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Judith Monroe Posts

Life and Stuff

I don’t know about you, but my life doesn’t always go according to plan. Take the last year or so, for example…

In November 2015, I found myself sitting next to a young lady in church for the second week in a row. This was notable because I attend a church of about three or four thousand people on any given weekend and I’ve never found myself randomly sitting next to the same person two weeks in a row, so it really got my attention. I felt a strong urging to talk to her, so I started a conversation and found out she was looking for a job and somewhere to live and was hoping to start going to college soon. Then I took her over to someone to ask about housing but our church doesn’t have an organized program for that, and I gave her my card and made her promise not to disappear on me. She contacted me that afternoon and I was so glad because I had found out they were hiring where my son worked and I wanted to get her that information.

The next week she was sitting in front of me. I don’t believe in coincidence but somehow I wasn’t surprised at this point. We were texting that same afternoon and I asked how the search for housing was going. She replied that she hoped to have a safe place to sleep soon and when I asked where she was sleeping, she said that mostly she wasn’t, but sometimes outside or in her car.

2016-10-29 12.25.22-3My heart broke and I couldn’t say a word. I took my phone to my husband and all I could do was show him the conversation. We just looked at each other and instantly agreed that she could stay in our daughter’s room, who was away at college at the time. And that’s how we took in another child. She had grown up in the worst of circumstances and desperately needed a new family. Over the next several months, she became like another daughter to us and in August 2016 we adopted her at 21 years of age. We had learned that adult adoption was remarkably easy and we decided to make our commitment to each other legal. I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world but because of her past we are walking through recovery with her and none of it is easy.

My art-making has taken a bit of a back seat to being a mother once more, but it’s not a choice that I ever regretted, not when my biological children were small and not now when my youngest child needs me, either. But I’m trying to get back into the swing of things again, to return to a regular rhythm of communicating with my extended family and friends and supporters like you. Thanks for sticking around.

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Packing it out

I go for walks on a regular basis, as much as six days a week. I do it for my dogs and I do it for my physical, mental & spiritual health. Sometimes I walk around my neighborhood but I also walk a lot along trails through green space, usually in community parks along a local creek. I feel so blessed to be able to enjoy nature while living in a suburban area. Nature is my happy place, it’s where I can escape from worries and just relax, concentrating on my pushing myself physically, on the plants and animals around me or on nothing at all.

Usually, I have done what I think most of us in modern American society do, and that is ignore one thing while we’re out in nature if we possibly can. Maybe it’s just really one little thing, so our eyes can skip over it easily, focusing on something else instead. Sometimes it’s a bigger thing, and we might think to ourselves or say to each other, oh how can people be that horrible, but not actually do anything about it. I’m talking about litter, and up until recently, I was really good at ignoring it but recently I have found that I just can’t anymore.

water bottle litterI don’t even know how it really started, but maybe I was influenced by things I had seen on Instagram, where somehow I had come across images of litter that people had posted that they had picked up. Probably months later, these little things start standing out to me, and I just couldn’t ignore them any more. Then one day I took some other people on a walk, and there was some conversation about how sad it was that people would litter in such a pretty place, but none of us actually did anything besides talk. On subsequent solo walks, the conversation echoed in  my mind. As usual, I have bags with me when I walk my dogs, and usually some plastic grocery bags as back up, so it wasn’t a big stretch one day to just get really disgusted and think I should just pick up some of this stuff myself, because I keep seeing it over and over and obviously nobody else is cleaning it up.

Sometimes trail trash comes with it's own carry-out handle.
Sometimes trail trash comes with it’s own carry-out handle.
What is sad is how long it has taken me to start picking things up, but that’s what I’ve started doing. Not every day or for the whole trail, but usually at least a full bag full whenever I do, because there really is plenty around. It actually feels pretty good to do something about it and not just ignore it or talk about other people. If you’re thinking that this sounds sad or cool or inspiring, I would encourage you to join me. It’s not that hard. Usually there are garbage cans somewhere nearby so it’s easy to just fill a bag with trail trash and toss it in the garbage. The next time you’re on the trail it might seem a little cleaner, or not – just take a bag with you and do what seems best. Try not to judge others but just do what you can to make things better. If more of us just do little things to help everyone, maybe the idea will catch on…

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What I Did for my Summer Break

When I was a child and we came back to school in September, very often the teacher would ask us to write about what we did over the summer. I always thought this was a cool thing and I liked writing and being able to express myself. Even though I actually taught summer school this year and felt like I had no summer vacation at all, I still feel like I had a summer break of sorts.It just wasn’t the sort of break I thought I was going to have.

