As a native Californian, Eric Merrell spent his formative years on both East and West Coasts. Early art classes in Northern California preceded art school, which he attended first in Philadelphia and later in Pasadena. Though he graduated with a BFA in Illustration from Art Center College of Design, his goal was always to paint outdoors.
Following that objective, Merrell began exhibiting with the California Art Club, one of the oldest art organizations on the West Coast devoted to outdoor painting. Exhibiting with the CAC caused Merrell to become aware of and recover much of the club’s history that had been lost; founded in 1909, its history is intimately tied to the history of Los Angeles. Through the CAC he met and sought out further study with artists Peter S. Adams and Daniel W. Pinkham.
Merrell was selected as one of six artists from around the world for a Joshua Tree Highlands Artist Residency in 2009. The following year he presented a solo exhibition at The Forbes Galleries in New York City, and in 2011, another solo exhibition at American Legacy Fine Arts in Pasadena. He has consistently exhibited for over a decade in the California Art Club’s Annual Gold Medal Juried Exhibition, currently held at The Autry National Center in Los Angeles.
After making a connection to California’s deserts over a decade ago, he has taken special pride in painting the color and light found in these stark and often overlooked arid lands. There is a mystery to these deserts during the day; even more so at night. Merrell has made a special focus of painting nocturnes on location – not only is it possible, but he feels that this is an area that is relatively unexplored, as technological advances now allow an artist to actually experience what moonlight looks and feels like, working from direct observation rather than from memory or other methods.
With a foot in both the ‘traditional’ and ‘modern’ camps, Eric strives to combine the methods of the former with examples of individuality from the latter, using his own sense of color and design to create work that is singular and timeless. His works have been noted for their distinctive aesthetics and brushwork, developed over years of pursuing his personal vision.
Nocturnes, a short film about his approach and dedication to painting on location at night, was released in January 2016. Watch Nocturnes here. The film is currently being screened at festivals across the U.S. through the end of the year.