Artist plays with produce
Father Douglas adds a wrinkle to traditional still lifes
By: Scott Hayes
| Posted: Saturday, Feb 02, 2013 06:00 am
69¢ lb./$1.52 kg
Pastel works by Father Douglas
on now until Monday, Feb. 25
Gallery 7 at The Bookstore on Perron
7 Perron Street
Call the store at 780-459-2525 for more information.
More of Father Douglas' works can be found online at www.artmajeur.com/doggone-art
An egg carton isn’t unusual but when Father Douglas paints pictures of them with oranges inside, well, you can’t help but wonder if he’s making a major artistic statement, playing with viewers’ perceptions and expectations, or if he’s just having a lot of fun.
“It was just a series that I wanted to do,” snickered Douglas, who is a Catholic priest in the Order of St. Francis.
He went on to say that he was interested in building up a group of still life images. Any viewer who is familiar with his usual body of work, or anyone who checks out his online gallery, will see that he has an established fondness for paintings of dogs whether at play or in repose.
A change was due.
“I used Cézanne as a starting point, looking at his work and doing a couple of Cézanne-type still lifes. I thought, ‘This has been done before,’” Douglas explained.
Another artist suggested to him that there was a viable audience for still life works “but it has to be different.”
A sale on oranges was all the inspiration he needed after that, with a little bit of help from the photorealistic imagery he saw in Fredericton painter Mary Pratt’s work. He made things more interesting by adding the challenge of using transparent or reflective elements, like glass jars, aluminum foil or the clear plastic bags that grocery stores use for produce.
“There’s an old lesson that a lot of instructors still have their students do. It’s a glass of water with a knife in it, or a spoon. The transparency and the reflection and the refraction of light … it’s quite a challenge. Then I started getting silly.”
This, coming from a man whose current portfolio includes a painting of a dog looking at an apple on a string. Does this lend further credence to the theory that he has an affinity for bizarro fruit portraiture? Perhaps.
“What if you had a drawer full of oranges because you didn’t have a place in the fridge to put them? What do you do with oranges? Put them in the blender.”
There are 20 pieces in this show, including the six that he previously had up with the last St. Albert Painters’ Guild show in the fall. That’s where the egg carton with the oranges caught the attention of many art-goers. He admits that his whimsical ventures might not be for everybody but there’s far too much seriousness in the world as it is for him not to do this.
“Things can become disappointing or depressing or whatever,” Douglas said. “Why not inject a little humour into the visual aspect of life? How many times have you gone by somebody’s house and they’ve put out 100 pink flamingoes?”