Moving to rural northern New Mexico was exactly the catalyst Merrimon Kennedy needed to realize her dream of being a full-time artist. She now paints predominately plein air, a French expression meaning “open air” that refers to creating a work of art outside. “The majestic beauty of this area really resonates with me, everywhere I look I see a painting! Discovering the joy of working outdoors has made my fascination with the West even more gratifying. The grandness of scale, the feeling of being somewhere otherworldly has really captured my heart and soul. My goal is to capture the essence of what I see. Rather than using local color, or the hues found in nature, I choose optical color, or what the eye sees. Though there is structure I also want looseness and spontaneity to guide my work and lend expression to the subject.” Merrimon earned a BFA in painting from Tulane University, studied in London and attended graduate school in North Carolina. After owning and managing a contemporary art and craft gallery on the east coast for almost thirty years, she moved with her husband Tom to Santa Fe county in 2015. Merrimon is a member of Plein Air Painters of New Mexico, the Santa Fe Pleinairians and the Pojoaque River Art Tour.