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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Meet Daniel Adams, outstanding Graphic and Mosaic Artist.

Generally, mosaic artists do not start in life as artists, and it is fascinating to discuss with them how they got into the Art. I first met Daniel Adams last April 2017 in Decatur, Georgia at a mosaic seminar co-hosted by Mosaic Art Supply. 

Printmaker and Mosaic Artist Daniel Adams carves a printing plate in his workshop at Department of Art and Designs of Harding University, Arkansas
Printmaker Artist Daniel Adams working on a plate.

I had invented my Opus Pixellatum mosaic technique in 2015 to build several portraits of the eyes of Yezidi refugees. As I assembled the mosaics, I realized the technique allowed for such a wide range of variations that I was going to need help to figure them out.

And so Joe Moorman and I co-organized this event -seminar to get people started in Opus Pixellatum by building a mosaic portrait of their own eyes.

Daniel had to spend several weeks on other projects, and after a few weeks got in a frenzy and created many mosaics based on the model from the seminar. That was exactly what I was hoping someone would do! 

Daniel kindly agreed to answer questions I had about his Art. I hope you enjoy his interview :

1. Daniel, when we first met last April in Decatur, GA, I understood that you are an Artist and an Art teacher. Can you tell us a little more about Art.

Art is a creation of humanity. Every society that is functioning has this activity as a part of it. “Art”, or the arts (visual, music, dramatic, poetic, literary, dance, etc) are expressions of the artist(s) thinking and feeling about certain subjects. The subject matter of art ranges widely including: simple observation of the natural world, mystical interpretations, religious devotion, political activism, social commentary, abstract symbolism, and deeply personal therapy. Some artists simply play around with forms (colors, compositions, lines, patterns, etc) to see what shows itself as something interesting to contemplate.

2. One day, during a trip to Greece, you got interested in Mosaic. Can you tell us what happened, and how you got started? 

I teach art and design at Harding University in Arkansas. We have a number of international programs—one of which is Harding University in Greece (HUG). We study academic subjects, such as the humanities, Biblical archeology and Modern Greek. We also explore the Greek Islands and other nations close by (Egypt, Turkey, Israel.) My interest in mosaics was piqued as we were traveling through northern Greece and came to the ruins of Pella, the birthplace of Alexander the Great. The stone mosaic floors of the wealthy houses that had been uncovered were amazing. 

At the beginning of the 4th century BC Pella was the largest Macedonian city. It was the birthplace of Alexander the Great in 356 BC.
Floor Pebble mosaic in a wealthy house of Pella, Macedonia

As a printmaker, many of the techniques we use to create images involve pattern and these floors were covered in intricate patterns made of stones. I had seen glass tesserae mosaics in Rome and Ravenna in Roman and Byzantine churches before. They were nice, but for some reason the effect of the repetitive stone patterns spoke to me. After the semester in Greece I returned to my normal printmaking and didn’t think much about it. 

3 - Please tell us about some of the mosaics you created - not including the Opus Pixellatum ones, we will address those later – How did you get started? And what are your main sources of inspirations? 

A few years later I had the blessing to be able to take art students to Ghana, West Africa, to paint murals in an orphanage near the southern coast of Ghana. There I fell in love with the abstract patterns of palm fronds. So once back home, I began a series of black and white prints of these fascinating patterns. 

In GhanaDaniel fell in love with patterns of palm fronds and began a series of black and white prints inspired by those trees.
Palm Frond print by Daniel Adams

And I began a mosaic to create a large piece based on palm fronds to go above the front door of our house. 

Palm Frond mosaic inspired by Palm trees from Ghana (West Africa)
Palm Frond Mosaic by Daniel Adams

After that, I have planned to do a floor mosaic at the entryway below these same doors. But I didn’t yet have enough experience to tackle an eight foot by three foot entryway. So I waited (and am still waiting.) 

This past year, as a way to get our entire church community involved in a creative activity, I proposed, planned and (the congregation) completed a three by eight foot mosaic that addresses the Grace and Truth of Christ and our privilege to shine like stars in a world filled with darkness. This was completed in April 2017.

