Ep 16 Featured Image Podcast

Plein Air Wisdom – Doug Andelin – Ep 16

February 9, 2022


On this episode of Art2Life, I’m busting out of the studio and heading to the coast with the amazing and figurative landscape painter Doug Andelin. Doug has been an artist for over 40 years and a friend since we attended art school together. His work was pretty good even then, but now it is nothing short of extraordinary. I asked Doug a couple weekends ago if I could join him on one of his landscape painting days. He said yes! Join me on location as we discuss Doug’s process, the relationship he has with color, falling in love with your art, and capturing the wonder of a place.

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Listen if you are interested in…

  • Waiting for the moment of inspiration and Doug’s beach setup [2:32]
  • Painting the wonder of a place [6:15] 
  • Doug’s background and how he discovered his art style [11:31]
  • Diving into Doug’s art-making process [16:05] 
  • Falling in love with your art and learning to paint outside the box [21:27] 
  • Mark-making, negation, and playing with color [24:46] 
  • The merits of formal training and using nature as your classroom [35:35]
  • Doug’s essential advice for artists [40:18]

Capturing the wonder

Everyone always says paint dark to light. Doug feels that when it comes to oil paint there are no rules. Great artists like Sorolla and Mancini obviously fluctuated in their approach, so why can’t he? Starting with the middle values, he begins putting paint to canvas. You can almost see where the dark colors are going to land by the outline of his initial strokes. He is so comfortable with owning his process that it almost forces you to take a breath and relax. 

I love that Doug’s work is a painting before it is a place. Abstraction takes center stage as he strives to create a feeling with his work instead of focusing on every detail in the landscape. His creativity is fueled by the environment. He paints the wonder of a place instead of the place itself. Because Doug usually paints alone, the foundation of his paintings often reflects the serenity of a landscape. Then suddenly, someone will walk by and the world he’s been captivated by floods with new energy and new inspiration for what the canvas needs. Anything and everything is a muse! From waves crashing in the distance to fishermen readying their boats on a dock…as life flourishes, so does the painting. 

A madman with a brush

Doug’s process is a joy to watch, and it won’t end at the beach. The smaller painting he’s creating today will likely serve as a study for a larger one he will create in his studio later. But even that act of creation requires its own process for Doug. He enjoys hanging up the pieces he feels have the most potential and then takes long periods to sit with his work and bask in its possibility. The next step of his creative process involves developing a color chart for each piece so that he can translate it to a bigger canvas. 

That’s the other thing about Doug…he loves color. I know some people say that, but Doug embodies it. The freedom and precision with which he plays with color on the canvas are inspiring. He’s also constantly pushing the limits of his creativity. At one point, Doug pulled a color wheel out of his pocket to determine the dominant primary colors in the landscape. Secondary colors are chosen by counting away from the primary color using a 3-4-5 triangle shape for diversity and the added challenge. His goal is to use the fewest colors possible to see how many different color combinations he can create with the result. After 40 years, painting something “easy” is the last thing Doug wants to do. He’s a madman with a brush and I absolutely love it.

Balancing freedom and formality

Doug thinks of himself as a painter’s painter. Many of the people who own his paintings are painters themselves. Or those who have a strong inner artist. His use of thicker paint is meant to evoke that feeling you had as a child when you first got to paint. The feeling of pure bliss watching big globs of color transform a white background into a different world. The freedom to do whatever you wanted before someone told you there were rules you had to follow. While Doug understands why career artists often need to learn the fundamentals of art-making, he also feels that formality can stifle creativity if it becomes the focus. The spirit of art is more important to him than the technique. His encouragement to artists is to get playful with their art and let their freak flag fly.

However, if you are someone who wants to seriously pursue art, Doug acknowledges the limitations of just putting paint on a canvas and letting nature be your classroom. He believes that having a formal understanding of drawing, color, and value can help artists breakthrough where they might otherwise hit a wall. For him, art is a balancing act between freedom and formality. Artists should know what they are doing ENOUGH to break the “rules” in beautiful and interesting ways. For more of Doug’s insights, listen to our whole conversation on this episode!

Also, be certain to sign up for the free Art2life Workshop by clicking here!

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Doug Andelin

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Nicholas Wilton

Hi! I’m
Nicholas Wilton
the founder of Art2Life.

With over 20 years experience as a working artist and educator, I’ve developed a systematic approach that brings authenticity, spontaneity and joy back into the creative process.

Join me and artists from all over the world in our Free Art2Life Artists Facebook Group or learn more here about Art2Life.

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