Tag Archives: Ethan Diehl

Artist ETHAN DIEHL interviewed by Silver Brush Limited

28 May



Brush Lady | May 20, 2019

We recently interviewed artist Ethan Diehl after meeting him at the 2019 Portrait Society of America show in Atlanta, Georgia. Ethan has an astounding talent for photo-realistic oil paintings. In fact, his paintings are so realistic that he even has a disclaimer at the top of his website that says, “Yes, these are paintings.” See for yourself!

SBL:  When did you start painting and what inspired you to pick up a paintbrush?
Ethan: I started painting almost before I could walk. Granted, it wasn’t in oil (closer to Gerber’s baby food), but it was the starting point.  My mother babysat a bunch of kids, and she converted our basement into an art room.  A half dozen young artists, mastering our watercolor craft.  I didn’t start painting in acrylics until junior high, and oils didn’t come on the scene until college. I don’t know why I picked up a paintbrush. I’ve always liked the visual world. The stars at night.  Storms on the horizon.  Movies.  Paintings. All of it.  Being able to capture images that lived in my head, and in front of me, always seemed special to me.   Like my superhero power.

“Train of Thought”

SBL: Do you have any formal training or instruction?
Ethan: I went to Stanford to study rocket science. Literally.  However, after a year of not enjoying my classes, I started to take studio art classes.  One of them, a drawing class, was taught by Nathan Olivera.  Nate was an incredible person.  We hit it off in his class, I completely changed the direction of my studies, and he became my art mentor.  More than simply learning the technical side of making art, Nate taught me how to pay much closer attention to what was right in front of me in the visual world.

SBL: Before you became a full-time artist, what did you do?
Ethan: The concept of full-time artist makes me chuckle. I knew very early on that it would be nearly impossible to make a living by just selling art.  So, I got a job, which I still have, as a software developer. I’ve been doing that for 21 years. However, this doesn’t mean that I don’t put in a fulltime amount of work each week in the studio.  I do.  I’ve been doing 40+ hour “work” weeks + 40+ hour “art work” weeks for almost 15 years.


SBL: What is your favorite subject to paint and why?
Ethan: People are my favorite subject.  Primarily women.  This isn’t exactly an original concept in the art world.  Haha.  I like spending my time focusing on the beauty that only women bring to the world. Within the subject of women, I only paint women I know.  It’s important for me to have a personal connection to my subjects, because it takes SO long for me to complete my paintings.  I really don’t want to spend months on end staring at a strange face in my studio.

SBL: How long have you been usingSilver Brushesand why do you like using them?
Ethan: I have been using Silver Brushes, and only Silver Brushes, since 2004.  That was the year that I started my professional art career.  I only use 1 particular brush: the Silver Bristlon® Flat size 0. My paintings are made of tens of thousands of squares of oil paint.  Each square is 1/6 in by 1/6 inch.  The Flat 0 is the perfect width for that size square.  The way that the bristles are constructed works well for me, too.  I like the flex of the bristles as I’m working on the squares.  Once I found this one brush, I was hooked.

“Constellation” painting process

SBL: Can you explain your painting process further?
Ethan: I use a pencil and ruler to turn my canvas into the equivalent of a super-sized piece of graph paper.  Then, I spend months looking back and forth between my computer monitor (which has a pixelated image), and the canvas, and painting tiny squares.  My Silver Brushes are never the same afterwards.  I normally use 1 single brush per painting, and then the brush is “retired”.  This process is not recommended for anyone else.  It works for me, but it’s painful.

SBL: Have any artists influenced or inspired your work?
Ethan: Chuck Close specifically influenced the way that I paint, from a technical aspect. I’m inspired by living artists like Jenny Saville, Mark Tansey and Banksy.

SBL: Is your artwork on display anywhere?
Ethan: My art is shown at three galleries:
• Julie Zener Gallery in Mill Valley, CA
• Robert Lange Studios in Charleston, SC
•  Morton Fine Art in Washington, D.C.

SBL: What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
Ethan: Work hard. Be nice. Enjoy the process. Fight envy with all of your strength.

