Artist of the Month: Nancie King Mertz

Nite Lite (pastel, 19.5×25.5) by Nancie King Mertz was a Landscape finalist in the 24th Annual Art Competition. Mertz is our September 2008 Artist of the Month.

Residence: Chicago, Illinois


Start in art: I started taking art classes as a young child and started selling in high school. I received a bachelor of fine arts degree in painting from the University of Illinois, Urbana, and an master of arts in painting from Eastern Illinois University. I’ve studied with Schmid, Aspevig, Auster and Burdick. My husband, Ron, and I own an art gallery and frame shop. I do the art and framing; he makes gicleé prints and cards of my work.

Media and genres: I produce about 100 paintings annually, about 50 percent in oil, 50 percent in pastel. Landscape, cityscape and figurative work capture my attention; much of it is plein-air.

Her process: I don’t begin with a drawing, just a toned surface. Half of my work is plein-air; large pieces are done in my studio from reference photos. My oil palette is limited to about eight pigments. When working on a pastel piece, I use about 20 sticks and blend the color by layering. A plein-air piece takes two to three hours; larger studio pieces take eight to 10. Nite Lite took three hours. The Wrigley Building at night always makes me gasp!

Surprises and difficulties along the way: This went together quickly because I used black archival foam board as the surface. The difficulty was getting the tower straight, because of my astigmatism! My favorite part of the process was adding the intense colors that give it a sense of movement. This majestic building on Michigan Avenue is one of my favorites in Chicago.

What she’s working on: In April of this year, I spent three weeks painting in remote villages in southwest China with 21 other artists. The trip was facilitated by Barnsite and Linden Galleries of Wisconsin, who are hosting a show of the work until Sept. 21. On November 7, we’ll host an extensive show of my work from the China trip in our gallery in Chicago, ArtDeTriumph & Artful Framer Studios.

Why she creates art: The world is a smorgasbord of inspiring images, and I feel compelled to get them down on paper or canvas daily. To deny those urges would be like holding my breath!

Comedy of errors: I do a lot of commission work. For one portrait of two parents and their children, they supplied a stack of photos of the family. It turned out I painted the wife’s brother as the father because he was in so many of the photos!


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