Jesse Reno Meets Jennifer Mercede

8:58 AM

My example

My November art class students are creating pieces inspired by two Portland, Oregon artists, Jesse Reno and Jennifer Mercede. Both artists have been described as primitive, outsider, free spirited, and spontaneous. I find myself increasingly drawn to this type of art.

To create our pieces, we first decided if we wanted a warm or cool palette for our background. We used cotton balls or fingers (a signature Reno technique) to create an expressive base using acrylics. While these dried the children chose between a hummingbird or giraffe to create on long black construction paper using black oil pastel and then chalk pastels. (Jennifer Mercede's giraffe and hummingbird are just two whimsical creatures that have been heavily pinned on Pinterest.) More details can be added with oil pastels. The creatures are cut out and glued on the painted backgrounds. Next week the children can decide to blend in some chalk pastel colors to their background, (which I did with my example) add doodles or words with thin Sharpies, (this is common in the works of both Reno and Mercede) or leave as is. More pieces to post from my 1st through 4th grade students.


  1. çok güzel olmuşlar.tebrikler...

  2. Oh, what lovely creations! I love the contrast between the background and the strong black lines on the animals. Great work! grace

  3. Mary, these are wonderful. I love the animals, but I love the background just as much!!!!

  4. Mary I found Jennifer Mercede last year on a web surfing expedition and wanted to call her up and tell her how much her work inspired me. She is a great example of young, contemporary artists that are able to create new and fresh artworks AND earn a living doing it! Cheers to her and you for your inspired children's art projects.


  5. Thanks so much all! Pat, I agree! How inspiring to see someone carve their way into the tricky world of fine arts so successfully. I love how loose, free, and whimsical she is and how her work really runs the gamut.

  6. Wow! Love this lesson-caught my eye while trolling the blogs for ideas-I live in the greater Portland OR area and follow both these artists closely. Check out another Portland artist I know you'll love as well-Chris Haberman on Facebook, and also @ this link:
    Thanks for the great idea-I'm going to do it with my students this week! Barb

  7. Thanks Barb! I will definitely check him out. Portland is clearly a creative force lately. Love the free-spiritedness of the art.


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