Merlene Ransdell is a native of Cortez and grew up primarily in the Four Corners area. Though she has a varied background of subjects, her preference was determined by her early years-- the American West and especially the Native Americans of the Southwest, the area she knows and loves. The interesting faces and the authentic dress of the modern Mountain Men also afford the artist a rich source of subject mater. Attending their major annual rendezvous at Fort Bridger, Wyoming over a period of years enabled her to obtain a wealth of reference material.
Merlene is essentially self-taught through observation and considerable research in the extensive art library she has collected over the years. Her first commission was in 1967 in Wisconsin and was the centerpiece of a new school named for an individual remembered for his dedication to excellence in education. Since then she has traveled extensively throughout the U.S. and internationally pursuing her art as best as circumstances would permit.
While working well in most mediums, her preference is oils and pencil. Pencil she considers fun and relaxing, a way to "unwind" after the demands of oil portraiture. A major factor in the artist's success over the years has been her style and attention to detail. In the tradition of many of the old masters she achieves a photo likeness of her subjects which has been well received by her clients.
Merlene's works have been exhibited in Los Angeles including Gene Mako's first time all vignette exhibition at St. Mary's College; Salt Lake City and Park City, Utah; Sedona, Arizona and most recently in Durango and Cortez, Colorado. Merlene and her husband returned to Cortez three years ago after a thirty-seven year absence. Their plans are to retire here where it feels like home with many friends and relatives.