May 10 – “Viviann Day” – Viviann is one of my favorite people of all time. She was my family’s neighbor when I was born. She would become one of my best friends and so very important in my life. I celebrate her birthday each year as the holiday it should be – She would’ve been 101 years old today. Happy Birthday, Viviann! And, Happy Viviann Day everyone!

Viviann by Nicole Moné – 9x6inches – Oil on Linen Panel

The traditional Viviann Day celebration is to give something wonderful to someone else and enjoy a feast of champagne and Taco Bell with a scoop of ice cream in your coffee with your cake for dessert. I wish that I could celebrate with her in her beloved Huntington Beach, California, on her lovely patio filled with the smell of the ocean, beautiful plants, wind chimes, and the latest curiosities that she’d found and was ready to tell me all about.

A very brief description of this wonderful person: She was insatiably curious. She loved learning, vintage toys, sailboats, the ocean, the Anaheim Angels, and Ford Mustangs.

She could recite from memory a great deal of the Longfellow poem Evangeline A Tale of Acadie (which is no small feat). She introduced me to Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn which she reread every year as a reminder of growing up very poor and being a child at the onset of the Great Depression. “If I only knew that, one day, hundred dollar bills and chocolates would be plentiful, it would’ve been easier to live through.” she told me one day as we were polishing off a box of chocolate covered macadamia nuts. Having lived through the depression, Viviann was very frugal and loved bargains, but she was also incredibly generous, compassionate, and delightfully impish. I loved going with her to discount stores and watching her tuck sneaky money into the unattended purses of young mothers. “Won’t it be wonderful when they realize they suddenly have more money than they thought they had?” she’d ask with a grin and eyebrows raised.

Today, I will spray her dime store perfume, Tabu, in my studio (I always keep a bottle on hand) as I work on a new painting of Viviann and hope so much that I can do her justice.

I hope that someday, I get to be someone’s Viviann… A lofty goal, to be sure.

Happy Viviann Day!


COLLECTIONS Magazine Interview

In the autumn of 2017, I was interviewed by the Chinese art publication, COLLECTIONS Magazine for their October issue after having been selected as an award recipient in the 12th International Art Renewal Center (ARC) Salon Exhibition.

I am very pleased to have been featured in this beautiful publication and grateful to Yinglun Ji, Chief Editor, for selecting me, and to Hongbin Zhang, Editor of Overseas Features.

Due to our language barrier, some content may have been lost in translation. I am including the interview questions as they were posed to me and the answers I gave in English.

Collections Magazine Post_1

COLLECTIONS Magazine Article – October 2017 Issue

Q: In order to give readers a better understanding of your artistic creations, first, please introduce your growing experience, your family and your learning experience and the events that have a great impact on your painting.

A: I grew up in Southern California and knew from my earliest years as a child that I wanted to draw and paint.  I never chose to be an artist.  Art chose me…

Growing up, I was a painfully shy child and life was not always easy at home. The arts were my safe haven.  

I spent countless hours drawing and painting, and when I could get to museums, I relished the opportunity to study the paintings. 

Instead of continuing on with the course of study that typical schools might dictate, I decided to find artists I admired and try to study with them when possible and find ateliers that were teaching skills in line with the type of art that excited me. I have been fortunate to have some outstanding teachers. 

Q: Have you ever had a systematic study at the Art Institute of Florence, Italy, and what do you think that the most helpful to your painting during this period? What are the similarities and differences between the learning of classical painting and the traditional painting?

A: My experience at the Florence Academy of Art was very important in my development as an artist because I was able to immerse myself in some of the greatest works and traditions of art history. I studied there for a summer. There’s a strong emphasis on the fundamentals of drawing and painting practiced by the masters who lived and painted there.  By learning how the masters perfected their craft, you can learn techniques that may be applied to any kind of painting.  In Florence, the whole city is your teacher.

Q: Do you think it is necessary to learn classical painting skills as a modern artist?

A: Isaac Newton said, “if I I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the the shoulders of giants”.  He was talking about scientific learning but I feel it is the same with painting. You learn from those who came before you. Even if an artist doesn’t study classical painters directly, their techniques and approach to draftsmanship and color are as relevant today as they were hundreds of years ago.  With a solid foundation, one may build on that knowledge and make choices that can take the art in any direction. They are skills that can help any artist.

