Artwork

3rd Annual Artistic Horizons

This is the third year I'll be participating in Artistic Horizons, January 19-23, 2015 at Montana State University's Helen Copeland Gallery in Bozeman, MT.

Proceeds from this sale benefit Arts Without Boundaries ,a non-profit organization which brings free arts instruction and performances into public schools.

A Place of Stillness, 24" x 26" © Eric Merrell

A Place of Stillness, 24" x 26" © Eric Merrell

Above Ediza, 12" x 12" © Eric Merrell

Above Ediza, 12" x 12" © Eric Merrell

Like Sunlight on Snow, 12" x 16" © Eric Merrell

Like Sunlight on Snow, 12" x 16" © Eric Merrell

Coors Western Art Show

HAPPY NEW YEAR! I'm stoked to have five of my paintings - all being shown for the first time - at the Coors Western Art Show in Denver, CO opening next week as part of the National Western Stock Show. Check them out online now and then go see the works in the Gallery at the National Western Club starting January 5, 2015.

Purchase tickets to the Red Carpet Reception on January 6th here. The exhibition runs through January 25, 2015.

The Moon Makes Its Escape, 30" x 30" © Eric Merrell

The Moon Makes Its Escape, 30" x 30" © Eric Merrell

Joshua Trees in the Snow, 24" x 24" © Eric Merrell

Joshua Trees in the Snow, 24" x 24" © Eric Merrell

Evening Crumbles into the Hills, 12" x 12" © Eric Merrell

Evening Crumbles into the Hills, 12" x 12" © Eric Merrell

Canyon of the Birds, 12" x 12" © Eric Merrell

Canyon of the Birds, 12" x 12" © Eric Merrell

Dreaming Desert, 21" x 24" © Eric Merrell

Dreaming Desert, 21" x 24" © Eric Merrell

Desert Mythos

Four fresh and recent paintings are in a new group exhibition at Altamira Fine Art in Scottsdale, AZ opening next week. Check out all of the work for Desert Mythos online now and then go see them in the gallery starting January 5, 2015. Two pieces are from Joshua Tree National Park and two from Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. One work was painted from memory. Can you figure out which one?

Amidst the Slowness, 24" x 28" © Eric Merrell

Amidst the Slowness, 24" x 28" © Eric Merrell

Worlds Drift Away, 11" x 14" © Eric Merrell

Worlds Drift Away, 11" x 14" © Eric Merrell

Two Rivers, 12" x 12" © Eric Merrell

Two Rivers, 12" x 12" © Eric Merrell

Washed in Moonlight, 20" x 22" © Eric Merrell

Washed in Moonlight, 20" x 22" © Eric Merrell

Jackson Hole Exhibition

Four of my paintings are in a new group exhibition at Altamira Fine Art in Jackson Hole, WY opening next week. Check out all of the work for Holiday LookBook online now and then go see them in the gallery starting December 15, 2014.

Shadows Between the Sky, 16" x 20" © Eric Merrell

Shadows Between the Sky, 16" x 20" © Eric Merrell

The Sun Watched Silently Over the Land, 12" x 16" © Eric Merrell

The Sun Watched Silently Over the Land, 12" x 16" © Eric Merrell

Keep Yourself Alive, 12" x 12" © Eric Merrell

Keep Yourself Alive, 12" x 12" © Eric Merrell

Ancient Seabed, 14" x 14" © Eric Merrell

Ancient Seabed, 14" x 14" © Eric Merrell

Seeing Color in the Desert - International Artist Magazine

My article Seeing Color in the Desert (originally posted on CaliforniaDesertArt.com) has been reprinted in the August/September 2014 issue of International Artist magazine. It originally started with notes from my sketchbook about what I was observing while out painting, and what to do about certain problems that color posed or provided a solution to.

Crested Butte Plein Air Invitational

I'm making frames and double-checking all of my tubes of paint, getting geared up to head out to Colorado next month for the Crested Butte Plein Air Invitational in Crested Butte, Colorado. I'll be painting on location in Colorado for about two weeks prior to the exhibition opening, which will be July 11-13. If you plan to be in the area please stop by and say hi!

I'll also be teaching a 1-day painting workshop on July 3 in conjunction with the Crested Butte Center for the Arts - check it out!

The Artist As Critic: Art That Inspires

An Interview with Eric Merrell Discussing His Salton Sea Haze and Gustav Klimt's (1862-1918) Attersee, 1909 by Stephanie Campbell (Summer 2013 issue, CAC Newsletter).

