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James Fetherolf was born in 1925 in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. After graduating in 1949, he moved to California where he started working as a matte artist for Twentieth Century Fox Studios first and then Walt Disney Productions.

Fetherolf's work is noted for its precise rendering of fine detail, a skill he may have mastered during his years as a background artist for Fox and Walt Disney studios. The dramatic quality in Fetherolf's paintings is his ability to capture the reaction of light, a quality most evident in the work of the great landscape artists of the nineteenth century.

Fetherolf died in 1994.