Maryland, Virginia and District of Columbia Art

by Ann Erskine


David Douglas: Alexandria Artist


David Douglas has been painting for over twenty-five years. He lives in Alexandria, Virginia and is the Chairman of the Art Department at Episcopal High School. He received his B.A. in painting from Virginia Intermont College in 1981 and his M.F.A. in painting from James Madison University in 1984. Since 1980, David's work has been exhibited in such places as the Addison/Ripley Gallery in Washington, D.C., the Fayerweather Gallery at The University of Virginia, the Gallery West in Alexandria, the Fendrick Gallery in Washington, D.C., the Athenaeum in Alexandria, and the David Adamson Gallery in Washington, D.C. He has an upcoming exhibit in Segovia, Spain in June, 2000. David's work has been reviewed in The Alexandria Gazette, The Northern Virginia Sun, The Bristol Herald Courier and The Washington Post. His work is featured in many prominent private and corporate collections internationally, including the Washington Post, and The Marriot Corp.

David's Uncle Max (his grandfather's brother) was an artist and David's first influence. David remembers being six years old in his uncle's studio surrounded by Max's watercolor paintings and thinking how fantastic it was that there "was a piece of (Max) everywhere." When David was in high school, he was interested in the works of Picasso, Pollock, Gregory Guillespi, and, Albert Giacommetti. He also became acquainted with a friend of his uncle Max's, the well-known D.C. artist Allen Carter. David viewed Allen's prolific, raw work as that of "a modern-day Picasso" and learned "the pure joy of making art."

Throughout the 1980s, David's parents owned an art supply and home decorating store in Alexandria. David had access to wallpaper, joint compound, spray paint, etc. These materials show up in David's paintings. His works have an architectural feel to them. Through lines and textures, David creates such depth in his art that they feel like windows when displayed on walls instead of two-dimensional pieces. Indeed, David's goals have been to show "a flat space being penetrated", to allow the viewer to "enter" the painting, and to create a "surreal world."

When David begins a piece, he tries "to approach it from all over, to revel in the process." He doesn't pre-plan his work, but trusts himself to respond to the creative impulse and then to make decisions based on each creation he manifests. "Art is about making decisions. You have to have an opinion first, do one thing, look at it and decide what to do next." His art is a series of decisions; acts and reactions. He has no preconceived ideas about the boundaries of his work and he works at refining or "wrestling (his work) into submission." He knows he's finished when the final product has the desired quality and when he can intellectually and creatively decide it is done.

Most recently, David has discovered how to use the computer as an artist's tool. He has been producing digital prints which greatly resemble his earlier work but which have an edge and clarity he was unable to attain with paint. In these prints, he includes images of old paintings, photos, textures he finds interesting........anything. He acts as a receptor to the influences and aesthetics around him and then transmits these through the images in his prints. The computer has freed him to respond more quickly to each creative impulse that he experiences, adding new depth to his work. At age forty-one, David is, for the first time, seeing a lot of himself in his work. He's not focused on why or where the symbols of his wife, two children and family history come from but more on producing work that is an accurate response to the strong creative energy he's experiencing. David feels that this is his best work yet, the culmination of his artistic career. His work is soon to be shown again in D.C. and in Baltimore.

Read more columns on Maryland, Virginia and District of Columbia Art by Ann Erskine in Resource Library Magazine

Search Resource Library for thousands of articles and essays on American art.

Copyright 2008 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc., an Arizona nonprofit corporation. All rights reserved.