Born in Gilroy, California, Eric Merrell was raised there and in Rochester, New York. Returning to California, early art classes included watercolor painting with Diane Wallace followed by figure and portrait painting in oil with Jim Smyth at the Pacific Art League of Palo Alto. Moving to Philadelphia, Merrell took classes with Al Gury at The University of the Arts and The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Two years later he transferred to Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA.
In January 2000, Merrell joined the California Art Club. After graduating from Art Center in April 2001, he pursued landscape painting and sought further instruction with artists Peter Adams and Daniel W. Pinkham. In January 2002, Merrell made the first of several visits to Minnesota to interview Evelyn Payne Hatcher, the daughter of early California artists Edgar and Elsie Payne.
Working extensively on location, Merrell has painted across the U.S. and parts of Europe. In late 2002 Merrell spent three months painting in France. In April 2004 Merrell was invited to stay and paint at the Old Battersea House in London along with a small group of artists; paintings from this trip were featured in a subsequent group exhibition held at The Forbes Gallery in New York City in January 2005.
In 2009, Merrell was selected as one of six artists from around the world for a two-month long Joshua Tree Highlands Artist Residency in Joshua Tree, CA. In July 2010 Merrell presented a solo exhibition at The Forbes Galleries in New York City; the following July he held another solo exhibition at American Legacy Fine Arts (ALFA) in Pasadena, CA. Merrell was elected to Signature Artist Member of the CAC in early 2013. He continues to teach workshops throughout California.