 

After the spring semester ended – funny how my life is again governed by school seasons –  I decided to deep clean and reorganize my art studio. It had been a really long time since I had done anything like that in this space and I had visions of what I wanted it to look like. There were piles upon piles on counters and table spaces, there were boxes and bags on the floor, there was just stuff everywhere. Now, I’m not saying that there isn’t stuff in here still, because I think that part of the function of an art studio is to hold stuff. But it was just way too much and I felt a little claustrophobic about it all. So I decided to just dig in and in maybe a week or two I would have the art studio of my dreams.

 

That was a little over three months ago. Needless to say, after a week or two I had just begun to scratch the surface but I was committed to sticking to it til it was all done. I started methodically, tackling one cupboard, shelf by shelf and I stopped to praise myself and show off to family each reclaimed space. I recycled bunches of things, threw away things, made donation trips to Goodwill. I was on a roll and feeling good. Then life happened. Nothing big, just regular life things, and I lost a little steam in the studio but somehow ended up cleaning out other spaces in the house and that felt good, too. Okay, I thought, let’s just go with the flow here and clean and sift and make my life a little lighter. I still got into the studio to clean but I found I was taking a bit of a break from art and business in general. I don’t know why, but I think it was just something that I needed. I have always worked in cycles and seasons and I have found that if I just go with it, things work themselves out in the end.

 

At one point, I wasn’t sure about what was going on. I was slowly but surely making progress in the studio, I even took a break and made a little art (okay, it was a big piece, but just one.) I wasn’t sure I was on the right path and I questioned a lot of things. What am I doing? Is it the right thing? Should I even make art at all? Well, yes, I can’t not make art… And then I got a little confirmation, a friend with a word of encouragement, some new requests for work, and I realized that this was just a little season and that it would pass and everything would be okay. Summer school ended and I got another little boost of energy to finish up the studio. I started to see my dream studio peek out from the chaos and I started feeling more inspired. It was such a huge job, though, and at one point I felt like it might never be done. Truthfully, I don’t think it ever will be completely done, but that’s okay, I can tackle the bits and pieces that are left hidden away at a later time.

 

So what did I do over my summer break? I cleaned my studio, painted two bedrooms in the house, helped one daughter clean our her space and make it new and another one move back in – which meant clearing the guest room out – and got rid of more stuff than I can quantify. And do I have the studio of my dreams? Well, not quite, but I’m pretty happy with it, and I need to start making art again, which I’ll share with you here. Soon, I hope.

 

art studio
Freshly re-organized, my studio is ready to start making art again! Of course, the dogs are always on hand to help.
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Recent live painting: Refuge

Photo transfers, collage, acrylics, wax pastel, color pencil and pressed dried foliage on canvas by Judith Monroe
Refuge – Photo transfers, collage, acrylics, wax pastel, color pencil and pressed dried foliage on canvas (36×48″) by Judith Monroe

 

As I prepared to paint for our worship night a couple weeks ago, I prayed and meditated and God gave me some images of wings and a nest with eggs. In my own personal symbology, I have come to associate wings and feathers with angels and a nest with heaven, the place that Jesus went to prepare for us, so I felt good in using this as the basis for my painting, and a background of clouds seemed fitting. After I was done painting, my daughter told me that the imagery made her think of Psalm 91, which to me was a confirmation that God was speaking. My prayer is that he would speak to you through this imagery, too.

 

Psalm 91
1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
3 Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8 You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
9 If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

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Cloth Paper Scissors Feature

I was pretty happy to find this in the mailbox today. It’s the current issue of Cloth Paper Scissors Magazine and yours truly is the featured artist with a three page spread. I’m so grateful to the editor Jeannine Stein for asking me to do this and for the whole team for helping put this together. I’ve been pretty absorbed in cleaning stuff out of my studio lately but suddenly I’m getting the itch to make more art…

 

Judith Monroe featured in Cloth Paper Scissors Magazine Judith Monroe featured in Cloth Paper Scissors Magazine 2016-06-15 16.52.33-2

 

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Late Spring Cleaning

I’ve never been one to follow other people’s schedules very much. Not that I haven’t tried, or that I can’t. One office job I had (with the Department of the Army, no less,) I consistently came in fifteen minutes late and stayed just as late. I got more than my share of work done and worked well with everyone else, I just had a hard time keeping the standard hours and my boss was lenient with me. I do start classes on time – most of the time – and I made a commitment to myself that I would not penalize my children with my tardy ways when I had to take them to school and I never made them late. But if everyone else is doing something at a certain time there is this little voice inside me that says, “You can’t make me!” And that is how I end up doing my “Spring Cleaning” at the dawning of summer.

 

 

It’s actually a perfect time for me, I don’t have any big deadlines approaching, I am between spring and summer semesters at school and the big one – I feel like doing it now. So I’ve been going through cupboards, sorting, recycling and donating; trying to free up any space I can, in the hopes of having a space where I will be able to see more of my various natural history type collection and feel happier and more inspired when I’m in  here.

