Wherever I have moved in the past, the various landscapes and the light particular to the place were the most important aspects for me, because I breathe and live landscape – it is the reason that I am now living at 8100 feet elevation in the most fascinating area in Northern New Mexico, where the eye can travel endlessly in each direction.
Clouds above me often veil the mountains, sometimes below me they obscure the valley; I find intricately drawn patterns all around me. I have the choice between mountains, an ocean of sagebrush, the Rio Grande gorge, pinon forests or close-up wildflowers. I can breathe freely in this wide open space. I pay my respect to the forces that shaped the land, which in turn shaped the local cultures, as well as to the fauna and flora that inhabits it, both in my art and my life.
Since I moved to Lama I have been working in three different techniques.
The first is a combination of painting and drawing using acrylic ink, either on paper or on wooden cradled boards. These colorful paintings, mostly diptychs ranging from 8” by 16” to 12” by 24”, are mental “snapshots” of the ever changing quality of light, color and mood of vistas I happen to observe from my property, or while driving. As these “snapshots” are firmly burned into my memory, I have no need to use photos. Applying an innovative sequence of techniques, I first block in the main shapes with a brush, then use pen and ink to overlay the painting with patterns describing various surface qualities in fine detail.
My second approach falls into the category of mixed media, where I re-use old watercolors, prints and drawings to create small collaged landscapes, often with a small woman in it who expresses in her body language an emotional state, an insight, or a particular memory.
I have used my third approach for my newest four pieces and the many options that it offers will spawn many more paintings. It is loosely based on my first approach, but allows for a greater sense of creativity and exploration, while still depicting the northern New Mexico landscape with its huge variety of textures and vegetation. However, I am drawing with just one color of acrylic ink onto a large wooden cradled board, 36” by 24”, with a lively underpainting of Burnt Sienna and Payne’s Gray acrylic paint.
I typically include small cultural vignettes that attest to the history and viability of the older local cultures, Indian and Hispanic, such as an almost forgotten local cemetery or traditional activities such as picking mushrooms and collecting pinon nuts. With great care I draw each tree, shrub and rock as an individual and insert various birds to add narrative.
These lush, rich and varied pieces are in my estimate truly unique and invite the viewer to slow down in this fast-paced era and to mindfully wander around and discover what it means to live in the northern Sangre de Christo mountains.
Galleries: Magpie Gallery, (781) 248-0166
Wilder Nightingale Gallery, 119 Kit Carson Rd, Taos, NM 87571, (575) 758-3255
Here are a few images of Monique’s Studio