Tuesday, June 28, 2011

zip-a-dee-duo: part II

Mr. Armitage speaking to our group before the show opening.*

"I paint what I want, when I want, how I want.
Who could ask for more!"
– Frank Armitage

The work of Frank Armitage makes up the second half of the "Zip-a-dee-duo" show that opened last Friday (in the Showroom Gallery) sponsored by the Paso Robles Art Association.

First a bit of background: Originally from Australia, Frank was inspired by the work of Mexican muralists and moved to Mexico in 1949 to pursue painting. He worked with David Alfaro Siquieros and Diego Rivera, among others. Frank still produces astounding murals today for Disney and private homes. You can see his current work, and his wife Karen's work, on their website.

After moving to Los Angeles, Frank worked at Walt Disney Studios on the animation and backgrounds of feature films such as Peter Pan, Sleeping Beauty, Mary Poppins and The Jungle Book. He was also a part of Disney Imagineering and went on to later become a noted medical illustrator. What an amazing career!

When he retired in 1989, he completed a course in Oriental Medicine and pursued post-graduate work in China. He volunteers in rural Mexico with the Flying Doctors. 

Frank's paintings and drawings vibrate with energy! Some of the themes that his work explores in this show are the West, exotic animals, Mexican peasants and paintings inspired by the novel "Water for Elephants".

"I began painting murals in Mexico in the late forties
when the mural movement was strong.
The paintings were large and full of energy.
So, that's my influence."

"Market Woman"

"Turkey Vendor"

These two paintings, "Market Woman" and "Turkey Vendor", show a definite influence from the time Frank spent in Mexico. His work is very bold and eye-catching from across a room.

"Indian Woman"

This piece entitled "Indian Woman" was one of the many loose pieces of art that was for sale and was by far my favorite. Every time I look at it I see something new. I am in love with the way Frank plays the cool shadows against the hot tones of the light source. The texture is mesmerizing.

"I want the viewer to be aware of the paint. 
I love to create energy, even in a portion, 
if not the whole painting."

The following two drawings are a couple more of my personal favorites from his many works that are Western in theme.

Again, I have to say I did my best to capture these works of art with my iPhone. They are all even more astounding in person!

Frank is also a working artist at Studios on the Park and is currently working at a very large scale with irregular shaped pieces of muslin that he works on and then pieces together. He says the method is a result of losing range of motion in his right arm.

One of the most interesting quotes to me from Frank is this:

"I don't preplan a painting – if I do, then it becomes an illustration. 
I try to put it down as fast as possible, then fine tune it at my leisure."

As an illustrator with a tight style, I know I sometimes over think things when I'm in the planning stages of a painting and that frustrates me. My best work comes when I just start working and strive to keep things loose, then the creative process takes over and the painting creates itself.

Another thing a lot of artists contemplate when painting is creating a consistent style, yet in the work Frank displays in this show, it looks like he has a couple different styles. Here's what he had to say about that:

"Over the years, I have had to adopt many styles to make a living
in the entertainment industry. So now, I don't fight it.
If the painting wants to go in a certain direction, I let it go."

The most valuable idea I took away from my experience of Frank Armitage's work is not to worry so much about styles and planning when it comes to my fine art. Just create and enjoy!

*A big thank you to Janice Pluma from the Paso Robles Art Association for the photo of Frank!

Monday, June 27, 2011

ideal home june

As June winds down, the weather is getting hotter, the drinks colder and my vacation creeps closer! Does anyone have recommendations on things to do in Denmark other than the typical tourist stops? I'm all ears...

Here are a couple of the illos I did for the June issue of Ideal Home, Britain's best selling homes magazine!


Friday, June 24, 2011

zip-a-dee-duo: part I

"Zip-a-dee-duo" is the name of the exhibit featuring the fine art of legendary artists Frank Armitage and Walt Peregoy that opened yesterday here in Paso Robles. The show (in the Showroom Gallery) is sponsored by the Paso Robles Art Association.

What a great show! Even though Frank and Walt are good friends and have similar backgrounds, they both worked at Disney Studios and they both studied with Mexican muralists, their styles are very different.

Today I'm going to focus on the work of Walt Peregoy. Walt was not present at the artists talk before the opening due to health concerns. He lives in Encino, California and celebrated his 85th birthday last fall.

He is most noted for his career in animation with Walt Disney Productions. The backgrounds he created for "101 Dalmations" in particular have stayed with me ever since I first saw the movie as a child.

"The Rooster"

One of the first pieces you see when you walk into the gallery is "The Rooster", mixed media on paper. Walt was the lead background artist on Sleeping Beauty and I think this piece is reminiscent of that history. The patterns and the fabrics remind me of the regal banners in the film. A fellow guest summed it up by saying "How could you be sad when you look at this rooster!? He just makes you happy!"

detail of "The Rooster"

"Japanese Halloween"

Another piece that stood out to me was this one named "Japanese Halloween", mixed media on paper. I like the movement in this. One of the many things I admire in Walt's work is his use of color. The palettes are clean and bright, no muddy color anywhere.

