- Carry Me Home
I am generally woken by my children Charlie and Eliza (better than an alarm clock!) at 6am, and spend the first hour or so of my day deafened by their enthusiastic chatter. We always try to sit down for a family breakfast with my wife Suzie at around 7.30. I aim to be in my studio next door by about 9.30 with that essential cup of coffee, apron on and sleeves rolled up. I look at the work from the night before and contemplate what needs to be done whilst drinking my coffee. I look down at my choice of 100 plus pastels to the right of my drawing board and go. I start my work accompanied by the radio as I like to have some background noise. Lunch is always scheduled for around 1, but by the time I’ve managed to tear myself away and am clean enough to sit down to eat, it tends to be nearer 2! Lunchtime is just a quick bite to eat. Once back in the studio I work through until dinner, with an afternoon visit from Suzie and the children to see how I’m getting on. We have a coffee together and a bit of a chat and then I need to be in isolation again. Dinner is generally ready at 8 but eaten at 9… Late again! Even though technically my working day is now over, I often pay a late night visit to the studio to sit and contemplate my latest piece on the easel. Then it’s lights out until tomorrow.
I find inspiration for my painting can strike at any time, whether through my own emotional response to something, or through observing somebody else’s obvious love for another person or animal. Sometimes I will hear a phrase spoken and immediately visualise a picture – I then work around that phrase and use it as a title for the finished piece. My ideas are generally spontaneous and mood driven, whether that mood was good or bad! Painting like this gives me complete fulfilment: being able to create an entirely individual and personal piece of work, from visualising the idea in my head, sketching it, painting it and finally seeing it completed gives me complete satisfaction.
5 years ago when I visited the Tate Modern I was looking at a 25 ft original by Mark Rothko and was completely mesmerised. The scale, the use of colour and the simplicity. What power! This experience provided a defining moment in my artistic journey; convincing me that less is more, it sent me down the path of simple, bold imagery painted on a large scale, to create maximum impact.
When I have an idea for a new work I tend to scribble down my thoughts at once, and in my studio I have a box overflowing with these messy scribblings on cards, paper napkins, bits of newspaper, anything that has space for a quick sketch to keep the idea in focus. When I come to start work on something new, I refer to my “ideas box”, and then try to refine the image in my head until it is ready to be transferred to the drawing board. I take the initial idea and sketch out the painting, adding ideas to it as I go until it evolves into a picture that works for me, or the picture I imagined when it first popped into my head.
In the past I preferred to use acrylics and watercolours, but over the last few years I have fallen in love with pastels! From the very first time I used pastels I knew that this was the medium that would best be able to achieve the effects I wanted to create – I love the contrast between the soft tones and the hard edges. It gives me much more freedom than any other medium and enables me to use an entirely individual technique. I am able to create the movement I like in a piece of art and the rich boldness of colour. Because I was initially experimenting with the medium, I have developed a very unorthodox style using my fingers and thumbs to create the work, which I find gives me ultimate control. Whatever I am doing my work is always there, tucked away in the corner of my mind. I am constantly thinking about it, whether it’s the piece I am working on, thinking about the colours I will use or new ideas or new ways to produce my work. Even when I am relaxing it’s always there! It truly is a 24 hour job. But I love it. It’s my passion; it’s my life.
Born in Bristol in 1972, Doug became aware of his artistic talent at an early age. Throughout his school and college education he concentrated on the technical side of drawing and painting, but after graduation he was in no doubt as to his chosen career, that of a professional artist.
Doug prefers to produce his distinctive artwork on a large scale, in order to achieve maximum impact with each piece. He also enjoys operating in plenty of space, thus allowing himself enough physical freedom to express the creative energy that is the key to his fresh, contemporary style. His unorthodox use of pastels applied with fingers and thumbs or even the side of a hand or wrist allows him to create highly communicative and engaging images that make an immediate and lasting impression on the viewer.
Recently named as the UK’s official best selling artist, Doug has been featured on television both on the BBC national news and on Channel 4 as well as on local television and local and national radio describing his unique technique and talking about the people and events that inspire his heart-warming images. Inspired by his own emotional responses to life, Doug’s intention is to provoke a positive response in others; his success in this aim can be seen not only by the huge impact his work has made on the British and international art scene, but also by the money he has raised for two important charities – “Look Good…Feel Better” and Families for Children” – through the sale of his artwork. The extraordinary rise from virtual unknown to the most popular living artist in the UK has been meteoric, and his stunning original pastels have become genuine collectors’ items.