Monica Lee-Henell
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Monica Lee believes all women possess an inherent mystery, strength and sensuality. Femininity and feminism, and how they are intertwined, are underlying themes in her art work.

“We are caught in a world where a dichotomy has been created between sensuality and feminism. Women’s power and grace should not fit someone’s else's mold. Beauty comes in many different forms and it is a mistake to label a sensual, feminine woman as fragile or weak.” 

“I am always thinking about the women who came before me and how they navigated their lives. My grandmothers were hardworking and strong, yet quite chic and cosmopolitan.” 

Her exposure to the world was shaped by her father’s career as an army officer. Monica was born outside of Venice, Italy where her parents embraced European life. And, it was her mother’s love of art, culture, and fashion that shaped her early world views. 

“I viewed my parents as a rather glamorous couple. Neither came from privileged backgrounds, yet they traveled, attended cocktail parties, and my mother even had bespoke evening wear made for her while in Europe.” 

“In addition, I come from a family with strong communication skills. They are passionate, expressive, and extroverted. As the “quiet one”, art was a way I could express myself without having to talk over someone.”

The combination of these experiences and perceptions culminated in her paintings. 

“Light and truth are often best experienced indirectly. I want my work to linger in the delicate and memorable ‘thin place’ of your psyche. I want my work to make an emotional impression.”

Monica’s first art memories were painting alongside her mother while living in Hawaii during grade school. Hawaii’s soft light and color offered her a wealth of sensual memories that she carried as she moved continuously around the country for her father’s career. She always took art classes and was an art major college. 

“I distinctly remember falling in love with Art History, happily taking five semesters of it. I loved not only the art, but the stories behind the art, and the lives of the artists themselves. I still have my textbooks from college.” 

After college, she continued her worldly exposure as an international flight attendant, while simultaneously working as a commercial illustrator. While traveling, she has made a point of visiting as many museums in as many cities as possible. 

She realized that the art that she was drawn to contained a strong sense of romance via light, subject matter and brush stroke. Brush stroke specifically inherent to the sensual and feminine form. The human form and nature are organic, and comprise of soft, yet energetic feminine lines.

Her time spent in Paris, London and Buenos Aires helped her embrace the elegant ease of cafe life and time honored craftsmanship and beauty.

 She wanted to express what and how she has seen and experienced the world.

Still captivated by the stories of artists, and leveraging the extrovert nature inherited from her family, she started a website called Smart Creative Women where she interviewed hundreds of creative women and entrepreneurs.  “I saw a theme in the successful artists and how their work so accurately reflected their personalities. I realized that it came naturally for some artists and for others artist, it took a great deal of reflection and work.” 

She felt strongly about the influence that another artist’s work can have on you and the work it takes to develop your own voice. As she defined her own visual voice, she set out to help other artists find theirs as well, developing a coaching program that was devoid of competition and full of self exploration.

“All the things that have influenced you over the years can either make their way into your work; muddying or enhancing it. Studying the work of masters and current artists can be helpful or debilitating, if taken to the extreme. 

You are your own master influencer.” 

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In her own work, she incorporates drama and grace, energy and ease. Light, color and shape all positioned to lure the viewer in to take a closer look.

“I want to introduce my viewer into a new language they are vaguely familiar with, a whisper of mystery, sensuality, femininity, elegance and strength. When I paint, I move between what I see, what looks harmonious and what I feel. Imagery can summon emotions before words are formed around them and I want people to experience that.”