Salton Sea Haze, 30" x 30", © Eric Merrell

Salton Sea Haze, 30" x 30", © Eric Merrell

Gustav Klimt (1862-1918),  Attersee , 1901, Oil on canvas, 31.57" x 31.57" Leopold Museum, Vienna

Gustav Klimt (1862-1918), Attersee, 1901, Oil on canvas, 31.57" x 31.57" Leopold Museum, Vienna

Eric Merrell was recently interviewed by Stephanie Campbell for the Artist As Critic series featured in the California Art Club Newsletter (previously featured artists include John Asaro, Amy Sidrane, and Tony Peters, among others). Here is the article:

STEPHANIE CAMPBELL: When did you first learn of Gustav Klimt, and how did he and his work impact you?

ERIC MERRELL: It was in my early college years, while I was at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia that I first learned about Gustav Klimt. I was initially introduced to his figurative work, which is what he is best known for, but a few years later I cam across a book that was specifically dedicated to Klimt's landscapes. Immediately, I was intrigued by his use of color and shapes, and found his landscape compositions innovative and fresh.

SC: Can you tell us a bit about Klimt's era?

EM: Klimt was classically and conservatively trained at the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts where he focused on architectural painting. His career began as part of an intimate group of painters with his brother, Ernst, known as the "Company of Artists." The group provided him with important public projects including interior ceiling murals in large buidings on the historic Ringstrasse in Vienna. One of his most successful series was the "Allegories and Emblems." Some years later he became one of the founding members of the Vienna Secession movement. The secessionists were a group of many different kinds of artists who were trying to find a bigger and newer voice, but not necessarily with the purpose to get rid of the tradition. They were just trying to find their own place in the art world.

SC: How do you classify yourself as an artist?

EM: That's hard to say. I feel an affinity with the California Impressionists and also with some of the Romantics, but I don't know if it's completely accurate to place myself in those categories. The title "Romance of the West" that American Legacy Fine Arts gave to my summer 2011 exhibition was very apt. Romance in the classic sense is missing from the contemporary art world, and I think that is a big part of what my work is about. The ideal American West, pulling oneself up by your bootstraps and making something out of an opportunity, is something that I feel is lacking today.

SC: What ultimate effect would you like to have on society as an artist?

EM: I want to show that there is still something new that can be said with painting. I want to paint subjects they may have otherwise not thought of as being paintable. I find myself avoiding "traditional" perspectives of landscapes and digging a little deeper. For example, some of my latest interests have been painting right at dusk and during the middle of the day, periods which many artists refer to as "flat light" as there are no shadows to use for contrast. Of course, the world doesn't change from 3-dimensional in the morning to 2-dimensional at noon and back again in the afternoon - these situations are all paintable, they just need to be approached differently. I have also found that nocturnes provide a lot of room to explore artistically. In these types of situations I find I can solve some of these problems by playing with abstractions, shapes, and color. By doing so, I hope to show people how to see things from a different perspective. I truly enjoy taking a very traditional scene and making it my own, as Klimt did.

SC: How would you compare your style to that of Klimt's?

EM: Our color sensibilities are different, as is with every artist, because color becomes a very personal thing. Our training is also very different; he was trained under the much more classic academy and atelier style, whereas my education was (initially) based more on commercial illustration. Despite these differences I feel a kinship with Klimt. I can relate to the way that he saw the world. He didn't just do landscape for landscape's sake, he was doing something more unique with it.

SC: How do you think your painting Salton Sea Haze and Klimt's Attersee are similar and how are they different?

EM: Though our color sensibilities are different, our palettes are similar in this case where our use of colors are in the same family, such as the silvery violets and the cooler sea greens. I wasn't familiar with Klimt's painting, Attersee, until after my wife Ramona, went to Austria and saw it in the Leopold Museum. She emailed me a picture of it, because she thought the similarity (including the square format) was uncanny to my Salton Sea Haze. Despite how similar the tones are, the paintings are climatically different: Attersee depicts the cool damp European climate while Salton Sea Haze shows the dry heat of the southern California desert.

SC: What do you find particularly interesting about the Salton Sea, and what do you think Klimt saw in Lake Attersee?

