Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday Feature Artist: Jennifer Mercede

Jennifer Mercede was born in Long Beach, CA and grew up in Connecticut.  At a young age Jennifer began making art, inspired by her grandmother, a free-spirited watercolorist.  She would spend hours making hundreds of handmade floral greeting cards and loved when she had the house to herself, could turn the music up and work on a creative project. 

Her primarily abstract paintings consist of free flowing text, bright color fields, and crazy energetic doodling.  Intuitively guided they involve letting go, taking big risks and trusting that there is no such thing as a mistake.  They are meant to enjoy and motivate. She is inspired by color, children’s art, old school hip hop flavor, graffiti, abstract expressionists, inner connection and her creative friends.

After receiving a B.A. in painting and illustration at Western Washington University, she took time to travel the country and harvest some of life’s wisdom through experience. Now, with curiosities satiated, she has settled into making art as a living.  She intends to continue sharing her soul through colors on the wall, as well as through music and performance on stage.

Welcome Jennifer...I am so excited to have you here.  I met Jennifer when I took a class from her and I truly enjoyed her relaxed, free approach to art and the encouraging way she guided her students (even when she made us paint over 90% of our canvases...yikes:).  She has some great advice on how to hush those critical voices in our heads and to keep the creativity going.  So let's get started.....


How would you describe your style and how did you know when you had found it??

I would say my style is bright colored, whimsical, fun, spontaneous & abstract.  I'd also call it contemporary.  Honestly, I don't think I realized I had a distinct style until others started pointing it out to me.   Now, I see it.

On your website you say that when you started painting daily there were some limitations in your mind that you had to get rid of. What were they and how did you get rid of them?
Yes, a majority of the rules came from art school and seeing how others do art and thinking I had to be that way.
Some of these limitations included:
'You MUST paint big!'
'You cannot mix colored pencils and paint!'
'You have to hold your brush at the tip of the brush.'
'Painting has to be HARD work.'
I made a list of all these annoying rules as well new rules I wanted to incorporate like:
'I can have many different styles!'
'There is no such thing as a mess up.'
'I draw lots and lots of circles (and its okay).' 
So after spending many hours in the studio adopting the new rules and discarding the old, I began to paint with freedom and developed confidence in how I like to create.
(painting with friend Chris Haberman)
Do you ever feel blocked or stuck? How do you keep yourself creative?
Yes, I do find myself in situations where I'm not feeling as connecting to my aliveness.  In general that means I need to do something different, something fun.  For example, I plan to take an adventure trip in May (not sure where I'm going yet, either the Caribbean or the Desert... any suggestions?) On this trip I plan to do some writing & music making and, well, whatever I feel like!  My intention is to give my soul space to be free, young, creative and alive.  (Wanna come? I welcome creative traveling buddies!) (yes, please;)
More specifically with painting, I can reach spots in paintings where I'm not sure where to go.  For example, at the moment I am working on a series for a show in April.  Many of the paintings have a solid layer of paint on them and they could be finished how they are. It’s a week until the show so I get the luxury of having the following 'conversation' in my mind... "....well what if I add layers and then I don't like it? I like it now so I should keep it. But I think you should paint on them, you barely painted on them. Yes, but some paintings are okay like that.. sometimes the trick is knowing when to stop, and it usually is hard to stop early, but often looks cool.  You've seen it in other artists work, the stopping early and you LOVED it!  But I'm also inspired and I want to paint!  Well, then paint!  But....''So typically what happens in a case like this is I'll step away from the art and work on something else and let it mull.  When I get back to them I may just start painting like crazy all over them or make more subtle marks.  When I'm frozen, applying paint will move me through.  Despite any fears, the painting will always arrive at another, beautiful, completed state.  If the show was tomorrow, the paintings would be done. Ha!

You have your art in some well-known catalogs, such as The Land of Nod, how does that work? In other words, did you contact them, did they contact you? How did they know about your art? Do you have advice for artists that would like to have their art in some catalogs? 

I am honored to be in the Land of Nod catalog.  They acquired my work through a company I license my art to called Oopsy Daisy. I was lucky because a woman who I babysat for growing up just happened to be roommates in college with Karen Capp, the owner of Oopsy Daisy.  (We lived in Ohio & Karen was in San Diego mind you.) She suggested I show Karen my work and once I did, we started to work together.  They are a wonderful company!
Now I know that this type of 'lucky break' isn't quite what aspiring licensors want to hear. However, it shows that it is, in face, a lot about 'who you know' and you just never know who knows who.  So don't be afraid to share what you do with people in your life and make sure you follow through when an opportunity comes your way.

You use a lot of doodling in your art. Can you give some advice about how to start doodling and how to use it in artwork?

I enjoy doodling, do you?  I enjoy how meditative it feels and I'm always impressed with how cool my "on the phone"/"when I'm not paying attention" doodles look.  It’s always a 'I couldn't have done that if I tried' kind of response. 
So I'd say doodling is not trying. It’s not being concerned with any outcome.  To me doodling is more about connection of your pen to the paper and the way the motion feels.  I'd suggest pull out a pen that runs easily, some paper, call a friend to chat and get your doodle on!
To doodle in your art, I suggest letting go of any desired outcome and have fun.  You can doodle with your paint, pencil, brush, etc.  Know that you can make mistakes.. you can always add another layer on top of what you are doing.  

How does art promote health and wellness in your life?

Making art is essential to the health of my mind and my emotions.  It’s definitely a way of releasing stress and letting out my frustrations of life.

I am like that typical artist you may have an image of in your head, the ones portrayed in cheesy movies.  One day you may find me sobbing over a painting, or using large exaggerated arm strokes to get the energy out. Another day (or later on in the same) you will find me scribbling intensely or smiling and grooving it out.

What do you know to be true?

My mom loves me :)  (And I love her.)
Thank you so much Jennifer!!  I love the picture of your beautiful.  I also really loved your list of "new rules."  What a great exercise it would be to write down the "negative rules" you keep telling yourself and then re-write your list with positive "new rules"....I think i'll go do that right now.
To learn more about Jennifer Mercede please visit her website, Etsy shop and FB page.
Leave some love in the comments if you are so inclined.  Have a wonderful weekend.
Be Well.


  1. How fun to read this Harmony! I began my day writing out three pages and found I could tackle what was in front of me. Many thanks to Jennifer for her encouragement and showing us so many, many different processes in her class. Great interview.

  2. Such a fun and inspiring interview. It's so great to read about how other 'creatives' have gotten to where they have...and how they make their art. Thank-you for this!

  3. Love the "freedom" of Jennifer's art. You do a wonderful job as interviewer capturing the artist's process:)

  4. Love Jennifer's free spirit and passion to create! Thank you for sharing this wonderful, insightful artist!!! And we have the giraffe (from Land of Nod) in my son's room! I am so happy to know who the artist is!!

  5. What a great interview! I love her free style!

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  7. Thanks so much Harmony! Its great that you feature a new artist every Friday. Way to go!

    Its funny that you mention wanting to write your rules because on the first day of class, students were
    instructed to keep a list by their sides, of rules they wanted to adapt and let go of! Guess I forgot
    to share that memo with you :)
    Oh well... At least you can do it now! Let me know how your rule making & breaking goes :)