ABOUT JUDITH MONROE
I’m Judith, a mixed media artist with a strong background in traditional and alternative process photographic techniques. I have incorporated mixed media into my photography since the 1980’s; beginning in my college years, I have traveled on a journey of independent study, constantly expanding my knowledge and gradually bringing more collage, writing, and drawing into my finished pieces.
The resulting imagery is a lot like my personal journal pages, with dominating photos that bleed into color and texture; hidden treasures of text and sketches wait for the viewer to discover them. My artworks contain multiple layers of physical materials, representing layers of meaning; beginning with black and white photographs that stand in for the physical world, I add layers of collage, color and text that represent the spiritual world, giving our physical world meaning and substance.
My unique creative process has been featured in both local and national media. My artworks are included in public and private collections from Sacramento to Scotland and shown in galleries in California and Arizona.
Conversations With Nature
People of faith often find that being in the rugged beauty of nature makes them feel closer to God. For me, this connection between faith and nature, fueled by the spark of my creative spirit, has culminated in a body of beautiful and deeply moving pieces. I find beauty in things that seem commonplace, such as a tree, a bird’s nest, or an insect, and I use my innate artistic skill to allow others to see the world in a unique and inspiring way.
I was born in Roseville, California, though I spent much of my early childhood in Southern California as my father studied religion. Though he eventually switched directions and became an accountant, our parent’s faith was a constant in our lives as children. I was also encouraged in creativity by my mother, who eventually earned a degree in art. My childhood was filled with little art projects made of household items. I used cardboard, paper, tape, and glue to make dollhouses and furniture to entertain myself and translated my creativity into school projects. I made some pretty monumental messes.
Our family moved back to Northern California when I was in the fifth grade. As a teenager, I focused my creativity into writing and I eventually went to college to study journalism. Unexpectedly, my studies led me back to my roots in visual art. While taking a photography class that counted toward my journalism major, I fell in love with the art form when I saw my first photograph come up in the developer. The magic of that creative moment propelled me into a completely different focus, and I began taking as many photography and graphic art classes I could, still counting toward my journalism degree.
While in college, I met and married my husband, Scott, who joined the United States Army shortly after I graduated. We lived in Alabama, Germany, and Colorado courtesy of the military. I worked as graphic artist for the Army for a while in Germany. Wherever Scott was stationed, I always spent time in nature taking photographs.
We had our first child while living in Colorado. Shortly afterward, Scott’s military service ended, and we moved back to Northern California, where our second child was born. With two busy toddlers to care for, I became a stay-at-home mother. Though I absolutely love my children, I discovered that I needed a creative outlet to be truly content. With the enthusiastic support of my husband, I began taking time to experiment with and create artwork.
My style developed largely through experimentation. I started out with hand-coloring black and white photographs because I was drawn to color. I couldn’t make color films and papers reproduce the colors I remembered. Seems I always remember things more vividly than they really are. I used oil paint for a while during college but switched to a mixed media approach that was more practical to work with while taking care of my small children.
At first, I used colored pencil in layers, which allowed me to color in tiny details. However, this media began to feel tight and restraining, so I started using a similar layering method with watercolors that were specifically designed for hand coloring, allowing me to work in a more quick and loose manner. Eventually, I combined the two mediums, penciling on top of layers of watercolor, then began experimenting with layering images in the darkroom. Finally, I began creating collages of photographs on canvas and using acrylics to add my own unique colorful perspective to my pieces. My style continues to grow and evolve as I incorporate new bits and pieces into my creative process.
I have taken workshops with other artists, as well as incorporating the skills I learned in college, though my art is mostly created through my own unique experimental process. My mother loved the work of Georgia O’Keefe, and O’Keefe’s use of color and choice of subject matter has always resonated with me, becoming a major influence of my own art. I was also influenced by David Hockney’s photo mosaic art in the 1980’s, which inspired me to use photography in unconventional ways.
However, my main inspiration comes from the incredible wonders of nature. My subject matter consists primarily of things in nature that fascinate me. Sometimes I feel like a little kid again, reveling in how a snail creeps across the ground or amazed at the patterns in the veins of a leaf. I enjoy hiking with my dogs and exploring new places, finding new and interesting things to capture through the lens of my camera.
I am constantly creating mixed-media art at my home studio in Northern California, where I can go any time I feel the need to create. I also teach photography classes part time at a local community college and enjoy time in the darkroom, where I feel close to my creative roots. I love encouraging new artists and teaching people the complex process behind an art that seems simple to many people.
Being an artist of faith has given me the opportunity to belong to several communities of religious artists, including Christians in the Visual Arts. I have also led faith and art groups locally and I meet often with a small group of my artist friends that call ourselves The Art Q.
My art has won numerous awards at community and religious art festivals and contests and was even featured in an episode of “That’s Clever” on HGTV in 2005. My pieces have been described by collectors as “conversations with Nature,” and are said to invoke “not only a feeling, but also an entire environment that surrounds the viewer and captures the heart.” My art captures the beautiful and complex relationship between humanity, nature, and God.
The redeeming love of God is central to my captivating and colorful art. My artwork is very much an extension of my spiritual life. My work can be an expression of worship, of prayer or meditation. I always want people to see redemption, beauty and transformation in my art, to feel love and peace.