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Muddy Elephants 042209

Updated: Nov 25, 2022

I often get asked what my favourite mosaic I have made is. I think this is it. I loved it. I ruined it, and now I might love it more. Read why.


When I was eight, my Mom gave me the Wild Animals of the World National Geographic Society 1987 Calendar to practice drawing animals. I have drawn, painted, and mosaiced every animal in this Calendar, sometimes multiple times.

My favourite animals are African Elephants, so I have always been very drawn to this image. However, I do find this image a little challenging to decipher. So I played with the image by dropping an elephant and limiting my palette to blue, red and raw sienna. The idea was to simplify and exaggerate the shadows on and of the elephants by darkening them with blue and red.


Muddy Elephants 042209 grouted but not framed.

I love the colours, composition, limited palette, the different contrast of cut shapes, and the innocence of the elephants. I also like the cross between realism and abstract. I also fell in love with terracotta-coloured grout. It perfectly matched the mosaic and feel of the glass.

But then I ruined it.

Unfortunately, after a long day with the kids, I decided to make the mosaic feel more finished and regrouting any tiny imperfections. But I did it late at night after enjoying a couple of glasses of wine.

Big mistake, or was it?

I fell asleep while waiting for the grout to cure in the grout lines before wiping it off to create the finished look.

I spent the next two weeks scrubbing, picking, and trying to fix what I could. Then, finally, after feeling defeated, unmotivated, and angry, I hung it outside. And I left it there for years.

Now, some excess grout has cracked and fallen off, a piece of glass or two is missing, and the frame is deeply weathered.


And now, Muddy Elephants 042209.

I LOVE this one! Mistakes and all, I learned so much from it.

Besides, they were supposed to be abstract muddy elephants in the first place.


Mission: Learn, Create, Teach, Inspire.

I Love this Mosaic for so many reasons. Now, this mosaic hangs in my studio and reminds me of how far I have come and how much I learned. It is a constant reminder that growth comes from making mistakes, and mistakes are a chance to learn and better yourself.

Here are some things I learned from this mosaic:

-Limiting the palette was a great way to go.

-Reflections come easily to me, and I should do more.

-Terracotta grout works so well to create earthy tones

-Playing with different shapes of glass can make the business of a mosaic easier on the eye.

-Why you always frame first, then grout.

-The OBVIOUS don't start a project if you are not in the right frame of mind and are tired.

It also inspires me because of my persistence to persist with my art and vision even when I am tired, drained, and should go to bed.

As always, incredibly grateful to continue learning, creating, teaching, and inspiring.

Jessica Fairweather

Artist and Instructor

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