EM: I've become more interested in temperature and color contrasts, beyond value contrasts, and because the desert lends itself to those qualities I often paint there. In particular though the grand scale of the Salton Sea and the fact that not a lot of artists have explored it as an appealing subject matter, gives it a pioneer aspect. It also has a bad stigma to it (drug trafficking, dead fish, and abandoned trailer parks) but I want to show the beauty that is there that people don't think about. The feminine aspect of depicting a body of water is what first comes to mind with Klimt as inspiration for Attersee, as his work often featured women. There is also the challenge of painting a body of water, Unfortunately most of what we are taught about Klimt relates to his figures, historically his landscapes and the inspiration behind them have received little attention.

SC: How would you compare Klimt's landscapes to his figurative work?

EM: They all have a mosaic quality. A 2006 LACMA exhibit of Klimt's work had a few figures and a few landscapes. The exhibition allowed people to see that although the subject matter is different in the paintings, there is a lot of crossover between the two areas. His landscapes may have been more of a breath of fresh air to him, because most of his figures were commissioned works, which meant dealing with individuals and committees, while his landscapes would have been painted by personal choice.

SC: What in particular attracts you to Klimt's Attersee?

EM: There is something about this painting that always seems to retain a certain freshness; it's one of those paintings that you can keep looking at and it never gets old. It has a contemplative quality that can put you into a meditative state.

SC: Do you think that you and Klimt were trying to achieve the same visual effect?

EM: I feel like he was honoring traditions, while still using his own voice and creating something different. I hope that is something I am also achieving. I'm in this funny position contemporarily where I feel as though I'm more modern than a traditionalist, but I'm too traditional for the modernists. Somehow, I like that.

SC: How directly do you think Klimt's style has influenced you?

EM: I don't think his style has influenced me so much, but it's rather the way he sees things in simple shapes and design. Our textures and brushwork are different, but the way he views the world and translates that onto his canvas has had a big impact on the way I see the world.

SC: How do you feel Klimt has influenced other contemporary artists?

EM: Klimt was so unique in his own way that it is hard for people to be directly influenced by his work without having their work inadvertently look like his. Indirectly, I think that he has influenced contemporary artists such as myself in a way that inspires us to follow our own voice.

Painting Workshop in Joshua Tree

I held my second landscape painting workshop of the year in Joshua Tree during April, a beautiful time to be in the desert. Rain has been pretty sparse the last couple of years, so the annual wildflower bloom was pretty much nil in both the high and low deserts, but the cacti and Joshua Tree are pretty dependable for producing some showy flowers. I've been to the JT area numerous times, but there are always new places to explore and paint. Once you become familiar with different areas, you start to notice differences in elevation, plant life, and color.

We began the workshop at Hidden Valley. I chose a few different locations throughout the high-desert section of the park that would provide different landscapes to paint - open vistas full of Joshua trees, areas packed with huge monzogranite boulders, and mountaintop views of the Coachella Valley and Salton Sea. Even the color of the soil varies from place to place. After painting all morning, the class would take a 3-4 hour lunch break to relax, heading back to hotels or into town for a sandwich. Though we didn't encounter too much wind or heat, the intense light really tires out your eyes, so a siesta is crucial. When we returned in the afternoon after a good rest, everyone was ready to jump back into painting. I began each afternoon session with another demo, same as the morning, and we would paint until sunset. The town of Joshua Tree is not that far off the beaten track (much more established than the sleepy town of Borrego Springs), so we would gather in the evening to eat at one of the good restaurants in town, chat about art, check email, or do a little grocery shopping for a BBQ.

During Day 2 we painted in Lost Horse Valley in the morning and spent the afternoon at Quail Springs. I had initially planned for us to paint at Key's View, a spectacular lookout with views over the Coachella Valley including the San Andreas Fault, the Salton Sea, and San Jacinto, but after we arrived the wind nearly blew us off the precipice. We enjoyed the view for a few minutes before we retreated back down to lower elevations to paint.

Our timing was perfect for nocturnes - the full moon was due to rise just a few days after the workshop ended, so during the workshop weekend a bright moon would already be in the night sky by the time it was dark. I had arrived in the desert a few days before the start of the workshop so I was able to paint a few nocturnes, but after painting all day during the class we just never had enough energy. There was quite an interest in trying to paint the moonlight though, so I'm going to be planning a nocturne-only workshop in the near future. Bookmark this page on my website for upcoming workshop news.

After a very productive workshop and informal critique, we headed out for dinner at Pappy & Harriet's Pioneertown Palace, a must if you're going anywhere near Joshua Tree. They feature live music most nights and the food is awesome. The Santa Maria tri-tip BBQ is always hot, and the bowl of chili is amazing. A good evening to wrap up a solid couple of days painting in the Joshua Tree desert.

