Jun 292011

by T.M. Bernard

Though calling his creations ’erotic’ is a stretch, there’s an abundance of sensual feeling in the surreal, other worldly creations of Daniel Merriam, a self-taught artist who works include fine art, illustrations, animation art and bronze sculptures.

Born into an artistically inclined family in New England, the middle child of a large brood of seven kids, Merriam describes his childhood as an idyllic time that nurtured his creative. Music filled the air as each of the children took turns practicing the piano, and summers were spent vacationing in Maine, doodling with his siblings on scraps of paper and climbing trees. School was a hazy daydream filled venture, during which the young Daniel escaped in his imaginary world rather than focus on his studies.

Despite his natural talents, Merriam chose a more traditional path, and worked in the family business alongside architects and builders. His youthful enthusiasm for drawing and creating slowly disappeared and overtime he found himself numb and disconnected. It was then that his father – who had doubted that his son could make a viable living as an artist – encouraged Merriam to reconnect to his passion.

Emboldened by that heart to heart conversation, he squired himself away, focusing only on his creations, working furiously and teaching himself the ways of his unique style. Today, galleries around the globe represent Merriam, and his artwork is appreciated in shows from San Diego to Paris.

His fine art is exquisite, and where you find the most sensual depictions are in his renditions of the female form. Think Alice in Wonderland with bodacious curves and you have an idea of what femininity looks like in Merriam’s fantastical world.

The images are often richly hued, always elegant and graceful, and filled with symbolic bits and pieces that return adult viewers to visions of Cheshire cats, mad tea parties, and gardens that meander into the imagination.

One favorite and recently released piece is called Le Vie En Rose. Imagine a woman dressed in shades of red, orange and lilacs, heavy on the crimson, with fire-red butterfly wings fanning delicately from her back and her crown. A somewhat low neckline reveals not so much a plunging neckline as slightly distorted human proportions: elongated neck, tucked in waist, powerful shoulders, dainty hands. Her dress lies in soft, moving folds around her hips, while the woman in the picture looks off towards the distance. One gets the feeling that the art is very much aware of the viewer, but is to preoccupied with her own thoughts to bother much with her admirers.
In addition to his many paintings, Merriam has produced exquisite sculptures, illustrations and animation art. Dragons, horses, fairies, wings, carriages, moons and funny characters take center stage in many of his creations that often look like surreal imaginings of the more joyous aspects of medieval living. Interested collectors can find his work at such locations as Animazing Gallery and Avolon Gallery. Merriam’s work will also be highlighted at several shows this year including in San Francisco, France and San Diego. Visit his website for his latest releases and exhibition dates.