Past FOA exhibitor Monica Edwards is noted for her expressive landscape and botanical paintings. Her work was in a recent exhibit for Dana Point Sister Cities in Sorrento Italy, and she won an international Talent Prize Award in the landscapes category at Teravarna Gallery in Los Angeles.

Her latest endeavor takes place in a travel van, outfitted with a sliding door and easel setup, giving her added mobility for painting on-location. The Artist Fund recently caught up with Edwards for a fun “Q and A”:

Q: What are your favorite museums?

A: One I could visit day after day is the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. Locally, the Hilbert Museum is near and dear to my heart. It’s nice to have a collector who appreciates narrative art, being that my training is in illustration.  The art of storytelling through visuals is greatly appreciated by Mark Hilbert. 

Q: Who are a few favorite artists?

A: That’s a scary question because I know I’ll miss some very important ones. Some that consistently inspire me are Joaquin Sorolla, Toulouse Lautrec, Richard Schmidt and Edgar Payne. But I’m also blown away by the work of my peers, such as my teacher/mentor John Cosby. Matt Smith has beautiful desert works, Durre Waseem has an uncanny ability to capture movement and light, and the subtle tones of Eric Merrill are always mesmerizing. 

Q: I became an artist because?

A:  It’s what I’ve always done. Always my friend, it is my go-to for comfort, joy, money –  it’s been a consistent companion in my life. Does it let me down? Yes. Does it challenge me? Yes. Does it do all the things a good partner in life does? Yes! Yes it does. I guess I never realized until just now that it has always been there for me. Thank you, art. I love you. 

Q: What’s your best environment for painting?

A: I guess I’m a fair weather plein air painter these days. Years ago, I didn’t mind the wind, rain, heat and sun. But a change in health really changes the tolerances. These days, I like it calm. I don’t like a lot of heat or sun. I need to sit now which is NOT an artists friend. It’s important to stand and step back. I’m finding that outdoors while painting in my van I can be in bright sun and have my protection. I’m truly loving this new van setup! The sounds of nature and chatting with people are all part of the outdoor experience. When I’m in my studio I use daylight bulbs and sometimes listen to audiobooks – catching up on old classics in literature.

Q: How do you pick a plein air painting spot?

A: I’m captured by the way light and shadow cloak a scene. Then I slow, look and see if anything just captures me. Then I begin to design in my mind, using my senses and hands to frame out a decent composition. It’s often a game of logistics though… where is it legal to park, where can you enter, how long can you stay. All those practical matters can really get in the way of the creative process. Hence, the van. I’m finding this brings more opportunity in choosing a spot and being incognito. 

Q: What’s something people don’t know about you?

A: I’m an open book, but I’ve also had a big life so although there’s a ton of things that people don’t know about me, there is probably a ton of things I wish people didn’t know about me too!  Let’s say that not many people know I was a  very good clarinetist in my day. First chair Florida All-State! I played all the way into college and beyond. I just gave it up in the early 2000’s. Now, with my lung cancer, I can hardly sustain a note. I guess that’s something. 

Q: What’s your greatest career achievement?

A: This is going to be one of those I look back on, and think I should have answered another way. My answer for this moment is … looking back and being able to say that I’ve been a working artist my whole life and managed to buy a home and raise a beautiful son is something I can be proud of. 

Q: What would be a dream project?

A: If I had ten more years, would start school that teaches old world art, craftsmanship and skills. With this new world direction and growing separation of classes, I think it would be wise to figure out what people who are not in the tech world can do with their time. Historically, the bourgeois would hire artists to sculpt ceiling tiles, tool banisters, weld iron gates, blow glass light fixtures, and carve yard sculptures. We employed people to create an ornate world that is greatly lacking in todays society. There is no reason why we can’t return to some of these aesthetics in these times. We need it. But we will not have anyone to teach these old techniques if we don’t scoop up those who know how to do it and put them to work teaching those skills. I’d love to build that college. Let’s do it! 

Monica Edwards exhibits at Randy Higbee Gallery in Costa Mesa, and Studio 7 Gallery in Laguna Beach.

Copyright © The Artists Fund at The Festival of Arts


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