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Judith Monroe Posts

A small memento

 

work in progress in Judith's art studio

 

On the worktable today, I’m finishing up a small memento of the weekend’s ARTofFREEDOM event, to be given to Made for Them, the parent organization that hosts these awareness events. 

 

Saturday’s event was pretty amazing, and I learned more about the horrors of human trafficking in our area, and the U.S. at large. To be honest, I’m still processing it all and trying to figure out what I can do next to help fight this problem that is destroying lives.

 

Mixed media artwork by Judith Monroe

 

This is the piece that I created on Saturday at the event, it’s called New Identity, in hopes that more young people who are enslaved can be freed and given new identities…

 

 

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Creating Change

 

This weekend I’m going to be part of an event called ArtofFREEDOM, working to bring greater awareness to the horrible crime of human trafficking and support for the often forgotten victims of it. A couple of years ago I learned a shocking fact – my home town is a hub of human trafficking and the sex trade it supports, in large part because of the intersection of two major interstate highways. Learning just the barest minimum about this broke my heart and I wished for something that I could do to help.

 

mixed media floral art by Judith Monroe

 

A few months ago I was given that opportunity when I was asked to participate in ArtofFREEDOM, brought to Sacramento for the first time by Made for Them. I was thrilled to be able to accept. I’ll be leading as many as 160 participants in a hands-on art project, starting with a blank canvas to represent the fresh start that those rescued are given. But they need help and I have created several artworks just for this event, and the proceeds from these works will go towards that end, especially supporting Courage Worldwide

 

mixed media floral art by Judith Monroe

 

All of these brand new works are florals, inspired by the lovely rose garden that the event will be held in, and representing the beauty within each of the girls rescued from the sex trade. Really it’s a very small thing that I’m doing, but if each of us did just a little thing, all together it could be a pretty big deal.

 

 

 

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Next up…

 

worktable

 

Planning on getting these new floral images transferred to panels today!

 

 

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The art of Compassion

 

This past weekend, I painted on stage during four different church services at Bridgeway Christian Church in Rocklin, California, where I attend every week, barring sickness or vacation. It’s something I do periodically as part of my regular involvement there. I prepare well in advance, studying the Bible passage or passages that will be taught, knowing what the main theme that will be pulled from those passages will be, but interpreting on my own. This time the main theme was the compassion of God, shown through miracles that Jesus performed. In this, as in all my work, I consider the Holy Spirit to be my muse, giving me my visions and ideas.

 

In this series, I was struck by how Jesus physically demonstrated the compassion of God by reaching out and touching, so I was inspired to use hands to illustrate the compassion of Christ. This then coincided with the pastor’s stories that he shared of how we can be Jesus o others when we reach out and show God’s love to them in tangible ways.

 

To prepare, I had taken the photographs, using my cooperative husband as a model. I had then printed those images out in nine pieces and transferred the pieces onto the 3×4 foot canvases in my home studio. (As it happened, that process alone took about twelve hours over two days.) I then collected collage materials, including papers, more of my own photographs and pressed and dried seedlings, putting them into separate project envelopes for each piece, and found and wrote out other scriptural references to the compassion of God.

 

I also brought my collection of stencils along with my regular assortment of paints and brushes. Usually, when I paint in my studio, I use acrylic glazes to create transparency and layers of color, but when I’m painting on stage, I use acrylic airbrush medium to create a similar effect, but one that dries much faster, so is more well suited to faster paced work.

 

I only had a basic idea of what I would actually do with these artworks, but I have learned to trust that the Spirit will lead and to not get anxious about it, but just to go with it as it happens. I also allow myself to touch up and make minor adjustments or additions in the studio afterwards if I feel it makes the work stronger. That’s also when I finish the edges, varnish, and put on hanging hardware so the pieces can be hung before the next weekend. I hung these works in Bridgeway’s community hall today, where they will stay until the next set of live paintings are created and rotated in.

