What’s up with these monkeys? Why on earth would any one paint over 40 sock monkey paintings?
It’s kind of a long story but so worth the ride…
It all started with my mother’s sock monkey. I inherited it after her passing. ( My sister and I discovered him in a trunk when we were going through her belongings.) I fell in love with him and my sisters agreed he should come home with me.
He wasn’t very active at first. How could he be? I um, had him stuffed in a trunk for seven years.
His emergence was triggered by an art competition in which you had to paint a fish a pear, and relate it to something you loved. So off I went to the grocery store in search of still-life fodder. There I found some lovely pears, but the fish really did not turn me on, so I opted not to purchase one. Think about it, who wants a dead fish in the studio? I was headed for the checkout line when I saw the goldfish crackers. I laughed out loud and promptly snapped them up. I just knew those crackers were the perfect fish for the painting. (Hey the prospectus didn’t say what kind of fish!) And as I thought about the commercial jingle for the crackers, I laughed even harder. Ooh It was going to be a fun painting!
I was still giggling about the crackers an humming the theme song, when I remembered my mother’s sock monkey. It was then I decided to add the sock monkey to the painting and make this artwork a tribute to my mother.
I retrieved him from the trunk, plopped him in the setup and also added a black and white photo of my mom. Finally I added a kazoo as the crowing touch. (Mom was brilliant musician with a highly developed sense of humor.)
Have you ever played basketball? Have you ever taken a shot and your wrist snaps and you just know the ball is going in the basket? You don’t even have to look you just know. That’s how this painting was for me. It just felt right.
As time passed, I painted more sock monkey scenes. Soon, the text for the first Monkey Made of Sockies book emerged and in 2005, Monkey Made of Sockies the book, was born. That same year, Monkey Made of Sockies was the proud winner of the Parent to Parent Adding Wisdom Award.
Our travels expanded further when I took Monkey Made of Sockies, the book, and his artwork to the Sock Monkey Festival in Rockford IL, where we had a grand reception. (Oh you simply must go!) One of our trips to the Sock Monkey festival even inspired my first musical composition/video!
It was at my book release party at Ridgemark Golf and Country Club, when former CEO Eric Dietz suggested that my Monkey Made of Sockies character would make great golf club headcovers. I loved Eric’s idea, had a prototype made, and secured a licensing deal with Daphne’s Headcovers.
Once I teamed up with Daphne’s Headcovers, Monkey Made of Sockies became a global phenomenon! LPGA Pros Leta Lindley, Jill McGill, Jennifer Rosales, and PGA pro Mitch Thomas carry him on tour. He even has a cult following in Japan where people stand in line to get him.
Monkey Made of Sockies is a generous soul. Together with Daphne’s Headcovers, and LPGA pro Leta Lindley, we give a portion of our proceeds to help children with Prader-Willi Syndrome.
Fast forward to today and we now have an entire family of Monkey Made of Sockies! Rake debuted in 2011. He’s a Golfsmith Exclusive ! Not only is he adorable, but he also gives back. A portion of the proceeds goes to help Gabriel’s Angels, a wonderful organization that delivers pet therapy to at risk children. The twins, Spoon and Niblick debuted in January of 2012 and will soon be matched up with the perfect philanthropic partner.
Now we have come full circle. My mother was a special education teacher, and these Monkeys Made of Sockies that were inspired by her spirit, continue to help children around the world. And that makes me smile as big as a sock monkey.
It is my hope that you are smiling too. Thanks for sharing this ride with me.
Here’s a great interview with Val Jeffery…