My early years in Hannibal, Missouri and Quincy, Illinois had a distinctly outdoors orientation–boating trips on the Mississippi, long rambles on my grandfather’s Missouri farm. At age nine I was given my first set of oils (the good stuff containing heavy metals) and I began a lifelong artistic exploration of my environment. I have degrees from Northwestern University and the University of Arizona, where I worked with the magnificent landscape painter Bruce McGrew. I’ve had a fellowship that took me to Italy and my first small exhibit was at Aix-en-Provence, France. Since then, my work has been displayed at shows and various galleries. I am represented by Victoria Boyce Galleries in Scottsdale, AZ.
I tend to view the world in a slightly cubist way, and I structure my works according to perceptual patterns of light and shade. I try to push the mysterious elements that hover at the transition areas between luminous forms. Out in the field, I look for subjects that display rhythmically recurring features and possibilities for resonant color combinations. The eroded landscapes found throughout the Southwest are particularly fascinating to me, as are the amazing skies. My work has been described as “a realism deliberately merged with essentializing abstractions.” I do know that selection and elimination and emphasis, not a literal “photographic” image, is what I pursue. What I think is that my landscapes seem to be listening or waiting for something about to happen or maybe just happened–not the happenings reported in newspapers, but a splash of sunlight or a shadow that once in a hundred years falls just so and not otherwise.
I continue to paint with oils almost exclusively because of their sensuous warmth and because they allow the painter to build layers and make adjustments as the work emerges. Although an impressive array of technology is available for today’s artist, who can meld traditional forms with computer manipulation, my personal choice is to keep materials extremely simple. My sense of the scene is entirely conveyed by my oils, three brushes, a rag, and occasionally an envelope to check edges. My hand-stretched canvases are of archival quality and my spirits, oils, and varnishes are premium grade. Each painting is given about a month to finish itself on my easel, because each evolves a feel and life of its own.
Toru Tagawa, conductor of the Tucson Repertory Orchestra, presents a giclee of Nancy Monsman’s “Desert Rain” to the Mayor of Kibichuo Cho, Japan during their October 2015 tour.