102nd Annual Gold Medal Exhibition

I've just learned that the painting shown here will be included in the California Art Club's 102nd Annual Gold Medal Juried Exhibition in June, held this year at USC's Fisher Museum of Art. For me this painting is personally important as it contains my deep affection for the wild open spaces of the desert, but it was also contains artistic growth for me, pushing myself to paint new things I'm seeing, such as the subtleties of dusk and other areas of visual perception that can sometimes take on an abstract quality but are nonetheless made more "real" solely by context. In other words, our perception of the world is often abstract, but certain things ground that perception and help us understand it.

I'm also honored to have been recently elected to Signature Artist Member of the CAC.

Amidst the Slowness, 24" x 28", © Eric Merrell

Amidst the Slowness, 24" x 28", © Eric Merrell

Interview with Michael Corbin (ArtBookGuy)

I was recently interviewed by Michael Corbin, who runs the website artbookguy.com. I really like what he's doing there - interviewing artists in a unique format via email that is rather like a conversation, and working hard to make art more central to our everyday lives. Here is the start of the interview:

Shadows Between the Sky, 16" x 20", © Eric Merrell. This painting was conceived solely from thumbnail sketches, written color notes, and observations from the landscape.

Shadows Between the Sky, 16" x 20", © Eric Merrell. This painting was conceived solely from thumbnail sketches, written color notes, and observations from the landscape.

Eric Merrell is one of the most gifted and insightful painters, I’ve ever interviewed www.ericmerrell.com. His observations are right on target and he’s a truly informed artist who has lots to say that may be of use to other living artists. What does he say? Check out our cool chat …

MICHAEL: Hey Eric, Your work is cool. First off, what is it about plein air painting that appeals to you?

ERIC: Hi Michael, I grew up camping with my family, so have always had a great love for the outdoors. I like to visit places and immerse myself in them – I look around a lot and compose mentally while exploring. Often when I’m on a painting trip, I’ll read about the location in the evenings after painting – history, geology, legends. Being on location gives me the opportunity to know the place better and to discover why I’m going to paint. Painting on location continually presents challenges that keep me engaged.

MICHAEL: There's a lot of landscape out there. How do you determine what you'll try to capture on canvas? What's your process?

ERIC: My process evolves into a new direction or approach every so often...

Continue reading the interview here.

Art & USC's New Church

USC has just completed a new church on their campus called Our Savior Church. They commissioned local artists to create works to be part of the church, and included fourteen Stations of the Cross painted by Peter Adams, eight large stained glass windows created by Judson Studios in Highland Park, and a large bronze crucifixion by Christopher Slatoff (not pictured).

The author as John the Beloved.

The author as John the Beloved.

Along with a number of other artists and models including Alexey Steele, Tony Pro, Richard Probert, Junn Roca, and the Director of The Irvine Museum, Jean Stern, I posed for Peter's Stations in the role of John the Beloved (wearing white with a red headscarf). I don't usually find myself on the other end of a paintbrush, but enjoyed being a part of this process. The completed paintings are beautiful and a great contribution to the church.

Your truly as the Good Samaritan (with turquoise scarf).

Your truly as the Good Samaritan (with turquoise scarf).

Coincidentally, some of the artists from Judson Studios came over during the photo shoots for Peter's reference, and since everyone was in costume they shot reference of their own for the stained glass. You can see me again as the character of the Good Samaritan in the windows. It's slightly amusing to be able to recognize nearly all of the historic characters portrayed in the church as friends of mine. As a window into oneself and a great point for contemplation, the art complements the church and creates a wonderful experience.

The New Naturalists: Borrego Landscape Painters

by Ann Japenga [CaliforniaDesertArt.com], published in the The Sand Paper, Fall 2012 issue of the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association [ABDNHA]

"Borrego Desert, Wind Canyon Cliffs," © Victor Schiro

"Borrego Desert, Wind Canyon Cliffs," © Victor Schiro

If you meet a woman in Surprise Canyon who can name 40 different wildflowers, or a man in rapture over the strata of the Wind Canyon cliffs, you might mistake them for scientists. But in fact these are contemporary landscape artists Kirsten Anderson and Victor Schiro.

Any wash or slot around Borrego these days is likely to harbor an artist. They're part of the statewide revival of landscape painting, spurred in part by the renewed vigor of the prestigious 100-year-old California Art Club.

