06 Jun 2023Mont Marte

“When a new idea calls my name, I can’t help but answer.”

Claire Monique Taylor (@byclairemonique) is a fun-loving, multi-passionate creative, from Victoria’s stunning, Mornington Peninsula. Inspired by her own unique experiences, her work is intuitively led, full of colour and bursting with personality.

But her creative journey wasn’t always smooth sailing. In 2019, Claire was diagnosed with acoustic neuroma, a benign brain tumour affecting her hearing and balance. So, she turned to art for healing and began making pom poms while resting in bed. Reigniting her creative spark and helping her recover, Claire’s work features a tonne of positivity.

We had a chat to Claire about how it all started, where she creates and what inspires her, and we had a few giggles along the way – we’d love to be her best friend!


1. Tell us about yourself!

I’m Claire Monique Taylor, I live in Rye, Victoria on the beautiful Mornington Peninsula. I’m a multi-passionate, colour-loving creative. I make everything from digital designs to enormous, crocheted blankets. Acrylic abstract paintings, wearable garments, accessories, and everything in between! I am very intuitively led, so when a new idea calls my name, I can’t help but answer. I love learning new skills and techniques, working with different textures and mediums, and creating work that makes me feel happy!

2. You work across different media, how do you decide what to create?

Unless I’m working to a deadline for a client, exhibition or event, there’s very little conscious decision making that takes place. I feel very strong creative impulses and following them usually takes me to my next project. Sometimes ideas come to me fully formed and it’s up to me to figure out how to make them happen, and sometimes I’ll feel drawn to working with a particular technique or medium and the work comes together as I follow the process.



1. Artist Claire Monique wearing a pink dress, holding a mug and standing in her studio.


3. Where do you get your inspiration for a piece from?

My work is like a snapshot of my positive memories and experiences. Sometimes specific moments, and sometimes a melding of everything I love that makes me, me -- which can happen either consciously or subconsciously. I’ll give you a couple of examples!

A conscious positive experience was when I went for an evening swim at my local bay beach the other day, and the sunset was so amazing that my entire being screamed “take a photo, you’re going to paint this!” So, I took a photo and that went into my little inspiration gallery to reference another day. This is a good example of being aware of the inspiration as it’s happening, but not yet feeling pulled to make it urgently.

Sometimes the inspiration is more cumulative; for example, I was watching the music video for “Bejeweled'' by Taylor Swift a couple of weeks ago, and I noticed her rhinestone corset. The corset made me think of the sparkly dancing concert costumes from my childhood, which made me think of sequins, which made me think of some fully sequined baseball caps that were a trend in the 90’s. This train of thought inspired me to make a fully rhinestone baseball cap! That’s a great example of a specific project and how it came to be through a number of inspirations.

Other times - particularly with painting - I don’t decide what’s going to happen before I do it. I’ll just get the urge to paint, set up my supplies, look at a blank canvas and follow my impulses. These impulses often come in one word, like “pink” or “glitter” or “thicker” or “star.”

These are the works that I feel are created from a subconscious melding of everything, like my favourite colours, satisfying textures, positive memories, my top songs of the moment, the pretty leaves on my houseplants - everything! 


4. How did your journey to creativity unfold? 

I have always been enamoured with creative expression, so my personal journey has been one of exploring all the nooks, crannies, and possibilities within my own creative world, instead of travelling to it. My earliest memory of my creativity was being taken to tennis lessons as a child and spending the entire time dancing around and drawing pictures in the en tout cas instead of trying to hit the ball!

It was never a matter of finding my creativity. It has always found a way to express itself, even in the most unexpected environments -- like a wildflower blooming through a crack in the footpath. 


2. Colourful artwork painted with acrylics, with various coloured layers and flowers painted on top.


5. How did art help your recovery with acoustic neuroma?

Thank you for asking this question! After I had surgery to remove my acoustic neuroma (a benign brain tumour that affects your hearing and balance), very few things were bringing me joy. I lost hearing in my right ear as a result of the surgery, so simple things like watching a movie or listening to music became completely different experiences, which resulted in feelings of intense grief and sadness -- not to mention some pretty hardcore tinnitus!

It also took quite some time to be able to walk without feeling seasick, or to get out and about, without feeling vulnerable or disoriented. This was a very difficult time for me, as I had completed a Music Theatre degree only two years prior, so the idea of not being able to hear properly, or sing and dance as well, or even attend the theatre and have the kind of experience I was accustomed to, was terrifying to me.

I spent a lot of time in bed or on the couch recovering, and there was very little I could do to buoy myself up - so I turned to art! It started with making pom poms, which I could easily do in bed or on the couch, and eventually it felt like I was swimming in an ocean of multi-coloured happiness! I realised that the process of creating, even without a goal in mind, was making me very happy. Over time, as my capabilities slowly improved, I started working with more and more mediums and expanding my stable of skills. I began dipping a toe in the social media pool and shared some bits and pieces online, and it turned out, other people loved what I was making! I entered a local painting competition and won, started making some new friends and connections in person and online, and it all grew from there.

Art really helped remind me who I am and what I am still capable of. It has been the most valuable and healing period of my life.


3. A glittery pink bucket filled with coloured pom poms.


6. Where do you create now? What does your space look like?

I create at home, in my apartment. My living area is open plan, so the entire thing is basically my personal playground with different zones for different activities!