Q: From your resume, you learned following some contemporary famous artists, what do you learn from them? From your personal point of view, how do you think the artistic ideas of these old artists are different from those of young artists like you?

A: To try to condense what I have learned from my instructors into a single answer is impossible. 

I had the good fortune to study closely with Aaron Shikler for many years, and learned from several other notable painters (and kind people). In addition to their invaluable lessons on technique (drawing, value, shapes, edges, color, composition, etc.), I learned important ways of thinking about painting.   They are known for being great portrait painters but part of what made them great was that they thought of themselves not as “portrait painters” but simply as painters. The common theme among the great artists with whom I studied is that you don’t worry about what makes a great portrait so much as what makes a great painting. They also impressed that a key part of what makes a painting work well, is knowing what NOT to paint – the importance of editing – something I struggle with. I think these are teachings that are timeless, regardless of age or style of the artist. We may have different things to say – but the vehicles for conveying what we want to say are similar. I think it depends deeply on the individual and not on the age of an artist.  

Each time you learn something – you are given a new way to see – it supports and adds to the vision that is all your own.  Each learning experience, each teacher you learn from, they all at once make you examine the validity of your previous education and beliefs and offer new ones. Ultimately it is up to the individual artist to select what resonates with them – what brings out in themselves the painter they wish to be. 

It is important, I think, to remember that each time you study with a teacher, you are being exposed to wonderful information as well as their own opinions and biases.  I think it is important to step into each experience with an excitement to learn, but also with a thoughtful approach to examining the information that you’ve been given. The very best teachers encourage you to critically think about what has been presented to you – not to say “this is the only way.” 

Q: What do you think the standard of a good portrait? What is the biggest puzzle when creating a portrait?

A: A good portrait does more than capture the person’s likeness.  It also reveals a part of the subject that is unique to that individual.  When you see a great portrait, you feel as if you know, just from seeing the image, something essential about the personality of that individual.  And that’s also the greatest challenge.  You have to see what it is about that person that makes them who they are and then capture it with color and light. 

Q. Your painting was in the semi-finals in 2015 BP portrait Award, we know this award is very famous internationally, would you please talk about the experience of the competition? What do you think that the direct cause of your work being called the semi-final?

A: I was honored to be selected as a semi-finalist and was especially delighted as it was the first time I had entered a painting in this prestigious international competition. Despite some challenges and worries of international shipping, it was a wonderful and interesting experience. I could guess that the painting was selected as a semi-finalist because the painting, Blowing Smoke, succeeded in making a connection with the viewer. Viewers of the painting have told me that they feel as though they are in the room with this man at the moment he is lighting his pipe, bathed in the light and are almost able to smell the smoke. It pleases me very much to have succeeded on some level with creating that connection. Though I cannot know exactly why the selection was made as all judges are so different. I was not ultimately selected as a finalist but it was an honor to make it as far as I did. 

Q: You have participated in many American and European portrait competitions, and have won many awards, from your experience to participate in the International portrait award winning the Secret of what?

A: It’s a great honor to win awards because it means you are being recognized by peers, many of whom are great artists.  But you can’t paint to try to please judges.  You have to be true to yourself and your vision.  The best paintings accomplish that and when judges recognize it, it’s very gratifying. 

I don’t think that there is a secret. I think that if you are passionate about your work, others will also feel that when they view your work. I am so grateful to have the privilege of being an artist. That is the very best award of all.

Also, artists must take care not to take rejections personally. As someone who has judged an exhibit, I can tell you it is an extremely difficult process. There are many factors that determine the outcome. It is often such a close race between which painting receives the award, or which is selected for exhibit, and which does not that the same judge, on any other day, might make a different decision.

Q: One important part of your work is: what is the reason for the human skeleton project that makes you so obsessed with painting? What kind of fun do you get from drawing such a theme?

A: I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t fascinated by skeletons. I find them charming and truly beautiful. As a child I never found them frightening but rather was delighted by them- they were so friendly – always smiling. I would draw them repeatedly. Living in Los Angeles and surrounded by Mexican culture, I was thrilled by the holiday Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) – I found it to be such a beautiful remembrance of those loved ones lost and I adored the imagery of the festive skeletons.