For more information about Ethan and his artwork, please visit these links:

Please contact Morton Fine Art for available artwork by painter ETHAN DIEHL.
Morton Fine Art
52 O St NW #302
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 628-2787

New Works by ETHAN DIEHL

31 Jan

Artist Ethan Diehl has painted new American narratives in gray scale. Each painting is comprised of tens of thousands of oil paint squares on canvas. His time staking grid painting process yields a dual visual experience from close -up and at a distance, creating an “unreal realism” which is both emotionally and visually complex .

im-bald-too-webI’m Bald Too, 12″x 12″, oil on canvas


Racing Thoughts, 54″x36″, oil on canvas

Contact the gallery if you have any questions or if you are interested in seeing them in person.

“Written all over your face” by Martina Dodd examines six basic human emotions depicted in figurative artwork

22 Sep

Written all over your face

by Martina Dodd

I am fascinated by the way people communicate their feelings, ideas and thoughts.  Through written word, visual art and spoken language information can be shared by one person and interrupted by another.  Our emotional state can also be expressed in a variety of ways but the most universality recognized form is through our facial expressions.   Our body language speaks volumes even when we choose not to vocalize our feelings; from facial expressions to hand gestures, the body is consistently talking.

According to American psychologist, Dr. Paul Ekman, the six most basic emotions which can be easily understood regardless of culture and language are: happiness, sadness, fear, anger, surprise and disgust. With help from some of the artists represented by Morton Fine Art, let’s see what these emotions look like off the flesh and on the canvas.


Kesha Bruce. That they might be lovely, archival pigment print, 7/15. 12"x9"

Kesha Bruce. That they might be lovely, archival pigment print, 7/15. 12″x9″



Rosemary Feit Covey. Self Conscious 141103_1, mixed media 33"x28"

Rosemary Feit Covey. Self Conscious 141103_1, mixed media 33″x28″



Laurel Hausler. Blue Beards Place, 2009 oil on canvas with xrays. 40”x30”

Laurel Hausler. Blue Beards Place, 2009 oil on canvas with xrays. 40”x30”




Billy Colbert. King County, 2009 mixed media on paper. 29”x22”

Billy Colbert. King County, 2009 mixed media on paper. 29”x22”





Ethan Diehl. Vigilance, oil on canvas. 36”x60”

Ethan Diehl. Vigilance, oil on canvas. 36”x60”





Rosemary Feit Covey, Red Handed, dimensions variable

Rosemary Feit Covey, Red Handed, dimensions variable


Although these emotions are seen as universal, cultural practices and norms can play a role in how emotions are revealed and concealed between different members of the community. For example, the indigenous West African system of writing known as nsibidi employs graphic signs to code and convey concepts. The meaning of these symbols are traditionally restricted to members of all male associations but in Victor Ekpuks’ Asian Ubaoikpa (Hip Sista) series the artist not only creates his own symbols in the same style of  the ancient script, but also situated women in the center of the conversation.  The color and texture evoke a visceral reaction within the viewer rather than illustrating a singular emotion or revealing the meaning of his symbols.



Victor Ekpuk. Asian Ubaoikpa (Hip Sista) #11. Acrylic on canvas, 60”x48”

Victor Ekpuk. Asian Ubaoikpa (Hip Sista) #11. Acrylic on canvas, 60”x48”



Morton Fine Art at Aqua Art Miami 2014

30 Oct

aqua 14

Morton Fine Art invites you to attend Aqua Art Miami. For the third consecutive year, MFA will be located in booth #216 at Aqua Art Miami international fine art fair.  

Show Hours

Wednesday, December 3 | 3pm-10pm | VIP Opening Preview Party (for VIP pass holders)

Regular Fair Hours
Thursday, December 4 : 12pm – 9pm
Friday, December 5 : 11am – 9pm
Saturday, December 6 : 11am – 9pm
Sunday, December 7 : 11am – 6pm


Aqua Art Miami – Aqua Hotel, 1539 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

Aqua is located on Collins Ave, a short walk south of Art Basel Miami Beach, across from the Loews Hotel.

Morton Fine Art will be located in Suite 216.

