We had the good fortune of connecting with Andrea Merican and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Andrea, why did you pursue a creative career?
I didn’t choose art. It chose me. I started drawing when I was 3 years old. All through my school years, whenever someone asked me the classic childhood question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I always answered, “An Artist”. I took every available art class through public school and after graduation, I was accepted into the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design in Denver, CO. Although I was unable to complete my degree there, I moved back home to Arizona and took every art class I could through community colleges, some at ASU and eventually the Scottsdale Artists School. My art career has not been linear by any means. I have started and stopped and worked other jobs continually all while pursuing my dream. I have wanted to quit too many times to count, but there is something inside of me, that is called to pursue art as a career. I believe this is a God given gift and it is my strong desire to fulfill my purpose by creating art.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My art journey has taken quite a few turns and continues to do so. I’ve been an entrepreneur since age 18, so, what I do for money has not always been art. I have learned over the years that being an artist is not necessarily a career choice- it is who I am. I have explored a variety of mediums since school age. I have drawn with pencil and charcoal and pastel. I have worked with oil paint for many years. I love pen and ink sketching. My work with watercolor began ten years ago. I had painted with watercolor on and off for years but really preferred oils. In 2011, I took a watercolor class at the Scottsdale Artists School. When my instructor did her first demo and taught us to allow watercolor to take on a life of its own, I exclaimed, “I didn’t know you could do THAT with watercolor!” I was instantly hooked. I decided to dedicate a full year to only painting with watercolor and really try to master the medium. I enjoy pushing the “rules” of watercolor. I didn’t used to admire the medium of watercolor because I thought it had to be pale, pastel and washed out looking. When you eliminate the stereotyped ideas of watercolor and actual play with the medium, you can push it in ways that are quite surprising. I like to have a continual play of transparent and opaque, bold strokes and soft delicate areas, geometric spaces and curving flowing lines. This push-pull of techniques and design elements keeps the viewer engaged and excited as they explore the painting. My approach is not traditional and that is what I love about it. I recently started working in oils again. In September I took a workshop from Michael Carson, an amazing figurative oil painter. It was just the jump start I needed to start painting the female figure in oil paints again. I am posting my trials and experimentations on Instagram and allowing my audience to see me at my most vulnerable. I think it is good to show the struggles as well as the successes to your followers. I hope that my authenticity encourages others to pursue their creative gifts as well. For me, the biggest challenge in pursuing art has been the need to work full time at a non-artistic profession for most of my life. I used to struggle so much with coming home exhausted from work and not having energy or a creative mindset to draw or paint. It took me many years to discipline myself into creating a balance between daily life, work and studio time. I feel like I’ve finally created a nice balance between business and art and I’m satisfied with where I am at. Of course, I’m always working on growing my skill as an artist and achieving new levels which is the exciting part about this journey. My advice to anyone starting out on their art career is to carve out time for your artwork. Even if it is only 15 minutes a day. Make time to create. I am looking forward to this year to explore more in oils and watercolor and perhaps drawing as well. I am at the stage in my career that I need to stretch myself in order to grow to new levels. It is a terrifying and exhilarating place to be in at the same time.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If you have one day in South Scottsdale: Start your morning out at The Breakfast Club in Scottsdale. Order a cappuccino and the Huevos Rancheros. You won’t be sorry. Then take your time and wander the streets of Old Town Scottsdale. There are tons of cute shops and restaurants, the famous horse fountain on 5th Ave and other fun things to see. Spend some time on Main Street enjoying the art galleries and maybe stop in for a gelato if you are in the mood for something sweet. When you are ready for lunch, you will fall in love with the flavors of Mexico at The Mission. The atmosphere is warm and cozy and the food is oh so memorable. After lunch you’ll enjoy a visit to The Desert Botanical Garden. It is a wonderful place to see a wide variety of succulents and cacti and gain a new appreciation for the desert we call home. If you need to rest your feet, grab a cocktail at Gertrude’s right there in the garden. If you can handle some more spice for dinner, I highly recommend my favorite local spot called Los Sombreros. They serve New Mexican food on a quaint patio with the best margaritas I’ve ever had in my life. Head over to Lou’s Bar and Grill for sunset and an amazing view of the desert to enjoy one last cocktail by one of their fire pit tables outside. A perfect day in South Scottsdale!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I was very blessed to have found an amazing teacher and mentor when I was 14 years old. Tonja Sell helped train me through my high school years and prepared me to apply and eventually be accepted to art school. She is an incredible artist and we are still friends today. Her work can be found on Instagram @tonja_sell
All photographs were taken by me.