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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

“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

“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

“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

“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 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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On the worktable


mixed media collage by judith monroe


I’ve decided this year that I’m going to keep an art journal as a spiritual/creative exercise, I’ve done a few pages so far, so that’s good. I don’t give myself a schedule, really, but I want to sort of constantly have something going there. This is my most recent spread, my participation in an online community project that seems to have taken on a life of it’s own, called Target Practice, started by fellow artist Laura Tringoli Holmes. I call this “Heading in the Right Direction.” You can check out the Target Practice blog here.



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My love affair with David Hockney

(Or how Mr. Hockney’s work has influenced me over the past thirty years.)

When someone asks what artists have influenced my work, my standard off-the-cuff answer is “I don’t know…” which I know is rather lame, but is actually honest. I’ve never looked at another artist’s work and said to myself, “I want to do that.” I’m too much of a rebel for that approach. Instead, I’ll look at something and be amazed, in awe, let it soak in, and move on… It generally isn’t until much later that I’ll realize that my subconscious pulled from that work and integrated it in some way into my own.

How David Hockney has influenced my work is much like that. I was first exposed (haha, lame photographer’s joke!) to Hockney’s work in the mid 1980’s. I was taken to an exhibit in Berkeley that had several works by probably more than just Hockney, but all I remember was one giant piece that was a photo collage. It might have been Pear Blossom, but somehow I think it was something else. What I do remember is how amazed I was at the work that went into it and how all the small images created one larger image, and how I had no intention whatsoever to do such a thing. I had other things on my mind and different ideas I wanted to explore at that point and I was happy to just enjoy Hockney like anyone else might. It wasn’t until just recently that I considered how that might have influenced some of the work I’ve been doing lately, all these years down the road.


David Hockney, Pearblossom Highway, 11th-18th April 1986, photographic, 77x112 1/2 in.


So when I found out that the de Young Museum in San Francisco was having a Hockney show, I put it on my must do list and put together a small group of art pals to make a day trip of it. I was not disappointed. Hockney’s recent foray into the landscape of his home turf in England resonated deeply with me, as did his use of several different panels pieced together. And then to see his “Cubist videos” was sheer heaven for me. I could have stood there immersed in his moving, mulit-perspective images of the woods along a road for even longer than I did. Let me just say that you know you’re standing there for a long time when all your artist pals have long since moved on…


David Hockney, Seven Yorkshire Landscape Videos, 2011, eighteen digital videos synchronized and presented on eighteen 55” NEC screens to comprise a single artwork, 27 x 47 7/8 inches each, 81 x 287 inches overall, duration: 12 minutes, 9 seconds


Suddenly I found myself justified in my fascination with the same landscape that I have visited hundreds of times. Like Hockney, I’m always finding new things in these familiar places, I’m entranced by the changing seasons, and quite happy to document it and make it my own over and over. And even though we do it for different reasons, I was also happy to see how he pieced together both his paintings and his videos. I was also tickled to see that he has embraced the iPhone and the iPad into his creative process, and even more so to see the de Young include it in a major exhibition. If all of these things are good enough for David Hockney and the de Young, they’re good enough for me.

So now I am finding myself encouraged and yes, inspired, by the work of David Hockney. I was already working on creating photo mosaics with my iPhone on Instagram, so I find myself emboldened by Hockney’s example. I’ll try to remember to post some studio shots of what I’m working on in the near future and you’ll see what I mean.


untitled photo mosaic by Judith Monroe

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