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MEET SCOTT MCMONAGLE | FEBRUARY 2022 ART EXHIBIT

PHOTO: Tasha Tolliver via Palette Home

SCOTT MCMONAGLE

How did your family influence your art when you were growing up?
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My parents were always making stuff - my dad would work in the garage building a porch swing or fixing something around the house and my mom was always working on a new craft project.  We were taught to make stuff and I guess in the process to make a difference - to make the world a better and more beautiful place.
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How and when did you start creating art?
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Mine's been a pretty windy road.  I was crazy about art throughout high school but majored in biology and chemistry in college (long story).  That led to medical school and eventually residency training in radiology - a perfect marriage between problem-solving and visual cues.  Thinking with my eyes as I interpret CT scans and MRIs has been a dream job. I like to say that my profession has taught me how to see.  I started making art again about eight years ago when we had extra space in our garage and more free time in my schedule.
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How do you structure your day while creating your work?
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That's a hard question since it always seems to be somewhat of a juggling act.  Loving my full-time radiologist "day job," I paint whenever I get the chance.  That usually ends up being late at night on weekdays or early in the morning on weekends.  Time with my wife and three girls is always a priority.  I use painting to decompress and unwind.
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What are you inspired by?
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I'm inspired by colors and decision-making. I love the moment beforehand, never fully knowing how the next color is going to look or feel.  Working with epoxy is complicated.  It doesn't always cooperate and can make a real mess.  It forces me to slow down and work in layers.  I've got to let each color dry before applying the next so there's plenty of time to think before applying the next round of colored epoxy. The thought that a color or idea can affect people so fiercely is really overwhelming.  Art for me doesn't reach your brain, it reaches somewhere deeper.  I try to explore thoughts and emotions from a color standpoint.
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What's your process for creating your work?
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I build the panels out of birch plywood and first establish a color palette.  I use a two-part epoxy that takes about eight hours to dry - it turns gummy or smears if you rush the process.  I usually wake up early and pour a few epoxy stripes before heading to work.  I think about the painting's composition throughout the day and then pour a few more stripes in the evening.  There are lots of layers and redos, but I love the slow and intentional process.
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What's something that you couldn't live without in your studio?
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Music!  Most of my paintings are named after the song I was listening to while I painted.  My studio is my garage these days and music favorites like Bon Iver, The National, and Lord Huron are always playing.  With three girls, I'd be lying if I didn't mention Taylor Swift too.
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Any hobbies when you aren't working as an artist or radiologist? 
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I'm an Audible junkie - listen to a book or so each week while I'm driving.  Love non-fiction authors like Malcolm Gladwell, Bill Bryson, or David McCullough, pensive bestsellers like Fredrik Backman, and deep thinkers like C.S. Lewis.
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What is your wildest idea for a dream painting?
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I'd love to do a huge mural for a hotel or restaurant or museum, the kind of piece that takes your breath away as soon as you walk through the door.
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What brings you joy outside of painting?
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My wife and I have three girls.  They mean the world to me - they're funny and smart and clever and kind. They work hard and make me proud pretty much daily.  They bring me lots of joy.
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How do you know when a piece is done?
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I guess I usually 'feel' like a painting is done before I 'know' that it's done - it's an emotional decision more than an intellectual one.  I know and see the imperfections, but when the colors compliment and balance each other so that they sing, that's when a painting is done.
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What do you most appreciate in life?
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Mistakes.  I had a Navy scholarship that took us to Hawaii for four years after medical school.  Initially it was frustrating because I thought it derailed my progression through residency training.  Looking back, that was the best four years.  Sure, Hawaii and walks on the beach every night after dinner were great.  That four year pause was the best career and family reset.  Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.
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Thank you Scott! We love being a part of your art journey.
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Everyone, you are invited! Opening reception for Scott McMonagle and Claiborne Riley on Thursday, February 10th 6:00pm - 8:00pm  5813 Grove Ave. Richmond, VA 23226.
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