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Ellen Dieter

"We are led on a gentle journey through the image, each stop revealing something new."

—Wes Chester,  Curator Martha Pace Swift Gallery

Ellen lives and works in both San Diego, CA and Honolulu, HI

Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Ellen Dieter’s interest in art began at an early age. After graduating high school, she began traveling in between studies at the Cleveland Institute of Art and the Cooper School of Art. Ellen settled in Paris, France for over a decade and studied part time at L’Ecole des Art Appliqué.

Over the years, Ellen has worked as a seamstress/designer in a leather shop, a fashion model in the US and abroad, she has taught art for ages k-9, portfolio class for seniors and workshops for adults. Working as a scenic artist for the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, Ellen found her love for painting large. In 2007 Ellen left the traditional work force, and started devoting all her time to her painting practice.

Since then, Ellen has won multiple awards and received great recognition. In 2011 Ellen was invited to do a residency with the Alexander Salazar Fine Art Gallery in San Diego which led to a residency in Honolulu with Cedar Street Galleries. In 2017 Ellen reached one of her many goals, she was invited to have a solo exhibit at the Oceanside Museum of Art. “Color, Joy, Shape, Vitality” was the title of her show, and are all attributes of Ellen and her work.

Artist such as Joan Mitchell to Georgia O’Keefe have inspired Ellen’s work. She presents a unique combination of representational and abstract. Her paintings are created intuitively, led by inner emotions and a creative imagination including her current environment. The sun drenched landscapes of her homes in Hawaii and San Deigo strongly influence the work. Ellen’s bright palette and graphic style are both folkloric and whimsical, offering a joyous and unvarnished view of the world around her.


What are the biggest influences for this body of work?

Where I live, the way I feel, and the experiences I have are all influential in these works. Added to that, the pandemic and what we have been going through filters through the lens, be it a painting painted during the pandemic or even before. "Another Tomorrow", though painted before, is a place of solitude. For me that is a welcome place, a place where I can look outward or inward. "In the Blue", painted during the pandemic is the way I felt. These turbulent times have brought so much forward in my life and the world. Everything seems to be bubbling over. "The Boat House", painted in “plein air’ also brings forth ideas of meditation and reflection. "Kentucky Derby", maybe an outlier, is pure fun and exploration, my favorite way of painting.

In what way did your upbringing impact your work?

Every once in awhile, my father would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up. My answer most often was HAPPY. I knew I was going to be an artist, so, I wanted to be a happy artist. My mom and dad were always very supportive of my desire to be an artist, so I think that because I didn’t have to fight my way in that respect, my art is happy. Crazy that for a time, I felt I wasn’t a “real” artist because I didn’t have enough struggle in my life as a child. As it turns out, life is hard, and there is always struggle, but I tend to look at the bright side, thanks to my mom and dad.

Ellen Dieter lives and works in San Diego and Hawaii.