Creating a Mosaic Sky

To mosaic a sky can be daunting as it requires a mosaic artist to simplify an already complex subject, with a limited color pallet. This is not a step-by-step of how to do it; rather I want to share some important elements that you should consider in your next mosaic sky project and show you other mosaic artists’ interpretations of sky. 5 elements that a sky can contain are: 1) gradation; 2) perspective; 3) light; 4) colors; and 5) shadows.

The term "gradation" means a minute change from one shade, tone, or color to another. Skies are lighter at the horizon and darker at the top. So color gradation is crucial to depict in skies and Michael Graham executes it superbly here.

Perspective is challenging because there are rarely straight lines in the sky and clouds are never uniform in shape and pattern. Clouds close to the horizon will generally appear smaller and further away, larger. Manrico Bertilotti’s mosaic demonstrates perspective and gradation beautifully.

Light is another important element. Clouds reflect the light in the sky, so use colors you see in reflections and light to add depth and greater realism like Felicity Ball did in her sailboat mosaic.

Colors - Really look at the sky and see what colors are there. A rainy day can often have gray, green and even yellow tinges to it. A sunset is often much darker and can contain all kinds of deep reds, pinks, yellows and purples. Also, remember that the closer to the light source (the sun) the warmer the color; the further from the light source, the cooler the color. So don't be afraid to use color like Terry Wright has wonderfully done below.

 Here is a great example of different cloud shapes and shadows by Steve Burnett.

Lisa Beary Howell used different tonal values in her sky tiles which flows perfectly with the theme of her church mosaic.

Terry Nicholls demonstrates an awesome ability to show dramatic movement and mood in his sky in this mosaic through the use of colors and andamento - the flow and direction he places his tiles. 

Shadows: Add shadows in it to give a sense of space and depth. The more moisture in the air, the more reflections — and, as a result, the more color — you will find. Even when the sky is clear there is a sense of depth perception to our field of vision. In every case, question how that occurs and try to accentuate it with shadows and colors like Mary Driver does here.

I hope you'll consider the 5 elements discussed above and that you'll be inspired by studying these other artist's works. 

(All images are shown with artist's permission. Please do not copy. Be inspired.)

4 comments

  • Muchas gracias por compartir la información!! Feliz y emocionada de ver la creatividad de los artistas, usaré los consejos para mi próximo proyecto

    Carmen Calle
  • Very helpful sky analysis. Thank you very much.

    Betsy Gallery
  • Thank you kindly for including my mosaic. Regarding gradation I would add that reducing the size of the tesserae towards the horizon also helps achieve a sense of depth/perspective. Be well.

    Michael Graham
  • Thank you, Lou Ann, for featuring my mosaic as an example in your blog about skies. I am honored to be mentioned among the other artists and their beautiful works. The article and examples will be helpful in future projects. Thanks for your willingness to share your knowledge with others!

    Lisa Howell

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