Friday, November 30, 2018 Volume: 19, Issue: 39
Santa Maria Sun
The following article was posted on November 28th, 2018, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 19, Issue 39 [ Submit a Story ]
Michele Knecht's colorful mosaics debut at CORE Winery
BY REBECCA ROSE
When Brisbee, a Longhorn steer, came to live with artist Michele Knecht, she instantly connected with him. Far from a menacing beast, Knecht knew him as a gentle soul, hand-raised by humans and eager for affection.
It’s a unique quality Knecht managed to capture perfectly in one of her signature mosaic works.
CLASSY GLASSYMosaic artist Michele Knecht specializes in glass work depicting landscapes, animals, and more, while utilizing various types of glass, pottery, beads, and found objects.
PHOTO COURTESY OF MICHELE KNECHT
“He was a huge, sweet guy,” she said. “Once I made the piece, it just looked to me like what he was feeling.”
The portrait, like so much of Knecht’s work, defines the artist’s ability to emote through a medium in which it can often be difficult to truly capture a range of expression. Mosaic art, made from non-uniform broken shards of glass or pottery seamed together with a grout mixture, relies often on basic gestalt principles to ensure the viewer interprets the intended image or symbol.
But Knecht’s work, which is featured in a new show at CORE Winery through Dec. 31, has an inherent human quality, one filled with genial emotions and soothing imagery. It’s a result of many years of practice and fine tuning of her technique.
Her interest in mosaic art started 25 years ago, when Knecht began working with broken china garden pieces, which were a popular medium at the time. She spent more than 10 years working in the garden art form, making about 800 pieces, including stepping stones, pots, and vases.
HORSING AROUNDMichele Knecht’s mosaic art pieces often feature animals she has encountered in her own life. The artist is featured at CORE Winery in Orcutt through Dec. 31.
PHOTO COURTESY OF MICHELE KNECHT
Knecht took a decade-long break from her art to focus on a personal chef business. A few years ago, she once again returned to mosaics, focusing this time on different materials, including stained and tempered glass. The new kinds of materials sparked a revived excitement in her work.
“There’s so many kinds of glass,” Knecht said. “Everything is just so pretty. I also took some pastel classes, which changed my style to a more painterly one.”
If you examine a piece from Knecht’s work, you’ll notice most have different colors of grout that help bring the piece together, rather than a bold contrast that tends to create a more separated effect. Her tinted grout gives the pieces less of a collage feel and more of an acrylic or watercolor painting look.
Knecht said the medium can be challenging and requires patience. Her works can take up to 20 hours to complete and utilize different types of glass and other media. She uses mostly stained glass to create the foreground images and subjects and experiments with tempered glass to create dynamic and captivating backgrounds. She also finds creative ways to incorporate different types of beads to accentuate and create more depth to her work. The addition of tempered glass was another step in her evolution with the medium.
“I really like the variety of things you can do with it,” Knecht said. “The glass itself is clear; it depends on what you put under it. … I put paint and glitter under, but you can use pattern paper and lots of things.”
The show at CORE Winery will feature many of Knecht’s vineyard and landscape scenes, as well as her portraits of animals. There is a great deal of her own life and personality in each piece, which all have a deeply impressionistic style about them.
At her home in Atascadero, Knecht is surrounded by ranches and animals, many of whom make their way into her mosaics as featured subjects. Knecht also works in three-dimensional art, often creating mosaics on found objects such as cow skulls and more.
Broken beautiesMichele Knecht’s mosaic artwork is featured at CORE Winery through Dec. 31. A reception for the artist is scheduled Dec. 7 from 5 to 7 p.m.; the event is free and open to the public. CORE is located at 105 W. Clark Ave. Orcutt. For more information, visit mknechtmosaic.com.
“I had seen painted cow skulls I liked,” she said. “I had done three-dimensional things before in bird baths and pots and things like that so I knew that when you do something that’s not flat, you need a lot of small pieces to follow the curves.”
For beginners, Knecht said the medium is fun and addictive and there are few barriers to getting started. She suggested studying tutorial videos online and researching the techniques and tools needed. One big tip for beginners is making sure to put the pieces close together to avoid having big gaps to fill in with grout.
“Give it a try,” she said. “It really is a lot of fun. Just play.”
Arts and Lifestyle Writer Rebecca Rose is often in pieces. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.