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Meet Douglas Stewart

Today we’d like to introduce you to Douglas Stewart.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
A call came in recently from a cousin in Canada. I hadn’t spoken to her since about 1972 when we were about 11 years old. It was so nice to hear from her, and she said that, before we tell each what we were currently doing with our lives, let’s describe to each other what we were like as kids. She said about me, “You were kind, had a ready smile, always shared your candy. And you always carried around a notebook and pencil. You would take notes, sketch, invent things and… (pause) your hero was Leonardo DaVinci”. “Oh my God, I haven’t changed,” was my response.

I have been a life-long artist. I’ve always felt that if I wasn’t creating, I wasn’t living. My family emigrated from Canada when I was four, and I grew up poor in Detroit with very few opportunities. University was never an option, as was art school. I learned early that opportunities were made, not given.

After graduating high school, I worked in factories in Detroit and pursued art in various forms while trying to make those opportunities. I soon landed a job with Chrysler Corporation in Detroit as a Systems Engineer in the manufacturing division. After that, I held engineering positions in engineering and ultimately as Head of Engineering for United Technologies Automotive. In 1991 I took a sabbatical from engineering to pursue my passion for art and creativity. In 1993 I began inventing and hold numerous U.S. and International patents. The income those patents garnered provided me with the time and money to live a completely creative life.

I am best described as an autodidact.

Please tell us about your art.
About 12 years ago I began to experience the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease. Seven years ago I began to lose the ability to hold a paintbrush steady in my hand due to tremors. The turning point came while I was painting a portrait of my wife and had an incredibly hard time with my hands. I had the realization that Parkinson’s was now wanting to take the ability to paint from me. I was becoming more and more concerned and frustrated as I continued the portrait while experiencing severe tremors. Finally, I sat back in disgust, looked at the painting, and proclaimed that it looked like bad TV. After further pondering the painting I realized that there was an opportunity there.

The concept of, “As Seen on TV,” the distortion of television, was created. I began to understand my new limitations and set out to develop a process of painting that would utilize and control my tremors to my advantage. I began painting with the method of pointillism.

Pointillism. A method of neo-impressionist painting using tiny dots of various pure colors, which become blended in the viewer’s eye.

The first painting I completed using this technique took two and a half years. Realizing that this was untenable, I began inventing ways to better control my hands and the application of paint to canvas. There have been a hundred inventions that went into the development of my process, addressing my new limitations. Art and artists evolve constantly.

Ultimately my painting process is beautifully suited to the distortion of television.

Artists are inventors, and we are all artists.

Art is communication.
Communication is knowledge.
Knowledge is power.
Art is power.

We all have the power to create our own lives and destiny each day.

My paintings seek to reveal the beautiful distortion that is inherent to television. They are both familiar and unique.

What do you think about the conditions for artists today? Has life become easier or harder for artists in recent years? What can cities like ours do to encourage and help art and artists thrive?
Surviving as a full-time artist has always been challenging. Having said this, artists are driven. Not having my work seen or sold has never been a factor in whether I create or not. I am driven.

Art inspires. A city that promotes, displays and elevates art also elevates its people and raises community to a higher level. Cities would benefit by providing public space and encouraging the involvement of the private sector to offer the use of vacant storefronts and the like for free or low-rent temporary artist exhibitions. Pop-up shows. The city offering promotional advertising to get the word out to locals and visitors alike is key to success.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
Up until recently, I have not shown my paintings locally, preferring to market my work through Boston Art (bostonartinc.com), London (asart.com), European and Asian representatives. I have recently begun to pursue local representation and showings. My first local show in Asheville, NC was a group show opened at the Satellite Gallery (Bill Thompson, 828-545-9206) March 1st to a great reception. A solo show is coming this year.

douglas-stewart.com

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Photo of me credited to Honour Stewart. All other photos are by artist.

Getting in touch: VoyageATL is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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