The current crop of Borrego painters follows in the distinguished steps of early landscape masters who painted here - Maurice Braun, Charles Reiffel, Marjorie Reed, and Edith Purer, also California's first woman ecologist.

With the explosion of outdoor painting and the opening of a major new gallery by the Borrego Art Institute this winter, Borrego seems destined to be an arts destination. Local collector Jim Anderson says Borrego has everything it needs - isolation, iconic scenery, artists, - to draw art fans. "We should definitely promote it as an artist's retreat, like Bisbee (the eclectic mining town in Arizona)," he says.

For painters, the desert is one of the "California classic" essentials to be mastered, along with the Sierras and the coast. Like traditional naturalists, landscape painters bring intense observation to their study of the desert. As Victor Schiro says: "I do this for no other reason than to record the natural world."

For ABDNHA members, getting to know the local artists and their styles can be as rewarding as getting to know the names of 40 wildflowers. For every "known" painter there are ten discoveries waiting to be made. Due to space limitations, only a few of the best contemporary painters are profiled here.

"Desert Moonlight with Jupiter Setting," 24" x 26", © Eric Merrell

"Desert Moonlight with Jupiter Setting," 24" x 26", © Eric Merrell

How do you decide who is good? That's the fun part, as there are few experts. You have as much chance as anyone of finding the next Maurice Braun. Shannon O'Dunn, owner of O'Dunn Fine Art in La Mesa, says what you should look for is "a soul connection, a reverence."

CAROL LINDEMULDER [website]

Lindemulder moved to Borrego Springs in 2007 after the Fallbrook fire destroyed her home and four years of accumulated artwork. Following the fire, she faced hip surgery, nearly died from anesthesia and was in serious need of refuge. "I think I needed a womb," she said.

So she and her dog moved to Borrego Springs. Her paintings contain human traces such as trailers, roads, housing tracts, and agricultural fields. She is especially taken with the trailer communities of Ocotillo Wells. Still, she says, " I consider myself basically a landscape painter - we all live in the landscape."

It was a good day for the Borrego arts community when Lindemulder moved to town, as the painter supports her fellow artists and brings a sophisticated presence to the local scene. She would be right at home at any urban art opening, yet she's a true desert rat who even appreciates the annoying desert wind. As she wrote in a poem, she loves the sound of "sticks and rattles and bones."

VICTOR SCHIRO [website]

Schiro discovered the Mojave Desert as a toddler, romping across 120 acres his uncle owned. He studied art at California Institute of the Arts and exhibited his work widely as a modern painter. Later, while working as a producer and writer in the movie industry in Los Angeles, he developed a love for California history and the early exploration artists who toted sketchpads to uncharted places. When he took up traditional landscape painting, he says he did it "for the same reason those guys did it." Experiencing a place is paramount for him; painting it is secondary.

The Camarillo-based artist has been expeditioning in Borrego in recent years in his 4-wheel Land Cruiser, with his beagle and Jack Russell as crew. He plans to spend the next few years concentrating on the region - the rocks, crystals, geology, and landscape. When he paints the wind cliffs, you can feel the grit. He once wrote about his paintings: "If I buried a doubloon there, I'd want you to be able to find it."

GEOFFREY STONE [website]

Stone belongs to an exclusive subset - artists who actually grew up in Borrego Springs. "The whole park was my playground," he says. The Brawley-born artist moved to town at age four. His late mother, Barbara, and father Herb were both schoolteachers. Geoffrey's grandmother, Catherine Stone, was a watercolor painter who took him on painting trips. "I would splash the paint around," he says. She was always looking at the "long vistas" and instilled the same habit in him. (Catherine and her husband, Joe, were active in ABDNHA; Joe edited The Sand Paper for years).

Geoffrey later worked as a State Park aide and also studied animation and illustration at San Jose State University, where he earned an MFA. Defying recent trends, he is not a big fan of painting outside. He jokes that "plein air" is French for: "Painting outside while wearing a big hat and ignoring tourists who want to come up to you while you're desperately trying to determine the correct shade of blue..."

Look for Geoffrey Stone to take desert art in unexpected directions as he is now working on a study of Borrego life and residents, inspired by his background in illustration and animation.

KIRSTEN ANDERSON [website]

Anderson has a demanding job as a radiation therapist, competing in outrigger canoe races in her spare time. She's lived in Alaska and rafted all over Utah. Formerly married to a desert tortoise researcher, she has read widely in Chemehuevi Indian and desert history. "I am a renaissance person who likes to paint," she says.

