Critiquing the finished mosaic

Lawrence Payne
3 min readAug 27, 2019

What do I look for in a finished mosaic? Here is something from the teaching course, but you can use it when looking at your own work. This is what I use every time, it works whatever the mosaic subject. Below are the main points to go through.

Look for these points;

  1. Overall impression from six feet away
  2. Size and spacing, ­fragments?
  3. Are the main three Rules there, Borderline ­ Keystone ­ Convergence
  4. Can they reproduce the work?
  5. What would they do differently?

1. Overall impression from six feet away
Overall finish, is the work consistent, have they kept to the same standard across the whole of the mosaic? Are there areas where the gaps are bigger, a mistake that usually occurs when someone is tired and they just want to finish. This is about looking at the whole mosaic and just getting your first impression.
Make sure it is at a distance of at least 6 feet / 2 metres away so you see the pattern and not the individual tesserae. This is the distance that the mosaic will normally be seen from, as a floor.

2. Size and spacing ­ fragments?
Spacing should not be too much of a problem if it has been corrected at the start. It may only be seen again if they have become tired and not maintained the standard of work. Then they will increase the gaps to try and finish quickly.
Fragments, a common problem. Have they used fragments to fill spaces. Remind them that from six feet away no one will see them. If they have them then they should have cut back the previous tesserae so there is a larger space to fill.

Are the main three Rules there, Borderline ­ Keystone ­ Convergence?
Have they used they Rules correctly? Borderline, has it been used where needed but they have avoided bridging or creating bubbles? Keystones are easy to spot, sometimes the Convergence Rule is forgotten.

Can they reproduce the work?
If they had to continue the work and maintain the same standard, have they spent too long getting it just right so setting themselves up to have to spend too long on the rest of the (hypothetical) mosaic? You can have students take a quite basic template and create something very artistic, can they do another ten like that? Do they understand how they created the effects that they did so they can reproduce them?
When they do something like the eyes in a figure, animal or fish you need to take them through it so they can see size differences, use of keystones, where to have triangles etc.

What would they do differently?
What would they do differently if they did the same mosaic again? Hopefully they will see their mistakes and you can then remind them how quickly they improve with this work. If you need to go over the levels of learning needed and the difference between this work and something like portrait work in oils.

‘I do not care that much about how good this mosaic is, I care very
much about how good your next one will be from what you have learnt from this one’

Enjoy the work, don’t ever stop creating, it’s what we’re here for.




Lawrence Payne

I help people create authentic copies of Roman mosaics even if they do not have any background in art or crafts.