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Andrea Merican: Delicate, Light-Filled Watercolor Paintings

Arizona-based watercolor artist Andrea Merican is inspired by all of life—from people and animals to desert botanicals. She calls her style “loose realism,” and uses lots of drips, splashes and vibrant color in her work as she attempts to capture a personality, a moment, and the true essence of everything she paints.

“I have always been an observer of others,” she said. “I see someone sitting in a beautiful pose and feel called to capture that gesture or that moment. Nature truly amazes me.”

In this first painting, entitled Ballet, one such beautiful pose is captured so that the grace, ease and concentration of the dancer is clearly apparent. I see so much deftness here—not just in the polished posture of the ballerina, but also in the precision of Andrea’s brushstrokes.

Ballet-WebImage

The colors are crisp and clean, as well. By only dropping in hints of romantic shadowing along each crease of the tutu, Andrea has allowed the draping layers to expand in airy fullness. Not only that, but the ballerina’s skin glows radiantly—and this, I think, is where Andrea’s expert hand is most apparent.

In Colorburst, nature is Andrea’s brilliant subject. A vivid pink desert bloom manages to thrive even in scorching temperatures, and no amount of sweltering sun will make its vibrant petals wilt. Surrounded by deadly, spindly cacti, the flower still tilts determinedly toward the sky.

Colorburst-webimage

Countless petals and cacti spines splay out, providing this close-up composition with a lot of movement despite the still, desert heat. Even a few fine grains of sand are detailed in the forefront—the rest, of course, is lost in heat waves that distort distant sand and shadows into a midsummer haze.

Finally, in Las Gallinas, brightly colored chickens peck at the ground, where seeds are scattered and insects flee for cover lest they become yet another entrée.

LasGallinas-webimage

In the foreground, a robust orange bird with thick feathers that range in color from daffodil yellow to pumpkin orange stares hungrily at the ground, mid-peck. His compatriot, a second chicken of equally striking plumage, struts his stuff dressed in earthy brown, blue and gray stripes.

While the chickens’ talons and features are very realistic, Andrea takes a few abstract liberties with their feathers and coloring. The ground itself also reminds me of a huge, abstract speckled egg, which I think is a lovely touch.

Besides watercolor, Andrea dabbles in oils, and those paintings are also definitely worth a look. I hope you’ll take this opportunity to view more of her wonderful artwork on her website today.

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Fabrics and textiles and prints—oh, my! Years spent as a fashion illustrator for a major department store has attuned Sally Franklin to the fabulous design work visible in the diverse, intricate folds and patterns of fabric.

“You'll see fabric draped in backgrounds, underneath objects, crumbled up in a basket or as the sole focus of a. . . read more

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