Based in Long Beach, Anderson has attended the Borrego Plein Air Invitational three times. Her subjects include iconic landscape features such as Palm Canyon and Indian Head - but also airstream trailers and roadside motels. Like most of the artists featured here, she's dedicated to conserving the lands she paints. "Contemporary plein air painting is about recording the landscape before it's built on or torn down," she says.

Watch this artist in the future for her brainy, ceaselessly reaching paintings incorporating her wide interests in history, mythology, environment, science, and nature.

BARBARA NICKERSON [website]

Director of the Borrego Art Institute, Nickerson lives part-time in Borrego Springs. In the hot months she's found with husband Jul aboard their yacht, Sounder, in the Pacific Northwest. Working in Sumi and watercolor, Nickerson has painted classic Borrego subjects such as Font's Point, the mudhill formation called the Elephant's Knees, and the resident comedic ravens. She brings texture, contemplation, and a primeval feeling to any subject she tackles.

Nickerson, who has a BFA from the Art Institute of Chicago, is teaching a class in Gravity Painting this season. If you're a budding desert artist, sign up and learn to work with paint that moves in a landscape - some would say - that moves as well.

MARK KERCKHOFF [website]

Kerckhoff and the next artist profiled, Eric Merrell, are active members of the influential California Art Club. Both teachers as well as painters, they are introducing new landscape artists to Borrego and influencing others with their distinctive styles.

A sixth generation Californian based in San Juan Capistrano, Kerckhoff is known for his elegant abstract realist landscapes. He likes to make a solo camp along the Borrego-Salton Seaway and paint "the best arroyos in the low desert for color and design." A true naturalist-artist he can tell where he is by the color of the sand (a pink cast means he's near the Arizona border). Kerckhoff likes working in the Arroyo Salado, Truckhaven Rocks and Palo Verde washes, and a place he christened "Blistered Lip Arroyo" in honor of his own parched lips.

ERIC MERRELL [website]

Merrell is the historian for the California Art Club and is increasingly well-known around the state as an envoy for California art. A desert aficionado, he has completed an artist's residency in Joshua Tree, and participated in an exhibit of Salton Sea painters, "Valley of the Ancient Lake." He came to Borrego Springs for the first time recently as a judge for the Plein Air Invitational sponsored by the Borrego Art Institute. It was an immersion experience as the young artist was stuck in the sand at Coachwhip Canyon, impaled by a cholla on the Earth Narrows Trail, and soaked up Borrego ghost stories about a driverless stagecoach each evening.

He aims to return soon to visit the Pumpkin Patch and the Ocotillo Wells region. Until then, Merrell and the other highly regarded artists featured here are Borrego's best ambassadors - exporting images of this lesser-known desert region to L.A. art circles and the world.

Eclectic L.A. - Four Perspectives

These paintings will be exhibited along with a few more of mine at American Legacy Fine Arts (ALFA) in Pasadena, CA, as part of the exhibit "Eclectic L.A. - Four Perspectives." One of the fascinating parts of Los Angeles is it's history, which it always seems to be trying to sweep under the rug as the city tries to reinvent itself daily or weekly with shinynewfacades and such. The truth is, L.A. has a great amount of history: colorful, storied, and widely varied to suit any interest, but Hollywood and it's parade of celebrities make all the noise and so receives all the attention. Swing by the Artists' Reception on November 10, 2012 from 4 – 6 P.M. and see another side of Los Angeles.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock House, 12" x 16", © Eric Merrell

Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock House, 12" x 16", © Eric Merrell

In "Eclectic L.A." you'll also find work by these three fellers: Scott W. Prior, Tony Peters, and Alexander Orlov. The exhibition runs from November 10 - December 8, 2012.

Hollywood Reservoir, 12" x 16", © Eric Merrell

Hollywood Reservoir, 12" x 16", © Eric Merrell

Striking a Note: Sunset on the San Gabriel Mission Campanario , 12" x 12", © Eric Merrell

Striking a Note: Sunset on the San Gabriel Mission Campanario, 12" x 12", © Eric Merrell

The Fine Art Collaborative

Still Life Workshop With the Fine Art Collaborative thefac2012.com Saturday, June 2, 2012 Randy Higbee Gallery, 102 Kalmus Drive, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Irises, 20" x 20", © Eric Merrell

Irises, 20" x 20", © Eric Merrell

These two paintings will be exhibited at the Randy Higbee Gallery in conjunction with the 3 days of workshops and lectures this weekend, June 1-3, 2012. I'll be teaching a still life workshop on Saturday. Some of the artists I'll be working alongside of include Frank Gardner, Logan Hagege, Glenn Dean, Dan McCaw, John Asaro, and Ray Roberts.