This 8 x 3' tryptic was realized by the members of the congregation which Daniel belongs to.
Grace and Truth, 3 x 8' (1 x 2.4m) Mosaic designed by Daniel.

My inspirations for subject matter come from observations I make while traveling and from my deeply held faith.

4. As I said earlier, your investigating the many possible variations of Opus Pixellatum is exactly what I was hopping would happen after our April Mosaic Fiesta. Please tell us how you got started doing in this research and experimental work. Did you work at random, or did you have an Ariadne thread to follow?

For me, and for most formally trained artists, it is standard operating procedure to work through themes and variations and to play around with media to really get a feel for what you can say and how to manipulate the medium to best effect. Any media is like a language. The more comfortable you are with what is possible and how you can use it, the more fluid and natural your creations.

To be honest, I didn’t like the looks of the first grayscale “eye” mosaic (OP fig. 1) that we did at the workshop. My particular pixellatum pattern was a compressed value range of only five values, rather than the normal seven values that were present in the others’ projects. So the depth of value range was just not what I wanted to end up with. But I knew I had to work the process, first, in order to understand the limitations. 

Daneil was no thrilled with this first piece but kept experimenting with the model !
Opus Pixellatum Eyes Mosaic Portrait - Original version.

My second attempt (OP fig. 2) was simply adding color (shades of green) and playing with a more interesting border. The framing helped and I adjusted my placement of the different values to get a “better likeness.” That one was better, but it still didn’t satisfy. 

Opus Pixellatum Eyes Mosaic Portrait - Variation #2

The next variation (OP fig. 3) I decided to blow the color palette out and include multi-colored tiles of various sizes, yet maintain the values structure of the pixellatum pattern that Fredric supplied at the workshop in Georgia. This one started to jump and come alive! I decided to play up just top and bottom borders of strong black and white pattern. 

Opus Pixellatum Eyes Mosaic Portrait - Variation #3

For the next one (OP fig. 4) —still following the underlying pattern— I wanted to vary colors, again, but this time more subdued earth tones—and see what would happen by adding in natural stones (like the ones I saw at Pella.) I also decided to reorganize the structure by adding in vertical bars of grayscale values to add interest. 

A few pebbles reminding of the Grandiose Pella Mosaics
Opus Pixellatum Eyes Mosaic Portrait - Variation #4

The last of the theme and variation (OP fig. 5) on the workshop model was to do a triptych of the original grayscale image. I recreated the central “half” of the mosaic just as it had appeared in the first one, but then left the two side panels using common playground gravel to make a natural stone mosaic that followed the forms, but transformed them back to a more traditional look—it created an interesting dichotomy between digital and natural that I find very satisfying. With this one I also experimented with locally applied grouts of different colors to see what that would do to the final look of the piece.

Daniel also experimented with grouts of different colors on this piece.
Opus Pixellatum Eyes Mosaic Portrait - Variation #5

5. How do you now feel about the variations allowed by Opus Pixellatum?  Would you recommend the technique to mosaic beginners? 

I think for untrained individuals who are wanting to explore mosaic in a more structured way, Opus Pixellatum gives them the confidence to move from simply “filling in the dots” to exploring how variations and personal choices change the status quo, and how that can be so exciting. 

Remember that Vincent van Gogh created between 36-39 self-portraits in a three-year time span (1886-1889). We learn through doing and repetition. Hey, if it’s good enough for Vincent, it’s good enough for me!

6. Joe Moorman and I are considering launching an open Opus Pixellatum Challenge. We provide a model and an indicative list of tiles for people to use, like you have done with the model of your eyes. This way we should be able to see a great number of variations from a unique model. How do you feel about this? 

I think this would be great fun. Do I understand that this would be the same model for everyone and then they would all just go at it, approaching it in their own unique way?

Many mosaics have been realized in the world based on this image, We plan to release a Opus Pixellatum model for people to experiment with it.
Possible model for Opus Pixellatum mosaic challenge

That's exactly what we have in mind. I am considering using the picture above as model, as several people have created many variations of her already. We believe this would allow people to realize the potential of this technique for improvisation  ! 