I think then the natural progression is to get to figurative painting and drawing… If you are obsessed with the foundation I think that wanting to add to that foundation, those bones, is natural. 

Years ago when I was feeling “in a slump” with painting and really didn’t know what to do – I was thinking back to when drawing and painting was pure joy – as a child – and I wanted to “restart” myself. I wanted to once again feel that joy. I listed things that I could remember bringing me that joy and skeletons were at the top of the list. I set out on a little project I entitled The Skeleton Project where I endeavored to create a skeleton work once a week for a year, in addition to my other work. They were not to be hyperrealistic – they were not to be anything but playful vehicles to bring me joy – and that they did. They were to put me back in touch with that little child I was  – they were not to be submitted to exhibits. The works were not necessarily the work of art – the joy I derived from painting them – that joy was the work of art. Because I allowed myself absolute freedom to be silly, within these childlike parameters, I once again became more excited about painting other subjects. I will always continue to paint skulls and skeletons – I think they are beautiful and so much fun. 

Q: The United States is recognized as the center of Contemporary art, and we are very interested to know what is the state of classical realist painting in contemporary American art ecology? And is the realistic painting being marginalized?

A: There will always be different trends in what is popular in terms of sales.  I don’t worry about that. For me,  there is something universal in representational art – It never really goes out of style. There are amazing organizations in the U.S. that are doing much to promote realist art – such as Art Renewal Center and there are more ateliers focusing on traditional instruction and painting now.

Q: What is the proportion of contemporary American artists engaged in realistic painting and in contemporary art creation?

A: I don’t know the percentages, but it is clear that realistic painting is on an upswing.  It’s heartening and exciting to see.

Q: How do you think of the use of traditional painting techniques to present contemporary social life?

A: One of the great things about art is that you never really have to choose.  There are experimental art forms that seek to capture the frantic energy and fractured nature of modern life and some people will respond to that.  But as long as there are humans on this planet, I believe many will respond favorably to the kind of representational art that captures people and their situations, their beauty, their emotions and their conflicts.  Traditional techniques can always be put in the service of expressing contemporary life as it evolves and the way that we evolve with it.

Q: In your portrait creation, do you rely on a model to sketch or rely on photos? What do you think of the problem that many artists use photos to create?

A: My preference is to use a model because there is no substitute from drawing or painting from life.  But as a practical matter, many of my portraits must be done from photos.

They key is to spend time with the subject and take many high quality photos.  It’s not enough to be a good technical painter, you have to see what you want to paint and capture it twice – first with the camera and then on your canvas.

The problem with using photos is using a single photo & copying each detail is that your painting ends up with a flat and lifeless feel. You already have the photo – so why just repaint it exactly? The role of the painter to breathe life info the work. It is so important to have multiple photos that capture different facets of a sitter’s personality. The artist must then try to infuse those facets into the single image they produce. Just as one facet of a personality does not define the entire person, one snapshot without any other support will not be enough to fill your painting with life.

It may sound crazy – but when I am painting a portrait there is a moment in the studio where that portrait comes to life – when this seems to be a living entity . I will then greet the painting upon entering the studio and  bid it a farewell in the evening.  That’s when I know I have a good image – when I feel compelled to acknowledge the work as if it is a person.  

What a privilege it is to paint another soul – to spend so much time examining that person in detail – you can’t help but feel a kindness – a true warmth for this person.  

Q: Do you think that modern science and technology is extremely developed and the art forms are diversified today, how can traditional painting adapt to the development of contemporary environment to avoid the possibility of being eliminated?

A: In the 1880’s people thought that cameras would make painting obsolete.  It hasn’t because a good painting can express something different.  As artists we can put technology to our advantage.  It changes how we work but it doesn’t change how people respond to great paintings. 

Q: How do you plan your future?

A: My main goal for the future is to be a better painter.  (That and to amass a wonderful art collection. I love collecting works from other artists – to live surrounded by beauty and inspiration). 