 

Reaching - photo transfers and mixed media on canvas by Judith Monroe

Reaching
“Jesus reached out and touched him…” Matthew 8:3
(Additional passages citing God’s compassion come from Lamentations 3:31-33 and Micah 7:18-19)
Photo transfers, collage, acrylic, wax pastel and pressed seedling on canvas

 

Compassion - photo transfers and mixed media on canvas by Judith Monroe

Compassion
“When the Lord saw her, his heart overflowed with compassion…” Luke 7:13
(Additional passages citing God’s compassion come from Psalm 145:8-9 and Mark 6:34)
Photo transfers, collage, acrylic, wax pastel and pressed seedling on canvas

 

Transformed - photo transfers and mixed media on canvas by Judith Monroe

Transformed
“Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him…” Mark 1:41
(Additional passages citing God’s compassion come from Isaiah 49:13 and Joel 2:13)
Photo transfers, collage, acrylic, wax pastel and pressed seedling on canvas

 

Mercy - photo transfers and mixed media on canvas by Judith Monroe

Mercy
“Jesus reached out and touched him…” Luke 5:13
(Additional passages citing God’s compassion come from Exodus 34:6 and Psalm 51:1)
Photo transfers, collage, acrylic, wax pastel and pressed seedling on canvas

Proceeds benefit Bridgeway Christian Church programs. Contact Rachel Clark at rachel@bridgewaychristianchurch.org for purchase details.

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Finishing touches

 

artworks in progress by Judith Monroe

 

Putting the finishing touches on the paintings I did live onstage this weekend. I’ll post more about these new works later this week…

 

 

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Here, there, anywhere…

 

I have always loved to travel, even if it was on a budget and just going as far as we can go in a day and drive back. When I was young, we lived in Southern California and my parents would take the family on day trips, as well as camping trips throughout the state and visits to family in Northern California. I always loved to go, whether it was to the beach or the mountains surrounding Los Angeles or the long trek up the valley to Sacramento.

 

Photographs by Judith Monroe taken at local park

 

My husband and I continued that tradition, at first on our own tight budget and then when he joined the Army, courtesy of Uncle Sam. The first adventure associated with the Army life was when I drove from Sacramento, California to Fort Rucker, Alabama, taking six days in my tiny Honda packed to the brim with my dog to go join my husband in flight school. It was exhausting and wonderful. We lived in Alabama, Germany and Colorado, and always did what we could to see everything possible and I always took photographs along the way.

 

After coming back home to Northern California and realizing I was an artist, we had two small children and traveling was trickier, but we did what we could. Now that our children are young adults, we have more freedom again. Everywhere I go, I take at least one camera, if not two or three, and very often artworks come from those travels, sooner or later. Most of the time we don’t travel far, it’s still very common for us to take day trips and we are so blessed to live in an area where there is so much to see and so much beauty. Sometimes we’ll drive into the Sierra Nevada, or into the Napa and Sonoma Valleys, or over to the coast and head north or south. Recently I took half a day with a friend to visit a new spot in the Sierra foothills just two hours north of home. It almost doesn’t matter. There is one park not five minutes away from my house where I sometimes walk my dogs – and always bring a camera – and I can almost count on coming back with images that are fuel for artworks. Nearly everywhere I go I find something that will provide the basis for a new artwork sooner or later.

 

Recently I’ve started traveling a little further for artistic fodder. Last year I was invited by a gallery in Sedona, Arizona, to see what I might do with their local landscape. My husband was game, of course, and last May we took a road trip down to Sedona, then through the desert over to Joshua Tree National Park in California and back home again. I got plenty of wonderful images and got even more when I returned to Arizona in November and got representation not only at the Lanning Gallery in Sedona, but with Tilt Gallery in Scottsdale as well.

