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Doug's Art - The First Painting.

The thinking behind the paintings
South African period to September 1961
London from November 1961 to February 1963
Manchester 1994 to 1998
Sources and Inspiration.
Look at some pictures first. and then
If you like what you see or find it provocative and want to know more  read on.

The First Painting

I painted my first painting in November 1958. I can't remember anything about it or the next 6 which dribbled out. The first work of any significance to me and from when I consider I started painting was called "Exotic Humanity" painted in February 1961 on the verandah of my parents house in Melrose, Johannesburg. My Mother has it on permanent loan and here it is.

The day I splashed colour on that piece of hardboard, which was about 30 inches square, I knew that I had found a way to speak to the world. I was convinced that my way of using colour was unique.

The first painting came about in no planned way.  At the time when I was about 19 years old I was writing poetry and had to express the emotional turmoil of growing up and of becoming sensitive to local and world political issues.  At school I was quite good at art but there were others who were much better.  So I did not have any confidence in using realistic form to express my ideas.

The idea of using colour to express mood and emotion gradually emerged and I became obsessed with the idea that colour could be used as a language to communicate meaning separately from form.  In my early paintings form frames and directs the colour, it is secondary to colour in communicating the message.  Exotic Humanity burst forth out of this idea.

I really thought I had discovered a new language.  But I had not.  The language was already there.  I merely added some more words to the dictionary.

My father had a collection of oils which he hardly touched as he was a water colour painter.  He also had some big brushes.   I found some hardboard in the garage, undercoated it in a mad dash and let it dry in the sun.  Before the undercoat was dry, I mounted the board on my father's easel, selected blue, red and yellow tubes of paint and applied it in great sweeping strokes making four fountains of colour spray up and off the board.  The intense satisfaction of producing this creation told me that I had started off on a new road into the future which would have no end.

Looking at this painting I know you will think that it is nothing unusual or exceptional.  That may be so.  What was important to me at the time was that I was using colour and form to express a specific mood.  That quickly went on to using abstract colour and form, to express aspects of the personalities as I saw them, of people, animals and insects.

Eventually, I became dissatisfied with pure abstract expression and, still using colour in an abstract way began to use more figurative expression.  Finally, as of now, I have adopted a pure figurative approach and mix in when I get bored with abstract and semi-abstract paintings.

This and a few other paintings from my South African period survive, numbering no more than a dozen or so. These first 147 paintings were almost exclusively abstract. I called them typically "Emotional portrait of a Barn Owl" or "Character of an Oldsmobile" etc.

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Thinking Behind the Paintings