There are so many ways I wish to grow as an artist and I am excited to see what I can accomplish – what artistic challenges I can overcome.  Of course there are exhibits in which I would like to be included and museums in which I would like to show,  and I will work toward those goals. But the most important thing for me is to never stop creating and, through creating, to never stop learning. To hopefully leave something of value for future generations as those who have come before have done for me. It seems too arrogant to hope that my work will survive let alone be looked at, but that is the dream – to touch the future with something of value, long after I am gone.

And, you have made my immediate future a bit brighter. It is a great honor to be included in Collections Magazine. I thank you very much.

12th International ARC Salon Traveling Exhibition Opens at the MEAM (European Museum of Modern Art) Exhibition




On Friday, September 22, 2017, ARC (Art Renewal Center) held the opening reception and award ceremony for their 12th Annual International Salon Exhibition at the MEAM (European Museum of Modern Art) in Barcelona, Spain.  It was held in conjunction with the presentation of the winners of the 8th Contest of Figurative Painting and Sculpture 2017 (Figurativas 2017) sponsored by the Fundació de les Arts i els Artistes.  These are the largest and most prestigious representational art competitions in North America and Europe respectively, and in this combined show they have assembled the latest work of some of the best representational artists from all over the world.


Photo courtesy of ARC


Photo courtesy of ARC

In this annual showcase for top contemporary representational art, 85 works were on display in the ARC Salon and 91 works were on display in Figurativas 2017 show.  ARC reported that the entries to both competitions combined numbered over 5,500 works submitted by over 3,000 artists from over 90 countries.  When I think of the high quality of these artworks teamed with the sheer number of entries, it is an additional honor to have been included in this remarkable assemblage of work.















As an exhibiting artist I was invited to attend the opening reception and awards ceremony.  I could not resist a trip to enchanting Barcelona to see my work in what would be my first European museum exhibition.  The reception was a well-attended and wonderfully successful event.  There were four speakers for the opening ceremony – Kara Lysandra Ross, ARC Chief Operating Officer and the ARC exhibition organizer; Tenaya Sims, Recipient of this year’s Best in Show; Susan Tintori, Director of the Florence Academy of Art; and José Manuel Infiesta, MEAM Museum Director and Founder.  Awards were presented by Kara Lysandra Ross, and all exhibiting artists in attendance were called to the front for recognition, applause, and a group photo.



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Accepting awards from Kara Lysandra Ross


Having previously seen the majority of these works on display in the classic brownstone beauty of the grand Salmagundi Club on the first leg of the ARC Salon Traveling Exhibition, seeing them in the different context of the MEAM was interesting.  The rustic walls of the centuries-old building provided a striking juxtaposition to the polished works and made for a perfect backdrop to the show.  The setting and layout gave the paintings a chance to interact with each other and their environment differently – just as the personalities of people combine with one another for different outcomes, so did those of the paintings.





On Saturday, September 23, 2017, an additional event was held at the MEAM.  It included a screening of a short film with an overview of the judging process for Figurativas 2017;  a discussion with Tenaya Sims, Kara Lysandra Ross, José Manuel Infiesta, and Daniel Graves (Founder of the Florence Academy of Art) about representational art today;  and an Artist’s Roundtable led by Kara Lysandra Ross where all artists in attendance could participate in a discussion of the challenges, concerns, and hopes of today’s artists.




I feel it is really quite a thrill and an honor to be exhibiting in this incredibly prestigious salon and venue, and I am not alone in this feeling.  The sentiment was common, it seemed, among all the other exhibiting artists with whom I spoke.  Spending time with the artists whom I know was a pleasure, as was having the opportunity to meet more artists from both the ARC Salon & the outstanding Figurativas show.  I also enjoyed meeting the founder of the MEAM, José Manuel Infiesta.  He was a joy to speak with as he is a warm and engaging personality who is clearly passionate about promoting art and artists.

Jose and Nicole

Painter, Nicole Moné with José Infiesta, MEAM Founder



Opening night ARC Salon and Figurativas 2017


It is heartening that this resurgence in representational art is being fostered by those dedicated to reshaping the definition of modern art.  That “modern” can be representational and that artwork of classic beauty and skill is not only relevant, but steadily rising in the arena of contemporary interest.  Kudos to ARC and MEAM for joining forces with this amazing pairing of exhibits in their continuing efforts to support artists and advance representational art worldwide.


