I am a landscape painter working in the pastel medium. I am interested in painting the varied scenery we enjoy here in Northern California. Although my subject matter ranges from the rugged coastline of Northern California to the Sierra Mountains, I tend to focus on scenery closer to home. I delight in finding scenes in the greater Bay Area that reveal the tranquility that is available to us in the midst of this urban environment.
The landscapes that I paint often have a common theme that comes from having grown up in Western Montana. Scenes that focus on deep landscape, as contrasted with the “intimate landscape,” intrigue me. Even in my youth I was fascinated by the changing light and atmospheric effects on distant mountains. I look for similar effects in the scenery here in Northern California, and it is my aim to reflect this in my paintings. I often choose the dramatic lighting of morning, late afternoon or evening to enhance the effects of light on the deep landscape.
Many of my landscapes have no recognizable landmarks or features in them. My intention is to give the viewer the opportunity to experience the landscape unaffected by man. This draws the viewer into the scene. Others of my landscapes are of a particular place which may contain the mark of man. Having manmade elements, such as a path or a fence, in the picture may create a center of interest, which has a very different effect on the viewer’s participation in the artwork. My intention in these types of landscapes is to create a response that is universal, although the subject may be specific. This is accomplished through simplification of compositions and emphasizing the essence of the subject rather than the specific subject itself. My work is rooted in realist traditions: careful draftsmanship and observation are practiced. I seek to capture the effects of light on color. I aim for variety in realism, which combines soft diffused, even abstract shapes, with sharper, focused images, so that the viewer participates in the art. Over the past ten years, I have shown in group exhibitions and juried competitions, receiving many awards for pastel landscapes. My pastels are in collections in the Bay Area. I am a signature member of the Pastel Society of the West Coast, and a member of Group 95, California Art Club, Livermore Art Association, Hayward Arts Council and ART Inc. Mark Mertens may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit Mark’s website at http://acanthusonline.com/acanthusonline_009.htm.