What some call a hobby can turn into art, and that was how it happened with local artist John Cook. He wanted a hobby, but the drive to create soon took him past that stage. John’s choice of media is ceramic tiles, and his mosaics are very diverse. “Whatever the challenge is I will do it,” he said with determination. “I just like doing different things.”
Some of his subject matter ends up on tables, like a big red electric guitar on a coffee table, or a vase of sunflowers on a side table. He also creates pieces that hang on the wall. His latest is a motorcycle and he is also working on a trout. He is proficient at animals, florals, and even landscapes.
His first artistic influence was a tile mosaic that his mother bought when he was 13 years old. It depicted a man and a woman pouring water into a vase. “I loved it,” he said nostalgically. “No one else in the house liked it but me.”
“I graduated college with the highest honors and originally was planning on being in management, but realized that wasn’t what I wanted to do. So, I studied to be an accountant, but I realized that I would be stuck behind a partition counting numbers and looking at a computer screen and there was no way I was going to do that. So, I decided to go into finance. It was a little bit livelier, but I didn’t want to be a stock broker. I graduated with a finance management major, and I went into sales. I like being out and about,” he said with a smile.
He went about the business of living, eventually moving from Arlington to Wichita Falls for a job. He is in sales and has a very large route, “but”, he added, “I love my route. I love doing route sales because I get to interact with a lot of people. After I retire, I want to do volunteer work.” And he has a giving heart as his adopted daughter knows well. “I adopted her when she was 3 years old. I feel like it was something that God wanted me to do. That is one thing that I know I did well. She just graduated from college with a major in communications,” he said with pride.
John’s relationship with God is a huge part of his art. “My inspiration is from God. I don’t even think it is me. I am planning on doing three Christian themed pieces of art. One with a crown, one with fish and loaves of bread, and the other one I haven’t worked out yet,” John shared.
John’s first creations were building tables. “I was making some tables, which was excellent because it gave me some training. I didn’t sell any of that. I gave it away because I was still learning. When I decided to sell one, I put it on the corner of a busy street and I know someone liked it because they stole it,” he said with a chuckle. “It did leave me with the idea that there was a market for it.”
John’s art hasn’t always been mosaics though. “I started painting on my own, and I did a whole lot of paintings. But it just didn’t feel as good, and I like doing the tile. I like the way it comes together when you grout it. It looks a little disjointed, but the grout pulls it all together and gives it a finished look,” he explained.
His mosaics have movement, and “aren’t perfect little squares.” He uses tile clippers to give some of them an almost scalloped look. It makes the edges uneven and contributes to the flow of the mosaic. He enjoys the fact that mosaics have been an art form for centuries. “I love it when I see where archaeologists find a new area of mosaic art work on a floor in Istanbul, and they saved it—I just want to go YEAH!”
“I just want people to know that it is an art form that is connected to our past, but we can adapt it to now. That’s why I do some of the newer looks because I am just free forming my own ideas. I’m trying to do things that are relatable. I’m thinking about doing a space ship with a Texas flag on it,” John said with a grin. He has a studio in his garage, and he likes to open both doors to feel the breeze and listen to classic rock and country music. “It keeps me from yelling at the kids for walking on my lawn,” he joked.
“I would also say that the Wichita Falls Art Association Gallery is the best. It was a great move for me to join the association because they have encouraged me continually. They have been very kind and supportive. I don’t have any art training, but I was told that my art comes from the heart. I’m not alone on my journey of weird stuff because there are a lot of other weird artists out there. That is kind of my tribe. They do their own thing and are happy with it. I think artists build each other up. All artists inspire me because they are all willing to put it on paper and put it out there and present it to the world. When I first did, it was kind of scary to put it out there. Now I don’t even care if you like it. Some people get it, and some don’t. I like it and that’s why I do it. I was never encouraged to do art, but I found the drive to create. This has been a great opportunity to be able to show my work and visit with other artists that I wouldn’t have had if we didn’t have this gallery,” John said gratefully.
John’s art can be viewed and purchased through Blue Moon Mosaics on Facebook, the Wichita Falls Art Association Gallery, and at the After Hours Art Walks.
– Cindy Kahler Thomas