The 12th International ARC Salon Live Exhibition will remain on view through November 27th, 2017 at the European Museum of Modern Art (MEAM) in Barcelona, Spain and is the final leg of the traveling exhibition. For additional information about the show, please visit the ARC Salon website.
I have treasured this opportunity to show with world-class artists in outstanding venues and would recommend entering the ARC Salon to any representational artist.
Submissions are currently being accepted through November 15, 2017 for the 13th International ARC Salon – you may apply here: Art Renewal Center

Sedona Art Prize Grand Prize Winner

Back in February, I learned of the Sedona Art Prize through Facebook. I decided to enter several of my paintings. It was overwhelming and humbling to learn that I won the Sedona Art Prize 2016/2017 for my painting, Blowing Smoke (Portrait of Aaron Shikler)! This painting has been very good to me and I would like to think that Aaron knows about the painting’s success. 

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Blowing Smoke (Portrait of Aaron Shikler)  24×36 inches – Oil on Linen

This year-long competition receives thousands of entries. Twelve finalists are selected by a separate judge each month. At the end of the competition year the 144 finalists from all twelve months are judged by a a panel of final awards judges. 

Judges’ Comment: Blowing Smoke is a masterful painting on many levels. Painted with oil on linen, it depicts the late, renowned portrait artist, Aaron Shikler, famous for painting the official White House portrait of President John F. Kennedy, among others. Blowing Smoke’s striking composition is immediately dramatic and purposeful, from the effect of its surprisingly wide gamut of cascading light-to-dark color values to its clever, supporting latticework of subtly-defined geometric lines surrounding the subject’s organic forms. As a portrait, this work far surpasses the usual rendering of a likeness–its technical proficiency and excellence is practically assumed as the oil painting medium transcends to reveal a living, breathing man and his personal story. References to Mr. Shikler’s distinctive occupation include jars of brushes and a fine art print receding into the background. His head and shoulders seem enveloped in a halo of cool morning sunlight, with the sensation that illumination of the mind flows from such beautifully crafted imagery–one can imagine he is carefully considering what he is about to say. With the lighting of his pipe, artist Nicole Moné captures that unmistakable yet fleeting moment of ignition, with smoke and fire naturally rising from the pipe, a palpable moment in time. We find ourselves transported and suddenly engaged in conversation with a fascinating and accomplished celebrity artist who is about to answer our next burning question!

Huge thanks to the people of the Sedona Art Prize (Now known as Gateway International Painting Competition) and to final awards judges, Michael W. Cothren, Vince Fazio, and Victoria Oldham for this tremendous honor and such a lovely review of the work. Congratulations to all the Award winners and finalists! There were amazing artists in this competition!

Second place went to the beautifully painted Edward Inman Sr. by Suzie Baker

Edward Inman Senior by Suzie Baker    20 x 16 inches – Oil


Third place went to the impressive watercolor Spaghetti Junction by Alan Wylie

Spaghetti Junction by Alan Wylie  – 24 x 24 inches – Watercolor


Honorable Mentions

Ocean Lights by Leslie Sealy   Acrylic on Cardboard

On the Hill, California by Mason Manning Kang  40 x 30 inches – Oil

Gold Coins by Christine Debrosky   18 x 24 inches   Pastel

You can read the judges’ comments about all the winning paintings here: Gateway International Art Competition/ Sedona Art Prize Grand Prize Winners

The new Gateway International Painting Competition for 2017/18 began this August. If you are an artist – enter the competition! This is a terrific opportunity for artists and being an online competition, there is no shipping of works, leaving them free for additional shows. The people of Gateway International Art Competition/ Sedona Art Prize are friendly, very helpful, and easy to communicate with when you have questions.

Be sure to follow them on Facebook to see the featured artist entries throughout the year.

Good luck!




End of Summer News from my Studio

Good morning! I hope that you have been enjoying a wonderful summer. Here in my studio, the last half of the summer has been quite eventful. With many deadlines approaching for various shows, there have been long hours punctuated by some good news.

Earlier in the summer I was invited to create a painting for the “Cats vs. Dogs” group exhibit at the Vendue in Charleston, SC (in partnership with Robert Lange Studios). A group of 40 artists were selected from hundreds of submissions to make works for the cat and dog themed exhibit. The exhibit is benefitting the Charleston SPCA. As an animal lover, I was thrilled to be invited to create a painting (not to mention the beautiful venue). I love all animals, but for the fun of the exhibit the artists had to choose if they would represent cats or dogs.