Holding Water, 11" x 14", © Eric Merrell

Holding Water, 11" x 14", © Eric Merrell

Paint-Out to Benefit Mojave Desert Land Trust

Desertscapes Paint-out in The Joshua Tree North Wildlife Linkage

Evening reception and art auction at Joshua Tree Art Gallery Saturday, April 28, 2012, 5 - 7:30 p.m.

Mojave Desert Land Trust (MDLT), along with California Art Club, is hosting an open air painting event on Saturday, April 28th in a beautiful natural area known as the Joshua Tree North Wildlife Linkage.  This paint-out will support MDLT’s current campaign, The Wildlife Linkage Campaign, which aims to preserve several undeveloped parcels in the Joshua Tree North Wildlife Linkage that connects Joshua Tree National Park to the Bartlett Mountains to the north.

From 9am until noon, artists from the California Art Club, Coachella Valley Watercolor Society, and the Morongo Basin will set up their easels and create paintings that will be auctioned off during an artists’ reception at the Joshua Tree Art Gallery (JTAG) later that evening. The paint-out will take place on Section 11, which sits adjacent to the northern boundary of Joshua Tree National Park and within the Joshua Tree North Wildlife Linkage. This beautiful area is home to a diverse population of wildlife and is one of the most scenic hillsides on the south side of Joshua Tree. The artist’s reception and art auction at JTAG will be held that evening from 5-7:30pm and include light refreshments, wine, and of course, the beautiful works of art created that day. Featured artists include:

Diane Best Veronique Branger Chuck Caplinger Richard Calderhead Jean Choi Connie Collins Jim Draughon Hermann Fischer Annette Fragasso Andrew Gillespie Patricia Kodet Ray Lanowy Eli Lund Del Lunde Elaine Matthews Terry Masters Eric Merrell Diane Moore John Ressler Nancy Rizzardi Kathleen Scoggin Esther Shaw Silvio Silvestri Liliana Simanton Sylvia Smith Lisa Spencer Barbara Wells-Roberts Connie Zane

This fun-filled day provides a unique way to support the work of MDLT and The Wildlife Linkage Campaign.  The Joshua Tree North Linkage provides important habitat for animals such as desert tortoise, bobcat, fox, coyote and dozens of bird species.   Mojave Desert Land Trust has preserved 2,126 acres in this wildlife corridor, but acquisition of additional parcels is needed if we want to succeed in protecting this critical linkage.  Find out more about how you can support the Wildlife Linkage Campaign by clicking here.

We look forward to having you join us for this wonderful event! The artists’ reception and auction will be held at Joshua Tree Art Gallery (JTAG), located at 61607 Twentynine Palms Highway, Suite B, in downtown Joshua Tree. To RSVP or for more information, please call us at 760-366-5440.

This event is held in conjunction with Desertscapes, featuring a full month of activities every April in celebration of the Coachella Valley plein air art tradition. More information about Desertscapes, as well as a schedule of events can be found at www.desertscapes.net. The artist’s reception and auction is generously sponsored by Joshua Tree Art Gallery (JTAG). Directions and information about JTAG can be found at www.joshuatreeartgallery.com. The Section 11 Paint-out is co-sponsored by California Art Club (CAC). Information about CAC is available on their website at http://www.californiaartclub.org

101st Annual Gold Medal Juried Exhibition

A Place of Clarity; Crystal Lake, San Gabriel Mountains, 30" x 30", Oil on canvas, © Eric Merrell

"A Place of Clarity" will be part of the upcoming California Art Club's 101st Annual Gold Medal Juried Exhibition opening March 31, 2012 at a new exhibition venue: The Autry National Center, 4700 Western Heritage Way, Los Angeles, CA 95614 (in Griffith Park). The Artists Gala Reception will open the exhibition on Saturday, March 31 from 6-9 p.m.

This was painted at Crystal Lake, one of my favorite new locations to paint in the San Gabriel Mountains, way back up Highway 39 out of Azusa. This area has been closed for about 9 years, since the 2002 Curve Fire which burned much of the area. Crystal Lake is apparently the only natural lake in the entire San Gabriel range, being fed from snowmelt and rainfall. As I painted there over last summer, I did notice the water level drop significantly over the months of warm weather. It's a popular place for fishing, too.