 

 

insect collection in the art studio of Judith Monroe

 

I actually got this display box months ago and have been wanting to transfer part of my insect collection into it, but I just never had, until today. Not that I have a place to put it. Yet.

 

This may take a little time.

 

 

 

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MacKenzieFest 2016

MacKenzieFest 2016

Join me this Saturday for a mini art and music festival at my friend, Michelle MacKenzie’s home! We will be open for business from 11 a.m. til 5 p.m. at 4601 Robertson Ave, Sacramento CA 95821.

Why MacKenzieFest? Well, as the saying goes, “Necessity is the Mother of Invention.” Over the course of the last 25 years Michelle has created a lot of art. Much of her art, both paintings and sculptures, has sold to happy buyers all over the world. Yay! Yet despite these sales, Michelle found that she had accumulated a house full of watercolors, acrylic abstracts, landscapes, and of course ceramic sculpture.

Add to this the news that Michelle and her husband, Lance, are required to move out of their rented home June 30, because the owner has decided to sell it. You get the picture? It’s not pretty.

MacKenzieFest is the result of brainstorming by Michelle and I over Mexican food one afternoon. (Almost everything we do together is over Mexican food, but that’s beside the point…) An open house and open studio event would appeal to not just Michelle’s followers, but to mine and our invited guest artists. Jeweler and metal artist, Stacey Lamothe, was chosen for her popular animal related items, and Jeremiah Jacobs and his amazing band, Heartbreak Time Machine, were chosen because they are getting closer to releasing a CD. Also, they are both really cool and fun. The result is a mini art festival in a casual relaxed home setting, we hope you will be our guest for the First Annual MacKenzieFest! Lance will put a burger on the barbie for you!

Black Beauty Shelter Horse by Michelle MacKenzie

Michelle MacKenzie uses ceramic animal sculpture to express the themes of relationships, love, compassion, home, shelter and family. Horses, birds, wolves, hearts, and little houses are hand formed, glazed in rich colors, and embellished with copper wire, nails, twigs and wood. Creating smaller gift items as well as larger sculptures, Michelle’s art is found in several fine art galleries in Northern California, Arizona, and Kentucky. Her art graces homes, gardens, and businesses in the U.S., Canada, Italy, Australia, Thailand, and England.

 

Carrot necklaces by Stacey Lamothe

Happiness is the reason Stacey Lamothe creates fabulous art and jewelry, “because through valuing and serving each customer with a little package of joy, giving smiles, laughter and inspiration, I cultivate my own happy heart.” She loves dogs, nature, love and laughter, and commits to bring that love and laughter to each customer; to enliven and enrich her collectors’ lives. People often respond to her artworks with broad smiles and warm words. If you have ever cherished a pet like family, have been unfazed to find cat hair in your butter dish, or lovingly tolerate dog farts as a part of your daily life, you are sure to love Stacey’s artwork, too!

 

The Heartbreak Time Machine on the cover of Submerge Magazine

The Heartbreak Time Machine is a Sacramento-based pop/rock act singing songs old and new. Their recent CD “THE512EP” was on Dimple’s Top Seller rack for six weeks, a record for a new band. Artist Judith Monroe’s work graces the EP’s cover. Their latest single “Talk To You” remains one of the most requested on 98Rock, and the band will be featured at Shannapallooza, First Festival, and opens the final night of Sacramento’s seminal “Concerts In The Park” series. The band will be fundraising to complete its album “The Great Big Book”, who’s title single was released in 2014. Band members will be at the event to say hello.

 

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Above and Beyond…

Earlier this month I took a four day trip down to Scottsdale, Arizona, primarily to attend my opening reception for my show, Land of the Living, at Xanadu Gallery. I took some photos and video, and recently got some from the gallery owner, Jason Horejs, and put a little video together to show you what the trip was like.

I’ve been having fun making the occasional movie and I’ve started posted them on YouTube, so feel free to follow me there, if you like.

 

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Behind the Art – Land of the Living

Land of the Living mixed media artwork by Judith Monroe

 

This piece was pretty unusual in that I suddenly had an image in my mind while sitting in a church service. The lyrics of a song, “land of the living” had stuck in my mind and I first had an image of a tree growing out of a nest with roots coming from below, which I quickly sketched in the border of the bulletin I had with the lyrics, which became the title for the piece. This is also the first piece that I collaged together different photos in a surrealistic manner, and when I sat down to play with different photos, I much preferred the flowers growing out of the nest to a tree. When I work with photos to collage together, I’m not comfortable working on the computer, but rather I prefer to print out lots of small images and play with them together, like working with a jigsaw puzzle. The text that is in a receding layer, is actually a Psalm that includes the title phrase. I’ve also included photos of insects, including a cicada, another insect that goes through metamorphosis and speaks of life transformation, a recurrent theme in many of my pieces.

 

Land of the Living is currently available at Xanadu Gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona.

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