It has huge windows all along one wall that let in the perfect amount of natural light and tiled floors so it’s easy to clean. I have a painting corner set up, with tarps on the ground and plastic attached to the wall, a lovely big trestle covered in a canvas drop cloth (that’s already covered in paint), carts of paints and supplies, canisters full of brushes and plenty of jars for fresh water. There’s also a sewing corner, with my gorgeous old sewing machine (a gift from my mother), and pink glittery storage boxes full of fabric, tinsel, fringe and trims.

I spend most of my time in the TV corner, with a big pink shaggy floor rug, two cane armchairs and a matching sofa all with crocheted cushion covers, a couple of little side tables, and a multi-coloured hand painted coffee table which is currently covered with paint pens, sea shells, ten different colours of cotton yarn, three different notebooks and a few stray rhinestones!

This is where I watch my favourite romantic movies and tv shows while working on my personal projects. I have houseplants on every available surface and partially finished projects everywhere - like the daisy granny square cardigan laid out on the floor. I have a bunch of pink and red sequin fabrics on my retro kitchen table from my half-finished Harry Styles concert outfit, a half-finished painting on my easel, and a row of seashells I’ve collected and painted after every ocean swim I’ve had this summer. I also have a hand painted lilac kitchen hutch in the middle of the main wall, covered in knick knacks and gifts from friends and family. As well as artwork by some of my favourite Australian artists - Adriana Artmeier, Tish Willo, Gabriella Rosie to name a few! 


4. Artist Claire Monique laughing in her studio, wearing  pink leopard print overalls and yellow lightning bolt earrings.


7. When creating a work, do you prefer to plan it out or jump in and learn as you go?

Oooooh I’m a big “jump in and learn as you go” kind of gal. In fact, this question has stirred up a huge core memory! I distinctly remember the “all nighters” I used to have to pull in secondary school to complete my art folios. I don’t know if it’s still the same, but back then, for every piece you created (whether in textiles or art), you had to show the working for all the different techniques and designs you had tried before you landed on your final approach. WELL. This was never how I did things - I jumped in, figured it out as I went and before I knew it, my project was done!

So, because the working was part of the grading, I would literally stay up night after night, at the end of each grading period, filling in all the gaps in my folio and working through fictional attempts at different techniques, so it looked like I’d done all this extra work to get to where I ended up! Gosh, it’s amazing to think back and see how the education system expects everyone to create in the same way. I’m so glad I don’t have to do that anymore!  


5. A coloured acrylic painting of various daisy flowers with peach, pink and light blue layers beneath them.


8. You’re not alone there! I think there were plenty of students (me) who did that too haha. Who are your creative cheerleaders?

I’m lucky enough to have quite a few! My family are huge supporters - particularly my mum and dad, sister, brother, sister-in-law and nephews. They’re always interested in the latest things I’m working on and love finding me new opportunities, helping with the business side of things and giving me feedback. I have some close personal friends both in and out of the art world who have come with me on this journey, like my besties Ali and Alex and Kimberley Russell (Art) who have been a close personal friend for at least 15 years - she’s an excellent confidant and trouble shooter - and Beck Ng from Fabric Drawer (who I actually took art with in secondary school!), who has directed me to some great opportunities and given me some wonderful advice.

I made new art friends on social media during the pandemic who have become great friends in real life, and been so generous with their time, knowledge and support, particularly Danielle Monique and Deb McNaughton, who invited me to her participate in her open studio event last year which was a wonderful experience and huge success.

My dear friend and creative powerhouse Wade Kingsley (from The Ideas Business) and his family are always finding new ways for us to work together which I am beyond grateful for. I also have to mention the committee and members of Melbourne and Victorian Artists Collective (MAVA), who have supported me greatly since I started sharing my work online, and the team at In.cube8r (Melbourne Central and Fitzroy), particularly Elle-May Michaels, who is a brilliant creative mentor and friend.


6. Claire holding a pink skateboard with 90's style pained decals painted on it.


9. Yes, we love Deb too! What are you “too old to do” but still enjoy doing?

NOTHING. I reject the concept of being too old for anything! I’m turning 40 this year and I’m still running around in pink overalls, going to pop concerts, making new friends, wearing glittery makeup, eating fruit tingles, playing video games and making a mess. You are never too old to do what makes you happy, EVER.

10. What 3 art supplies would you take to the moon?

What a big question! To the moon specifically…number one would be a tonne of colourful yarn - can you just imagine giant pom poms in all those craters?! Number two is acrylic paints, particularly Dimension Acrylics (because there is sooooo much you can do with them) and paint pens, because it’s all in the details, and number three would be biodegradable glitter, because we care about the environment, but even the moon could do with a little extra sparkle!


7. A rainbow painted canvas with a silver cresent moon and star painted on top.

11. When was the last time you got creative goosebumps?

When I visited OnShore studios in Rosebud recently and saw the latest works by Sarah Morrow, Baden Croft and Liam Waldie. They are all such different artists, but I find their work so mesmerising, in particular Sarah’s use of colour and organic shapes, and the way Baden utilises texture and creates contrast in his subject matter. I could spend hours there just standing in front of their work or talking to them about their creative process.

I think as an artist, it’s so important to allow yourself to be moved by other artist’s work - it’s easy to get bogged down with comparison-itis when you see other people’s work on social media, but when you see it in person, it really brings home how different we all are and how much we each have to offer the world.

You can read more about Claire Monique Taylor’s art here or discover more of our featured artists.

We hope that you feel inspired by Claire’s creative journey too. Show us what you create and #montmarteart or tag us @montmarteart on Instagram or Facebook, we’d love to see it!

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