Friday, May 4, 2012

Friday Feature: Monica Bishara

"Color Therapy" Original Watercolor by Monica Bishara

Hi Everyone,

It's Friday again:))  Boy Fridays get here fast:) Today I'm introducing the fabulous Monica Bishara.  I love her work and met her through my involvement with Louisiana Watercolor Society.  Not only do we share a similar aesthetic and love of painting glass but when I was reading her interview these could have been my answers.  

To see more of her works please visit her on facebook.

"Blooming Season" original watercolor by Monica Bishara

How did you get your start?  What’s your artist journey so far?
Art has always been a part of my life.  Since I had the good fortune to live in Europe for several years while growing up, being surrounded by art and history on a daily basis had a profound influence on my development as an artist.   As an art major in college, I loved figure drawing, ceramic sculpture and printmaking.  After graduating, I spent the next twenty years teaching high school art classes before retiring to focus on my own painting.  Having my own studio space was probably the one thing that made the biggest difference in my life as an artist, and of course, having the support of my husband who is my biggest fan.

Where were you born?
San Antonio, Texas

If you could live anywhere where would you live?  Somewhere warm. 
"Time To Shine" original watercolor by Monica Bishara
 What’s your favorite thing to paint and why?
Glass.  I am drawn to it like nothing else.  I love the way light shines through it and how an image seen through glass is broken up into a mosaic of color and shapes.

Could you talk about your painting techniques? 
First, I plan the values and then decide what areas to keep white so I can glaze to my heart’s content building up layers of transparent watercolor.  For me, the biggest advance was the discovery that introducing some darks for contrast makes the lights shine.
"Hot August Night" original watercolor by Monica Bishara
 How did you arrive at your current style?
The same way as anybody else---practice, practice, practice.  The funny thing was that it took me so long to discover watercolor.  When I did, it was kismet.  Nothing compares to the beauty of transparent watercolor.

I know that you taught art for a number of years.  How has that experience influenced your journey as an artist?
When you have to teach something, you really learn it.  It becomes second nature. 

"Winner's Circle" original watercolor by Monica Bishara
Do you have a favorite artist?  Who has been your biggest inspiration?
John Singer Sargent is my all time favorite watercolor artist.  There is so much to be learned from his brushwork, composition and mastery of the medium.  In addition, I have many friends who are very good painters and always enjoy seeing their new work.

What are some of your favorite things or things that are essential to your well being/success as an artist?
I can spend hours painting while listening to music or a good audio book in the comfort of my studio.

 Do you have go-to paints/colors, what are your favorites?
I prefer Daniel Smith transparent watercolors:  Sap Green, Cobalt Blue, French Ultramarine, Hansa Yellow, Aureolin and all the quinacradones, yes, all of them.  Opaque colors, used only occasionally, are exiled to another palette.
"Pears on Parade" original watercolor by Monica Bishara

What are five things you would like to happen in your life in the next five years? Dream big here:)
I’d like to learn how to paint like I paint only better and do a new series for a solo show.  Along the way, it would be great to add NWS and AWS signatures to my resumé.   Travel is high on the list.  There are so many places I’d like to visit and paint.  A personal chef to take over meal preparation would be such a treat!  In case you haven’t guessed, cooking is not my favorite thing to do. 
"No Exit" original watercolor by Monica Bishara
 What is your advice for other artists who are just getting started in their career?
Get involved with a local art group because you’ll learn so much when you network with other artists.  Make friends with artists who know more than you do and ask lots of questions.  They are usually delighted to share what they know.  The last thing is probably the most important---Don’t wait to get started.  So many people wait until their children are grown up, or promise themselves that they will do it when they retire.  My life almost ended when I was robbed at gun point on a sunny day in May 30 years ago.   From that day forward, I started painting whenever I could, at first while my children were napping or on Saturdays.  Here I am thousands of paintings later waiting for the arrival of my fourth grandchild.  Life is good.
"Bonjour" original watercolor by Monica Bishara
 What is the best advice that you have received as an artist?
 “Just paint.”  In a moment of surprising candor, the teacher of a workshop that I took many years ago told the class that we would actually learn more if we spent the tuition money on supplies and went home to paint.  There are no shortcuts.  If you want to learn to paint, you have to paint.

Chocolate or vanilla?   Are you kidding? Chocolate!

Sunny beach or rustic mountain retreat?  Summer in the Alps

Book or movie?  Both

Favorite author?  Jane Austen and Tennessee Williams

Favorite movie?   Amadeus or any Alfred Hitchcock movie

Romance or comedy?  Both

Favorite ice cream flavor?  Tiramisu gelatoActually, I have yet to meet a gelato that I don’t like, especially if I’m in Italy.

Night owl or morning person?  I’m usually up at dawn.

Cake or Cupcakes?  Cake—preferably the piece with the most frosting.  : )

Thanks for the terrific interview Monica.  Have a great weekend everyone, I'm off for an end of the school teacher appreciation lunch at my son's school, then a birthday party at my house on Sat, packers coming soon and a moving truck in my not to distant future--wish me luck--oh yeah and several commissions to finish and a hubby getting home from Afghanistan!  Gonna be an action packed May!



  1. Great interview, Carrie. Monica's work is lovely. And how wonderful that Brian is coming must be in heaven!

  2. Wow, what an exceptional talent Monica has! I totally agree that when we make our darks really dark, our lights truly sing! :0)

  3. Wonderful interview, Carrie,..and Monica's work is truly beautiful!! and Brian coming the best news!

  4. Thank you for doing these interviews and introduce us to a wonderful collection of artists, Carrie! Every time I read them, I have always learned a lot...

  5. Carrie, I learned of your blog through your interview with Crystal Cook. Amazing work. And I loved this interview. I'm so happy to have found you! Best wishes!

  6. The images and Monica's point of view both have a refreshing clarity about them. Loved her 'advice as an artist' reply.

    Another great interview. Thank you Carrie; thank you Monica.