James Earl was born in Omaha, Nebraska. After graduating from Omaha Central High School in 1949, he attended MIT where he earned BS and PHD degrees in Physics. Later, Dr. Earl taught at the University of Maryland. Here he earned an undergraduate degree in studio art, with a focus on printmaking. Earl's etchings, paintings and drawings have appeared in many shows at Maryland Hall, the Mitchell Gallery at St. Johns College, the Circle Gallery of the Maryland Federation of Art, and several other Annapolis galleries. A highlight was his one-man show in 2010 at the Nutt room of St. John's library.
He began to make silk screen prints after seeing this technique applied to Brillo Boxes by Andy Warhol that were exhibited at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Later, at the University of Maryland in College park, he turned to intaglio printmaking. After retiring from the University, and moving to Annapolis, Earl returned to art with a series of watercolor paintings and with sketching in Moleskine sketchbooks. More recently he returned to intaglio and silk screen printmaking at Anne Arundel Community College. These prints are largely based on photographic methods that rely on extensive computer manipulation.