When I was 17 I had a dream of becoming an artist. I did all the right things: Went to college, got my degree and set up in a studio but it proved difficult. In the end I retrained in IT and worked in the corporate world for 25 years. But the dream never really died. I started taking a day every week to do an art class and, gradually, art became more and more important. At the end of 2017 I quit my job and set out, once again, to become an artist. In a way, I've picked up where I left off all those years ago and come back to images of the human face and spirit. Lockdown has created many challenges for artists but I have developed a way of working that draws heavily on photographic images and this has given me a rich seam of images to work on. But one of the great joys of portraiture is getting to know a real sitter right in there in the studio. One of the first people I painted when I came back to art said 'Everyone should be painted by Monica'. The process was both enriching and relaxing for her as well as me.