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 James A. Fetherolf  (1925 - 1994)

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Lived/Active: California      Known for: seascape, landscape and skyscape painting

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Ad Code: 4
James A Fetherolf
from Auction House Records.
Near Malibu Lake
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A seascape, skyscape, and landscape painter, James Fetherolf created works with fine detailing, a skill he likely learned as a background artist for Hollywood film studios. He was born in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, graduated from Syracuse University and then moved to California in 1949 with a goal of becoming an actor. He struggled for five years to find work in that capacity and at the same time worked for Twentieth Century Fox Studios as a background painter. In 1957, he went to Walt Disney Productions and later returned full time to Fox Studios.

He credited the work at Disney as being educational because he was tied to deadlines and very realistic depictions. His work appeared in classic films such as "Zorro", "Polyanna", "Mary Poppins", and "Third Man on the Mountain".

Fetherolf turned to fine art painting, inspired by a trip to a local art gallery where he decided he could paint as well if not better than the artists producing the work he saw. He began by painting seascapes, which had a strong market, and this subject as well as landscapes became so popular that he left the film industry to devote himself to oil painting.

His paintings are so realistic that "Individual timbers are discernible inside a distant barn and cacti on the horizon are individually painted." (988) His paintings of billowing clouds are also signature works, and he achieved the energetic, billowing quality by working fast on the painting of the clouds, completing them in one sitting.

Fetherolf received seven gold medals from the Franklin Mint Gallery of American Art and also was selected to paint the centerpiece work, "America! America! for the Mint's "America the Beautiful" series.

Source: David Michael Zellman, "300 Years of American Art"

Biography from Simic Galleries:
James Fetherolf is a landscape painter focused on the raw beauty of America.  His goal for viewers is to tap them on the shoulder and say, "Step into nature. Join me in a vision of beauty."

From the high country meadows, to the silhouetted mountain cathedrals, to great rock monoliths guarding foreboding deserts, James Fetherolf painted the many faces of our land.  Oak shaded country barns surrounded by rolling hills of wheat and rye also typify the Americana theme that he painted. From the tiniest buckwheat and seedling, to the loftiest snow-capped peak, he tried to give each the same thoughtful attention.  Fetherolf explained:  "Without detail the emotional impact is lost, and that sense of ‘being’ disappears." He added, "It is important to reach past the flatness of the canvas, and pull the planes of perspective forward."

Born in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, in 1925, Fetherolf came to California after graduating from Syracuse University of Fine Arts, in 1949.  After many years of working with Fox Studios and Walt Disney Studios, as a matte artist, he left to pursue a career as a professional artist.  The response to his painting was positive, and he was reinforced by the fact that his former boss, Walt Disney, added his painting to his collection.

Recognition includes acceptance of work into the bicentennial exhibition, with five paintings at the R.W. Norton Museum in Shreveport, LA;  the Gold Medal from the Franklin Mint Gallery of American Art for a painting depicting Washington DC that is now on permanent display in Philadelphia.

James Fetherolf is listed in the American Art Analog.

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