Byzantine Museum of Phthiotis, Hypati:
Fragment of a marble closure slab with a relief on both sides, from Mexiates, (5th-6th century B.C)
Akbar Padamsee (Indian, b. 1928), Prophet I, 1952. Oil on board 90 x 58.2 cm.
© 2014 Jacqueline Iskander. If I Were A Tree, in progress. 24” x 40” | 61 cm x 102 cm.
My mantra these days — these weeks — is What the hell was I thinking? This gold is tormenting me. I suppose it would be more truthful to say that precision is tormenting me. I am in the grip of precision. It started out so well. How beautifully I could outline the leaves and branches! What a stimulating challenge to maintain the flow and curve of the gold’s andamento! I would stand back to assess my work, and I had such a pleasant sense of satisfaction.
I pondered the meaning behind why I work this way and why I so much enjoy bringing pieces together, each on their own terms, meeting peacefully and cleanly at their edges. To reconcile order and chaos harmoniously with no evidence of difficulty or friction. Yes, the symbolism of keeping the flow going, maintaining the integrity of the line despite the interruptions affirmed to me that there truly is a deeper purpose in my work. Through mosaic, I am resolving the conflicts in my mind and mediating the challenges of life, of living this human existence.
Blah, blah, blah…
Well, now I am just plain suffering and no amount of symbolism or self-discovery or deeper meaning can console me. Having started with such precision, I must stick with it. Every single piece of gold must be honed, shaped, and/or cut. Every. Single. Piece. Sometimes, I can’t bear the thought of continuing to work on it. What to do!
I’ve got to relax about it and ease-up. I wanted to have it finished by the end of September, but I have to accept that it will not be. Its just pretty ridiculous to impose a deadline on myself and then stress about it, don’t you think?
My son and I have a few road trips in October to visit colleges for his master’s program, and I intend to enjoy that time with him. I might have a bit of time in November, before Thanksgiving. But after the holiday, I’ll be spending a few weeks in San Jose with my daughter before returning to Tulsa for Christmas. This piece will be taking me through the end of 2014. And I’m going to be okay with that.
As far as how I feel about the mosaic at this point… hmm… I really love my tree and my landscape. From the beginning, I was determined to use-up some gold for the background. Although I wanted some movement — maybe even a bit of chaos — in the sky, sometimes I think it might be too busy. The next streak will be very light blue.
For some reason, I really felt the need to make this mosaic, and to invest a lot of time and materials in this highly spontaneous attempt. Maybe I wanted to test myself. I already had about 95% of these materials, so I am happy to be making use of them. I’m just not sure that I am going to pass this test.