I am in Monica’s sacred space, her studio. It is a hot June day and we talk about the summer in Phoenix and how it is such a good time to be in the studio. There is first of all the light and then the air conditioning. I literally get down on my knees to photograph the piece she is working on today. It is a painting of a male torso, she has previously finished the female torso and I look at both. I want to know how she builds the painting. The richness in the painted surface is what she uses to build the form.
Monica approaches the male form in terms of the muscle and bone structure. As she paints she adds the other systems in layers but not in the conventional manner of medical illustration, or life drawing, rather by their importance. The systems such as the arterial will be faithfully accounted for and then covered by the next layer. If something conceptually important like the heart should become obscured –she goes back and delineates it again as the figure becomes complete.
The female form is begun with the soft tissue and the lymphatic system. Both male and female start in the center of the painting and grow outward. I ask her if it is important that we know if it is male or female and she acknowledges that it is the energy between the male and female that she is working with in this pair. I can see the difference but I so love the line and surface that for me, the pieces transcend their gender. As she says, it is the energy of the systems, male and female that exists, explodes and rewards my eyes.
You will see what I mean in January. Carolyn had mentioned that Monica was kicking it with her new work and she is.
On a technical note she is applying casein and egg tempera using both long lettering brushes and Japanese brushes. Knowing how to use these brushes enables an artist to achieve a wonderful whip-lash line with maximum control. Monica likes control but these paintings have taken her to a new almost cellular level where chaos is her friend and really, nothing is stasis.