We had the good fortune of connecting with Ellen Dieter and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ellen, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
Scales in life are constantly tipping from one side to another, like a pendulum swinging from one extreme to the other. My life seems like that, swinging from one way of doing things to another, and even more so, moving in a circle or spiral. There is a Rainer Maria Rilke poem that I resonate with which speaks not specifically to balance but the ever changing cycles of life, it goes like this: “I live my life in widening circles that reach out across the world. I may not complete this last one but I give myself to it. I circle around God, around the primordial tower. I’ve been circling for thousands of years and I still don’t know: am I a falcon, a storm, or a great song?” I relate to this as my life continues on a journey which continues outward and inward simultaneously. I am always changing and in quest for balance in this journey of life be it on my canvases or in my daily activities. We go through seasons in life, from childhood freedom, to adult respsonabilty, to raising children, then being grandparents. We work, we retire, and in my case, never retire as I will paint for the rest of my life. Balance in my world today is about making time for all aspects of my life. My partnership with my significant other, my art practice, my daughter and grandchildren, my friends and colleagues. And then there is balance within each of those areas. The circles encircle each other and ripple out across the waters.
Please tell us more about your art. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
Life and art is a series of ups and downs, starts and stops, belief and non-belief. I have had great support, but that doesn’t always help the inner demons that like to tell me I am no different or that I am any good at what I do. In fact, “au contraire”, they like to tell me that I am undeserving and that I have no clue what I am doing. “Who do I think I am kidding!?!” they say. I know I am not different in this thinking. Many people and artists share this same struggle. For me, it is a one day at a time thing. The best remedy for me to rid these thoughts is putting paint to canvas. When I am painting, the thoughts go away. There is no room for them as I am making more important decisions. What color? line or form? add this or take away that? I go through a period of painting where I am not thinking too much, the play stage, but in the end, it is all about choice and my brain is engaged along with my soul. Does this feel good? oh, I am not crazy about that, take it out! Let’s see what happens if I do this? How can those demons fight that? It is not about how good or bad it is, it’s about how does it feel, what story can I tell, even if it is an abstract tale. In that, maybe I am a bit different than some. I have learned how to let go, and just paint. Do the critics chime in after, of course they do. I am continuing to learn and relearn how to not judge myself against other artists that I deem “better than” me, or more advanced that I am, or even not judge me against myself. But that is a hard one. We are all on our own path, We are not ahead or behind, we are our own critic and jury. Our goals can be similar, or very different. Again the decision is ours, it is not a book of rules or a template for success. My biggest lesson is accepting who I am and where I am in my career. Being able to share my story, my inner self is my biggest personal accomplishment. One has to be brave to put themselves out there the way risk taking artists do. Speaking of risk taking artists, I am a member of a group of women artists., risk taking women artists. We are known as TWA, Twenty Women Artists. These women push me to be better, they keep me on my toes. We share our stories, our struggles and our accomplishments. I believe having a group like this instrumental in my development not only as an artist but as a person. Abandonment of many of the rules has led me to where I am today, and I am most proud of the multiple group shows and the solo exhibit at Oceanside Museum of Art, honored to have gallery representation. It was a five year gaol I had set for myself awhile back. It took many more than five years to reach. I am deeply grateful for all the shows I’ve been juried into and awards I’ve received. Most recently I am grateful for recognition by Saatchi Art. I was chosen to be in their 100 Voices 100 Artists campaign! super fun! What I would want the world to know about me and my story, is that I just keep showing up (Wood Allen is right!) and doing the work. I’ve always had a good work ethic, my art practice is no different, it is my work. That said, my work is about life and the enjoyment of life. Cindy Lauper’s song “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” is my motto. Layer over layer, lines, colors and forms, the paintings come together like the quilting of life. A life I am most grateful for. I could not have predicted that I would be where I am today, so I will not try to guess where I will go, I am sure it will be great though, and I hope you can follow along and even join in with my journey.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