 

Photograph taken by Judith Monroe in Sedona, Arizona

 

When I get to a location, inspiration sometimes just hits immediately, when the light is just right or the landscape particularly moves me. Sedona is one of those places that is so naturally spectacular, it’s almost like all I have to do is point the camera and shoot… Other times it’s not so easy; I’ve had days out on the road where I never even took out a camera, but thankfully that doesn’t happen very often.

 

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How to Encourage a Budding Artist

 

Every so often, someone approaches me about their child who is an amazing artist and asks me if I take students or know of classes or just what they should do. I used to take on individual students, but with my college classes and production schedule, that’s not feasible any longer and sometimes I can point to a friend I know who’s taking students but sometimes I can find myself at a loss, so I started thinking about what I would do with my own child in this case…

 

The first thing I would do is ask my child what kind of artwork interests them most, what is it that they like to draw or paint or sculpt. So often we as parents want to shape and mold our children, but I think it’s especially important to let them determine their own creative path, whether we understand it or not. Ask them what it is they would like to do, talk to them about some of the possibilities that I’ll be mentioning here, and let them determine what appeals to them most. Of course, as parents, we need to be there to guide and protect, as appropriate. But it’s important not to force them in a direction they don’t want to go in. And I think that having them try things once before they make a decision can be a good thing, too…

 

students in a high school art class working on mixed media artworks

 

I would take an artistic child to local museums or galleries to see if they can find things that appeal to them, whether it’s what they want to pursue or not. Being able to see and absorb quality work is important for artists and creatives of all ages. Even being exposed to something I have no interest in doing myself can stimulate so much in my mind and be inspirational. I think with the lack of art appreciation being taught in our schools that this is especially important. Take the time to not just look at the artwork, but see if you can find out how it was created and what inspired the artist and talk about that with your child. Discovering more about the work in context can be a spring board for your child’s own creativity and can possibly help you understand your young artist a little better.

 

Local museums also often have programs for children and young adults who are interested in creating art. I know that the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento has family oriented events on a regular basis that encourage artistic exploration and that they host quality art education during the summer and other school holidays. Parks districts, after-school programs, and churches sometimes host art education programs and all of these are great ways for children to get hands-on experience. Finally, sometimes you can find community art organizations or local artists that teach children’s art classes. Here in Sacramento, I can personally recommend my friend Margaret Sarantis and the business she has built called Sacramento Art Classes. Margaret is a wonderful person and a talented artist and I would completely trust her with my own children.

 

I would also make sure my artistic child has appropriate art supplies. Maybe that’s a starter kit from a local craft store, in whatever my child has expressed interest in. Maybe an art instructor can give you some guidance. Shopping together (with a pre-determined budget) is a great way to let a child or teen know that you take their interest seriously and that you support that interest. It can be a learning, bonding experience for you both. If neither of you really know what you want to get, find a sales associate at the store and ask for guidance. I usually suggest not getting whatever is cheapest, but rather aim for products in the mid-range price for children. A lot of art and craft supply stores have supplies made for children that are decent quality, but won’t break Mom and Dad’s budget. I’d spend more for a serious teenager, but still not go for top quality art supplies for anyone still exploring, as that can get very pricey very quickly.

 

Finally, I would give my artistic child or teenager permission to dream about a career in art, whatever that means for them. For the youngest children, it might be a passing dream, but for the serious teen, I would suggest doing research about the field that they are interested in, finding out how people successful in that field got to where they are, and then practically pursuing that. It’s important to remember that a lot of artists are really small business owners and not all art programs include the business side in their curriculum, which is a disservice to aspiring artists. We all need to be realistic about the practical side of life and a creative child who faces a tough battle in the art world can scare us as parents, I get that. But I’ve talked to so many adults in their forties, fifties and beyond who were talked out of their passion, or who gave it up when they were young, and they are sorry they didn’t pursue it when they were younger. It’s never too late to pursue a creative passion, but there is no reason it can’t be part of a young person’s life, whatever that means for them.

 

 

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