Neon artist sets up at Black Gold

By TJ Caudill -

Some of the paintings Mona Rae displayed in her booth at Black Gold today.

Her hand made bracelets on display in her booth.

An artist from the Neon community of Letcher County set up a craft booth for the first time at Black Gold festival this year. She is face painting, selling her artwork, and also selling her custom jewelry she hand made herself at her booth.

Mona Rae, of Neon, spoke with a reporter with Hazard Herald at her Black Gold booth on Friday.

“I’m Mona Rae, and I am an artist, face painter, and custom jeweler.” she said as she introduced herself.

This is her first time setting up a craft booth at Black Gold. She has gone to other festivals in Letcher County, but nothing as big as Black Gold.

“I’ve always heard about how good it was and it’s a huge festival, so I thought I would step out of my box, and come down to a little bit bigger festival.” Rae said of Back Gold. Her son had recently graduated from high school, and it allowed her some freedom to set up at Black Gold.

One of her favorite things to do to is face paint kids. Rae has been been face painting for 10 years. She face paints anything from professional wrestlers to Elsa from Disney’s hit movie Frozen. She said she does a lot of butterflies, and puppy dogs as well.

“I enjoy kids. I love the kids. I said if I ever won the lottery, I would be on the side of the street painting for free, because I enjoy it so much.” she said and would go on to say, ” I think it’s just the kids. I love to see their reaction, when they look at themselves after I paint them. It’s just priceless.” Rae said excitedly.

Rae has been drawing for over 30 years. She also does oil painting, acrylic painting, and people sketching. She had an art exhibit at Appalachian Artisan Center in June. Her artwork is also sold at the Pine Mountain Grill in Whitesburg.

Rae said she took art classes in high school, but honed her skill by taking classes under a teacher in Jenkins.

“There was a gentleman in Jenkins, Father Randell, and he gave free classes. I took classes under him for about 5 years. He was wonderful. He was really, really good. He said he payed it forward, so he gave free art classes, cause there was a gentleman on the streets of New York who gave him free classes when he was growing up. So he payed it forward.” she said.

She talked on the subject of her favorite things to paint, and the way she is paying it forward is with an item that she commissions, but doesn’t sell.

“My favorite thing is trees. I love trees and also, most people don’t know, is I have an angel. She is called the weeping angel. I have three different versions of her and I don’t sell them. I give her away to people that have illnesses, troubles, and a death in the family. So, if I know that is going on and if you are having a hard time, you’ll get a copy of my angel. I have three different ones right now, and I just give them away. I won’t sell her.”

Hand made bracelets made from plain wood is also an item Rae sells at her booth. She has been doing the bracelets for 5 years, and said she learned by trial and error. She paints different things on each one of her bracelets, and Rae said that each one is unique and no two are the same.

Rae said she will be operating her booth until Saturday and invites kids to get their faces painted.

TJ Caudill can be reached at 606-436-5771 or on Twitter @HazardHerald.

Some of the paintings Mona Rae displayed in her booth at Black Gold today. of the paintings Mona Rae displayed in her booth at Black Gold today.

Her hand made bracelets on display in her booth. hand made bracelets on display in her booth.

By TJ Caudill

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