7. Daniel, do you think your Etchings and Mosaic techniques have influenced each other in your Art?

I am just beginning to explore the connections between how I have been creating prints over the years (both etchings and relief prints) and the aesthetic challenges posed by mosaics. I have been working on a series of glass block window relief prints for about eight years now. (RP figs below). I am exploring light with these prints. I’d like to see what I can do with this same pursuit of light with mosaic tiles.

Sunset - Relief Print.

8. What are your goals, Art wise, for the next 2 years? 

My artistic goals for the next two years are to continue exploring light and composition through the glass block series (both print and mosaic) and to see how I can combine my third love —sketch notes— into a larger format using printing techniques, large drawing and possibly mosaic drawing (much like Marc Chagall’s walls in Chicago—but not that large!

Afternoon Warmth - Relief Print

9. Where can we see your Etchings and Mosaics? Please provide links so we can enjoy your work.

One of the issues with the obsession to create is the lack of attention to my personal website. The work represented on captures a good history of the past 15-20 years of my printmaking work.

You can follow me on :

It is Instagram where my most recent creative activities first show up.

10. Any word of advice or encouragement for people new to mosaics? 

Be very curious! Ask the question, “What if…?” Be okay with slowing down and taking your time to place tiles. Don’t be upset if your piece doesn’t match up to the vision in your head—your head is always far beyond what your present skills can accomplish. Use that frustration to spur you on to keep trying, keep adjusting, keep producing. Don’t stop after the first one and think “I can check that off my list.” Your first one is just the turning of the knob and barely opening the door into a new and different experience. You see, with the amount of mosaics I have under my belt, I’ve barely crossed over the threshold into the next room.

Great advice Daniel, Thank you very much !

I am a French mosaicist
living in Headland, Alabama, USA.
My Art is about inspiring people.
You can see some of my work at

You can contact me either by phone 
at (334) 798 1639 or by email at 
You can also subscribe to my

la la la !

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Emperor Hadrian's Mosaic of the Doves

The Capitoline Mosaic of the Doves was discovered in 1737 during archaeological excavations of Emperor Hadrian’s Villa.

The Doves of Pliny, or the Capitoline Doves Mosaic is made only of cubes of colored marble, without any colored glass.
The Doves Mosaic unearthed in 1737 at Hadrian's Villa.

While some scholars believe this beauty is the actual Dove Mosaic built by the famous 2nd century BC Sosus of Pergamon and mentioned by Pliny in his Natural History, others believe it to be a 2nd century AD copy of it made for Hadrian.

Numerous copies were made of this mosaic, even into late antiquity. In addition to Tivoli, these have been found at Delos; at Pompeii and Capua...

Roman mosaic - doves drinking out of a cup and floral and fruits border, Opus Vermicullatum, Pompeii, 1st century AD
Doves Mosaic unearthed in Pompeii 1st century BC

In other parts of the Empire and in the Christian mausoleums of Santa Costanza in Rome and Galla Placidia in Ravenna. 

Roman Floor mosaic with central emblema showing doves drinking out of a cup and a Dramatic Svastiska border.
Doves Mosaic with svastika borders in Malta, 1st century.

 Doves (end of the 1st century BC to start of the 1st century AD) Mosaic 45 x 44.3 cm
Doves Mosaic from Ostia Antica, 1st Century BC

The iconography of the doves drinking from the foutain of life ("a well of water springing up into everlasting life." John 4, 14) is repeated four times in the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, above the four arches supporting the tambour and the vaulted ceiling.
Doves Mosaic - Mausoleo of Galla Placidia, 5th Century AD

I consider the finest of all to be the emblema discovered at Hadrian’s Villa, made of thousands of very small tesserae - 2 to 3 mm squares, a technique named  opus vermiculatum, by far the most sophisticated mosaic technique.

A fragment of the outside border of this mosaic is displayed at the Musee d'Arles Antique this summer. 

