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  • Today Online

Nature draws and beckons artist

Updated: Jul 15, 2022

• Artwork Reflects Life Informed by Oceangoing, Woodlands and $1 Book

This article first appeared in the June edition of Today Magazine, our monthly publication

By Edith Skiba LaMonica — Special to Today Magazine

I WAS BORN in Munich, Germany in 1946. My German mother, Carola Kapfenberger, was born in 1924, living to age 87. My father, Henryk Skiba, was born in Poland in 1926 and is now 95 years young.

They spent their teenage years enduring World War II, similar to what we are seeing today on news reports showing the onslaught of Ukraine. My parents took their every breath expecting death.

My mother’s father, Martin, joined the Anti-Nazi Underground Movement and was arrested and killed at Dachau concentration camp.

My parents survived the bombings and carnage and married in 1945 — so I was born. In 1950 we escaped the past by emigrating to Sydney, Australia, sailing the Atlantic Ocean to begin our new lives.

As a sensitive child, I found myself in a flat endless landscape in which I felt like a tiny dot. I was enveloped in an overwhelming space of air and light. I believe these sensations became the foundation of my creativity.

We sailed again in 1955, crossing the Pacific Ocean to America. For three weeks I floated on this limitless expanse of ocean. While sitting on deck I inhaled the moist sea air and felt the breezes brush my cheeks. The ethereal sky stretched beyond the horizon.

Impressionist Garden • oil on canvas painting: 20x24 inches— by Edith Skiba LaMonica

Hanging high above the sea, calm clouds of white light or dark dense mounds determined what would happen next. I sailed around the world before the age of 9. I know that all I breathed, witnessed and felt lives embedded in my art.

I started taking ballet lessons in Australia and continued dancing in New York City, where I was accepted by audition to the drama department of the High School of Performing Arts.

Practicing both disciplines — art and ballet — made me aware of the rhythmic movement and the emotional power paintings could express.

My life as an artist began while raising my family on Long Island, adjacent to NYC. A friend gave me a $1 “How To Paint” book and a few supplies.

I was immediately captured and painted anything in sight. I used pastel, watercolors, collage and acrylics. Oil paints became and remain my preferred medium.

My paintings were soon included in gallery exhibits and at the Heckscher Museum and Islip Art Museum on Long Island. I completed my bachelor of arts in drawing and painting at SUNY Empire State College in 1993 and joined the faculty as an adjunct professor. I also taught at Suffolk Community College.

I then completed my master of arts, in art history and criticism, at Stony Brook University in New York.

After graduation in 1997, I moved to New Hope, Pennsylvania and joined the art community. I wrote press for the Lambertville Art League. I taught art at the Doylestown-based Conservatory of Music and Art. I also taught the history of design at Rutgers University and the College of New Jersey.

“My paintings are meant to offer an intimate personal experience ... a form of visual poetry for the imagination” — Edith Skiba LaMonica

My art was represented by galleries in New Hope and Philadelphia. The Artworks Gallery of the Philadelphia Museum of Art exhibited and sold my paintings from 2003 to its closing in 2009.

Arriving in Avon in 2006, I found a welcoming community here in Connecticut. My first exhibit was at the Ethel Walker School in Simsbury. I was invited to join the Gallery on the Green in Canton and the Art League of New Britain, and became a member of the Art Advisory Committee of UConn Health.

Consistent with my lifelong awareness of my surroundings, my art is now inspired by the atmosphere of rolling hills, woodlands and streams in the Farmington Valley.

My recent paintings reflect my study of the woodland pond near my studio. I paint my reactions to this environment where plant and animal life are subject to the whims of weather and seasons.

To compose these fleeting scenes, I combine realistic and abstract techniques to suggest movement and choose specific colors to convey moods. My paintings are meant to offer an intimate personal experience. Each painting presents an environment to explore. I consider these images a form of visual poetry for the imagination.

Overall, I enjoy the challenge of bringing subjects to life on canvas. Portraits, landscapes, still life and pets are equally appealing. I’m currently teaching acrylic painting at the Farmington Valley Arts Center in Avon.

As a young woman I discovered a unique space in which I could practice a skill that became the channel for my voice. Art allows the imagination to explore. For beginning and practiced painters in my classes, art becomes an adventure.

My solo exhibitions in Connecticut include Five Points Gallery in Torrington, Tunxis Community College in Farmington, Northwest Community College in Winsted, The Underground Gallery in Collinsville, The Loft Gallery in New Preston and Gallery on the Green in Canton.

My work has likewise been featured in Newsday, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Trenton Times, the New Britain Museum of American Art Bulletin and various other media outlets. +

Email – • Facebook > Edith Skiba LaMonica

Hydrangea • oil on canvas painting • 12x12 inches — by Edith Skiba LaMonica

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