Featured Artists

Maya Freelon Asante (North Carolina, b. USA)

Osi Audu (NYC, b. Nigeria)

Kesha Bruce (France, b. USA)

Ethan Diehl (Iowa, b. USA)

Victor Ekpuk (Washington, DC, b. Nigeria)

GA Gardner (Trinidad, b. Trinidad)

Katherine Hattam (Melbourne, b. Australia)

Choichun Leung (NYC, b. Wales)

William Mackinnon (Melbourne, b. Australia)

Nnenna Okore (Illinois, b. Nigeria)

Andrei Petrov (NYC, b. USA)

Stephon Senegal (Washington, DC, b. USA)

Vonn Sumner (Los Angeles, b. USA)

Charles Williams (North Carolina, b. USA)

Preview the work on the Morton Fine Art website: www.mortonfineart.com

mortonfineart@gmail.com, (202) 628-2787

Amazing slideshow of ETHAN DIEHL’s grayscale painting process (41,472 squares on a 24″x48″ canvas)

15 Jul

ETHAN DIEHL’s “Navigator” at Morton Fine Art!

Here is a slideshow documenting ETHAN DIEHL’s meticulous painting process. His 24″x48″ canvas is comprised of 41,472 gray scale squares which create his dynamic figurative narrative painting, “Navigator”. The painting appears photo-realistic from a distance and abstracted with geometric square forms close up.  Simply amazing!  ETHAN DIEHL’s process is very time consuming, taking months to create a single painting of this size.

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“Navigator”, 24 x 48, oil on canvas, 41,472 squares

Please contact Morton Fine Art for available work by this amazing contemporary artist!


(202) 628-2787


Available Paintings by ETHAN DIEHL

2 Jul


ETHAN DIEHL's meticulous gray scale grids on canvas

ETHAN DIEHL’s meticulous gray scale grids on canvas

Specializing in figurative narratives and typically painting in gray scale, ETHAN DIEHL uses a grid system to create his work. His 48 x 60” paintings are comprised of approximately 104,000 squares per canvas, with the end result producing “unreal realism” of emotionally and visually complex images.

Available paintings include:

ETHAN DIEHL, "Navigator", 24"x48", oil on canvas

ETHAN DIEHL, “Navigator”, 24″x48″, oil on canvas


ETHAN DIEHL, "Vigilance", 36"x60", oil on canvas

ETHAN DIEHL, “Vigilance”, 36″x60″, oil on canvas


ETHAN DIEHL, "Flavors", 24"x48", oil on canvas

ETHAN DIEHL, “Flavors”, 24″x48″, oil on canvas

For additional details please contact Morton Fine Art.


Morton Fine Art is located at 1781 Florida Ave NW, Washington, DC, 20009

(202) 628-2787



ETHAN DIEHL featured in The Daily Iowan

15 May


Art, faces, and stories

BY JUSTUS FLAIR | MAY 15, 2014 5:00 AM

051414-EthanDiehl-AH crop


Walking into Ethan Diehl’s studio apartment felt a bit like walking onto a movie set of how an artist’s home should appear, so perfectly artsy, it was very nearly cliché.

The door opened into a long hallway lined with his oil paintings, predominantly black and white but with a few splashes of color throughout, all brightly lit.

As we continued down the passage, the apartment widened into a spacious glass room overlooking downtown Iowa City — a beautiful seventh-story view of the Ped Mall, the Arcade Building, the green-glass skywalk bridging the two biology buildings, and the towering steeples of several local landmarks. More art lines the walls here, too, but works of friends and fellow artists, not his own.

A partially completed colorless image of a woman sat on a modern-looking wooden easel, locked into place. But it hadn’t always been so secure; pointing to a smear of black and white turning into gray, Diehl said with a chuckle that was where the painting had fallen onto his head a few days previously, wiping paint across his hairless head and spreading it into squares of his painting.

Yes, squares of the painting. An oil painter, Diehl paints faces, primarily women’s faces, based on photos he has taken of them. Using Adobe Photoshop, he breaks the photographs down into grids, usually 1/6-by-1/6 inch squares on a canvas as large as 5-by-5 feet, and painstakingly paints each section individually with a Silver Bristlon Flat Zero brush — the only brush he uses.

