Originally from the East Coast, and now living in Portland, OR, Jennifer Mercede’s primarily abstract paintings consist of free flow text, bright color fields, and energetic doodling. She is inspired by funky color combinations, children’s art, graffiti and abstract expressionism.
Her process is spontaneous and expressive. To quote Mercede, “I paint fast. I doodle. I paint stream of consciously. For me there is no such thing as a mistake, in art, or in life!”
Carrie: When did you first realize the importance of art in your life?
I was probably about 12 when I started to recognize the importance of art in my life. I remember getting so engrossed in making these floral watercolor greeting cards, inspired by my grandmother. I’d spend so many hours and totally lose track of time. I loved the good feeling I got when my entire family left and I’d have the house to myself, crank up the music and just get into the creative zone. So liberating!
Carrie: How would you describe your art?
My art is sometimes abstract and wild, sometimes animals or flowers. It is always colorful & fun!
Carrie: What does your workspace look like?
I work in the basement of my house… and when I say basement, I mean basement. Dirty floors, cement walls, cobwebs (which of course I could clean, but I don’t.) It’s kind of messy. The table tends to acquire a bunch of supplies and papers and books, halfway finished paintings, inspiring cards and camping gear (which I also keep in the basement).
I have an old bed frame that I use for an easel. I have carts on wheels that I keep my paints on. They are filled with paints of all colors and kinds and brushes and stencils and spray-paint.
There is a section where I keep cardboard boxes for shipping, a section where I keep completed paintings, a section where I store unused panels and then just lots of stuff everywhere. It’s rather chaotic but I love that I can just be messy and leave things where they are when I finish and clean up at another time (or not).
Carrie: Can you describe the evolution of your artistic style? (Have you always made art with this unique vision or what was your turning point into recognizing this style was your authentic “you”?)
I remember sitting down in this room I was living in on Orcas Island in Washington to just chill and sketch. I began drawing everything I saw in the most comfortable, enjoyable way possible. This and another piece I created which I entitled my ‘Tap In’ piece in which I allowed myself to do whatever felt good, free and fun. This was when I began to feel like me!
It took me a while to get there though. To trust that what I was making was actually, legitimately ‘art’. I had to just keep making art, keep finding that places that felt like me, that felt free and fun.
Carrie: What are important strategies or choices you make that help support your creative process?
I follow my bliss. When I am choosing the type of mark to make, what material to work with or even what painting to pick up, I check in, ‘Which one of these will be the most enjoyable? Which one will guide me to bliss?’
Carrie: How do you think vulnerability affects artists/creatives?
For myself, I can funnel a lot of my emotions into my art. If I’m super upset, I can turn to a painting and just let it out! Like cry hysterical and at the same time run my marker up and down the painting, or move the brush fast & furious to channel that energy. In that way, I believe vulnerability affects my art.
Carrie: Can you please share one story of positive outcome from one of your workshops?
Oh gosh! They are such awesome experiences! I love the connection I get to experience with my students and that I witness between each other. I’d say watching them face their fears of attachment. I do exercises in which we have to let go of some beautiful art we’ve created and create something new. Enter the unknown.
It’s exciting (and somewhat entertaining) to watch my students be mad at me, be afraid, take a breath and then a risk, come through the other side and succeed at making another beautiful painting. I’m always so proud of them!
Carrie: What has been one hurdle you’ve overcome as a creative and how did you navigate that problem?
I can recall a commission experience where a customer wanted a piece and wanted to see sketches and progress shots. I tend to work spontaneously, so when they started to input on the direction the piece was going, I had to tell them that if they wanted my spirit and energy in the piece they would have to give me freedom.
I also let them know that if they had a different vision, maybe I wasn’t the artist for them. It was a good lesson in firmly standing for who I am and how I create at the possible cost of losing a potential sale. In the end, I ended up making two pieces, let them choose and they were happy!
Carrie: What is one creative resource you can’t live without?
Easy access/ transportability of my paints. I love being able to grab my art bag and know that it has everything I’ll need (my favorite color acrylic paints, colored pencils, watercolor crayons, the perfect sized brushes, a rag, tiny palette and cup for water) for an afternoon of painting if I’m heading on an adventure.
Carrie: Who/what inspires you?
Being in nature. Being alone. Color combinations I see on walls of covered up graffiti and in home decor magazines/catalogs. Children’s art.
Carrie: What does the word artist mean to you
A person who chooses to express themselves creatively on the regular.
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