“I’m not concerned with the average person. I must please myself.”
–Eileen Monaghan Whitaker
Eileen Monaghan Whitaker’s work was joyous, always celebrating life, never putting it (or anyone) down. But then, Eileen’s pictures were a reflection of her own true self. Her physical frame was tiny, her spirit and talent, very grand. Eileen’s green eyes, the key to her soul, expressed sympathy, compassion, amusement and contentment. Eileen, however, was no saint. She enjoyed a ribald story, was quick to spot pretentiousness and nail it down, was bored with dull people and did not suffer fools at all. There was absolutely nothing ambiguous about Eileen.
As an artist, Eileen studied color, stance, life-styles, mannerisms, dress, other artists’ work, movement, light. You name it, Eileen had examined it. Her medium, watercolor, corresponded particularly well to her nature as a painter and was one she had mastered. With just a few strokes, applied with extreme audacity, Eileen expressed herself completely. Although often asked to paint portraits, Eileen usually refused, preferring instead to interpret the human figure as well as nature – fields, meadows, valleys, mountains, oceans and sky, as well as buildings that evoke a sense of beauty.
Eileen spent a lot of time paying her dues – from studying at The Massachusetts College of Art to fifteen years in various New York advertising agencies as fashion illustrator, turning out sketches and paintings on almost every aspect of fashion. One of Eileen’s most creative days was Saint Valentine’s Day, 1943, when she met Frederic Whitaker, the distinguished watercolorist. They were married subsequently, made numerous trips to Mexico, and at one time even considered buying a home in Alamos, but eventually settled in La Jolla in 1966. They both produced wonderful art and truly lived happily ever after, until Fred’s death in 1980. One chapter in Eileen’s picture-book life had come to an end; however, she continued to paint beautiful pictures until her death in 2005.