Fragment of the border framing the famous Capitoline Doves mosaic diplayed at the Musei Capitolini in Rome
Fragment from the border of the Capitoline Doves mosaic

The tesserae used to build this border were no bigger than 3 mm (0.11"). Usually this size of tessera was only used for the center piece - the emblema, and regular Opus Tessellatum built from bigger tesserae was used for the borders. Hadrian was a protector of the Arts. Those kind of Chef d'Oeuvre were only assembled in a couple of very specialized workshops of the Empire by very highly skilled craftsmen.

Those variations of a same pattern are an other example of the way ancient musivarii worked. I believe they had  books or scrolls of models for the architets or patrons to chose from. In some cases, several patterns were mixed in a same mosaic (I will write something later about the parrot you can see in the lower right corner of the piece from Ostia...)

One reason why I am visiting many sites and museums in Europe is that I am putting together a library of geometric patterns used by the Romans. This is taking quite some time as those patterns are anything but simple. They are, however, gorgeous, and they bring to any center piece the same depth a vibrant frame brings to a painting. 

I am a French mosaicist
living in Headland, Alabama, USA.
My Art is about inspiring people.
You can see some of my work at

You can contact me either by phone 
at (334) 798 1639 or by email at 
You can also subscribe to my

Friday, July 21, 2017

Les Mosaiques Romaines de Bavay dans le Nord de la France

Read this post in ENGLISH

Bavay, l'Antique Bagatum, était la capitale des Nerviens, une tribu de la Belgique Gauloise qui avait presque vaincu César à la Bataille du Sabis en 57 avant JC.

Au cours du 3ème siècle, des fortifications furent baties tout autour du forum et de la basilique de Bavay pour les protéger des invasions des barbares venus du Nord.
Le mur Sud des fortifications.

Bagatum se situait a l'intersection de 7 routes romaines reliant de nombreuses villes de la Gaule Septentrionale.

Bavay, capitale de la tribu des Nerviens, était le point de convergence des routes romaines du Nord de la Gaule du 1er au 4ème siècle.
Les voies romaines du Nord de la Gaule au 1er siècle.

L'importance politique, militaire et économique de Bagatum pour l'empire fit que Rome decida d'y construire un forum impressionnant, le plus grand jamais fouillé en France.

Les archéologues y ont mis a jour des mosaïques d'exquise facture décorant bâtiments tant publics que privés et posées selon des motifs géométriques précis et rigoureux.

Pierres et tesselles en céramique utilisées dans la Bavay gallo-romaine.
Fragment de mosaïque et tesselles individuelles.

Deux mosaïques de sol furent mis a jour en 1955 et  1959.

La mosaïque de la Grande Rue ornait une piece du forum lui-même.

Des mosaiques ornaient les sols et murs des bâtiments publics et privés dans tout l'Empire romain.
La Mosaïque de la Grande Rue à Bavay

Ce superbe ouvrage de tesselles noires et blanches de 10 mm (3/8 ") est composé de motifs de méandres et svastiskas d'un côté et de cercles quadrilobés de l'autre.

La mosaïque de Louvignies posée au-dessus d'un Hypocauste - la version romaine du Chauffage Central trés appreciée durant les hivers de la Gaule du Nord, recouvrait le sol d'une villa privée. 

Étonnant plancher en mosaïque de 5 couleurs d'un bâtiment avantagé à Bavay, 2ème siècle après JC.
Fragment de la mosaïque Louvignies à Bavay, France

À 5 mm de coté, les Tesselles de Louvignies sont beaucoup plus petites que celles de la Grande Rue. Elles se conjuguent en cinq couleurs : Noir, Blanc, Orange, Jaune et Gris.

Mosaique Romaine de Louvignies : Double Guilloché.

Le peu qui nous reste de cette superbe mosaïque sont des motifs géométriques de rectangles, losanges et guillochés.

Motifs géométriques carrés de la mosaïque Louvignies.
Mosaique de Louvignies : Angle Droit.

Motifs géométriques de Lozanges dans la mosaïque de Louvignies à Bavay, dans le nord de la France.
Mosaique Romaine de Louvignies : Lozange en 5 couleurs.

Je pense cependant qu'elle devait a l'origine comporter plusieurs portraits.

