Archive of the Category 'Mosaic Arts Blog'

CMS teams with Chicago Schools

March 22, 2016


CMS is collaborating this spring to bring mosaics to three Chicago area schools; St. Benedict Preparatory, Von Steuben High School, and Coonley Elementary School. At St Benedict Preparatory, students will be creating a mosaic mural on the theme of “Excel”, one of the foundations of the school. Von Steuben High School students will be creating five indoor murals emphasizing the five specialties of their curriculum. And finally, Coonley Elementary is working with CMS for a third consecutive year to create the “Autumn” panel of the “Four Seasons” project. All of these collaborations will be completed by the end of this school year. Stay tuned for pictures and updates on these exciting projects!

by Matthew Cizek

Matthew is part of St. Benedict’s Protege’ Internship Program 2016. CMS is happy to welcome him to CMS this year!

The Importance of Drawing in Mosaic Practice

March 7, 2016

IMG_0299The value of drawing as part of a mosaic art practice is key to expression of an idea or design. At  CMS we encourage our students to draw, no matter how crudely – as even the most simple lines or “notes’ will help you to inform your mosaic planning and execution. Consider taking our Drawing for Mosaics Workshop or a drawing class at your local community center of college. It will make a difference!

Here is a blogpost from 2013 by our CMS faculty member, Martha Crandall – we thought it was worthy of another look:)

A Discovery Starts with Drawing
I see a drawing as a blueprint or foundation for many types of other artwork. It could be a graphic, a sculpture, a painting or mosaic, any number of other things. But it wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago that a big realization hit home about my own artistic process.

I have always considered drawing as the first skill in my particular skill set. As a child it was certainly my favorite language! It came naturally and it was fun. Later on when I attended art school, “drawing as a foundation” was central to my education there.

Lately I have been trying to revive my own drawing practice. I go outside, draw a plant or an insect or anything nearby. I allow myself this window of study until real life intrudes again and I must switch gears and perform some other work. I had to produce a drawing for Mosaic Fundamentals at CMS. So I went to my sketchbook and took a page. But, not trusting that completely, I also took a snapshot of the subject and traced the photo to get another version of the drawing.

In the end I chose the first drawing, and I’m glad that I did. The tracing looked mechanical and had no life. I feel that he resulting mosaic was far better because of the natural drawing. Then I realized that much of my mosaic work to this point was based on tracings (mostly my photos) or something I drew on the computer. I was relying on methods I used as a graphic designer. Tracings and such have their place but they do not replace the inherent qualities of an actual drawing. A product of eyes and hands on paper is bound to have some life in it, something more from within.

So, I intend to keep drawing!

By Martha Crandall

March 2016 Newsletter

March 1, 2016


10914822_10203859730402220_7382445909948942736_o-1There is lots to look forward to this Spring at CMS. Time to make plans for all our great upcoming Visiting Artists Seminars and events. Check it out HERE

The 2016 CMS Catalog is Here!

February 7, 2016


Check out our lush roster of classes and workshops for Spring/Summer 2016!

Click here to check it out :  CMS Spring 2016

Travel to Chicago for our CMS MOSAIC INTENSIVES:

Can 4 days or more change your life, or at least in your approach to your studio practice? Yes! Give us a minimum of 4 days or a combination of time and we will give you back-to-back instructions in your choice of two or three intensive classes. This is a wonderful opportunity to gain confidence and new skills. Customize your own experience by choosing to enroll in any combination of three classes at reduced rates.

Take 3 or more classes and get 10% off.