“It’s kind of simple what I’m trying to accomplish,” Diehl said. “I come from a long line of storytellers; we tell stories, and I tell stories through my art. I use women’s faces and figures as a vehicle to tell a story about me or my family or my life.”

And it’s been an interesting life.

Born in Austin, Texas, Diehl moved to Iowa when his father, Paul Diehl, was offered a position at Grinnell College. A few years later, Paul Diehl became head of the University of Iowa’s Nonfiction Writing Program and the family moved again.

Growing up a block south of the Field House, Diehl used to sell chocolate-chip cookies in front of his home on Hawkeye football game days as he colored outside.

“There was always art around our house,” Diehl said. “From the earliest times, I can remember crayons and pencils and pens.”

The crayons, in particular, stick out to Diehl. One day, his older sister peeled off all the labels on his crayons, and Diehl, who said he always wanted to color everything the correct shade and stay inside the lines, could not tell which colors to use. His perfect blue sky came out purple.

That day Diehl discovered he was colorblind.

But that didn’t dampen his love for art. His experience with art at West High, though, did. His first high-school class, an art class, ended with him handcuffed to a desk, a “joke” by a senior, and his art classes did not much improve from there.

So he went off to college but not as an art major.

“I went to Stanford to be a rocket scientist. Literally,” Diehl said. “I wanted to build space weaponry. I didn’t want to kill people; I just wanted to blow shit up in space.”

As fun as that sounded at the time, he soon grew unhappy and bored, missing art. So he enrolled in a few art classes and, at the start of his junior year, became an art major.

And he was a terrible painter.

But he got better, working for hours a day, improving, honing his skill.

Then he graduated and stopped making art for four years.

When his now ex-wife, also an artist, got a job in California, Diehl went with her and decided to get back to art. He applied to five graduate-school art programs and got five rejections on his 25th birthday. Then he got divorced. And then, he began painting again.

He painted continually, 40 or 50 hours a week, and he got picked up by a few galleries, one in Austin and one in San Francisco.

Then, while watching “60 Minutes,” he saw a piece on Chuck Close, an artist known for his huge paintings of faces that up close seem abstract but at a distant show a distinct image of a face.

That led to his current painting style.

After finding a subject, Diehl takes a still image, almost always in his own apartment. Despite the close range, he uses a telephoto lens, allowing him to get a clear, close up photo from the other side of the room.

“I wanted to take the photos of people as far away as I could,” Diehl said. “I stand at one end of the room with my telephoto lens, and they’d be at the other, and it was like I was a wildlife photographer. I’d get much more natural photographs that way.”

Those natural photographs, once broken down into a grid, become his oil paintings, done in black and white to preserve their integrity and prevent color mistakes.

Though the paintings are time consuming, taking months to paint each tiny 1/6-by-1/6 inch square, it’s a labor of love for Diehl.

“Painting is addictive for me,” he said. “I may stop making good paintings, but I’ll never stop painting.”

Ethan Diehl's painting in progress in his Iowa studio

Ethan Diehl’s painting in progress in his Iowa studio,  it will be on view at Morton Fine Art upon completion, summer 2014

Images from Beyond Yesterday: A Collection of Landscape Memories

19 May

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Now on view at Morton Fine Art through June 4th, 2013.  Please contact the gallery for availability and pricing details.


(202) 628-2787

Question: How many squares in this 60″x36″ painting?

29 Oct
by Ethan Diehl

oil on canvas 60"x36"

Answer: 77,760 gray scale squares!

Here are a few words from artist Ethan Diehl on his process for “Constellation”:
Is my painting method tedious?

“Hell yes. It works for me, though, and I love the meditative state I fall into painting one square at a time.”

How many squares are there in a painting?

“Each square foot has 5,184 squares. So a 2’x3′ painting has 31,104 squares, and a 4’x5′ has 103,680 squares.”

Who invented the grid method?

“I was inspired by Chuck Close to paint the way I do. However the grid method is a paint-based version of the mosaic, which has been around for nearly 2,500 years.”

Why do I paint using thousands of squares?

“When I started painting, I was frustrated by my inability to create realistic images. Painting with squares allows me to paint realistically because my works are based off photographs I take.”