Natalie and her fiance, Nick, recently installed this custom backsplash for a client in Annapolis, MD.
Bev and I met five years ago at the American Craft Council show in Baltimore where she gave me a deposit and told me she didn’t think she would ever find the kind of backsplash she was looking for, but had a hunch I might be able to make it for her. I had just started making tiles at that point and the first pieces were small squares with flowers and leaves on them. She was a ways off at that point from having her kitchen remodeled, and a couple of years later finally started asking me for glaze colors and sketches as her renovations were coming to completion. The final renovations took a while to be punch listed, and so we had yet another year and a half to think about design, and for me to create some of the glaze colors that Bev was hoping for. She wanted a purple backsplash. I hoped I wouldn’t have to make a completely purple piece, and in the end we realized that some blue and cashew colors would most suit the beautiful granite countertop fleck tones in the counters she had found.
Last February I finally visited the house, as she was truly ready, and we agreed on colors and concept. I was to work with a painting by Anatole Kraznyansky Russian artists that they had bought while on a cruise. While I said I wasn’t interested in reading directly off this imagery, I was willing to take that image in and bounce off it to create my own feedback loop of imagery in response to this painting. And so I went home to my studio, rolled out white paper, measured out my tile sizes, and then stared at the paper. I stared for a couple of days and found myself quickly filling in images that appeared on the paper as I sat and waited. This was a most enjoyable process and felt very easeful. It was as if these figures wanted to come out on the page and be seen. The energy lines coming off these mythical figures moves from the center outward creating butterfly wing vibrations on the left of the piece and a storm at sea on the right side of the piece.
The mythical goddess/queen figure, who showed up to me as benevolent and compassionate with powerful ram horns which give her the power gift of reverence and might, can be seen as flying in horizontal position holding a point of energy with her left hand that can be seen as either holding the cacophony of wind and storm tumult at bay, or pulling the source of that storm of energy along with her. She is holding a tiny sailboat in her right hand. She holds it near the lute player whose large cloaked arm holds a feminine character in his sleeve. His face is the King’s face that can be found in the three faced musician facing right (the figure’s left). The other two musicians are playing a ukelele type instrument and a double-headed woodwind that blows the monarch butterfly wing sound waves.
On the left hand side of the kitchen, I created a single musician standing alone playing with energy lines coming out from the top of his head and cascading away to the left. He plays a double barreled lute like instrument that I am not even sure exists, but I found some interesting images on line with this kind of shape. Beautiful instruments!!! He has a black face and to me seems to be playing perhaps some sort of jazz. There are nine faces in the main backsplash, which happens to be my lucky number.