04 August 2009

An artist's portrait: Carole Choucair Oueijan

Cerulean Rendezvous

Ever since I met the great Sara Baldwin of New Ravenna Mosaics last spring, I continue to be exposed to deeper and finer expressions of the mosaic as art. It's been a real adventure and the more I learn the deeper into I get. New Ravenna Mosaics led me to Mosaic Art Now and through Mosaic Art Now I've been privileged to meet a number of fine art mosaicists. In what I plan to make a regular feature of this blog, I am going to start writing profiles of these gifted artists.

Carole Choucair Oueijan's Dreamer was a featured work in the current issue of Mosaic Art Now and I started corresponding with Carole through Facebook about a month ago. Carole was born in Beirut, Lebanon and is of Lebanese and Greek heritage. Carole studied loved painting in oils and water colors from an early age and studied fine art in Beirut. Her oil paintings of Eastern Mediterranean people and places led her to Greece in 1989 where she discovered the nearly extinct art of mosaic. Carole studied under the tutelage of Orthodox clergy who had the task of preserving and creating the art of classical iconography. From Greece, Carole moved to California where she began applying her painterly eye to her signature mosaic style.


Carole works in smalti (a kind of glass) and natural stone and her work starts as a drawing on canvas. She then stretches her canvas on a frame and begins to select and cut her smalti into small pieces called tesserae. Carole then glues the smalti tesserae and pieces of natural stone down to the canvas. Carole works with her materials face down, so she's essentially working in reverse. During the months it takes her to complete a work, the only way she can see her finished product is with her mind's eye. Once the pieces are glued into place she covers the back of her work with concrete and lets it set. It's only then that she turns it over to see the finished piece.

The perfection and nuanced color of her mosaics attest loudly to the power of Carole's imagination. I mean, look at these mosaics!

Dreamer

Dreamer detail #1

Dreamer detail #2

Mermaid

Mermaid detail #1

Carole does commissioned work and you can look through the rest of her portfolio on her website. The images expand when you click on them, so be sure to spend some time on that site. Her website too shows the art she still creates in media other than mosaic and it lists her numerous awards and upcoming exhibitions. Drop by and say hello.

All work shown ©Carole Choucair Oueijan and used with permission.

9 comments:

  1. Thanks Ann! I am amazed by her painterly approach to her work in mosaics. That she works in reverse is doubly amazing.

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  2. Oh! What a surprise!
    Thank you so much Paul. I am honored to be chosen as a featured artist on your site. I love the pieces that you picked. It is always a challenge and an adventure starting a mosaic project and ending with an appreciation like yours. It feels so good!
    Thank you again for recommending my website and my commissioned works.
    What a lovely morning!
    My appreciation to you Paul and all your readers.
    Cheers,
    Carole Choucair Oueijan

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  3. Wow. Now *that's* an artist! I'm blown away as well. Thanks for the link!

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  4. Carole,

    You do amazing work and deserve every bit of praise you get. Thanks for checking in.

    Kelly --you have good taste!

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  5. Carole, I am honestly just blown away by that mermaid piece...all of them actually, but I like that one the best. You really do some incredible work. Before Paul started talking about them on this blog, I didn't have any idea that they were still done on this level of artistry. In Pompeii 79AD, sure, but in 2009?! I had no clue!!

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  6. One of the things I love so much about classically-inspired mosaics like Carole's is that they use the same materials and methods that were used 2000 years ago, but the art's still very much today's. It's such a tangible way to embrace the whole of human history. I can't get enough!

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  7. You have great taste, Paul. Carole has a unique and lovely mosaic voice that is music to the eyes.

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  8. Thanks Nancie, I have a good mentor!

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