Price range: $110 to $1,650. Point to an image for more information. Click to enlarge.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
The multiple layers in the nature-based artworks by Judith Monroe are, to the artist, perfect metaphors for the layers of the world around us: The photographs which make up the underlying genesis of each piece is like the physical world; the colors and various media under the artworks’ surface is like the spiritual world, there for us to see and find if we take the time to look.
The singular technique that Judith Monroe now follows to produce each mixed media piece evolved as she herself evolved as an artist. Judith Monroe experienced the good fortune of growing up under the influence of a highly artistic mother, one who taught her how to draw in perspective and how to mix colors. By college, she had expanded her creative focus and earned a journalism degree from California State University in Sacramento. It was there that she took her first photography class. Seeing her first print come up in the developer in the darkroom completely hooked her; she changed her focus, taking every photography class offered in addition to independent study and classes in graphic arts. It was an illustration professor who first encouraged her to incorporate photography with other media.
Judith Monroe worked first as a photographer then as a graphic artist before taking a couple of years off to have her children. Without art as a constant in her life, she noticed the difference and that re-focused her, this time to pursue precisely that which would be most fulfilling.
She returned to the darkroom and, unable to get color films and papers to produce the colors she felt and remembered from each scene of nature she strove to present, she began hand-coloring her photos, capturing the feelings of each place, capturing the emotions she had felt there. Judith Monroe realized that her process of creation became, as she says: “a sort of looking back to Eden or forward to Heaven.” The traditional hand-coloring process led her to add visual layers to her photographs right in the darkroom with photograms (placing objects directly onto the surface of photographic paper then exposing it to light), she began mixing media onto the photographs using watercolors and pencils. Her work with K-12 education programs teaching journaling and sketching led to the epiphany that incorporating all the elements of her inspiration onto her art pieces was where her heart lay. Her current collage technique was born.
Judith Monroe begins each piece with a black and white photograph, either film or digital. She then produces an image transfer by printing the image digitally then coating the digital print with an acrylic medium. This medium pulls the ink out of the paper as it dries. She then soaks this and peels the paper off the back, leaving a transparent film with the image in it. This transfer is applied onto a prepared wood panel that often has collage elements already in place. Monroe adds texture with another acrylic medium and may add additional collage elements. She adds color with pencils, then acrylic glazes and wax pastels. Additional layers of media are possible, as each piece dictates. When the piece feels complete, she adds a coat of varnish to protect the surface and create an even finish.
Her goal is to be working nearly all the time, whether shooting pictures, processing
images, pulling together collected materials or creating final pieces. When she’s in full production mode, Judith Monroe works nearly 40 hours a week, usually on several pieces at once. She can complete several smaller pieces in a week while larger ones can take a couple of weeks. The resulting landscape imagery, with dominating photos that bleed into abstracted landscapes of color and texture, hidden elements of text and sketches waiting for viewers to discover, and multiple layers of physical materials all combine to capture an unmatched experience of nature.
Judith Monroe currently teaches darkroom photography, a class or two a semester at a local community college, to share with others the joy it has always brought her. Her work has been featured in STYLE Magazine as well as on HGTV and has won the artist numerous awards. Her images have been published by Recycled Paper Greetings and in the international publication, The Best of Photography Annual. Artwork by Judith Monroe is included in public and private collections throughout the U.S.