Ethan Findley Diehl was born in 1972 in Austin, Texas, to a poet father, and a librarian mother. Three years later, the Diehls moved to the university town of Iowa City, Iowa, where Ethan spent his childhood surrounded by an extraordinary collection of public artwork. The coupling of his parents' love for art and the frequent family trips to Chicago museums instilled in Ethan an early and lasting love for drawing and other visual arts.
Ethan's childhood passion for visual arts eventually led him to Stanford University where he met Nathan Oliveira, a painter, sculptor, and master print-maker, to whom Ethan attributes much of his success. Oliveira helped show Ethan how to turn color-blindness into striking expressionistic images.
After graduation from Stanford in 1994, Ethan aspired to more realism in his work. It was during the sweltering summer of 1998, only three months after moving to Austin from California, that Ethan remembered a 60 Minutes story on Chuck Close, one of the most important American figures in hyperrealism.
Specializing in close-up portraits, Close creates mammoth-sized paintings using a grid system, made entirely of miniscule squares. The theory is that each square will contain an average of the shades that actually exist, thus resulting in a dynamically realistic whole. For Ethan, despite the obvious roadblock of time, Close's style was worth exploring. Ethan thus began and has found his more realistic style, ironically enough, in the unreal world of grids.
Ethan Diehl currently lives, works, and paints in Austin, Texas, where he continues to use photographs, computers, and grid systems to create paintings. Each year, the squares in the grid grow smaller, the canvas grows larger, and Ethan continues to produce the unreal realism of emotionally and visually complex images.
– photo by Justus Flair