Monte Brown’s artwork may not fit into the typical definition of the word, but his imagination has helped him create hundreds of pieces similar to things that most of us do in our spare time.
With the detail and talent of any artist, Brown has produced hundreds of examples of napkin art.
Part of his collection is displayed at the Rancher’s Bank in Belen and will be shown until the end of August.
For the past eight years, Brown has been drawing and perfecting his art on simple, white paper napkins.
Although he’s tried a number of different napkins, the Belen artist says the napkins at McDonald’s are the best to work with.
“I just started doodling on napkins one day at McDonald’s,” Brown said. “Ever since then, I’ve used McDonald’s as my studio. I find a corner spot, and I just let my mind take over.”
Once Brown sets up shop in a back table or booth, his imagination wanders. With a small clipboard in hand, Brown draws on the thin white napkin whatever comes to mind.
“I draw a lot of different pictures, from goofy things to faces to more intricate scenes. Each napkin can take about six hours,” Brown said. “One time, I was drawing for about 13 hours straight.”
Brown first sketches each piece with a pencil and then will go over it with a Zebra-brand pen. After a drawing is finally complete, Brown will spray a clear coating on it to make it waterproof.
“My goal is to show kids that art can be simple,” he said. “When I’m in McDonald’s drawing, I get a lot of kids and their parents coming up to me and asking me what I’m doing. Someone will always come up to me because it catches their curiosity.”
It took Brown several months and hundreds of napkins to learn how to draw on the thin paper without tearing it.
With hours upon hours of practice, Brown finally was able to create a work of art on a napkin.
“I’ve always liked art, and I would always doodle, sketch and draw,” he said. “But once I got into this, I just couldn’t stop.”
Clara Garcia is the editor and publisher of the Valencia County News-Bulletin.
She is a native of the city of Belen, beginning her journalism career at the News-Bulletin in 1998 as the crime and courts reporter. During her time at the paper, Clara has won numerous awards for her writing, photography and typography and design both from the National Newspaper Association and the New Mexico Press Association.