Bookmark – 20 x 24 inches – Oil on Linen Mounted on Board

Bookmark was created for the show. The subjects of the image are my guy, David, and one of our two girls, Ernestine or “Ernie” – named for Ernest Hemingway (a favorite author of mine and a famed lover of cats). We adore her and she adores us – it’s a pretty good gig.

I never tire of seeing scenes such as this unfold in real time. I wanted to convey the ease, trust, and comedy in the daily routines of a family with cats. There is sweetness in her desire to join in every activity and, once experienced, one can’t help but have a deep love and affection for these glorious little creatures. And, there is great kindness in someone who doesn’t protest this type of hurdle but rather calmly finds a way to coexist with their smaller, furry family members. As anyone with cats will understand, sometimes you simply move part of the cat and continue reading.

In the painting I wanted to give a nod to the long connection between artists and cats. I chose to use Théophile Alexandre Steinlen’s iconic Le Chat Noir image and added Pablo Picasso’s Cat Devouring a Bird to the mug. (The steaming coffee so close to her back legs adds an exciting element of danger to a quiet morning of reading – and she sees something that has her transfixed. This might not end well…)

Cats vs. Dogs Exhibition runs from 10/19/2017 through April 2018

Reception: 10/19/2017 6 – 8 pm

Vendue Gallery

19 Vendue Range, Charleston, South Carolina 29401

United States



Oil Painters of America Eastern Regional Exhibition 

Natural Selection was juried into the Oil Painters of America (OPA) Eastern Regional Exhibition to be held at Anderson Fine Art Gallery in beautiful St. Simons Island, Georgia. OPA is a not for profit educational organization and the first national organization to be established for the sole purpose of representing traditional, representational oil painters.

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Natural Selection – 11 x 14 inches – Oil on Paper Mounted on Board

I am excited to be a part of this exhibition with so many accomplished and impressive artists.

The exhibition will run from November 17 through December 16, 2017.  The Anderson Gallery will be hosting the opening reception and awards ceremony on Friday, November 17, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. for artists, friends, press and the public.

Anderson Fine Art Gallery

3309 Frederica Road, St. Simons Island, Georgia (United States)

Natural Selection was also selected as a Finalist in the June 2017 Bold Brush Painting Competition. Thank you to juror, David Kassan!


I hope you enjoy the last days of summer and I wish you beautiful days filled with inspiration!

Single Fare 4

Single Fare 4 is an exhibit of small works made on used MetroCards
Opening Saturday Sept 16, 2017 from 5-10pm
On view Sunday Sept 17, 2017  from 12 – 6pm
Highline Stages – 441 West 14th Street, NY, NY

I have previously participated in “Single Fare” exhibits of years past. The works are great fun to make and the exhibit is a great place to pick up some original, affordable little gems.

All works exhibited will be for sale for $100 with 30% of the proceeds going towards scholarships for the New York Academy of Art MFA program and to the Alumni Association.  This is an art exhibition arranged by the New York Academy of Art and Single Fare to benefit the New York Academy of Art and its educational mission.

If you have a chance, go to this exhibit. There will be thousands of tiny artworks for sale. Thinking ahead to the holidays – original art would be delightful gifts.


Just a few of the Metro Card artworks I made that will be for sale at the Single Fare 4 exhibit

The Coronation of Ernestine

When I am stuck while working on a painting and I am unsure how to resolve a problem, I find that it helps to move on to something else and have a little fun.

I was in precisely such a predicament at the easel and that is how Ernie came to take her rightful place as Queen of the Studio.

I present to you The Coronation of Ernestine.

The Coronation of Ernestine - Studio Queen - webversion - minor crop

The Coronation of Ernestine – 7″x5″ – Oil on linen mounted on board – 2017©Nicole Moné

As you might imagine, it was a grand affair! Queen Ernestine was served fish-flavored treats that smelled quite badly – just the way her highness likes ’em.

This proved to be just the thing to get “un-stuck” and was most enjoyable.

Happy summer!