June Sequence:

Portraits with Carolina Zanelli • 6/1-6/5 • $700

Monochromatic with Toyoharu Kii 6/8-6/12 • $675

Design Fundamentals with Sue Giannotti 6/10-6/12 • $400

Undulation with Sue Giannotti 6/13-6/14 • $325

Smalti Dimensions with Sue Giannotti 6/15-6/18 • $495

Large Scale Mosaics with Gary Drostle 6/22-6/26 • $725

July Sequence:

Direct Method • 7/6-7/8 • $425

Drawing Fundamentals • 7/9-7/10 • $230

Ravenna Technique • 7/11-7/15 • $525

Mosaic as an Expressive Art Form with Dugald MacInnes • 7/17-7/21 • $900

Mosaic as an Expressive Art Form II with Dugald MacInnes • 7/23-7/27 • $900

Hammer & Hardie • 7/30-7/31 • $225

August Sequence:

Clay in Mosaic with Karen Ami • 8/9-8/11 • $325 Texture • 8/12-8/15 • $425

email us at to register or for more details

OPUS PLEIADES opens at GoCM 1/15/2016

January 2, 2016

Opus refers to any artistic work, especially one on a large scale. Pleiades is Greek and in astronomy The Pleiades or Seven Sisters is an open star cluster containing middle-aged hot B-type stars located in the constellation of Taurus.

Opus Pleiades describes this exhibition perfectly as it embodies the community in which the seven artists create. These contemporary mosaic works, while classically driven, speak in the feminine voice.

Opus Pleiades (FB)

 Featuring the works of these 7 outstanding American women artists:

Sue Coombs

Martha Crandall

Carolynn Friedman

Sue Giannotti

Andryea Natkin

Angela Sanders

Casey Van Loon

GoCM “Made in Chicago” show opens at Wheaton College

“Made in Chicago” travels from Gallery of Contemporary Mosaics (GoCM) to Wheaton College, Adams Hall – Walford Galleries, Wheaton, Illinois, January 8th – February 11th, 2016. Untitled 2The show features over 25 local artists affiliated with The Chicago Mosaic School.

Artists Reception: Thursday, January 14th 4:30 – 6:30

Happy New Year from CMS

December 30, 2015

1836636_941038312633133_523347317464911454_oHappy New Year from all of us at CMS. Here is our year end Newsletter...:)


Made in Chicago Opens in September

August 19, 2015





Trained VS Self Taught Artists – a discussion

July 25, 2015

“Trained VS Self Taught Artists?” by Wasentha Young



Over the years as an artist – self taught and educated, I have had many discussions with colleagues about creativity and art finding that both self taught and educated artists speak poorly of each other. Where I find great value in receiving formal background from an art institute, there is also the “self” development that allows one to be free in creativity.

Now in a certificate program at The Chicago Mosaic School,  I am learning so much more about the history, use of proper tools, lines (andamento), and by definition – what is mosaic art – really. However when I speak to other people I know who are self taught, they seem to resent that I am getting a “formal” education in the art. It is like a fear comes up that “education” minimizes their experience – that they will no longer be respected for the understanding and creativity the exemplify. Likewise with those who have an educational background in art… they seem to feel like self-taught artists proclaim to know so much, that they in essence speak to minimize the many years classically trained artists have spent receiving an education. For me the environment of an art institution is very supportive and provides not only a comprehensive mentorship and learning of classical and contempory techniques, but provides rich conversations, focused study and networking. When it comes to “self”-expression this same environment can be gritty, but no less useful in advise and mentorship.

Sometimes I equate these two perspectives and their tension like the difference between classical and and jazz music. A classical musician may be able to play a jazz piece by reading the written music but will lack the spirit of the music and an untrained jazz musician can play music that will “hurt you” (an outcry we say when the music moves us deeply) but not be able to read music and at times not successfully reach the desired notes, because s/he were unable to prepare him/her self sufficiently – which is something classical musicians learn.

In combining the classical training and deep self expression… to me, that can be ultimate in expressing myself creatively.

What are your thoughts about the friction between, experience and value of of both?

Posted by Wasentha Young.

Wasentha Young is a  2nd year CMS Certification student from Michigan and Director / Founder / Proprietor of The Peaceful Dragon School/Harmony of Energy Center in Ann Arbor.

Apocalyptic Alphabet opens Friday, May 1st at GoCM

April 25, 2015

The Gallery of Contemporary Mosaics at The Chicago Mosaic School invites you to a special exhibition of works on paper & mosaics by Australian artist Pamela Irving.

