Mercedes Stover-Evong is one of Halifax’s best-kept secrets.
The petite artist lives with her two cats and boyfriend by Long Lake Provincial Park and spends a lot of her time quietly painting in the spare room she converted into an art studio.
Using mostly acrylic paint since “oil takes months (at a time) to dry,” Stover-Evong converts blank swaths of canvas into statement paintings that immediately pull the eye, thanks to her liberal use of bright colours and captivating subject matter.
A massive bull in a visceral blend of red tones stands in a field surrounded by mountains, guarding the stationary bike in the corner of the studio. A nude woman swimming through tropical water is hung above the loveseat. A woman’s profile with a martini in her hand is ensconced above some jars. The windowsill is covered in paints, brushes, sketches and discarded ideas.
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Stover-Evong had a scholarship to NSCAD University a few years ago, but chose to travel instead. All of her art is self-taught, but she finds it inspiring to be around other artists that “help you learn more tricks and (you) get to have feedback.”
“I started sketching at a really young age and have always had a kinship with art,” Stover-Evong said in her studio. “I’m doing tattooing now too, which is the hardest medium there is.”
Stover-Evong apprentices at Six Points Tattoo Parlour, located on the Bedford Highway. She has been working there for the past three years.
She believes that being a woman in a traditionally male-dominated workspace allows customers more variety in choosing a tattoo that fits their desired aesthetic. She feels a woman’s art will differ naturally in both style and colour, and that gives more choice at a tattoo shop.
“I was initially hired, I think, because I am a woman,” she says. “It balances out the workplace.”
Most of Stover-Evong’s art features a female subject.
“I think it is something inherent in women that makes great art subjects,” she says. “And as a woman artist, I think my style is complimented by that vibe that women have and give off in art itself.”
Showcasing art in Halifax does have its difficulties says Stover-Evong.
“I wish there were more opportunities and open venues to show off your pieces, even if you don’t have a recognizable name yet,” she says.
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Stover-Evong has not let her up-and-coming status deter her from trying to show her art in as many places as possible. She has participated in Art Battle, Outsider Insight events (painting on skateboards) and runs Paint Nite events as an instructor. She found inspiration for her vibrant landscapes after working on the Tall Ships events around Halifax harbour and looks forward to the 2017 event this summer.
Next, she plans on creating prints of her original works, in order to make her art more accessible.
“Prints are more affordable and if you don’t make prints, and then sell this (an original), it’s just going to go to someone’s house and no one else can enjoy it or see it,” she says.