"Horse's Ass"

His sense of humor is evident in much of his work. This one, "Horse's Ass", mixed media on paper features energetic line work that's enhanced by the vibration of the blue and gold against each other. Masterful!

"Black Conscious"

It was really hard to get good photos of the artwork with my phone. But I did my best because I really wanted to share this experience with you! (The photos were taken with permission by the way.)

This was the best shot I could get of the show stopper "Black Conscious". This is a jaw dropping awesome piece. The way the bird figure is spreading it's glorious color drenched wings over the scene below is just gorgeous. It was hard to tear myself away from this one. I love studying all of the beautiful detail Walt incorporates into his work. Even with all of the detail, the scenes are always dramatic and not bogged down with minutia.

You can read more about this show and the artists on the Studios on the Park website.

Click here to listen to a fabulous interview on the Animation Guild's website with Walt Peregoy about his amazing career (foul language included!). Part II of the interview is here (even more foul language!). Walt really tells it like it is!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

roasted peppers? yes please!

©2011, Monika Roe

Ever wonder how to make perfect smokey-delicious roasted peppers? Hop on over to Danielle Michaan's Fig-Mint blog and read up on her simple technique! I had an "ah-ha!" moment when I read the part about steaming the charred skin off.

While you're there, take another look at my tasty pepper illustrations! :)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


©2011, Monika Roe

This past weekend my man and I had the pleasure of attending his cousin Karen's wedding at the Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort in San Luis Obispo. Karen and her new husband Mike have the kind of relationship that most people envy. They have a great sense of humor about life and themselves and they laugh a lot. They also pay attention to each other, making sure the other is taken care of, which I think is key in a successful relationship.

Of course when I was thinking about what to do for this week's Illustration Friday topic of "launch", I thought their recent launch into married life together was the perfect subject!

Karen LOVES the color purple so purple was incorporated in all aspects of their wedding. They also love country music so there were also western touches here and there, like the bride lassoing the groom figurine on top of their cake! She also had the most fabulous high heeled lace boots that gave her lace overlay strapless dress a bit of funky country western flair. Mike wore a black suit with long coat, purple dress shirt with a black western tie and of course black cowboy boots!

The newly wed couple was absolutely glowing all evening long and to be in the presence of such a profound love was truly inspiring!

Monday, June 20, 2011

graduation cards

Have a graduating goddaughter or godson? Stop by your local Hallmark store and pick up one of my cards! Yep, these are a couple of my latest illos for Hallmark!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


©2011, Monika Roe

Here's my illo for this week's Illustration Friday topic of "swept"...

This idea popped into my head immediately when I read what the new topic was. It was one of those ideas that wouldn't leave me alone and nagged me everyday until I sat down and drew it.

Must have been quite a party for the maid to go on strike the next day!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

office happenings

So I walk into my office after getting a coffee refill from the kitchen and this is the scene. Ladybug's station during the day is behind my chair on a mound of heart shaped pillows tucked in the folds of the wooden screens along the wall. For some reason that only a pug could know she found the wall of wood beside her irresistibly delicious! She licked it for a good couple of minutes before going back to her rhythmic snoring. 

Check out that tongue! Usually it's hanging out of the side of her mouth because she has no teeth left to hold it in. Crazy pug!

(for those without the Flash plug-in)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


©2011, Monika Roe

For this week's Illustration Friday topic of "shadows"...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

a parfait murder out today!

This is the latest of my illustrated book covers and believe me, I was craving ice cream in a BIG way the whole time I was working on this cover!

Released today, A Parfait Murder is the newest cozy mystery in Wendy Lyn Watson's Mystery À La Mode series. Besides offering up a great who-dun-it plot, this book even includes ice cream recipes! The other titles I've illustrated for this series include I Scream, You Scream and Scoop to Kill.

I am thrilled to be a part of bringing this series to life!

Friday, June 3, 2011

national doughnut day

©2011, Monika Roe

It's the first Friday of June so you know what that means?! It's National Doughnut Day!

Oh how I enjoy a good doughnut every now and then! Dolly's Donuts here in town makes one that's chocolate iced with mini chocolate chips on top. As if that isn't enough, it's also stuffed inside with more mini chocolate chips! (You can see my illustration of it on my map of Paso Robles.)

This is the safest kind of doughnut there is, a knitted one! I made this for fun from a pattern I found online, then crocheted the icing and sewed on the sprinkles. A great way to use up odds and ends of yarn!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


©2011, Monika Roe

June means SUMMER! The favorite season of all "Popsicle-istas"!

If I were to design the perfect popsicles they would be in a range of classic patterns from the fashion world flavored with exotic ingredients. I imagine this houndstooth popsicle would taste like lychee fruit!