If Duluth has an official “look,” it’s a Chris Monroe cartoon. There is no possible way that you haven’t seen her art at some point. She has a show of new work opening Monday, Dec. 12, at in the Zeitgeist Arts Café. In this week’s “Selective Focus” she fills us in on some of the details.
C.M.: I work in several different mediums — gouache, pen and ink for the comics and other drawings, and oil pastel. My upcoming show is primarily oil pastel. It is the medium I often go to for fun.
I started drawing with oil pastel at MCAD. It was a medium that captured an immediacy and texture that interested me. It is hard to get tiny details with it, so it is a challenge in that way. I like that it combines drawing and painting. When I am working in pen and ink or gouache, I sometimes get carried away with detail. The oil pastel frees me from some of that.
I always try to give whatever medium I am working in some say in the process — letting it make some of the decisions for me. Over the years I have learned some tricks with the different mediums that make mistakes part of the fun. Not that it is always fun. Sometimes it is frustrating. But I give myself pep talks when things aren’t going to plan. I try to always power through, and not give up. It’s rare when I completely scrap something and start over, although it has happened.
When I finish something, I feel a big rush of happiness. I suppose it’s a lot of endorphins. I think that high is something that keeps artists doing what they do. I think that is the main reward. All the other things are lower on the list. I feel very happy when I am producing a lot.
It is great to have people like your work, but ultimately it’s about liking it yourself. I tend not to think about any audience. I am my primary audience. It goes back to that personal is universal thing. When I do my comic, I can’t think about the audience. It’s too mind boggling. I have to stick to amusing myself, and trust that other people will get it (or not.)
It’s great to be able to make at least part of my living doing what I love. But that can be a double-edge sword. When it becomes a job, well, then it is a job. Nobody really likes having a job. It takes the thing you love — your art — and turns it into something you are doing to try to make a buck. It makes a commodity of your passion and inspiration. I struggle with that sometimes. But ultimately, it is a good problem to have. Who wouldn’t want to work in a studio painting monkeys and listening to Ween? One of the better jobs to have.
I’m having a show at Zeitgeist Arts Café of new work. The opening is Monday, Dec. 12, from 5-7. It’s free and open to the public, in the restaurant part of the space. It’s also half price whiskey night, so that should help get a lot of my friends there.
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