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Snow always makes a good impression

By Staff | Aug 6, 2009

Born and raised on the west coast, in southern California and Beaverton, Ore. respectively, artist Merrie Jo Snow has called Fort Myers Beach home since 2004 – and island art enthusiasts have been reaping the benefits of this talented painter ever since.

Through a ceaseless flow of inspiration resulting in colorful, thoughtful compositions, Snow continues to satisfy a creative urge she’s had ever since she was a child.

“I always liked molding the clay in my hands and one of my first art classes at Portland State University in Portland, Ore., was sculpture. I studied sculpture and drawing there and sculpture, drawing and painting at Marylhurst University in Oregon,” Snow said, noting that she also attended many art workshops at the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology in Otis, Oregon.

“From there, I went on to the school of the Art Institute of Chicago, Ill., where I received my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting and drawing.”

Snow said her experiences at the School of the Art Institute helped to shape

her creation process as an artist.

As a part of her school tuition, Snow recalled, she and her classmates had free access to the Art Institute of Chicago museum seven days a week, and opportunity that allowed her to study some of art history’s greats up close and personal.

“Many of our lectures were held in the museum and much time was dedicated to talking about other artists and their thought process behind the art making. It was there that I really learned to be open to any and all ideas when it comes to making art and to ‘think outside the box,'” Snow said.

For Snow, it seems that inspiration is never in short supply- whether it comes in the form of a work by Paul Cezanne or a vibrant island sunset.

Snow says some of her favorite artists are Cezanne, Henri Matisse and Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh and Australian artist Ken Done – just to name a few.

“I’m [also] inspired by the exotic tropical landscapes and rich colors of (Paul) Gauguin,” Snow added, noting that the writings of Leonardo da Vinci and David Hockney suit both her art and literary cravings, as both authors, according to Snow, have a gift for expressing how they think about art and the art making process.

But sometimes inspiration is purely natural.

“It can be anything- the color of a shell, the sunset, a turtle, birds, people, clothing,” Snow said.

From the dramatic shapes and colors of the Oregon coast in the Pacific Northwest to the tropical flora, fauna, and waterscapes found in southwest Florida, Snow says, “Anything and everything” has the potential to inspire her.

Especially color.

“I get an emotional response to color – it inspires and excites me. When I’m painting, in addition to focusing on the composition, I’m always thinking about color. Should I make the color brighter or duller, warmer or cooler, lighter or darker? I’m currently working on a new series, ‘Colors of Captiva,’ where my focus is on color as an integral element of the composition,” Snow said.

Snow said that people tend to refer to her work as impressionistic, but, while she admires the work of French impressionists, “I think of my work as abstract, as I am basically trying to create an interesting composition on a two-dimensional surface, rather than trying to create something photo-realistic. I tend to work fast and usually go with my inspiration and finish a painting in a day or two.”

When she’s not creating beautiful works of art, Snow says she’s thinking about creating more beautiful works of art.

“Most of the time I am either painting or thinking about painting, sketching, buying supplies, or working at the gallery. I try to get out on the beach every day, ride my bike, go for a swim or just walk and collect shells. My art is closely related to the shapes and colors I see every day in nature. The light, the trees, a sunrise, a sunset, a shell or even the color of a t-shirt inspires me!” Snow said.

“I spend a lot of time outdoors and just returned from a trip to the Olympic National Park in Washington State. Being outdoors inspires me and that inspiration becomes an integral part of my work.”

Also of great importance to Snow is her family.

“My husband, Jeff is my best friend and shares my love of art. He is my biggest supporter! My Dad is 85 years old, a healthy super senior who lives in Fountain Hills, Ariz. and we get together in Oregon whenever our schedules allow,” she continued, adding that she also has a set of younger twin sisters named Stacie and Laurie that she luckily considers to be her best girlfriends.

Snow also has a great love of travelling and even spent a year painting in Malmo, Sweden where she had her first international show at Ronnquist & Ronnquist Gallery in Malmo and sold 15 paintings.

But just because Snow’s achieved international recognition, doesn’t mean she’s abandoned sharing her art with the islands.

“I’m really excited about having this great opportunity to exhibit my work at the 2 Islands Gallery at South Seas Resort and to be surrounded by so many talented, working artists. It is an honor to be in a gallery with Florida photographers, Clyde Butcher and Alan Maltz. All the artists in the gallery support each other and bring an amazing energy to the gallery. Not to mention the fabulous location at South Seas Resort!” Snow said.

Snow’s prolific body of work isn’t limited just to the islands – can also be found in private homes in Los Angeles, Portland, Chicago, Boston, Washington, D.C., Copenhagen, Denmark and Malmo and Stockholm, Sweden.

Snow is planning to offer drawing and painting workshops for all levels

through the 2 Islands Gallery at South Seas Resort starting in


For more information about Snow’s artwork and upcoming classes, contact 2 Islands Gallery, 472-7633, or e-mail the artist at mjsnow@mac.com.