Artist Monica Vernay shares with us her inspirational and motivational artist journey and talks about her experience in college and the different art techniques she uses to create her beautiful artwork.
Be sure to visit Monica’s website and follower her on her social media sites. The links are located on the bottom of the interview.
Featured Artist Monica Vernay
Dave – Hello Monica and thank you for joining me today. I first discovered you on Twitter and have recently visited your Artist Website Monica J Vernay Art. How long have you been creating art and what inspires you to continue creating?
Monica – Hi Dave thank you for having me as one of your featured artists, I feel very honored.
As far back as I can remember I was always drawing pictures in notebooks or creating little paper dolls with different outfits.
For me, getting new art supplies was the best part of going ‘back to school’ in the fall as a kid. I continue creating today because it’s just a part of who I am.
There is so much around that I find inspiring ~like the way the light is hitting my cup of coffee in the late afternoon or the subtle colors and patterns on the bark of a tree. I always try to have a sketchbook with me, I even keep one in my car.
Dave – You are a true artist. Sketching and observing everything around you is one of the best ways to enhance your artistic skills and it shows in your paintings. How would you describe your art?
Monica – My watercolors, woodcut, and linocut images are an interpretation of the things in my daily life.
The work is representational but not overly realistic.
I tend to combine my other printmaking practices (monotype, drypoint, and collagraph) to explore themes and ideas further.
Through the process of layering images with pattern and texture, and combining techniques, these prints evolve into something a little more experimental.
Dave – What message do you hope your audience receives from your art?
Monica – While I don’t set out to convey any particular message to an audience, I paint and print what I love, so I do hope that people can connect to my work on some positive level.
I enjoy it when someone says they love the colors or texture of a particular piece or are intrigued by the subject matter of another.
My creative time is an escape. Sometimes it’s more about the process of creating something rather than the end result especially when I’m printmaking.
My work is definitely not political nor do I try to evoke any negative visceral reactions from it.
Dave – What makes your artwork unique?
Monica – That’s an interesting question Dave and one that has no simple answer.
Perhaps what makes my work unique is the subject matter that I choose or the colors that I gravitate toward.
It could be simply the medium I use to create a particular piece watercolor, white-line woodblock, or collagraph.
Do I add a layer of pattern or texture to a monotype or not?
These are all choices that are unique to me in my own work. But the truth is, as artists, we are all unique.
We could all be given the same information – a still life, a portrait, or landscape to re-create and each one would turn out as different from each other as our DNA.
Dave – You have many different techniques that you use for your artwork. Would you tell us how you got started with linoleum block printing, drypoint etching, monotype and watercolor, and monotype?
Monica – I began to study watercolor after graduating from college when I was working as a surface pattern designer in Los Angeles.
I started with some night classes at the Barnsdall Art Center.
We moved 50 miles north of LA and I continued studying watercolor with Phyl Doyon in her Camarillo studio.
After relocating north again to the SF Bay Area I took classes with Karen Frey in her Oakland studio.
Both Phyl and Karen have had a huge artistic impact in my life and I value the time I spent with them in their studios.
I was introduced to printmaking as part of my studio art curriculum at LMU.
Later, while taking w/c painting at Barnsdall I enrolled in an etching/intaglio class.
I was so eager to learn this practice but after spending the first class going over the hazards involved in etching (nitric acid fumes, resin dust, etc.) I had second thoughts.
I was newly pregnant with my first child and confided this information to the teacher that evening.
She advised me to drop the course as a safety precaution. I’m forever grateful to her, not only for her concern over my baby’s health but that her honest advice set me in a different direction with my printmaking exploration.
I taught myself linoleum and woodblock printing, collagraph, drypoint etching.
I first learned about monotype from Phil Doyon.
I pursued safer printmaking techniques first through workshops given by Julia and Gail Ayres and later by Ron Prokrasso at the Making Art Safely studio in Santa Fe, NM.
I use Akua water-based inks and continue to keep a solvent-free studio today.
Dave – I am happy to hear that you talked with your teacher. Sometimes we can easily overlook the hazards of some of the supplies we use. What makes each technique unique?
Monica – Watercolor is unique from other painting mediums because of its inherent fluidity and the delicacy of transparent layers of color.
It is these qualities that give watercolor the reputation of being unforgiving and unpredictable.
When I am painting it is a constant balance of controlling the medium while allowing it just enough freedom to remain fresh and luminous (hopefully!).
The printmaking process is unique from other forms of art making because images are created by the transfer of ink from a substrate (wood, linoleum, metal, stone, plexiglass, etc.) to paper (or fabric) rather than painting directly on to paper (or canvas).
It’s done by either hand burnishing with a baren or running through a press. With the exception of monotype, each process is capable of creating multiple impressions from the same plate (matrix) called an ‘edition’.
While the imagery in a particular edition will always be the same the artist can choose to keep the color scheme the same or very the colors from one print to the next.
