In her portraits Merrily Johnstone reaches beyond the external likeness of her subjects to discern and convey their essential character as though captured in a timeless moment of truth, grace, and dignity.
Using Renaissance painting techniques, she applies color in multiple layers of translucent glazes over a tonal underpainting. Deliberate and time-intensive, the process allows her to build rich, luminous skin tones, and to distill the subtle details and nuances of expression that bring her subjects to life. Her enduring fascination with portraiture is rooted in early childhood cultural experiences while living in Europe with her military family.
Johnstone received instruction from Jack Clifton, a noted portrait painter and author in Hampton, Virginia. She attended Virginia Commonwealth University, graduating with a BFA in painting and printmaking.