Female artist painting at an evening venue
I was flown to southern CA to “paint live” during the Hyundai VIP event in mid-Dec 2021. Nancie King Mertz, “The Road Less Traveled,” 12 x 16 in., pastel.

How do you find inspiration?

Light and shadow are the elements that “take my breath.” The most ordinary scene is often transformed into a great composition with a strong cast shadow. Cityscapes are a wonderful source of varied shadow shapes as they cast shadow and reflect light on the buildings marching down the street. Bridges and El tracks create the most interesting positive and negative spaces for me, and I often refer to them as “calligraphy in the sky”.

It seems I’m inspired by scenes with lots of information that I enjoy editing and simplifying, leaving details for the area that is the center of interest, the area that tells the story. I often tell my students to “paint what scares you” as a means to improve their craft and explore other subjects. This is advice I try to adhere to as well, to keep my work interesting to me and to the viewer. Whether painting from your own reference photos or from your plein air setup, the inspiration is limitless! John Singer Sargent said to students: “If you can’t find something to paint in front of you, just turn around.”

To see more of Nancie’s work, visit: NancieKingMertz.com

Pastel painting of a street under el train tracks
Nancie King Mertz, “Grand View,” 15 x 18 in., pastel, 2021 — a studio piece, one of many El scenes that have inspired me over the years
Pastel painting of a grain elevator
Nancie King Mertz, “The Provider” 33.5 x 45.5 in., pastel, 2021 — a studio piece to honor my Dad who provided so much for his family by running a grain elevator



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