With my woodcuts and linocuts, I prefer the latter as I love to play with different color combinations.
It is really important to note that in printmaking each and every print is a hand-pulled original piece of art – not a ‘copy’ or reproduction (digital or otherwise) of existing artwork.
In other words, printmaking is not to be confused with fine art ‘giclee’ (digital) printing.
For more detailed information on the different methods of printmaking I suggest the following online resources:
www.makingartsafely.com (for workshops using safer materials and practices)
For further reading :
The Encyclopedia of Printmaking Techniques by Judy Martin
Monotype -Mediums and Methods For Painterly Printmaking by Julia Ayres
Non-Toxic Printmaking by Mark Graver
Dave – Thank you for sharing these with us. You earned a B.A. in Studio Art from Loyola Marymount University and a certificate in textile/surface pattern design from Otis Art Institute/Parsons School of Design, what were some of your fondest memories in art school?
Monica – Aside from the pure joy of exposure and exploration of different art methods and materials, my fondest memories from school were meeting fantastic people (my husband Steve included) and making life-long friendships.
Dave – Those are some priceless memories. What subjects do you wish they covered in your classes?
Monica – I’m very satisfied with subjects covered both at LMU and Otis Parsons. LMU provided a very well rounded exploration of the visual arts while my time at Otis was very focused on one particular field of art.
Dave – What advice would you give to inspiring artists who are thinking of specializing in the art in college?
Monica – To anyone interested in studying art in college today I would say be open to all the opportunities available to you on a college campus.
It is a great time to take advantage of the facilities such as a ceramic studio or printmaking studio with several presses available to you as a student.
Also, if there is a course on the business of art making/selling/marketing take it!
Dave – When did you start selling your art and how did you get started?
Monica – I first started selling my art when I participated in group shows at the Doyon Studio and Gallery in Camarillo, Ca. I also sell through commissions and word of mouth. I’m fairly new to the online business of selling so I’m still navigating that road.
Dave – Your artist website is clean, easy to navigate and showcases your art very well, what platform are you using?
Monica – Thank you, Dave, I really appreciate your input on my website!
I use Artspan for my platform.
I started my website about a year and a half ago after a lot of research and hesitation. I am not a very technically savvy person but Artspan made it fairly easy for me to get started.
I am also going to open up an Etsy shop within the next few months for some of my smaller prints.
Dave – Do you find it easy to keep your website up-to-date?
Monica – Yes – you can log into your control panel and upload more artwork or change the look or layout of your website at any time.
Dave – How do you drive traffic to your site?
Monica – Truthfully, I’m just learning about SEO and figuring that part out. I know that putting myself out there on social media has helped but this is an area that I really need to dive deeper into.
Your website has a lot of great information!
Dave – Thank you, Monica. What tips could you give to new artists who are interested in selling their artwork?
Monica – Creating the artwork is important and fun – but it is just as important to spend time on the business end of art making.
Be organized from the beginning so it’s not too overwhelming. Keep records of the art you plan to sell and devise a number reference system for each piece. Also, learn how to take good photos of your artwork.
Dave – Thank you Monica that is some great advise. Would you mind sharing three of your favorite creations and share the story behind them?
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This is a 9×12” white line woodblock print called “Around the Path”. It is the first print in a proposed edition of twenty-five as noted 1/25 V.E. (varied edition) on the bottom left of the image. I plan on playing with different color variations as I do more prints in this edition. I was inspired to do the print after a watercolor sketch done while visiting the beautiful Red Butte Botanical Garden in Salt Lake City. I carved the fine lines into a block of Shina plywood. Each area of color on the block is hand inked with Akua Water-based Inks and printed several times with a baren to paper until I get the desired depth of color. It is a long process but very gratifying.
This is a 10”x10” watercolor painting called “Gilded Main Street” that I completed recently. It was November and trees all around downtown had changed color. Along came a rainstorm and knocked the leaves down and turned the sidewalks golden! We aren’t known for fall colors here in California so I find every little bit that we do get just magical.
This is a monotype with drypoint and chine-collé. The print measures 16”x16” and is called “Hail Storm”. I applied ink directly to the monotype plate in layers using various mark making tools such as brayers and paintbrushes. Each layer of ink required a run through the etching press to transfer the image to paper. The imagery of the fallen trees (left of center) was done in drypoint and printed on to a separate piece of thin Japanese printmaking paper. During one stage of development, this paper was laid on the plate (glue side up) and run through the press transferring it to the print. Chine-collé is the name of this method of collage in printmaking.
Dave – What social media sites can people follow you on?
Monica – I’m on Twitter and Instagram both handles are @printgirlmjv
Dave – Where can people purchase your art?
Monica – People can always DM me through Twitter or Instagram or contact me via my website
( Etsy store is coming soon and when it’s open I’ll add the link on my website and SM sites)
Dave – I would like to thank you one more time for sharing your artistic journey with us and I look forward to seeing all of your new creations.
Monica – Thank you, Dave!
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