Still Life: Eric Merrell Looks at the Orange and Agave

Eric Merrell, Agave and Oranges

Eric Merrell, Agave and Oranges

In the hierarchy of genres taught in art history class, desert landscapes would be low on the list. But they positively rule compared to the lowly still life. Fortunately, the lowest-rated form has a new champion in Eric Merrell. The Pasadena artist has a style and intensity that attracts followers for whatever he’s doing, whether it’s painting Joshua Trees at midnight or a potted Euphorbia in his own backyard.

Read the entire article on CaliforniaDesertArt.com

Nocturnes: A short film

This exciting project was just released a few weeks ago. Nocturnes is a short film that follows me into the desert while I paint at night. It was shot on a Sony A7S, which is the first camera with the ability to film in moonlight without any other light sources. It was all shot on location - even the lightning storm.

We've also gotten some nice coverage since its release:

Huffington Post

L.A. Review of Books

Curbed L.A.

BLDGBLOG

Artists on Art (issue 17 contains an article I wrote, “Is Plein Air in Moonlight Possible?”)

ArtFoodHome.com


NOCTURNES SCREENINGS AT U.S. FILM FESTIVALS

Lone Star Film Festival, Fort Worth, TX, Nov 10 – 13, 2016
St. Louis International Film Festival, St. Louis, IL, Nov 3 – 13, 2016
Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, Hot Springs, AR, Oct 7-16, 2016
Alameda International Film Festival, Alameda, CA, Oct 7 – 9, 2016
Tacoma Film Festival, Tacoma, WA, Oct 6 – 13, 2016
Great Lakes International Film Festival, Erie, PA, Sept 22 – Oct 1, 2016
Joshua Tree International Film Festival, Joshua Tree, CA,  Sept 16 – 18, 2016
Atlanta Underground Film Festival, Atlanta, GA, Aug 19 – 21, 2016
DocuWest International Film Festival, Denver, CO, May 11 – 15, 2016
RAW Film Festival, Los Angeles, CA, April 24, 2016

Golden State

I grew up in Northern California where summer turns the rolling hills to a burnished gold. With the oaks and sage mingling and creating hillside patterns, it's the classic California landscape. I was recently was able to explore and paint my hometown - here are a few of the pieces done on location.

Summer's Golden Brilliance, 14" x 14" © Eric Merrell

Summer's Golden Brilliance, 14" x 14" © Eric Merrell

The Land You Know, 14" x 14" © Eric Merrell

The Land You Know, 14" x 14" © Eric Merrell

Burnished Hillsides, 12" x 18" © Eric Merrell

Burnished Hillsides, 12" x 18" © Eric Merrell

The Sun's Fiery Stare, 12" x 18" © Eric Merrell

The Sun's Fiery Stare, 12" x 18" © Eric Merrell

Summer Self-Portrait

I've been wanting to paint more portraits outside using natural light, so I recently set up a mirror and sat myself down for a self-portrait (well, I was standing, but you get the idea). My goals lay more in exploring the new color relationships and what they convey than in trying to get a 'likeness'; however, with enough time, the individual will come through with the right shapes and spots of color.*

Summer self-portrait in progress, July 24, 2015

Summer self-portrait in progress, July 24, 2015

It was definitely hot out - my thermometer read 100F in the shade - but my goal wasn't bragging rights for painting in extreme temperatures; I wanted to use color to convey that heat. The darker and warmer reds in the shadow on my face are (relatively) darker compared to the greenish-oranges in the shadow on my neck, and the cooler pinks and violets around my cheekbones are lighter than those reds; still, while more 'colorful' than one might expect, when taken all together they should hold a sense of form and create a sense of light. This kind of information is lost in a photograph, hence the necessity of painting in the heat.

A little side note about my color: I've had people ask how I categorize myself: would I consider myself an Impressionist, Expressionist, or lately, Fauvist (what, no Romanticism?). While I admire artists from those movements, I don't feel akin to them. And while the Fauves can be fun, they were essentially rejecting three-dimensional space, so when Andre Derain painted a beach he used an intense red, possibly straight out of the tube. My color is not the broken color of the Impressionists nor the 'liberated' color of the Fauvists: I'm interested in searching for subjective/personal color relationships that still function within our shared experience of humanity, so although certain colors might come as an unexpected surprise to a viewer, they make sense and (hopefully) lead to new insights.

My setup: with a mirror just to the left of the easel, I had two umbrellas and a black fabric to help control reflected light.

My setup: with a mirror just to the left of the easel, I had two umbrellas and a black fabric to help control reflected light.

* When looking at paintings our natural tendency is to want people to look 'right' - getting a likeness - this makes the human figure a difficult subject to use for studying color. Not the premeditated academic 'color' like Ingres or Cabanel, but beautiful natural light that is as much a joy for the artist to discover as it is for the viewer. My focus has been in studying how light works and how we perceive it; landscape and still life allow more freedom to experiment in those areas.

104th Annual Gold Medal Juried Exhibition

When the California Art Club returns to USC's Fisher Museum of Art to present their 104th Annual Gold Medal Juried Exhibition from March 29 - April 19, 2015 this spring, I'll be exhibiting a new large painting titled The Rush. This piece is located in the Pinto Basin of Joshua Tree National Park.

Purchase tickets to the Opening Night Gala Reception here.

The Rush, 24" x 48" © Eric Merrell

The Rush, 24" x 48" © Eric Merrell