Much of Meryl’s childhood was spent moving around the country. One constant in her life has been her love of art. In 1974 she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Syracuse University, graduating summa cum laude. While living and working as a freelance illustrator in New York City Meryl took courses at Parson’s School of Design and the Art Student’s League. For three years she studied traditional art systems with Myron Barnstone at the Barnstone Studios in Coplay, Pennsylvania. She has also studied landscape painting with F. E. Green of Catskill, New York, and portrait painting at the Woodstock School of Art with Lois Woolley.
For more than 37 years Meryl, under her maiden name Henderson, has worked as an illustrator, specializing in artwork for children. She has illustrated more than 60 books and done thousands of illustrations for magazines and educational books.
Over the past several years Meryl has illustrated a series of nature books for Boyds Mills Press. The subject matter has ranged from bats, sharks, whales, penguins, snakes, alligators and crocodiles to cicadas and frogs. She is currently doing the final art for a book on scorpions and has contracted to start work on an octopus book this fall.
A love of nature is at the heart of all of Meryl’s art, and animals play a very large part in her life. Dogs, cats, hamsters, fish, turtles, parakeets, parrots, a guinea pig, and a horse have all been a part of her life.
Oil on canvas is Meryl’s preferred medium, although she is also adept at watercolors. Etching is another medium Meryl enjoys; she etches animals and scenes from nature and prints them on her 1850’s English etching press.
Two of her horse paintings were accepted into the 2013 American Academy of Equine Art Open Show. She was awarded the Jean Bowman Memorial Award for Painting. This is awarded to the work that reflects a traditional, academic treatment of equine art. Meryl calls the lovely small town of Catskill in upstate New York home. She shares her life with husband Jim Learnihan, four adopted dogs and a cockatiel named Bart.
Click HERE to view Meryl's paintings.