Jo El Mercer Bio My work for the past 10 years has been focusing on color mixing and distribution of acrylic paint using the technique of watercolor painting as a model.  In the current acrylic painting climate, there is a trend to pour acrylic in a scientific color calculation to achieve a planetary solar esthetic. I on the other hand layer based on the tone or the feeling I would like my piece to encompass. Instead of pouring onto the canvas I squeeze an extreme amount of paint on the canvas and then I follow the lead of the paint.  This is somewhat unique because I do not use modeling paste to achieve texture or movement.

My cartoon work has been described as adult Dr. Seuss with a hint of Tim Burton’s morbidity. I transform my emotions into creating a range of faces. My cartooning style is simple I like to use cross-hatching and repetitive lines. I do use the principals of portrait drawing to make sure the dimensions do not become overly distorted. I use pointillism which works for shadow and depth to my drawings. I layer charcoal pencil, pen, sharpies, and Prismacolor to create depth and character as needed.  I have used and hope to continue to use my cartoons as a platform to express my ideas and feelings regarding social, political and cultural issues.

My work ranges in context and form.  I am currently enjoying the exploration of photography and the use of mixed media this has added a richness to my love for painting.  I try to can capture an object and/or objects in their entirety and then from there I am able to create something totally different in fragments and/or sections.   I like the layer-cake approach, you layer, layer and then peel back to the beginning. I have also been doing extensive research into the great artistry and artists that have proceeded me.  A recent trip to the Chicago Art Institute, allowed me to enjoy and study the Charles White retrospective.

My most recent project was an exhibit that featured three pieces “Earth”, “Wind” and “Fire.” The project encapsulated expression and what that means to me as an artist.  I immediately had a mental picture of the elements and how they express power at their full strength. The amazing fact is that it becomes very black and white.  The outcome is either destructive or restorative.  How the Earth can regrow, renew and regenerate, and how the Wind can be subtle, light and refreshing or gusting and destructive.  How Fire can cook food, keep a camper warm on a cold night or destroy a forest or entire communities within hours. It was a project that went beyond just the exhibit for me.

I feel art is a form of restoration and preservation of the old and the new.  Therefore, I try my best to create pieces that do more than just offer a visual experience.  My goal is for the viewer to be moved or sprinted back to that one evening on the beach when the sunset was purple, red and pink without a line in the landscape (infinity).  I like to evoke reflection and an opportunity to look in the rear-view mirror for good memories.

My art education does not go beyond all the art classes I was able to take and sign up for between 8th and 12th grade at Central High School, in Omaha NE.   I must be honest by saying that the foundation that was given to me from my High School art teachers is priceless.  The art teachers were relentless, critiquing fanatics, “rework that” flowed off their lips and quick as a no or yes.  I vividly remember them pushing me to take a piece further, to trust my talent, and to give it everything I had on every project or piece I started.  I will never forget my art teacher that insisted on everything being authentic and your ideas and any formidable pieces of work should first appear in a personal sketchbook with notes and ideas.   It is that bedrock that has helped me endure the high and low atmosphere in the circle of art, and that has sustained me regarding my career as an artist to date.