Douglas Girard

15th Annual ARC Salon (2020-2021)

Douglas Girard

United States

Douglas was born in California but only spent 18 months there before his family moved to Africa. The grasslands and rolling hills of Africa never inspired him as did the mountains of the northern continents. He longed to be in northern forests looking out across a vista dominated by towering mountain peaks. When he was seventeen he flew by himself to California to attend Chapman College. A year later he was accepted into Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. After graduation he taught art at a private art school, gave private painting lessons, illustrated book covers and painted over a hundred plein air paintings of California's various landscapes. In 1993 he and his wife decided to move to Alaska. He felt he was losing himself in the contemporary art movements of Los Angeles and wanted to find a way of painting that was more true to himself. When he finally moved to Alaska he found landscapes that truly inspired him. In the mountains of the Chugach and Talkeetna ranges, he found those cathedrals of stillness he had dreamed about. 
In 2013 he traveled to the Dolomites, in northern Italy, in search of the mountains, magical forests, architecture, history, myths and especially the sacred sites he had read about. He explored the landscape, camping every night and drawing and painting during the day. During his journey he painted more than 60 studies and took over 6000 photographs. This was a real turning point in his art and gave him the experience of the romantic, mysterious landscape he had dreamed about for decades. All the pieces had come together.

“My paintings intend to combine the landscape and figure in a cohesive synthesis of movement and emotion. The figure's movements and emotions harmonize with those of the landscape. The figure and landscape are one, both complimenting each other. The crisis of our times, as I see it, has been the desacralization of the earth. The great destructive, unrelenting machine of modernity treats the earth and humans as commodities: how efficient can they be exploited, used up and thrown away. Everything is temporary and constantly changing in the endless drive for more profits. My paintings focus on ideas opposite to these. Man must be seen as an integral part of the earth, living in harmony with its laws. The landscape and man both have a spiritual meaning beyond their materialistic forms. I believe in a spiritual outlook that sees the earth as sacred and rejoicing in its beauty as a religious act. The permanence of the endless cycles of nature is to be acknowledged and respected.

One of the central ideas of my work is that of the sacred and the seeker of the sacred. The hallowing of the land is symbolized by ritual structures that are in harmony with the surrounding landscape. The female subject of many of my paintings represents the pilgrim on a spiritual quest. Together with the mist and the shadows of the trees and the mountains the sacred will be found and nourished.”

* This statement has been provided directly by the artist in association to their 15th International ARC Salon entries. This content has not been edited for typos or grammatical errors and has not been vetted for accuracy.