"I paint for myself, to amaze myself. It is always a surprise for me to see what I have created. I am always very uncertain when I begin to paint. I am uncertain of the outcome, of the process, of everything pertaining to the painting. It is like going into the unknown, so that there is always an element of bafflement and chance to me, at what I am about to create and while I am creating it"
Frances de Courcy Mercer
Native of Florida, it is her longing for her roots that makes Frances De Courcy Mercer a great and passionate artist, whose work has been exhibited in many solo shows. The highlights of Mercer's career was the participation in Chianciano International Art Award in 2012, the Chianciano Biennale and the London Biennale in 2013, for which the artist was selected to represent the USA.
After completing a bachelor’s degree in English Literature and a masters in Art History at the University of Miami, Mercer took off for California to continue her studies. In 1974, she received a Masters of Fine Arts in Painting from the San Francisco Art Institute.
Two years later, she returned to Florida and settled down in the state’s southern area. Fascinated by the natural beauties of South Florida, her early works are representations of winter skies, and as from 1985, the Everglades, green flat lands of grasses typical of the southern portion of the region, a series which the artist continues to the present day.
In 1996, Mercer moved to Central Florida, precisely a 3,500-acre preserve called Indian Hammock. The word Hammock comes from the Spanish hamaca, which describes a dark, rich, arable type of soil. Hammocks can be high or low, and are usually located nearby a body of water. There can be different kinds, such as live oak, palm, sweet gum, holly, ironwood and magnolia, and it is indeed the varying characteristics of the Florida landscape that inspires Mercer’s watercolours. For their unchanged features, hammocks are considered by the artist as a symbol of nostalgia for Florida’s old good times, and are therefore key elements in her work.
Florida’s wildlife and natural landscapes provide a great variety of scenes for Mercer: white cottony clouds across ultramarine skies, hammocks at dusk, palm trees caressed by the wind, rivers and ponds, fields with cows, each image changing according to the natural light at any given time of the day. Her work is the representation of natural beauty and longing for the past.
Besides painting, Mercer has also taught in southeast Florida at BCC, the South Florida Institute in Hollywood and Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. Since 1983, she is being managing Seventeenth Street Galleries, her own gallery space and framing shop in Fort Launderdale, Florida.
Image on the top left: Lodge Road 1 by Frances Mercer
Image at the bottom right: Frances Mercer's watercolours at the Chianciano Art Museum, Tuscany, Italy