This is a special place, and feels more like the Sierras. These kelp-like plants grew very rapidly (kelp is not a freshwater plant, however, so I don't know exactly what it is, but it very much resembles kelp!) Fun to paint them growing out of the watery depths into the sunlight, swaying with the slight breezes over the surface of the water.

Here are some old photos of the Crystal Lake area.

Here is an interior shot of the secret Neutra studio where I worked on the painting in an undisclosed neighborhood in Los Angeles... :)

Down to Earth Sinks the Sun; The Arroyo Seco, 9" x 12", Oil on panel, © Eric Merrell

Also in the exhibition is a small painting of dusk in the Arroyo Seco in Pasadena, looking towards South Pasadena with the last of the sunlight hitting some trees in the distance.

CAC Returns to Barnsdall Park

Joshua Tree Nocturne, 30" x 30", Oil on canvas mounted on panel, © Eric Merrell

SAVING PARADISE: The Symbiosis of Landscape Painting and Environmental Awareness March 8 - May 6, 2012 Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery (LAMAG), Barnsdall Park 4804 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90027 Conversations with CAC Artists: Friday, March 23, 7 - 8:30 pm (more info)

These two paintings will be in the upcoming exhibition "SAVING PARADISE" at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery in Barnsdall Park, Los Angeles. This exhibit's theme is to designed to highlight the importance between landscape painting and preservation, so both of my paintings are from protected areas in California - Joshua Tree National Park and Angeles National Forest. I'll be at the Gallery on Friday, March 23 at 7 pm along with some of the other artists to discuss our paintings.

Some historic notes: The California Art Club was previously headquartered at Barnsdall Park and specifically used the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Hollyhock House for 15 years, 1927-1942, so this exhibition marks the first time the Club has been back to Barnsdall Park since then. Read about this slice of L.A. history that is only documented on this blog.

A Great Containment: Morris Dam and Reservoir, San Gabriel Mountains, 12" x 16", Oil on panel, © Eric Merrell

Los Angeles Fine Art Show

Morris Reservoir Shoreline, San Gabriel Mountains, 12" x 12", Oil on panel, © Eric Merrell

The 17th Annual Los Angeles Fine Art Show opens up tomorrow, January 18th, and runs through January 22nd. Two pieces of mine will be there: a new painting, "Morris Reservoir Shoreline, San Gabriel Mountains" will be in the California Art Club's booth, and "Commanding View, San Gabriel Mountains" will be at American Legacy Fine Art's booth.

January 18-22, 2012 at the Los Angeles Convention Center, West Hall B

Wednesday, January 18th -Collector & Press Preview: 5pm to 6pm -Patron Reception: 6pm to 7pm -Opening Night Premiere Party: 7pm to 10pm

General Show Dates: January 19-22nd -Thursday, January 19th: 11am to 7pm -Friday, January 20th: 11am to 7pm -Saturday, January 21st : 11am to 7pm -Sunday, January 22nd: 11am to 5pm

Commanding View, San Gabriel Mountains, 26" x 24", Oil on canvas mounted on panel, © Eric Merrell

Announcing Borrego Springs Workshop

The Western Sky, 12" x 16", Oil on panel, Private collection, © Eric Merrell

Title: Desert Painting Workshop with Eric Merrell Location: Borrego Springs (Anza-Borrego Desert State Park), California Dates: March 9 – 11, 2012 Time: 9 am - 4 pm (hour break for lunch) Cost: $450 Description: In this workshop we will emphasize color and design – not copying nature, but using it to create our own voice. The California desert provides a perfect place to learn to simplify, one of the biggest challenges in painting. Californian artist Eric Merrell has spent a good deal of time painting and exploring the California deserts, resulting in two solo exhibitions on opposite coasts of the United States: at The Forbes Gallery (NYC) in 2010 and American Legacy Fine Arts (Pasadena, CA) in 2011. Materials: See my website under Workshops To register: Email eric@ericmerrell.com to register or for more info

New articles

I'm excited to be featured in two new articles which have come out recently -

“Eric Merrell – Tranquil Landscapes in the Desert,” by Molly Siple Plein Air Painting Magazine, Fall 2011 (Click the images for larger readable versions)

plus “Painting the Desert with Eric Merrell,” by Steve Doherty OutdoorPainter.com, August 6, 2011