Artist Paul Pearman's mosaic Harley Davidson "The Starry Night" - The Story

by Todd Rauchwerger

A true piece of art commands attention. It grabs you by the throat and forces you to have an opinion.” — Paul Pearman, mosaic artist

Paul Pearman has been an artist since he was a child, which he views as both a blessing and a curse. “Whenever I lay down at night, I am kept awake by the shapes and colors I see when I close my eyes. Yet as troubling as this can be at times I remind myself that a lot of people close their eyes and are never able to see shapes and colors”, the artist muses. Pearman began his career as an oil painter which he did for 20 years, several of which were spent copying Van Gogh and Monet works on a commissioned basis. One day, after painting a Van Gogh on masonite, the frustrated artist threw the piece in the corner in disgust. Seeing it in the light that shone through an upper window he was inspired to cover it with glass tile and thus began his  exploration into the world of mosaics. Recognized for his originality and technique, Pearman won the 2012 Juror’s Choice award from the Society of American Mosaic Artists. What sets Pearman apart as a mosaic artist is that he is, first and foremost, an artist. Each of his mosaics is born as a painting, which is then enhanced with tiny pieces of clear and colored glass and precious gems. It is incredibly tedious work, often taking years to complete, but the results are breathtaking.

For Pearman, art must have function as well as beauty, which is what draws him to the design of buckles and ultimately to the creation of this magnificent Harley Davidson. The bike itself is a custom build and would be head turning were it solid black, but wrapped in mosaic will literally stop traffic. The engineering of its design is brilliant. It began with creating a painting of the key elements of Van Gogh’s most famous work, The Starry Night; the cypress tree, the mountains, the village, the crescent moon and the swirling sky, making certain that each component was connected. The design was then cut from a single piece of 1/8 inch stainless steel and appeared like a giant piece of lace prior to being wrapped around the bike. The steel had to be painstakingly heated and shaped to surround each component of the motorcycle to create Pearman's mosaic canvas. The gas tank and fender were bordered with spun key stock which has become his signature technique.

Having spent so much time copying Van Gogh paintings earlier in his career, Pearman had immersed himself in details unnoticeable to the untrained eye. He theorizes that the original probably took Van Gogh no more than 30 minutes to create. He painted straight from the tube in deep, frenzied strokes one quarter of an inch thick in places, blending the colors on the canvas. One can only imagine the frantic thoughts of his artistic genius from within his asylum. Pearman has captured the movement of the painting down to the details of matching grout to tile and blending as though it were oils. He used dichroic glass above the horizon line, which is comprised of stacking layers of glass and metals to create an unparalleled luminescence. With only a sliver of light in a darkened room, the sky appears to light up above the defined horizon, creating an effect that is absolutely stunning. Accenting the glass are stars made from Ethiopian Opals, Lavenderite, Moonstone and Star Sapphires. The entire process took Pearman three years to complete. As Pearman reflects, “There is a fine line between art and discipline. After a while it doesn’t feel like art, at least until it is complete and you can step back and appreciate it’s beauty.”

True to his value of function embraced by beauty, this mosaic Harley Davidson was designed to be ridden. In fact Pearman enjoys slapping the fender with a hard object and joking, “I’ll bet you wouldn’t do that to your paint job!”. Affixed with space shuttle strength epoxy the tiles are meant to withstand the vibration and heat of being on the open road. And what a ride it would be with all heads turned to admire this one-of-a-kind work of outstanding artistry.

Paul Pearman is one of J.W. Cooper's buckle artists, creating museum quality pieces in a unique style that demands attention. 

The J.W. Cooper gallery is located at the world-renowned Bal Harbour Shops in Bal Harbour, Florida. Select J.W. Cooper merchandise such as custom belt buckles, sterling silver buckles, gold buckles and mens designer belts can be found exclusively at Cigar Club Tokyo, as well as other Cigar Club shops throughout Japan. The J.W. Cooper gallery offers a select collection of handcrafted custom accessories such as sterling silver jewelry including sterling silver buckles, sterling silver necklaces, sterling silver bracelets, timepiece cuff links, men's designer leather jackets, men's designer belts in a variety of exotic leather, solid gold belt buckles, trophy buckles, custom buckles, luxury pens, and more. Additionally, you will find the most interesting fine art such as mammoth tusk carvings, sculpture created from jet, turquoise and other rare semi-precious stones.