Pamela Irving’s “Apocalyptic Alphabet” fuses nonsense and humour. Her use of objects and shards, which have their own intrinsic value, combine to give the common alphabet new, quirky meanings. Irving’s assemblages, prints and mosaics are inspired by the mosaics at Torcello, Venice; The Baptistery Mosaics in Florence and the work of Milanese artist Enricho Baj all fused with Irving’s own virulent imagination. This is Pamela Irving’s first exhibition in the USA. Irving is thrilled with her association with the Chicago Mosaic School and the level of education offered at CMS.

Pamela Irving Show (flyer)

“Under the Influence” opens 3/13/2015

March 11, 2015

“Under the Influence”

GoCM – The Gallery of Contemporary Mosaics, Chicago
March 10- April 23, 2015
Vernisage Friday April 13, 6-9pm

An exhibition by artists from around the United States in homage to Maestro Verdiano Marzi, who has helped to change the perception of contemporary mosaics both through his work and through his teachings over the last 5 years at The Chicago Mosaic School.

Exhibiting artists include:
Karen Ami ,Eugenia Brown, David Chidgey, Sue Coombs, Anne Curley, Charlene Floreani, Carolynn Friedman, Sue Giannotti,
Ahmed Ibrahim, Dean Madsen, Deb Madsen, Andryea Natkin,
Enid Probst, Matteo Randi, Angela Sanders, Casey Van Loon, and
Jamie Pink Weisbrod.

CMS Mosaic Intensives 2015

February 19, 2015


Want to study at CMS but can’t move to Chicago yet??

Take a look at our CMS Mosaic Intensives and get back to back workshops and study in one trip to CMS. Enroll in 3 or more workshops and get 10% off. Contact us at or call 773.975.8966

Mosaic Intensives 2015


Hammer & Hardie: 6th-7th

Direct Method: 9th-11th


Pamela Irving Picassiette: 4/30th-3rd

Drawing Workshop: 4th-5th

Ravenna Technique: 6th -10th


Intro Intensive: 12th-14th

Hammer & Hardie: 15th-16th

Drawing Fundamentals: 17th-18th 

Elder Jones Wet Carved Concrete: 19th-21st

Direct Method: 19th-21st

Texture Workshop: 22nd-25th

Clay in Mosaics: 26th-28th

Design Fundamentals: 26th-28th

Undulation Workshop: 29th-30th


Hammer & Hardie: 23rd-24th

Undulation Workshop: 25th-26th

SAVE THE DATE! April 10, 2015

January 29, 2015
"il poeta" by Verdiano Marzi, 2014

“il poeta” by Verdiano Marzi, 2014

The first American exhibition of Maestro Verdiano Marzi will be opening at the historic Fourth Presbyterian Church on Michigan Avenue  Chicago.  This exclusive event coincides with the 10th anniversary of The Chicago Mosaic School. The exhibition will feature mosaics, sculptures and drawings. The show will open to the public on April 1st with a special Artists reception and performance on April 10th, 6:00-9pm. Don’t miss this opportunity to see a collection of inspired works from one of the worlds most influential contemporary mosaic artists.







2015 CMS Visiting Artists Announced

December 23, 2014

IMG_5147The Chicago Mosaic School is excited to be bringing you these exclusive  2015 Visiting Artist Workshops:

Gary Drostle – Large Scale Mosaics (Jan 22- 25)

Verdiano Marzi – Modern Expression (March12-15 and March 19-22)

Pamela Irving – Picassiette: Storytelling in Mosaics  (April 30-May 3)

Toyoharu Kii– Monochromatic (June 3-7)

Dugald MacInnes–  Mosaic As An Expressive Form (July 8-12)

There will be more exciting learning opportunities coming in 2015 so look to our Facebook page, website, or newsletter for announcements.

