“I’m mostly interested in light,” says Shirley Mersky, an oil painter who lives in Newtown Borough. “The subject doesn’t matter to me as much.”
But that’s not entirely accurate. One of her paintings that was included in a recent exhibition at the Stover Mill Gallery, in Erwinna, depicts the Stockton, New Jersey, restaurant Via Ponte Ristorante Siciliano. The rear of the restaurant.
“There were all these interesting shapes jutting out from the back of the building,” Mersky says.
She couldn’t resist.
A couple of her other paintings in the exhibition are of alleys. So the subject does matter to Mersky, but she tends to be drawn to spots that are usually overlooked or off the beaten path.
At Washington Crossing Historic Park, she creates several paintings every spring and summer. Mersky has painted the Mahlon K. Taylor House because she’s fascinated by the ways the sunlight hits its stucco walls. Similarly, she’ll frequently set up along the banks of the river or along the Delaware Canal Towpath because “the light does wonderful things when it hits the water.”
Mersky graduated from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1982. She’s been painting professionally ever since.
She describes her style as contemporary impressionism, “though,” she says, “I’ve never been a painter who works according to a style. I’m just reacting to what I see. I’ve gotten better with practice, but my paintings are still just a reflection of the way I’m seeing something.”
Because lighting is critical to Mersky, simply photographing potential subjects doesn’t serve her because the shadows wash out too much nuance, she says. Instead, she’ll create a small painting at the site. Later, if she decides the painting has potential, she’ll develop a larger version from her study back at her studio.
Some of Mersky’s work, including paintings of the park, can be viewed in person at Canal Frame-Crafts Gallery, located adjacent to the park on General Greene Road.