The Art Journey – Guy Diehl – Ep 42
August 10, 2022
ON TODAY’S EPISODE
The cool thing about making art is that even though we are mostly alone in our studios, we are not alone on the creative path. All of us are here, no matter what you make. There are people ahead of us, and always (regardless of when we begin), people behind us. We simply gain knowledge the further we go. The longer one has been on the path, the more wisdom they acquire.
Today we are talking to Guy Diehl, a bay area still-life realist painter who has been involved with creating a life centered upon art for over 50 years. His early childhood challenge of dyslexia was relieved by art-making and he simply never looked back. He has peered into all kinds of artistic genres, often spending a decade of passionate investigation into any he felt drawn towards.
For the last decade or two, Guy has focused on making incredibly alluring still-life paintings. His mastery of acrylic paint and materials is unparalleled. His sustainable art practice and “make art no matter what” attitude is inspiring. Come listen to the wisdom of the art and life of Guy Diehl, a fellow traveler on the creative path.
Listen if you are interested in…
- Getting to know Guy Diehl and the start of his art journey [2:19]
- Insight from over 50 years of working with acrylics [17:35]
- Choosing subject matter, the beauty of abstract art, and why Guy loves photo-realism [23:01]
- Exploring Guy’s use of natural light and the humanity found in his work [31:09]
- How Guy decides the objects used in his paintings [43:43]
- The journey ahead and Guy’s advice for those just starting [53:36]
Starting the journey
I think most people would agree that artists are built differently than those working in other areas of interest. We often navigate the world with more sensitivity and nuance than others, which allows us to communicate a great deal of depth on canvas or whatever medium we choose. Sometimes life forces us to look at the world differently because our brains process information in a unique way. Growing up, Guy Diehl’s dyslexia was viewed as something that needed to be fixed rather than an indication that he was built for something out of the ordinary. Yet, even at age five, his brilliance shined through by drawing the toys he wanted that his family couldn’t afford. Reflecting on his upbringing, Guy recognizes how important it is for neurodivergent kids of all kinds to have access to alternative means of navigating their formative years. Not everyone is good at following a traditional path. Some people, like Guy and many other artists, experience the world visually and need to immerse themselves in it rather than read about it in a book. Sometimes all a person needs is a more creative path to thrive. In the truest sense, starting the art journey brought Guy Diehl to life.
Tools for the road
The richness, subtlety, and nuance of color found in much of Guy’s work look exactly like an oil painting. But Guy has been working solely in acrylics for over 50 years! He began with acrylic paint because they were inexpensive in 1969 compared to oil, but he soon discovered he was allergic to the various additives commonly used in oil paint. Guy admits that the good and bad thing about using acrylics is that they dry quickly. Over the years, he has learned to select imagery he feels confident enough to paint and avoid the rest. In the early days, Guy was at the mercy of understanding the physics of acrylics. However, along the journey, he has picked up a few innovative tools to aid the art-making process. One of those tools is the use of acrylic flow improvers. They make water “wetter” by breaking the water tension on a layer of paint. This makes the paint easier to spread around and increases the amount of time an artist has to blend, even if only by a few minutes. Some people consider oil to be the master medium. Guy could have used his inability to work with oil paints as an excuse to give up. But when you’re committed to the journey, you create art no matter what.
Surrender to the path
Guy’s desire is for people to look at his art and slow down. He wants whatever calamity they carried with them from their hectic day to fall to the floor. Guy concedes that his art may not be what everyone is looking for, but for the right person, his work is designed to draw them in and spark their curiosity. What I love about Guy’s work is the juxtaposition of using ordinary things to make elevated statements. It’s the details that lure you into the depth of the work. Ironically, details are the thing that guy hates painting the most. He paints just enough of them to be convincing and typically saves the hardest parts of a piece for last. For Guy, it’s all about simplifying what he can and emphasizing what he has to. If a painting needs a detail like wood grain or texture, he’ll surrender to the time that detail will take, whether it’s an entire day…or five. And at its essence, that’s what the art journey is all about. Surrendering to the things we can’t control to create something transcendent. Just like a hiking trail, the creative path has its own twists and turns. When we surrender to where that path is taking us, we find its most beautiful vistas. Listen to this episode for more insights from Guy Diehl on the artist’s journey!
Resources & People Mentioned
- Guy Diehl: Realist with a Minimalist Aesthetic
- Guy Diehl: Forging an Art Life
- Robert Bechtle (Artist)
- Wayne Thiebaud (Artist)
- Gordon Cook (Artist)
- Franz Kline (Artist)
- Plein Air Wisdom – Doug Andelin – Ep 16 (Art2Life Podcast)
- Richard McLean (Artist)
- F Scott Hess (Artist)
- Mel Ramos (Artist)
Connect with Guy Diehl
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the founder of Art2Life.
With over 20 years experience as a working artist and educator, I’ve developed a systematic approach that brings authenticity, spontaneity and joy back into the creative process.