Thursday, January 13, 2011

What does the word ‘tedious’ mean to you?

I don’t know about you, but I’m quite sure I’ve never used the word tedious in a positive way.  If I find something tedious, it is something I feeljulclst a) obligated to do, b) required to spend hours doing, c) must be done by hand, and d) bores me out of my skull.  Like deciphering the family tree of the Julio-Claudians.  All of those qualities must be present for me to call something tedious.  The dictionary bears this out:


te·di·ous      [tee-dee-uhs, tee-juhs] 

1. marked by tedium; long and tiresome: tedious tasks; a tedious journey.
2. wordy so as to cause weariness or boredom, as a speaker orwriter; prolix.
1. wearing, boring, tiring, monotonous, dull.
Now.  What should my reaction be when someone stops by to watch me working on a mosaic and says “That looks so tedious”?  What should my reaction be when someone looks at one of my finished works and says “That looks so tedious”? 
I don’t think these are generally people who simply don’t like what I’m doing – they are just focused on the process and precision with which the glass is placed.  Not that there aren’t people who dislike mosaic in general, and mine in particular.  And I’m ok with that – different strokes for different folks.  I think those who actually don’t like it generally have the good grace to keep their mouths shut - just as I would in front of an artwork I didn’t like. 
Do people perceive mosaics but not paintings to be tedious simply because the individual pieces of glass are easily distinguished, but the brushstrokes are not? 
Maybe there just isn’t an adequate vocabulary for discussing mosaic art yet.   Whatever the case, please, don’t tell a mosaic artist that their work or what they are doing looks tedious.  I guarantee you it will not feel like a compliment.


  1. Great points, Lee Ann. On my first mosaic course, I went with a painter who couldn't stand the slow pace of making mosaics. She would probably describe mosaics as 'tedious', but the comment says more about her than anything else. Mosaic artists are a rare breed! :-)

  2. I think I might respond by saying, "Creating a piece of art is never tedious to an artist but you would have to be creative to understand that." I might say that but I'd probably just fume quietly.

  3. The person who thinks (and unfortunately feels the need to state it out loud, in front of the artist) that mosaic work looks tedious simply cannot imagine themselves doing's just too tedious for THEM. And to each their own. Never take it personally. I'm sure they do things that you would find 'tedious' too. Like watching NASCAR :) (Sorry, first example that came to mind, maybe you like Nascar....I personally find it beyond tedious!)

  4. Well, you're right Sheryll - it's too tedious for them, and you couldn't PAY me to watch NASCAR. ;)

    But I do believe that if I walked into a room and saw that they were doing something I couldn't bear to do myself, I'd have sense enough to keep my mouth shut about it. I think that's really my point.

  5. And I totally agree with your point!! Unfortunately, there is not a whole lot of sense out there...which is why you have to have a thick skin to display your works publicly. My skin is thin, so my stuff stays in the basement!!



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