“Lifecycle” – the mosaic that brightened a crummy week

"Lifecycle" mosaic by Julie Sperling
“Lifecycle” (2013) – stones and fossil from the Bruce Peninsula, 8″ x 22″

I’ve always heard about how art can be therapeutic, and while I’ve always believed it, I’ve never actually experienced it. I guess I’ve been quite lucky so far in my life to have only mosaicked in the good times, not the bad. Well, recently I had a pretty crummy week. I won’t bore you with all the details, but it really was a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad” week. I kept thinking, “Man, I bet sitting down in my studio and immersing myself in art would make me feel better.” But inertia and exhaustion kept getting the better of me. Finally, after a few days, I managed to drag myself into the studio and this mosaic is what emerged. And then I emerged, feeling more clear-headed, light-hearted, and energized.

The stones are the ones I gathered at the cottage and were really fun to use. The red and blue ones were a bit challenging to work with. They cut fairly easily (in terms of the power required), but there were lots of hidden fault lines in them, so they had a tendency to break in unexpected places.

I took my inspiration from wood grain. The name is kind of hard to explain. Maybe I don’t need to. Something about the fossil and how it seems to be nested, like a little seed, in the folds of time. Something about the contrast of the organic, living nature of wood and the life once contained in whatever that fossil once was…

Anyway, writing this post, I was reminded of the following passage from Neil Gaiman’s brilliant commencement address to the 2012 graduating class of The University of the Arts:

“You have the ability to make art.

And for me, and for so many of the people I have known, that’s been a lifesaver. The ultimate lifesaver. It gets you through good times and it gets you through the other ones.

Life is sometimes hard. Things go wrong, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all the other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do.

Make good art.

I’m serious. Husband runs off with a politician? Make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by mutated boa constrictor? Make good art. IRS on your trail? Make good art. Cat exploded? Make good art. Somebody on the Internet thinks what you do is stupid or evil or it’s all been done before? Make good art. Probably things will work out somehow, and eventually time will take the sting away, but that doesn’t matter. Do what only you do best. Make good art.

Make it on the good days too.”

"Lifecycle" mosaic by Julie Sperling - detail shot
I just love this fossil. Love it.


And I just love this piece! You are lucky to have found a medium through which you can express yourself, and you are very talented at what you do! I grew up believing that I do not have an artistically-inclined grain in my body… maybe I just haven’t found the medium that’ll help me express myself? Or maybe the world needs people like me to appreciate the creativity of people like you :)

Thanks Aparna! I think everyone has their medium. Whether or not they excel at it is a whole other question. But I do think everyone has at least one medium that they enjoy and naturally gravitate towards and that can serve as an outlet. Keep searching for yours! Who knows, maybe it’s mosaic! When you come visit, we’ll have a studio play date :-)

You continue to amaze me. The depths of your talents are endless. I knew you were an amazing partner, daughter, sister, friend, citizen, and I knew you were an amazing artist, but I didn’t know that you were also such an amazing writer. Both these pieces (“Lifecycle” and its accompanying text) have touched me very deeply. Thanks for making GREAT art and for sharing it with the world! Thanks also for linking to Viorst’s book. I’d never heard of it and am now eager to get it. Glad you’re not moving to Australia and are making art instead! xoxo

Thanks for that beautiful comment, Shanna. It really means a lot. (Although I admit that I had forgotten pretty much everything about the book except the title, so I had to google the Australia reference, ha ha!)

Let me know what you think!

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