Monday, May 12, 2008

May Artist #4: Doug Dawson

This week's first artist is unusual because he is not Safely Dead, unlike every other artist that I've highlighted on this blog to this point.* He's quite alive and I was very happy when he gave me permission to display some of his art for this post.

*If you are a Not Safely Dead artist, please don't send me e-mails asking me to look at your work and/ or feature it on my blog. Believe me, you aren't the only one, and believe me too, I'm picky. I won't like it, even if you're good. That's just the way it is.**




**If you are a Safely Dead artist, you may contact me -- only via e-mail -- about your art. Just because e-mails from Undead artists intrigue me.




Anyway, that aside, the artist is Doug Dawson, an American pastel artist whose work I greatly admire. He's represented by Ventana Fine Art, where you can see more of his work.





I am, in a lot of ways, a lot pickier about my Still Alive artists than my Safely Dead ones. I mean, for starters, Still Alive artists are under copyright. I have to go to the trouble of getting permission to display their art and letting at least one other living person know that I seriously admire them, which is bad for my tough-girl image. I definitely need to see some definite quality with a capital KW to make that worth my while. Also, Still Alive artists had all those Safely Dead artists to learn from. They ought to be at least as good, if not better, right?




But Doug Dawson is good enough to make me smile and nod and say "bring on the art." So here it is. He offers numerous workshops which I would gladly give at least one of my wisdom teeth to take. None of them are close to me, however, so I'm forced to do this sort of remote talent-stealing thing I do.




So, without further ado. Things I like about Doug Dawson's work and would like to steal for my very own:


  • Amazing sense of light. I can't remember which was the first image of I saw of Doug's -- it was either "The Church on Alameda" (the first one featured here) or "Doing the Town" (the third one down), but with both of them I just sort of gently picked my jaw from where it had fallen to the floor and thought "I want to do car lights like him."
  • Atmosphere. After I'd gotten over throwing a fit over why my light couldn't look as beautiful as Doug's, I started lusting after his ability to create a mood. Tell me those paintings don't powerfully evoke evening or early night.
  • Detail. Just enough to draw our attention to the focal point, but no more. These are suggestions of shapes. The memory of places. The invocation of a place. Okay, maybe the last one was too corny. But you get the idea. This is stuff more real than photo-realism.
  • Subtlety. Boy, I say that a lot in these May artist posts, don't I? I think it's because it's one of my weak points. I do know that I desperately admire it in Doug's work. Understated colors, limited palette, no crazy showmanship, just silent blowing-you-away with his invisible technique.
Looking at Doug's work now, I think part of what makes his light so convincing is a) no white and b) no black. Sure, he has small details that are either in some of his pieces, but the sky is not nearly as dark as you'd think it would be nor is the light as white as you'd expect.

Instead, we get darkness suggested with cool blues and purples and a hazing out of details, like at twilight, when it sucks to drive because you can't really make out the road signs.

And we get light implied by warm colors waving wildly from the other side of the color wheel. "Hi, I'm yellow-orange! I'm a complementary of blue-purple! Aren't I warm and light and bright?"

When I see Doug's pieces, it makes me want to break out my color wheel and try a limited palette piece with one splash of color from a complementary. Remind me in June when I'm done with all the artists that I wanted to do that. In between him and Mary Cassatt, I'm feeling like pastel artists are taking over my brain.

Thanks to Doug for giving me permission for this post and I hope you guys are enjoying this series as much as I am enjoying researching it. It's making me feel a lot better about being away from my art supplies finishing my novel for my editor.

10 comments:

Karen Mathison Schmidt said...

Maggie, thanks for introducing Doug Dawson to us ... Like you, I'm in absolute awe. I don't know why, but a couple of these are so beautiful I actually teared up a little (but in a totally good way!) The 1st one, the 4th one down with the house and trees, and the last one, with the car driving down the road on a snowy evening. Awesome.

And thanks again for taking time to share your artistical (artistical? ... I just made that up, but I like it!) studies with us. My work can only improve by studying excellent work from other artists.

Karen Mathison Schmidt said...

What I meant was "My work can't help but improve..."
I mean, there are other ways to improve as well, but, anyway, you know what I mean.

Bea said...

[quote]*If you are a Not Safely Dead artist, please don't send me e-mails asking me to look at your work and/ or feature it on my blog. Believe me, you aren't the only one, and believe me too, I'm picky. I won't like it, even if you're good. That's just the way it is.**
**If you are a Safely Dead artist, you may contact me -- only via e-mail -- about your art. Just because e-mails from Undead artists intrigue me.[/quote]

I personally never intend to do that :).. I just like to look at your work.. guess I'm not that picky.. you are good :D AND I do like it!! besides I'm only on my way sorta kinda to being safely dead.. (three kinds of cancer does that) :)I appreciate your featuring Doug Dawson :) Awesome..

Tania said...

I can see why you'd go through the trouble to get Doug's permission to use his images - they're great!
His palette reminds me of a Canadian artist, Wilf Perrault's more recent work: http://www.mayberryfineart.com/artist/wilf_perreault.html

tracywall said...

What a great choice with Doug Dawson!

Being from Colorado, I'm quite familiar with his work and he deserves every bit of attention and admiration as possible.

And thank you for these features! what a great way to learn!

Casey Klahn said...

Love the Doug Dawson stuff.

I guess I had not seen enough of his work before, so I appreciate this view.

vivien said...

I agree - a lovely sense of light and way of simplifying a scene

Katherine Tyrrell said...

Did you know Doug Dawson has been named the Pastel Society of America’s Hall of Fame Honoree for 2008? That's a big honour.

See the PSA website for more details

All you need to do now is work who will mind the babes while you have a quick visit to NYC come September - and then you can see his work up close and personal

Ever since I got to know his work many moons ago I've come to think I can recognise his work anywhere (so long as it's an urban scene) as, besides the things you mention, I think he also has a distinct preference for a certain colour palette.

Jo Castillo said...

I saw a demo at an International Association of Pastel Societies convention. He makes it seem so easy. Beautiful work and sharing artist. Thanks, Maggie.

Becky Vigor said...

WOW! Thank you so much for introducing me to this amazing artist and art. I'm completely blown away and so inspired too. I feel like something has changed in me just from seeing this post.