See you in 2015

Gary Drostle

Gary Drostle

Dugald MacInnes

Dugald MacInnesToyoharu KiiToyoharu Kii


Pamela Irving




Verdiano Marzi

Toyoharu Kii

Toyoharu Kii

Verdiano Marzi at CMS

Verdiano Marzi at CMS


Pamela Irving

Pamela Irving


Dugald MacInnes at CMS

Dugald MacInnes at CMS


Sudents in Marzi Workshop 2014

Sudents in Marzi Workshop


Gary Drostle at CMS

Gary Drostle at CMS

Rencontres Internationales de Chartres

November 13, 2014


The 10th Prix Picassiette is the largest juried Mosaic Arts competition in the world. This biennale is held in Chartres, France, home to La Maison Picassiette -one man’s work and obsession that was built between 1938 and 1964. Raymonde Isadore left behind a now world famous house and garden covered with intricate mosaics of broken crockery, painting and sculpture.

The city of Chartres began to identify this attraction to contemporary mosaic artists with a dedicated gallery space, Chapelle Saint-Eman, steps away from the famous Chartres Cathedral. In 2004 the establishment of a biennial international mosaic competition, Prix Picassiette began to draw internationally acclaimed artists from France and Italy, and soon from around the world.

This year, The Chicago Mosaic School had no less than five artists accepted into the exhibition. They are Andryea Natkin, Sue Giannotti, Carolynn Friedman, Angela Turner-Sanders, and Karen Ami. These artists represent not only the school, but the United States for the 2014 Prix Picassiette.

For the first time, the First Prize Professional Award was given to an American artist, Chicago Mosaic School Founder, Karen Ami, for her work, “Dialogue”. Angela Turner- Sanders won a third place award in the Semi-professional category. The caliber of mosaic work that is coming out of The Chicago Mosaic School is gaining acceptance in Europe where the art form is recognized as visual language and a fine art with strong classical traditions.

Here are photos of the works by CMS artists (from top to bottom):

Karen Ami, Angela Turner-Sanders, Andryea Natkin, Sue Giannotti, and Carolynn Friedman.

10460842_1571846183039249_5020224690287755159_o IMG_6148 Re-Newed-3168 10714262_10203886805622851_6751980752086301901_o 10295157_10203886806262867_3865567706867772317_o




Save the Date for HAMMERED- 11/14

September 21, 2014

Hammered! ~ a celebration of mosaics and wine at The Chicago Mosaic School

Join us for a fun evening of wine tasting from Italy’s Passitivo and Franco Serra Wineries,  and mosaic demonstrations by some of the finest mosaic artists in the USA. The $50 ticket includes wine tastings, appetizers, tours of the Gallery of Contemporary Mosaics (GoCM), studio demonstrations, as well as discussions with CMS artists and instructors.

Money raised at this event will go toward bringing  renowned artist Verdiano Marzi and a collection of his recent works to Chicago from Paris- for his very first solo American exhibition, March – June 2015, in the Loggia of Chicago’s historic Fourth Presbyterian Church on Michigan Avenue.

Wine will be available for sale at the event and a portion of those proceeds will be donated to CMS. The Chicago Mosaic School is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. The fair-market value of each Hammered! ticket is $25.

Purchase tickets online HERE:

This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency. 

NEW STRATA Exhibition 9/19-11/9

September 15, 2014


IMG_5710“New Strata” Exhibition opens  Friday 9/19, 6-9pm 
Please join us!

“New Strata” Features the works of fourteen American students of Scottish artist Dugald MacInnes, the exhibition is about ‘ distilling an idea down to its simplest form”. The exhibition also includes a major work by MacInnes, who recently donated “Tectonic Drift” to the new permanent collection of The Chicago Mosaic School/ GoCM.


New Strata’ artists include: Elizabeth Bartky, Eugenia Brown, Jessica Cherry, Sue Coombs, Carolynn Friedman, Eileen Gassman, Sue Giannotti, Andryea Natkin, Matteo Randi, Carol Stirton-Broad, Casey Van Loon, Jamie Weisbrod, and Anabella Wewer, The show runs through November 7th, 2014.

Gallery of Contemporary Mosaics 1806 West Cuyler Ave Chicago Illinois USA 
773 975 8966
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