This is one of the monoprint pieces (cropped to fit) that Nanaimo artist Carmen Mongeau will have on display at TOSH as part of an exhibit of her contemporary, unique prints running from April 16 to May 5. — Submitted by Carmen Mongeau

Artist turns to mono-printing to rekindle creative fire

Carmen Mongeau showing new pieces in Parksville April 16-May 5

A Nanaimo artist is showing the fruits of her new artistic direction in contemporary prints with an exhibit at TOSH in Qualicum Beach.

Carmen Mongeau had focused on multimedia, non-objective art on canvas for a number of years before finding that she needed a change in direction about two years ago.

“I needed to rekindle my fires,” she said, and found the spark she needed during a tour of the Ladysmith Waterfront Gallery.

“They have a printmaking studio downstairs in that lovely old building,” where those with some printmaking experience can drop in and work.

That the printmaking studio uses non-toxic materials such as soy-based inks was a plus for Mongeau. So she decided to try out the practice.

Now, Mongeau makes monoprints using plexiglass plates, painting colours onto the plates and including organic materials like leaves and branches before pressing the plate to paper.

Mongeau would find these organic pieces to add to the prints along Oyster Bay Drive, “a very bumpy road” on her way to the gallery, she said.

“They are very organic, they are very beautiful, and I don’t even know what they are,” Mongeau said, adding that some pieces would work in the press and others wouldn’t. “It was just a question of what was there at the time, but I really wanted to do something organic and not too abstract (with my print pieces).”

These organic-themed pieces will be on display at TOSH (The Old School House Arts Centre at 122 Fern Rd. West in Qualicum Beach) from April 16 to May 5.

Mongeau said she’s quite happy with her new focus, especially as printmaking has offered both a mentally stimulating and meditative change from her earlier, intuitive painting work.

“(With printmaking) you have to think of the end game… what do I want to achieve? So it’s meditative in its connectivity, but it is also complex because you have to think in reverse as well (as a print image comes out backwards compared to what is seen on the plate).”

Mongeau said she hopes viewers of her work get a similar meditative, calm feeling from her work that she does, both while creating it and viewing it herself.

“I like that it gives me an inner peace,” she said of seeing her finished work. “They are very serene, they are very meditative, and I hope that they show individuality, sincerity and hopefully visual poetry.”

An opening reception for Mongeau’s exhibit, and others at TOSH takes place Wednesday, April 18, at 2 p.m.

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