Location: United States
Armin Mersmann was born in Remscheid, Germany, in 1955. Along with his parents, he immigrated to the United States in 1962. He grew up in an artistic environment and was greatly influenced and tutored by his father, Fritz, a successful oil painter. Mersmann feels his career as an artist was inevitable: “I never made the conscious choice to be an artist, it’s just what I did.” After six years of college, Mersmann began a very successful stint as a portrait artist in Chicago, IL. Although commission work was financially rewarding, he stopped doing it and soon found more interest in the fine arts—work that at times is controversial but more satisfying conceptually. “Art, my sanctuary, the very thing that gave me such pleasure, was now reduced to making a living. Art is too precious for me to make decisions based on finances.” This does not mean Mersmann will never do a commissioned portrait; rather, it must interest him conceptually, and he insists on total control over the image.
Although Mersmann is mainly known for his intense naturalistic graphite drawings, he also works in photography mainly iPhoneography. Discovering and rediscovering my chosen medium is the everlasting stimulus that keeps me interested and excited. Accidental process and meticulous planning co-mingle in all my work. Texture, either real or illusionary, and that one ever-elusive brushstroke, the one that says it all; this keeps me searching and exploring.”
Mersmann has taught Drawing, the Creative Process, iPhoneography, Drawing Master Class and Advanced Critique at Manifest Gallery, Cincinnati, OH. Atelier Art Studio, Royal Oak, MI, the American Academy of Art, Chicago, IL; the Colorado Academy of Art, Boulder CO; Northwood University, Midland, MI; the Midland Center for the Arts, Midland, MI; and countless workshops within the United States. He lives in Midland, MI, where he is the Senior Visual Art Curator and Artist in Residence at Midland Center for the Arts. He shares a studio with his wife, Valerie Allen, who is an accomplished artist in her own right.
Drawing gives me the opportunity to truly see. As an artist, I do not casually observe my surroundings nor take them for granted, but rather view the world as a creator and architect of my own artistic vision. I have never been interested in simplification-on the contrary it’s the complexities and how we see them that drives me to spend countless hours on a drawing. The fundamental design and the placement of objects are due more to my love of abstraction, then a pleasant place or relic. This act of drawing enables me to gain insight and understanding of the intricate structure, whether it is a rusted engine block, the human figure, face, an isolated eye, or a tempest of trees. Drawing pushes me to examine every aspect of what I see – every pit or scratch, the wonderful nature of rust, or every twig and branch. I become immersed in my observational skills and depict my vision in a way that a casual observer could not.
Once a drawing is complete, it is no longer related merely to the artist but becomes a starting point for the viewer’s feelings and imagination. This alignment hopefully transcends the ordinary and the overlooked to something approaching the metaphysical and sublime. Photo-realism itself does not interest me in the least; realism does, details and textures do, ultimately seeing what others fail to see until they see it in my work. When this is achieved, the collaborative relationship between the artist and the viewer reaches its climax. Ultimately, and interestingly, the climax is a humble interpretation of the greatness of nature.
“A good “rendering” represents what a person sees, but “a work of art” illuminates what others do not.”