San Diego is such a diverse city. So many options….Where to start….A stroll down Kettner Blvd in Little Italy is a great place to begin. Art and boutique shops abound, filling your senses with the smell of coffee, pastries and find food. The visuals are there too – Adelman Fine Art Gallery could be a great start. Adelman Fine Art represents me and many other fantastic artists. There is a wonderful restaurant on the same block called Cafe Gratitude. It is always fun to grab a bite there. On the next block over is Blick art store, and about a mile up the road, Artist and Craftsman Art Supply, both places a must for any artist or creative person. Very close by is Balboa Park, and in Balboa park is The Old Globe Theatre. I have a love for theatre, and there is a lot of theatre in San Diego, The Old Globe is my favorite. I would recommend any production that they put on. They are world renowned. Many of their shows go on to Broadway. The Prado Restaurant nearby is a great place to dine inside or out before heading to the theatre. Balboa Park is populated with many museums, two of my favorites are The San Diego Museum of Art, located next-door to The Old Globe, and the Museum of Photography right down the way. While in Balboa Park, a meander through the Japanese Friendship Garden is a moment for inward thought and meditation. And if it is spring, we have Cherry Blossoms too! I would definitely take you to the shores of our beautiful beaches up and down the coast, from Imperial Beach down south to Carlsbad beach up North. I would take you to Torrey Pines and hike the bluffs, or we could go inland and climb Cowles Mountain or meander Mission Trails for some country fun. I would take you to Coronado Island for Moo’s ice cream and a walk through the quaint town. We would visit the Hotel Del and the Coronado beaches to see the dolphins. We would take a trip up the 5 North to Oceanside to visit the world renown Oceanside Museum of Art. A fantastic contemporary museum where I currently have work hanging on their walls in the Artist Alliance 2019 Biennial. They also have an exhibit going on called Sidewalk Activism. A really exciting show. Both these exhibits and others are available to see on their website. www.oma-online.org. We would take a day and cruise around Ocean Beach. Ocean Beach is like heading back in time to the 60’s. with tie-die fashion and surfers, head shops and coffee shops. Fish tacos at South Beach Bar and Grill would be a must. I can’t not mention The San Diego Zoo, The Wild Animal Park and Sea World. All well worth a visit with or without children. There are so many more things to do. I love to just wake up and see where the day may take me. As I am writing this, we are experiencing a global pandemic, so many of the places I list are not available to go see. We are saving lives by “sheltering in place”. I cannot be sure which ones will be open when we come out of this, I pray that they all will. I ant to thank all the first responders and the people out there on the front lines, and all the essential workers putting their lives at risk for ours and keeping San Diego safe.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are so many people I give a ShoutOut to. Let me start with my parents. Without their support and encouragement, I don’t know where I would be today. From the time I was small up until the decision to major in art, and forever after, they were by my side. It was my parents that put me in my first art class at the Cleveland Museum of Art when I was five. I knew then than I wanted to be an artist. My high school teacher Mr. Hoffman, was a super hero to me. He taught me the basics and to believe in myself. My community, San Diego, has been a great support. From the San Diego Art Institute to different galleries and venues in San Diego to the Oceanside Museum of Art, I have felt recognized and appreciated. The artists of San Diego, I call my friends. They have supported me, befriended me and some are collectors as well. They have also greatly inspired me and taught me so much. I feel I have been very fortunate in my career. The galleries that represent me, Adelman Fine Art Gallery, Nicole, Phylicia and Marcia Adelman, Cedar Street Galleries in Honolulu, Michael Schnack, Fresh Paint Gallery, Deborah Williams, and Art’nSoul on 101, Cindy Blumkin, have been beneficial supporters, selling my work, getting it out there. Alexander Salazar of Alexander Salazar Fine Arts invited me to do his artist in residency, a great jump start to my career, thank you. I give a Shout Out to The Old Globe Theatre, where I worked as a scenic artist, among other positions. They hired me when I knew nothing about painting sets. Just another example of risk taking (me applying for a job I didn’t know how to do) and an example of people believing in me. I have been blessed to work with amazing curators, Wes Chester, Kay Colvin, Kate Ashton, Tim Field, Jennifer Borba von Stauffenberg, Barbara Thoulion, to name a few. A Shout Out to the many jurors who have chosen and awarded works, with special mentions to Robert L. Pincus, Peter Frank, and Maria Mingalone. I have a special place in my heart for the people of the Oceanside Museum of Art. A few years after I became a member of the OMA Artist Alliance I was chosen to have a solo exhibit at the museum, Color, Joy, Shape, Vitality. This was the highlight of my career so far. In my wildest dreams I would not have imagined my work in a major museum. Thank you to OMA for this remarkable recognition. I am forever grateful for all those who have helped me and shaped me into the person/artist that I am today. My Mel my family, my loved ones, my friends and colleagues, you know how you are, My list is not complete, I apologize if I failed to mention you, you are in my heart and soul. Mahalo.
Other: https://adelmanfineart.com/artist/ellen-dieter/ http://www.cedarstreetgalleries.com/bin/works.cgi?Artist=DieterEllen https://www.freshpaintgallery.com/product-category/ellen-dieter/ https://www.artnsoulon101.com/art-1 https://studioel.com/artist-detail