Eric Merrell was born in Gilroy, California on April 24, 1978 and raised there and in Rochester, New York. Early studies during high school included studying watercolor with Diane Wallace and oil painting with Jim Smyth at the Pacific Art League of Palo Alto, California. Moving back to the east coast after high school, Merrell worked with Al Gury at The University of the Arts and The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, both in Philadelphia. After spending two years in the city, he moved back to California, transferring to Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. For a time during school Merrell worked at the Norton Simon Museum, where the long hours on the job offered plenty of time to study and sketch from the collections. He also worked for the California Art Club, researching historic material and at one point interviewing Evelyn Payne Hatcher, the daughter of Edgar and Elsie Payne, early CAC members. Upon receiving a BFA with honors and graduating from Art Center in 2001, Merrell pursued painting.
His adventures have included many trips around California: throughout the Sierras, along the Pacific Coast and exploring the desert; a solo cross-country painting trip in 2002 took him to Philadelphia and back. Later that year Merrell traveled to France and spent three months painting in the countrysides and cities of Lyon, Chamonix and Dijon, among many others. In April of 2004 he was invited to stay at the Old Battersea House in London and paint along with ten other young artists; his paintings were featured in an subsequent 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 the Joshua Tree Highlands Artist Residency in Joshua Tree, CA. Work from the residency was presented in a solo exhibit at The Forbes Gallery during the summer of 2010.
Merrell’s work has been exhibited at the Bennington Center for the Arts in Bennington, VT; the Bowers Museum of Cultural Art in Santa Ana, CA; California State University of Los Angeles, CA; the Cape Cod Museum of Art in Orleans, MA; the Long Beach Museum of Art in Long Beach, CA; the Mission San Juan Capistrano Museum in San Juan Capistrano, CA; the Pasadena Museum of California Art and the Pasadena Museum of History, both in Pasadena, CA; and the Frederick R. Weisman Museum at Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA.