the church, rear end becoming numb from the wooden pews, staring wide-eyed at the large stained glass windows that surrounded the building. Tiffany liked to use glass with impurities because of the interesting composition the overlapping contrast in hues would create. When he couldn't convince glass manufacturers to retain the impurities, he began making his own glass.

So this MASHUP takes the geometric style of Mondrian and collides it with Tiffany's work with overlapping shades. Since I do not have access to a glass making studio (or the skill set to work with glass, period), I chose to create this stained glass look with magazines. I have to say, this project was arduous and extremely time-consuming, but I am utterly happy with the final result. Below is my step-by-step guide to creating this mashup if you feel compelled to try it out yourself!

1. Canvas
2. Black Paint
3. Paint brushes (medium-sized)
4. Painter's Tape
5. Magazine clippings of various hues, grouped by color family
6. Decoupage Sealer (I used Mod Podge, which works as a glue and sealer)

1: Paint the entire canvas black and allow time to dry.
2. Now use the painter's tape to grid off the type of geometric design you wish to create - horizontal, diagonal, squares, rectangles, triangles - the possibilities are endless!

3. Working in one taped off section at a time, apply a layer of sealer to create a glue base.

4. I liked to cut triangles (but you can cut whatever shape you like). Position the first triangle on the layer of glue.
5. Continue adding more layers of different colors and applying a layer of sealer on top to, well, "seal" the layers.

6. Continue the process with the other taped off sections, using whatever color families you've created.
7. After all the areas have been sealed, peel the painter's tape off and viola!

*Note: I found I did have to touch up some of the squares after I peeled off the tape. For this reason, I wouldn't recycle your leftover magazine clippings until after the project is finished.

What Is Copycat Mashup?

"Why reinvent the wheel?"

I learned this invaluable phrase during my three years in graduate school, while working towards a Masters in Education. Never mind the important theories of Backwards Design, Multiple Intelligences, and Constructivism - it was this idiom that I secured tightly in my mind's creative vault.

While my current career pathway has taken a detour from the original itinerary, I find that the art of taking what already exists and molding it to be even better can be applied to any situation. It could be changing the assessment in a successful lesson plan or adding an extra ingredient to a much-loved recipe.

With this mindset, I began to percolate the idea of Copycat Mashup. Why try to invent a new method of art and design when so many wonderful techniques exist? Why not take these techniques and mold them into my own craft? Why reinvent the wheel?

Copycat Mashup is a blog that celebrates art, design, craft and creativity. It is part art history lesson and part DIY project. It is a place for me to challenge myself creatively - the challenge of taking two completely different artistic styles and combining them into something beautiful (and if not beautiful, then most definitely, ahem, "special").

In retrospect, I can see how this way of thinking has been stewing in my subconscious for years. Take this deconstructed guitar. I created this piece almost five years ago, completely unaware that I was initiating a mashup between Bruce Gray and Jackson Pollock. Looking at this piece, I love how the chaos of the paint drips coexist with the purposeful placement of the guitar shapes. Two techniques - deconstruction and abstract expressionism - mashed together.

I hope you enjoy reading about my creative mashed up experiences and feel compelled to try some of them out yourself! I encourage you to challenge me with your own mashups by posting a comment. I have completed my first mashup for this blog and can't wait to share it, but I'm waiting to have it framed prior to posting. So, come back and visit!