Featured Artist Merrimon Kennedy

Plein air artist Merrimon Kennedy uses bold strokes and colors to create painterly landscapes of the American Southwest. Enjoy more by visiting her website.

 

painting of summer in the Southwest by Merrimon Kennedy

“Southwest Summer” oil on canvas, 24” x 24” x 1.5”

 

Running an art gallery was not my career plan when I was in college. From an early age I knew I wanted to be an artist. Luckily my parents encouraged my interest in art, particularly my mother.

 

painting of the Sangres Badlands by Merrimon Kennedy

“Badlands View of the Sangres” oil on panel, 16” x 12”

 

After college was another story. I had the desire, but knowing how to make a living as an artist was a puzzle. After exploring various paths without success, fate put me in the position of buying an existing gallery on the coast of North Carolina, my home state. It seemed like a brilliant move—I could combine my recent experience in retail and marketing with my degree in painting to stay connected to the art world. The business was up and running and I would have a venue to exhibit my artwork!

 

painting of the Rio Grande Gorge by Merrimon Kennedy

“Along the Rio Grande Gorge II” oil on cradled panel, 24” x 36” x 2”

 

Early on I discovered that running a gallery would be hard work and long hours, although there were rewards. I enjoyed curating the exhibitions and match-making collectors to artists, and introduced some visitors to their first experience purchasing original art. I became involved in my community and organized a monthly gallery night to promote the art venues in my downtown neighborhood. This practice continued for twenty years.

 

painting of the Arroyo Gigante by Merrimon Kennedy

“Late Afternoon in the Arroyo Gigante” oil on panel, 16” x 12”

 

The one thing I didn’t seem to have time to do was paint. In 2015, I sold the business and my husband and I headed to Santa Fe, New Mexico to begin a new chapter in our lives.

 

painting of the Southwest landscape by Merrimon Kennedy

“Traces of Winter Snow” oil on canvas, 40” x 30” x 2.25”

 

After thirty years of not working as an artist, it was difficult to get started again. I took an online painting workshop and slowly my work evolved.

 

painting of Chamisas by Merrimon Kennedy

“Chamisas in Late Afternoon” oil on panel, 16” x 12”

 

The course was not focused on plein air, but the instructor encouraged us to try it. I found that the light outdoors was far superior to the light in the studio. In addition, being outside was very pleasant.

 

painting of the Southwest by Merrimon Kennedy

“Almost Spring” (detail) oil on panel, detail size approximately 8” x 12”

 

I did a “paintout” event with other artists for a week. Although I was a bit nervous to paint in public, it was a revelation. Despite the potential discomforts (carrying equipment, weather, insects, and so on) I realized that this is what I needed to do.

 

painting of sumer in Nambe by Merrimon Kennedy

“Summer Morning in Nambe” oil on cradled panel, 24” x 12” x 1.5”

 

Before moving to the Southwest, I never had an interest in painting landscapes. Suddenly, I felt a strong visual connection to my surroundings and the opportunity to share a sense of time and place with my artwork.

 

painting of a storm in the Southwest by Merrimon Kennedy

“Storm Brewing” oil on panel, 16” x 12”

 

There’s no other feeling like being “in the flow.” Nothing else matters; I am intent only on my painting. With a small window of time to before the light changes, speed is crucial. I enjoy the physicality of making bold, decisive strokes on my painting surface. Paint applied can be scraped, smeared or incised with a tool. I want my work to appear spontaneous, regardless of whether it was.

 

painting of a view from a bridge by Merrimon Kennedy

“View from the Bridge II” oil on cradled panel, 24” x 18” x 1.5”

 

Though I enjoy painting from observation, I have also begun translating my smaller studies into larger scale pieces in the studio. Oil is my primary medium of choice, though I like exploring other media including acrylic, gouache, pastels and oil with cold wax medium. As a gallerist, I made a difference to my community, my artists and my collectors. My life as a painter is far more personally rewarding.

 

Artist Merrimon Kennedy invites you to follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

 

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Comments

  1. Dennis Sanderson says

    Ms. Kennedy paints exceptional landscapes, a subject which is my favorite. I’ve admired her work for three years and finally am very close to purchasing a large piece which is soon-to-be finished. She takes such care to make each piece reflect her very best effort. I encourage you to add her work to your collection.

    • Thank you so much for your kind words! I appreciate your interest in my work and am so pleased you contacted me about a piece for your home. This has been a fun project and I hope you and your family will enjoy once the paint dries!

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