I first saw this mosaic, Leonardo, when I was paging through the 2009 edition of Mosaic Art Now. I stopped turning pages at that point and just stared. Before I read the title of the piece, I knew exactly who the subject was. Leonardo is a gesture drawing done in smalti and marble, and Laura Rendlen succeeded in capturing the very essence of the man Leonardo Da Vinci. She reduced Da Vinci's early 1500s self-portrait to a series of shards and shadows without losing anything yet at the same time, making his likeness uniquely hers. Brava Laura, brava.
Laura Rendlen graduated from the Kansas City Art Institute with a major in sculpture. After she graduated she started painting scenery and props. At the suggestion of her partner, she started painting with smaller brushes and set about the business of transforming homes. Together, they became experts in murals and trompe l'oiel. Over the next 25 years, they were awarded commissions to do some exemplary, high-profile work. You can see some of her painting on her website under Custom Murals and Painting.
After 25 years spent doing residential and commercial work, Laura wanted to do something different. Something that would keep her off ladders for a change. As luck would have it, a client asked her to design a mosaic back splash and she agreed to do it. She threw herself into the project, researching materials and techniques, and the resulting mosaic changed the trajectory of her life. To quote from her website:
Mosaics combine the tactile construction of sculpture, the vision of painting, and the timeless permanence that I had been searching for in art.
Laura's work betrays her background as a painter. There's a knowing quality at work here and it's fantastic to see her refer to the history of art as she sets about creating an art of her own. To see more of Laura's work or to contact her about buying her art, please go to her website.
Currently, Laura's gearing up to teach a class in mosaic art at the Chicago Mosaic School, the only school of its kind in North America. Based on what I see here, I cannot imagine a better teacher.