Elements d'un possibles Portrait dans la Mosaïque Louvignies autrement géométrique
Détail de la mosaïque Louvignies, possible portrait.

Il ne nous reste que 20 % de la piece originalle qui mesurait 7 x 7 m lorsqu'elle fut decouverte. Et cependant, bien qu'elle ait été construite avec 5 couleurs seulement, la Mosaïque de Louvignies est absolument GRANDIOSE !

La prochaine fois que vous pensez avoir besoin d'un grand nombre de nuances pour réaliser une mosaique, souvenez-vous donc que nos ancêtres musivarii surent faire des merveilles avec juste 2 ou 5 couleurs ...

Les 5 Couleurs de la Mosaique de Louvignies

Frederic Lecut est un mosaiciste français.
En 1992, il a fait de l'Alabama son domicile.
Son art est d'inspirer les gens.

Vous pouvez le contacter soit
Par téléphone au (334) 798 1639 ou par courriel à
Vous pouvez également vous inscrire 
à sa lettre d'information

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Roman Mosaic Art in Bavay, Northern France

Bavay, the Antic Bagatum, was the capital of the Nervii, a tribe of Belgian Gauls which almost defeated Caesar at the battle of the Sabis.

During the 3rd centuries fortifications were built arond te Forum and Basilica of Bavay to protect against invasions from the Northern tribes.
The South Wall of Fortifications.

Bagatum was located at the intersections of 7 Roman roads joining many parts of Western and Northern Gaul to Southern Germany.

Bavay, Capital of the Nervii tribe, was the nexus of the Roman Roads of Northern Gaul from the 1st to the 4th century
Roman Roads of Northern Gaul, 1st century AD.

It was an important political, strategic and economical town and Rome built there an impressive Forum, the biggest ever been excavated in France.

The archaeologists revealed exquisite mosaic art decorating public and private buildings laid in precious and very accurate geometric patterns.

Mosaic Art material was excavated from local areas. Stones and Ceramic tesserae used in Roman Bavay.
fragment of mosaic and individual tesserae.

2 major mosaic floors were excavated in 1955 and 1959.

The Grande Rue mosaic came from the forum itself.

Mosaic Art was ornating the floors of public and private buildings in all part of the Roman Empire.
The Grande Rue Mosaic in Bavay

Its superb arrangement of 10 mm (3/8") black and white tesserae was laid in patterns of meanders and svastiska on one side and lobelled circles on the other side.

The Louvignies mosaic covering the floor of a private villa was expertly laid on top of an Hypocaust - the Roman version of Central Heating much needed during the winters of Northern Gaul.

Amazing 5 colors mosaic floor from a provate building in Bavay, 2nd century AD
Fragment of the Louvignies Mosaic in Bavay, France

At 5 mm (3/16") the Louvignies tesserae are much smaller than the Grande Rue ones.Their five colors are Black, White, Orange, Yellow and Grey. 

Details of the Tesserae of the Louvignies Mosaic in Bavay, Northern France.

Most of what is left of this bright mosaic are geometric patterns of Rectangles, Losanges, Octagons and Meanders.

Square geometric patterns of the Louvignies mosaic.
Square angles in the Louvignies Mosaic Art.

Lozange geometric patterns in the Louvignies Mosaic in Bavay, Northern France.
Lozanges in the Louvignies mosaic art.

But I believe several portraits were originally part of it.

Possible portrait in the otherwise mostly geometric Louvignies Mosaic
Detail of the Louvignies Mosaic, possible portrai.

The mosaic was originally 7 x 7 m (500 square feet). Although only about 20  % of it are left and it was built with 5 colors only, the Louvignies Mosaic is absolutely GORGEOUS !

So the next time you consider designing a mosaic, and believe you need many different nuances, try to remember our Greek and Roman ancestors were able to work wonders with 2 or 5 colors....

Frederic Lecut is a French mosaicist.
In 1992 he made Alabama his home.
His Art is about inspiring People.

You can contact him either 
by phone at (334) 798 1639 or email at 
You can also subscribe to his